When the chief priests and Pharisees heard Jesus' parables, they knew He was speaking about them.
are made one. No union can be so close. And in this, the greatest event in God's reign, and the indestructible glory of humanity, God might well expect that men should rejoice with him. Proclamation had been made, invitation given, and people remained wholly indifferent. The earnest sincerity of God in seeking our good in this matter is marked by one or two unmistakable traits.
1. By the King's willing observance of every form of courtesy. One of these is the sending of a second messenger to announce the actual readiness of the feast. And so God had not only sent the prophets, bidding the Jews expect this festival, but sent John to remind and bring them. And so he still offers his blessings in ways which leave the reluctant without apology, he considers your needs and your feelings, and what he offers is that in which he has his own chief joy - fellowship with his Son.
2. By his wrath against the murderers. You may be so little in earnest about God's invitation that you scarcely seriously consider whether it is to be accepted or not, but nothing can so occupy him as to turn his observation from you. To save sinners from destruction is his grand purpose, and no success in other parts of his government can repay him for failure here. The last scene in the parable forms an appendix directed to a special section in the audience. Seeing the gates of the kingdom thrown open, and absolute, unconditioned freedom of entrance given, the ill living and godless might be led to overlook the great moral change requisite in all who enter God's presence and propose to hold intercourse with him. The refusal of the wedding dress provided was not only studied contempt and insult, but showed alienation of spirit, disaffection, want of sympathy with the feelings of the king. The guest must have lacked the festive spirit, and was therefore "a spot in the feast." He sits there out of harmony with the spirit of the occasion, and disloyal to his king. Therefore is his punishment swift and sudden. The eye of the king marks the intruder, and neither the outer darkness of an Eastern street, nor the pitchy blackness in which he lies unseen and helpless, can hide him from that gaze of his Lord which he feels to be imprinted on his conscience forever. In applying this parable, we may mark:
(1) That there is no way of accepting God's invitation without accepting his spirit, character, and ways. There is no real acceptance, no abiding in God's favour, where there is no growing likeness to him. Conformity to God, ability to rejoice with God and in God, humble and devoted reverence, - these are great attainments; but these constitute our wedding garment, without which we cannot remain in his presence or abide his searching eye. No associating of yourself with those that love him, no outward entrance into his presence, will avail; it is the heart you bear towards him that wilt determine your destiny.
(2) There is abundant encouragement to all who are willing and desirous to put on the Lord Jesus. It is the first duty of every host to make his guest feel at home, and therefore does God provide us not only with great outward blessings, but with all that can make us feel easy and glad in his presence. He offers not only enjoyment, but power to enjoy. If you are conscious that you could not be easy in God's presence without great alterations in your character, your invitation is guarantee that these will be made. If you could not be easy in his presence without knowing that he was aware of all you had thought and done against him, and forgave you; if you could not eat at the table of one against whom you harboured ill will, nor enjoy any entertainment without genuine love of your host; - then this will be communicated to you on your acceptance of God's invitation. Does your unfitness, even more than your unworthiness, deter you? Here you see that God invites you as you are. - D.
They feared the multitude, because they took Him for a prophet.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
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