Having cleared the temple of market-traders, Jesus’ authority is questioned by the chief priests and elders of the people (21:23-27) He speaks three parables against them, each about God’s judgement on those who reject the Gospel. The third of these, the Parable of the Wedding Feast, looks back at Israel’s history of rejecting God’s rule, with the first set of messengers representing the prophets, and then looks forward to Israel’s rejection of Jesus, the second set of messengers representing the apostles and evangelists of the early church. This rejection of the Gospel results in a false-messianic hope and rebellion against Rome, which leads to the total destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD, anticipated in verse 7 of the parable. Because of the Jewish rejection of Christ, the Gospel goes immediately out to the Gentiles, represented in the parable by the guests gathered in from the streets. The final part of the parable represents the age of the Church and the problem of false-believers among God’s new covenant people.
God’s Perfect Anger
The parable starkly portrays God’s anger against sin and unbelief, but that does not mean that God is easily angered, capricious or unstable. Israel’s rejection of the Gospel comes after centuries of God patiently calling his people to repentance, them rejecting his rule, followed by God’s judgement and their subsequent repentance. Anger is good when it arises from love, it is only sinful when it leads us to poor judgement or rash action. The fact that God does get angry, even with Christians, reassures us that our relationship with God is a normal personal relationship, he is pleased with us when we do good and angry when we knowingly and willingly sin. However, we do not have to live in irrational fear of God’s anger. Unlike people, God can judge our hearts perfectly and therefore God’s anger is pure, proportionate and perfectly directed towards our good.
The Wedding Crasher
The Jews had expected the Kingdom of God to look like a even better version of Solomon’s Kingdom, but instead it was more like a giant homeless-shelter: anyone who believed in Jesus was welcomed in as one of God’s people, even prostitutes, pig-farmers and polygamists. The parable reveals the grace of the Gospel the invitation goes out to the streets, to the good and bad alike. (verse 10) God welcomes anyone who will believe regardless of who they are, what they have done or what moral standard they have achieved, but that does not mean that the Church has no boundaries at all. Those who truly believe in Jesus will love both God’s law and God’s grace, and thus the man with no wedding garment represents those who claim to be Christians but who are actually lawless or graceless. We see these people condemned throughout the New Testament (e.g. Jude 4-13, Philippians 3:2). The combination of law and grace protects us against condemnations and fills us with hope. God is able to write the law on our hearts by the Spirit and thus make us like Christ. When we are tempted to believe that we or other Christians are beyond God’s grace and cannot change, faith in Jesus leads us to hope. God is able to finish what he has started. (Jude 24)
The Invitation of The King
The honour of the King’s wedding invitation reminds us of the even greater honour of being a Christian. Through the death of his Son, God has prepared a wonderful salvation for us. We are not only freed from sin, saved from punishment and given immortality, but above all we are to be made like Christ, knowing God’s love like Jesus, loving God like Jesus and overflowing with God’s love like Jesus. We have been made partakers of the divine nature, sons and daughters of God, and one day we will know God as fully as he knows us. Even in this life we can pursue this life full of the love of Christ. This incredible honour should shape every part of our lives, we can live worthy of this calling as children of God in our everyday speech, thoughts and actions. Like those who spurned the King’s invitation and instead went to attend to their farms and businesses (verse 5), often, we turn away from being children of God to living unworthily and chase empty things . If you are tempted to turn away from God, remember that you to be like Christ. If you are distracted by the worries and cares of the world instead of taking hold of the life of Christ, be careful that you are not spurning God’s invitation. He may have a calling on your life, just as he did for Israel, that he will pass on to somebody else if you fail to recognise the honour of his invitation. For many of us, we lack the faith to believe that God has honoured us so highly, and so we fail to live up to our calling. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to give us faith to believe this wonderful truth.