Matthew 22
Matthew 22 Kingcomments Bible Studies

Those Invited to a Wedding

With the following parable, the Lord reacted on His rejection, which He brought to light in the previous parable. In this reaction His grace is expressed. Despite His rejection, He still offers His grace in the invitation to come to the wedding. If they accept the invitation of the gospel, they come under the rule of heaven after the national collapse proposed in the preceding parable has taken place.

It is again a parable, but now in connection with the kingdom of heaven. That distinguishes this parable from the two previous. Those were about the righteous claims the Lord Jesus has on Israel on the basis of what He has confided to them and their response to it. This is about something new, the wedding. With this parable He brings again to light why He came. As in the previous parable, there is mention of a son, this time a son of a king.

The Lord introduces this parable with the words: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to.” This means that He does not announce the kingdom of heaven in its original form. This is no longer possible because of His rejection. By talking about a wedding, He emphasizes the joy that is connected to someone accepting the invitation and attending. In this parable an invitation is issued. The slaves are not ordered to go into the vineyard and work, but to call: “Come to the wedding feast.” There is not demanding, but giving.

The slaves are the disciples whom the Lord has sent out. The guests are first and foremost the Jews, the people of God. But the people don’t want to come, they reject the invitation. However, Christ is full of grace and sends out a second invitation to the same group of particularly privileged persons, the guests. He now instructs His slaves not only to invite, but also to present the attractiveness of the party in the invitation. It is all ready for the guests. They just need to come. He does everything He can to get the guests to the party.

The spiritual meaning is that everything is ready through the sacrifice of Christ. This was not yet the case for the first call. The fulfilment of the second invitation can be seen in the first chapters of Acts. This second invitation is made by the apostles when the work of redemption is completed.

But the guests show no interest. The cause is different. There is one group that is too busy with its own possessions, another group is busy with its business. There is also a group among the guests that react differently. When they receive the invitation, they flare up in anger. This has to do with their pride in their national religion from which they derive their importance. They answered the invitation by mistreating and killing the messengers.

It should come as no surprise that the king cannot let these reactions to his invitation go unpunished. In the year AD 70 God allowed Jerusalem to be destroyed by the Romans as “his armies”.

The Wedding Hall Is Filled

The king tells his slaves how things stand and that the guests are not worthy of coming to the wedding. He has sent them the invitation, but they have made themselves unworthy to be present at the wedding. Now he wants to send out his slaves, a picture of the Lord’s servants, to people who were not earlier among the guests. His slaves may, without making any distinction, invite to the wedding all those they find in the main highways. At the main highways you can always find the most people. Now that the guests have turned down the offer of grace from the gospel, the offer goes to all people.

The slaves carry out their task by bringing together, without distinction, all those they find. The gospel is offered to all people. The evangelist does not have to deal with who has been chosen by God. He must bring the Word to all he encounters. By “evil” we can understand great sinners and by “good” people like Nicodemus. It is not about the nature and character of the people to whom the gospel goes, but about the fact that the invitation is made to all without distinction. There is no search for people who wear wedding clothes because they will receive them from the King. It is here as it is in Matthew 13 with the parable of wheat and tares. In this way the wedding is filled with dinner guests.

Without Wedding Clothes

Then the king comes in to see who has come in. This parable is not about the responsibility of the preacher, but of those who responded to the preaching. The man without wedding clothes has entered in an arbitrary way. He has mingled with those invited, but did not accept the wedding clothes. He thinks his own clothes will suffice.

This is clearly not about heaven. No one who is not clothed with Christ can enter there. It is a parable of the kingdom of heaven that has become like a situation in which evil and good are present together. However, there will come a day when God will reveal who really belongs in it and who does not.

The man is called to account. The king calls him “friend” because he has come. But the man gives no answer to the question about how he came in without wedding clothes. The imagination by which he thought he could be present there on the basis of his own conditions, has disappeared. So it will be with all people who now have a big mouth about how they will respond to God when He calls them to account.

In this parable we have already seen the judgment on Jerusalem (Mt 22:7). Because this is a parable of the kingdom, we also see the judgment of what is within the kingdom. There may be an outward entry into the kingdom, a confession of Christendom, but he who is not clothed with what belongs to the feast will be ejected. We must be clothed with Christ Himself. He who is not, is thrown into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. The Lord represents the terrible destiny of those who imagine themselves in the light, while their hearts are in darkness. They will be eternally where their hearts always were.

He ends the parable by pointing out once again that many are called, that is to say all people, but few are chosen, that is, not many bow under grace. The fate of this individual in the parable, will in reality be the fate of many.

The twofold test of the nation ends here. The first took place under the responsibility of the nation under the law (Mt 21:33-46). The second benchmark for them was the message of grace (Mt 22:1-14).

About Poll-Tax to Caesar

In the rest of the chapter we see different groups in Israel trying to condemn and trap the Lord in His words. But every group that appears before Him comes into the light, His light. In His light their position becomes clear. The first group is that of the Pharisees. They try to tempt Him into a statement that they can use to denounce Him.

The Pharisees do not come themselves, but send their disciples. They involve the Herodians in their devilish plan. This combination of Pharisees and Herodians is only conceivable through a common hatred towards the Lord Jesus. The Herodians are friends of Rome, the Pharisees are enemies of Rome, but in their rejection of the Lord their mutual political enmity disappears and they find each other (cf. Lk 23:12). They put in their disciples’ mouths what they should say. The words of their disciples are their words.

In what they let their disciples say, they bear witness to the impeccability of the Lord. What they say of Him is true, though their motives are evil. He is indeed truthful. He teaches the way of God in truth. He certainly defers to no one, literally “it is not a concern to You about anyone” i.e. He did not seek anyone’s favor. Everything they say of Him is not present in them. They are untrue, they do not teach God’s way in truth, but their own way in lies. They only seek the favor of others. They are leaders who abuse the sheep for their own ends (Eze 34:2).

The question that the envoy must ask the Lord is about giving a poll-tax to Caesar. Is this permissible or not? With this question they think they can get Him to say something incorrect. If He says ‘yes’, they can discredit Him in the eyes of the people. He cannot be the Messiah, because He accepts the rule of the Romans and does not commit Himself to Israel. If He says ‘no’, they can accuse Him before the Romans of an insurrection against authority. Of course the Lord sees through their deceit. He knows their malice. Openly He rebukes them and calls them “hypocrites”.

With authority He commands them to bring Him a coin used for tax. They obey without argument. Then He has a question for them. He points to the coin and asks them “whose likeness and inscription” are on the coin. They can say nothing other than that the likeness and the inscription are both of the emperor. They still do not realize where the Lord wants to go. That is now coming. In perfect divine wisdom He points out the obligations they have, both towards the emperor and towards God. Giving to the emperor means acknowledging that they are under his authority. Giving to God means acknowledging that He came to them in Christ to receive fruit.

The likeness on the coin indicates who it represents, the representative. The inscription on the coin indicates his will. Both are those of the emperor in Rome. This means that they stand there with money in their hands – the Lord has not taken the money in His hand – that they use in their land which is symbolic for their submission to foreign rule. This submission is the result of their stiff-necked refusal to listen to God (cf. Neh 9:33-37). The persistence of their sin is evident from their rejection of Him who stands before them Who is the likeness and inscription of God (Col 1:15).

They can only marvel at this answer. They’re finished talking. The Lord has silenced them. Instead of bowing before His majesty and wisdom, they leave Him and go away. They have been defeated, but don’t want to acknowledge that.

About the Resurrection

The Sadducees are the liberals of that time. They only believe in what they can reason. Therefore they do not believe in the resurrection, nor in angels and spirits (Acts 23:8). They are rationalists, as the Pharisees are traditionalists. The Sadducees come to the Lord with a question as insincere as that of the Pharisees and Herodians in the story before.

They approached Him with hypocritical respect by calling Him “Teacher.” And He is, but they do not recognize Him. Nor do they recognize the Word of God. They take a part of it, let their human and foolish reasoning loose on it, and then believe that they have shown their own right and God’s wrong.

They propose to the Lord a case they themselves invented of seven brothers who marry the same woman one after the other. They explain from their corrupt thinking how the situation develops in their invented example. They start with the first brother who marries the woman and dies without having offspring, leaving his wife to his brother.

Here they do not violate the Word yet. That is how Moses said it. The same goes for the second who marries her, then dies and leaves his wife to his brother. All subsequent matrimonial bonds would also be in accordance with what Moses said. Finally, the woman dies. So far, there is nothing wrong with their representation of things, however nonsensical the story itself may be.

Then, in their folly, they come up with a question which, according to their darkened mind, proves the impossibility of the resurrection. They believe to have eliminated the Lord with this and to have demonstrated the absurdity of the Word of God. In the certainty of their victory they triumphantly ask Him to which of the seven she will be a wife in the resurrection. After all, all of them have had her as wife in a perfectly legal way.

He Who knew exactly where they were going with their example, does not interrupt them. He lets them finish and thus expose themselves completely. Then comes His answer! He does not spare them in it. He exposes the source of their error and folly. Scripture is often misquoted and always misunderstood by people who lean on their own understanding. Furthermore, by their reasoning they denied the power and glory of God, which places them in insurmountable difficulties in connection with God’s ways.

In His grace for us, the Lord declares how it will be in the resurrection. In the resurrection the situation is not the same as on earth. Those who rise up, will then be genderless like the angels, as there is already in Christ neither man nor woman (Gal 3:28). Often, false teachings are occasion for the Spirit of God to present the truth in all its brilliance and glory. They have quoted the Scriptures, now the Lord quotes the Scriptures. Have they read the following? Of course they have read it.

But He also says if they have read what has been spoken by God “to you”, that is to say to these Sadducees who stand here before Him. That has passed them by. They have their own explanation for Scripture and are therefore blind to the real explanation. It passes them by because they don’t know to be addressed by it themselves personally. They are only intellectually busy with Scripture.

Yet the Lord makes an effort to enlighten their darkened minds. He points to the Scripture that speaks of God as the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob (Exo 3:6; 15-16). He cites this Scripture to show that in the days of Moses the patriarchs live in another world, although they were not yet raised from the dead. The fact that their spirits are there guarantees that at the end of time they will be in the kingdom with resurrected bodies.

The moment God says this, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have long since passed away. But God has given them His promises. Would He then no longer be able to fulfil them? Surely He will fulfil them, and in the resurrection. How different was the faith of Abraham from that of the Sadducees. He believed that God was able to raise even the dead (Heb 11:18).

By calling Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, while they have already died, God says that He is still their God. This means that, for Him, they are alive. He is not connected with the dead, but with the living. In His answer, the Lord makes it clear that the resurrection brings us into another world, where different conditions apply. This teaching about the resurrection makes a big impression on the crowds.

The Great Commandment

When the Pharisees hear of the Sadducees’ defeat, they meet in a crisis council. They must and will silence Christ. They try again, this time through a lawyer. He asks the Lord a question with the purpose of testing Him. He wants Him to choose which of the ten commandments (Exo 20:1-17) would be the most important. He wants to entice Him to make a statement which he can use to accuse Him of detracting from the law.

The Lord answers with two quotations from the law (Deu 6:5; Lev 19:18). He quotes them fully to allow their power to sink into the lawyer. Then He says that what the law requires can be summed up in one word: love (Rom 13:10). This love must go firstly to God and secondly to one’s neighbor. The commandment to love God is paramount. The second commandment, the love of one’s neighbor, is as important as the first, but the first is paramount. It is impossible to do the second without the first. That is why the first commandment is the greatest commandment. The second results from the first. The first without the second is also not possible, but the first does not result from the second.

With His answer, the Lord has summarized the whole law and the prophets. His answer goes beyond the question. The lawyer is very limited in his thinking. He has ventured to challenge the eternal God. He has received his answer.

This is where the interrogation ends. Everything has been judged and highlighted, both in terms of the position of the people and the sects among them. The Lord has reminded them of the perfect thoughts of God
1. about their condition: they are subject to the Romans (Mt 22:15-22),
2. about His promises: He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Mt 22:23-33) and
3. on the essence of the law (Mt 22:34-40).

The Son of David

Then it is the time and turn for the Lord Jesus to take the initiative and ask a question. He asks this question not only to a single Pharisee, but to a whole group. His question puts His own position in the light. This question is the crucial question that every human being must answer, for it relates to His Person as the Christ.

First the Lord asks of whom Christ is the Son. They know how to answer that question correctly: He is the Son of David. Then the Lord continues to ask questions about the Christ. If He is the Son of David, how is it possible that David, in the Spirit, calls Him ‘Lord’? How can someone be the son of a person and at the same time be called by that person with respect ‘lord’? To support His question, He quotes a word from the Scriptures which they think they know so well.

The quoted word refers unambiguously to the Messiah (Psa 110:1). The Pharisees confess that too. Here, too, Christ quotes the whole verse to make its power sink into His hearers. This verse speaks of the glory of the Messiah in heaven, a glory that God gives Him.

After He has quoted the verse, the Lord Jesus repeats His question. They know that the Christ will be the Son of David. But they don’t know why David calls him ‘Lord’ in Psalm 110. The solution to the problem is given at the beginning of this Gospel. He is “Messiah [Christ], Son of David” (Mt 1:1) and also “Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us”” (Mt 1:23). As Man, He is the Son of David, born of Mary, of the family of David. At the same time He is and remains God before Whom David bows down.

The Messiah, the Lord Jesus, is God “revealed in the flesh” (1Tim 3:16). For those who believe this, everything is clear. He who does not believe this, lives in darkness. Although He is the Son of David, He must go to heaven to receive the kingdom. While He waits for the kingdom on earth, He sits at the right hand of God in accordance with the rights of His excellent Person: the Lord of David and the Son of David.

The Pharisees cannot answer. Because of their pride they are blind to the glory of the Person Who stands before them. He answered all their questions and then asked His question, which they cannot answer. The Lord Himself has the last word. It is extremely serious, searching and probing. It is like the old, flaming sword that goes back and forth in all directions (Gen 3:24) to guard all that is of God in His Person and shows the highest authority of Him over Whom they want to pour out all the hatred of their hearts.

The defeat of His opponents is complete. They are out of words. But the Lord has not finished with them yet. The time has come for these hypocrites to take off the masks and do so in the presence of the people under their influence. He does so in the next chapter.

© 2023 Author G. de Koning

All rights reserved. No part of the publications may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.

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