The Parable of the Wedding Feast

painting depicting servants inviting people to the wedding

We love going to events. Whether they be concerts, movie premieres, conventions, or sporting events, we get excited to go to a big event. We take selfies showing how good our seats are and let everyone know what a wonderful time we’re having. One particular type of event we make a big deal of is weddings. We have announcements, invitations, catering, cake, and lots of money getting spent.  It’s a momentous occasion, and weddings were every bit as big of a deal in Jesus’ day.

Despite all of the preparation and planning, weddings can still catch those of us invited by surprise. Then we find ourselves either scrambling for wedding gifts and clothes at the last minute, or we might fail to attend at all. That’s the situation we see in Matthew 22 when Jesus delivers the parable of the wedding feast. A wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not ready to attend.

The Invitation Opens

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’

“But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Jesus delivers this parable during the week leading up to His crucifixion.  In it, we see the initial invitation recipients simply disregard the hospitality shown them.  Then others actively mistreated and even killed the king’s messengers. So the king opens the invitation to all, regardless of class or nationality.

How Do We Respond?

Put yourself first in the shoes of the servants. Would you be eager to be in the second group of messengers after knowing what happened to the first? Too often, we find excuses to not do the work our King has set before us. Furthermore, would we be a nondiscriminatory as these messengers? They gathered all they could, both good and bad. They made the invitation to all, so that all could receive their master’s graciousness.

Still, there was the one guest who came without a wedding garment. His lack of response shows that he both knew the custom and was able to adhere to it. He was cast out for dishonoring the wedding through his lack of respect for the occasion.  It’s one thing for us to come to God, but we also have to let that experience change us so that we garb ourselves in the righteousness He expects.

Accepting the Invitation

II Peter 3:9 says that it’s God’s will that we all accept His open invitation. Also, Romans 3:23 – 26 says we all are justified through His grace. He has a wedding garment available to all of us through the baptism Paul then describes in subsequent verses. We accept the invitation when we place our faith in Him. We put on the wedding garment when we submit to baptism, and then we wear that righteousness all of our days.