Matthew 22

Matthew 22  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 8
BUT THE LORD calmly pursued what He had to say to them, so in the opening of this chapter we have the parable of the marriage of the king’s son, which predicts the Gospel day which was about to dawn. There is no question, “What think ye?” about this parable, for it travels beyond men’s thoughts altogether. It is also distinguished from the other two parables by beginning, “The kingdom of heaven is like,” (ch. 13:24) or, more literally, “has become like” (Job 30:1919He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes. (Job 30:19)). Men come under Heaven’s jurisdiction by the reception of the Gospel invitation, when the breakdown is complete as figured in the other parables. We are now again going to hear something new, just as we did in chapter 13.
In this parable the king does not demand anything from anybody. He gives instead of demanding. He too has a “Son” in whose honor He makes a marriage feast, sending forth His servants to call men in. How aptly the call sets forth the Gospel message: “I have prepared... all things are ready: come unto the marriage” (ch. 22:4). Prepared through the sacrifice of Christ. Ready, since His is a finished work. Hence it is not now “Go, work,” but “Come.”
In the first place the invitation went to “them that were bidden,” (ch. 22:3) a number of specially privileged folk. We see the fulfillment of this in the early chapters of Acts. For a short time the Gospel went out only to the Jew, but the mass of them made light of it, occupied with worldly gain, while some actively opposed, persecuting and slaying some of the early messengers, as seen in the case of Stephen. This first stage ended with the destruction of Jerusalem, as foretold in verse 7.
Then the invitation is widened out as we see in verses 9 and 10. In the parable of Luke 14 we find one servant, representing doubtless the Holy Spirit; here many servants are in question, representing the human instruments that the Spirit may use. They go into the highways, bidding all, as many as they meet, whether bad or good. The Spirit can “compel” men to come in, as in Luke 14: the servants are instructed to invite any and all they run up against. Not all will respond, but by this means the feast will have its full complement of guests. The Gospel preacher has not to embarrass himself with questions as to God’s electing grace. He has simply to pass on the word to all he meets; gathering in all who respond, for God will touch the hearts of men.
The second part of the parable, verses 11-14, shows that, as always when human service is referred to, what is unreal may enter and remain for a time. By not accepting the wedding garment the man had declined to honor the king’s son. When the king came in he was detected and consigned to his true place in outer darkness. The Divine presence will unmask all that is unreal and disentangle everything. We saw this in chapter 13, and shall see it again in chapter 25.
That the Pharisees were now getting desperate is seen in the fact that they were driven to an alliance with the Herodians, whom they abominated. Their question as to the tribute was cleverly framed so as to bring Him into disrepute with either Caesar or the populace. They began with what they intended to be flattery, but which was a sober statement of truth. He was true. He did teach the way of God in truth. He was wholly above regarding the person of men. Asking for the tribute money, He showed them that it was evidently Caesar’s, for it had his image upon it. If Caesar’s it must be rendered to him; but then He set them in the presence of God. Were they rendering to God the things that were His? This great answer not only amazed them but also so smote their consciences that they went away. Jesus had stated a great principle of action applicable to all of us so long as we are under the jurisdiction of any kind of Caesar. We must render to Caesar all his rights, but the things that are God’s are far higher and wider than all that is his.
The question propounded by the Sadducees was cleverly designed with the twofold object of embarrassing Jesus and of ridiculing belief in resurrection, which to their minds only meant a restoration to life under ordinary conditions in this world. Doubtless they felt sure that in result Jesus would be discomfited and themselves confirmed in their unbelief. But the Lord’s reply showed that resurrection introduces into another world where different conditions prevail, and He quoted Ex. 3:66Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. (Exodus 3:6), as showing that in the days of Moses the Patriarchs were living in that other world, though not yet raised from the dead. The fact that their spirits were there guaranteed that eventually they would be there in risen bodies.
In those days the priests were mainly of the Sadducee persuasion, and the Lord did not spare them in the directness of His rebuke. “Ye do err,” was His plain word, and He indicated the source of their error; they knew neither the Scriptures, that they professed to expound, nor the power of the God, whom they professed to serve. This twofold error underlies all modern religious unbelief. First, the Scriptures are frequently misquoted and always misunderstood. Second, in their minds God is so stripped of His power and glory that endless difficulties are created. Let His power be admitted and difficulties cease to exist.
The Lord’s answer astonished all who heard it. Evidently it was quite new to them, even to the Pharisees, who had never been able to silence the Sadducees like this. Hearing it, the Pharisees came together, and one of them put to the Lord his question about the law, raising a point that they had doubtless often discussed amongst themselves. He was thinking of the Ten Commandments in Ex. 20, but the Lord turned him to Deut. 6:55And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:5), and added Lev. 19:1818Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:18). The demand of the law is summed up in one word-love. First, love to God; second, love to one’s neighbor. When Paul tells us, “Love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:1010Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:10)), he is only stating in other words what Jesus said here (verse 40).
The three parables had brought them face to face with the grace of the Gospel; the three questions had been so answered as to impress upon them love, as the supreme demand of the law. To that love they were strangers. Yet being still gathered together Jesus propounded to them His great question, “What think ye of Christ? whose Son is He?” (ch. 22:42). They knew He was to be the Son of David, but why David should call him his Lord, in Psa. 110, they did not know. The only possible solution of that problem has been given in the first chapter of our Gospel. “Jesus Christ, the Son of David” (ch. 1:1) is “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (ch. 1:23). If faith once seizes that, the whole position is as clear as sunlight. If that be refused, as with these poor Pharisees, all is gloom. They were in darkness. Not a word could they answer, and their discomfiture was so complete that they dared not question Him more.
However though they were done with Him, the Lord had not finished with them. The time had now come to unmask these hypocrites in the presence of the multitudes, who were under their influence.
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