Matthew 22:1-14: Many Are Invited, but Few Are Chosen
March 3, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
At one level this next parable is quite simple. It is another story that illustrates the meaning and reality of the kingdom of heaven (22:1). The point, of course, is that the king has a feast, invites guests to come, they refuse to come (22:5)—and indeed refuse violently (22:6). The king therefore rejects the original invitees, with justice, and instead goes out and finds others to come. Those originally invited were not worthy (22:8), but from the highways and byways, the main road (22:9), others are brought, both “bad and good” (22:10) (meaning that their innate “goodness” is not the qualification, but the fact that they have been brought in).
Still, there is a final twist in the tale. There is a man without a “wedding garment” (22:11), and he is thrown out for not being one of those who had been invited—and is distinguished from those who had been invited by being given a special set of wedding clothes. “Many are called, but few are chosen” (22:14). The lesson, then, is not just—as it might be thought at its most simple—that the original recipients of the kingdom (in context meaning the Pharisees and chief priests and religious leaders of the day) are refusing Jesus’ invitation, so that invitation will go to others and they will be brought in. That is indeed part—but the point is also that the invitation and the calling and the choice is necessary, and is distinguished by wearing these “wedding clothes.” Traditionally, this is understood in an imputed righteousness sense; others have disputed whether that is reading a Pauline framework into the text. But without qualification, the guest was not invited, and that qualification was expressed by the “righteousness” of the wedding clothes.
The lesson at a more practical level is therefore to receive the invitation of Christ to his kingdom. We are to listen to his Word, respond to his call, and if we do, then we are chosen by him. The gospel indeed does go out to many. There are many invitations, but some entirely reject the call. On occasion, it is the most unlikely who receive that call. And it is all in the sovereign gift of the King who invites many and chooses few.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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