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THE MARRIAGE OF THE KING’S SON
Matthew 22:1-14 . “And Jesus, responding, again spoke to them in parables, saying: The kingdom of the heavens is like unto a kingly man, who made a marriage for his son.” We are betrothed to Christ in regeneration and married in sanctification. Luxuriant festivals have in all ages been customary at weddings, and especially in the Old World, where they constrain every one who even happens to come in to eat with them. I called to see a sick American friend, at a Moslem house in Jerusalem, during the time of a wedding festival, which had been protracted, the nuptials having been celebrated a few days previously, but the music and festivity still continuing. Stranger as I was, from this far-off land, they constrained me to eat. When the soul passes out of Satan’s dreary starvation country into the kingdom of God, a wonderful time of spiritual festivity follows. Hence God’s wedding festival has really been in progress about six thousand years, Abel, Seth, Enoch, and Noah being honored guests. While it is a blessed experimental fact that this wedding festival has been running in all ages, the Excarnate Christ being on the earth from the beginning, yet the incarnation of Jesus gave a grand and glorious ovation and culmination to this wedding festival, to which isolated references are frequently made by way of pre-eminence.
“And he sent his servants to call those who had been invited to the wedding, and they were not willing to come.” The patriarchs and prophets, from Abel down, had been calling the people to this wedding. Eventually John the Baptist came, the last and the greatest of the prophets, to invite those who had been called by all of his predecessors to come at once to the wedding festival, as the King’s Son had already come on the earth, and the time had arrived for all the guests to enjoy the royal banquet of the heavenly nuptials.
“Again he sent other servants, saying, Say to those who have been called, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings have been slain, and all things are ready; come to the wedding.” John the Baptist and his disciples gave them the first call. Jesus not only called them Himself, but He sent out the twelve apostles, to go two by two throughout the whole country and invite them; and also the seventy evangelists, commissioned and restricted to Israel, besides the innumerable volunteers who, in homes, social circles, business places, and along the thoroughfares, had been calling them now three years. Hence the Jews were abundantly notified, and really left without excuse.
“And they, being careless, went away, the one to his farm, and another to his merchandise. But the rest, taking his servants, insulted and slew them.” Do you not remember how the apostles, during the Pentecostal revival, preached all day on the streets and spent the ensuing night in jail? At a very early day, James, the brother of John, was martyred right there in Jerusalem. Stephen leading the way O how the bloody tide did flow under the leadership of Saul the persecutor! Hence this was literally verified, some of the Jews treating the call with utter indifference, and others becoming demoniacally mad and killing them without mercy, beginning with Jesus, and going on, determined to exterminate the Nazarene heresy in blood.
“And the king, hearing, was angry, and sending forth his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city” That was literally fulfilled in the Roman wars, A. D. 66-73, deluging the whole country in Jewish blood, and culminating in the destruction of the city, leaving it a heap of ruins, without an inhabitant during the next fifty years, when the Emperor Adrian founded a Roman colony on the site, naming it Ella Capitolina, as there was no Jerusalem. It had been destroyed, and remained in oblivion till the conversion of Constantine, A. D. 325, who rebuilt and restored the name Jerusalem.
“Then he says to his servants, The marriage is ready, and those who have been called are not worthy. Therefore go ye into the highways, and as many as you may find, call to the wedding. And those servants, going out along the way, led in all so many as they found, both bad and good. And the marriage was filled with guests.” Here you see the call of the Gentiles, and we are at! so glad that we ever heard that call, and found our way into the marriage festival. Rest assured, we are delighted with it. I heard the call and responded fifty years ago, and the festival is far better now than ever. You see here a strange statement, that they brought in all indiscriminately, the bad and the good. How shall we understand that strange statement? “Good” is here used simply in a moral, practical, worldly sense; while “bad” is antithetical, and means the rough, dissipated, reckless, hard cases i.e., outbreaking sinners. Now, there is every encouragement for that class, because they are mentioned before the flood, showing up a broad, open door and a world-wide welcome for the worst reprobates that ever trod the globe. Though I was one of the “good,” my life when a sinner being morally irreproachable, yet I needed salvation just as much as the vilest debauchee that ever walked the earth. It is hard to tell which of these classes is the more hopeful and the easier saved, as there is nothing hard with God. The great trouble with the good is self-righteousness. Who knows but this fair, hypocritical garment of self-righteousness, hiding beneath it the very virus of hell, is as abominable in the sight of God as the blackest debaucheries, the most revolting blasphemy, and even theft and murder? The truth of it is, the whole world, out of Christ, are exposed to wrath and hell regardless of moral character or Church membership, these frequently being used by Satan to hoodwink the poor devotee, till he can dump him headlong into the bottomless pit.
“The king having come in to look upon his guests, saw there a man not having on the wedding garment. And he says to him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having on a wedding garment? And he was dumb. Then the king said to the servants, Binding him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness and there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few elected.” This scene of the drama is profoundly significant and momentously interesting, developing a phase characteristic of spiritual wedlock which should bring us all low down in the dust of humiliation, crying unto God for that deep illumination of the Holy Spirit, which is our only fortification against the appalling catastrophe which overtook this man in that final ordeal, when the last opportunity having fled, emendation was utterly impossible, doom and damnation opening wide the yawning vortex of the bottomless pit. How awful to be hurled from the celestial portals into the regions of irremediable woe! Now, what is the wedding garment? It is none other than the snowy-white, spotless robe, washed and perfectly purified in the blood of Calvary’s Lamb. It is the righteousness of Christ, the robe of holiness, which the loving Father had the angels bring to clothe the prodigal son, preparatory for the salutations and congratulations which awaited him in the royal festival which followed. We see that this man had heard the gospel call, and had come along with the guests; but was never elected. Consequently the woeful discomfiture in the end supervened. “Chosen,” in E. V., is too weak a translation of eklektoi, “elected.” Peter says, “Elect through the sanctification of the Spirit.” Hence, you see, we are elected, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies us, having been nominated in conversion. No wonder Peter exhorts us to strive with all diligence to make our calling and election sure.
If we should meet the sad fate of the above guest, who was cast out into endless perdition because he there appeared without a wedding garment, infinitely better for us that we had never been born. Rely upon it, entire sanctification is this wedding garment, as we are betrothed to Christ in justification, but married to him in sanctification. All the guests collectively constitute the Bride, the Church. Since you have heard the gospel call, by the living ministry and the Holy Spirit, let it be the great enterprise of probationary life to make your calling and election sure, and settle the matter beyond all defalcation, lest you incur the sad fate of the guest without the wedding garment.
TRIBUTE TO CAESAR
Matthew 22:15-22 , Mark 12:13-17 ; Luke 20:20-26 . “And lying in wait for Him, they sent sharpers, hypocritically claiming to be righteous, that they may catch His word, in order to deliver Him up to the tribunal and authority of the governor. And they asked Him, saying, Teacher, we know that Thou dost speak and teach correctly, and that Thou dost not receive the face, but teachest the Word of God in truth: is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar or not? And He, knowing their rascality, said to them, Why do you tempt Me? Show Me the denarion. Whose image and superscription hath it? And they responding, said, That of Caesar. And He said to them, Therefore render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things which are God’s. And they were not able to capture His word before the people. And being astonished at His answer, they kept silent.” We have given you Luke’s narrative, who simply states that sharpers i.e., critical tricksters waited on Him in this adroit interview, hoping to perplex Him, and get some clew at Him, deduced from His phraseology of and Mark state that these critics were Pharisees and Herodiana the former the most loyal and enthusiastic Jewish party, and the latter consisting of a political faction favorable to Roman rule. Though diametrically opposed either to other, in this instance, as ever and anon hitherto, they united their forces against Jesus. How common it’s for the belligerent sects to make peace among themselves and unite their forces against holiness! They felt sure of success in this united hypocritical assault on Jesus, as the Pharisees represented the Jewish interest and the Herodians the Roman. In case that He had decided in favor of paying tribute to Caesar, the Pharisees aimed to prefer treasonable charges against Him, and arraign Hint before the Sanhedrin for disloyalty to the Theoeratic Government. On the contrary, if He answered the question in the negative, the Herodians were ready to have Him arrested and brought before Pilate to answer charges of treason against the Roman Empire. Now, you see how easily and conveniently He foils them both by simply asking them to show Him the denarion, a Roman coin, worth fifteen cents, and used to pay regular poll-tax, as well as the revenue to the Roman Government. Now, asking “Whose image and superscription is on this coin?” they respond, “Caesar’s.” Then He simply says, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things which are God’s.” As the Jews claimed to be under the Divine government, while they were also subject to Roman rule, this answer covered all the ground in both cases, at the same time showing up absolute equity in behalf of each, so that no exception could be taken. Consequently the sharpers were all dumfounded.
Matthew 22:22 . “And hearing, they were astonished, and leaving Him they went away.” We see most indubitable manifestations of His Divinity thus cropping out on all occasions. Here, He is besieged by the most intellectual and cultured men of Church and State, criticizing every utterance, and doing their best to lasso Him, and all are signally foiled, defeated, and dumfounded. No other man ever trod the globe whose ordinary utterances, day by day, were utterly invulnerable.
Matthew 22:23-33 ; Mark 12:18-27 ; Luke 20:27-40 . “And certain ones of the Sadducees coming to Him, who deny that there is a resurrection, interrogated Him, saying, Teacher, Moses wrote to us [Deuteronomy 25:5 ], If the brother of any one may die, having a wife, and he may die childless, that his brother must take his wife, and raise up seed to his brother. Then there were seven brothers; the first taking a wife, died childless. And the second. took the wife, and he died childless. And the third received her; and likewise also the seven; and they left no children, and died. And last of all the woman also died. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife is she? for the seven had her a wife. And Jesus, responding, said to them, The children of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those considered worthy to reach that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are they given in marriage; for they are not able to die any more: for they are equal to the angels, and they are the sons of God, being the sons of the resurrection. And that the dead rise, Moses mentioned at the bush, as he says the Lord is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living; for all live unto Him. And certain ones of the scribes, responding, said, Teacher, you spoke well. And no one any more dared to ask Him anything.” While the Sadducees were the richest denomination of the Jewish Church, they leaned much to materialism, being heterodoxal on the resurrection, as well as the great spiritual truths of the Bible generally. The Pharisees, boasting of their orthodoxy, were rivals and antagonists of the Sadducees, as well as the Herodians. While these three parties were all antagonistical, either to other, it is remarkable how they united and cooperated in their constant and uncompromising opposition to Jesus. They felt that in the case of the woman surviving the seventh husband, they certainly. would get Him into a puzzle. But while in this they were signally mistaken, the multitude are astounded over the deep truths brought out in His answers to their questions.
a. He here corroborates the Scripture with reference to another age following this, as He says, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those being found worthy to attain unto that age, indeed the resurrection which is from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage;” showing up the/act that the present probation and the resurrection state constitute two distinct ages, yet contrastive either with other, the resurrection age beginning at the second coming of Christ, when He will raise the saints, who shall reign with Him during the millennium. (Revelation 21:0.)
b. We see from these utterances of our Lord that matrimony is peculiar only to these material bodies in this probationary age, there being no such thing as sexual distinction in the kingdom of grace and glory. In Him there is neither male nor female. (Galatians 3:26.) Consequently the matrimonial state does not survive the present probationary, age.
c. Our Lord also says that in the resurrection state, we are isaggeloi, from isos, “equal,” and aggelos, “an angel.” Therefore you see that the glorious resurrection confers on us angelic perfection. Angels have often been seen upon the earth. Hence they must have some kind of a body or form. While in the resurrection we will receive these identical bodies in which we now live, yet they will be perfectly free from matter or anything like physical organism. They will be pure spiritual entities, yet identical with themselves in the present life, but having all ponderable matter eliminated away. Hence you see that in the resurrection age we will be like the angels, and immortal forever.
d. How beautiful, and yet how conclusive, His argument deduced from the burning bush, proving the resurrection in a way never thought of by mortal man, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!” Now, as He says, He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. God does not do a fragmentary work, but solid and complete. Hence these patriarchs, as well as all the rest of us, must have bodies in order to completion in the highest sense. In the Divine estimation, the future is all present and under His eye. Hence He looks upon Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the resurrection state. It is equally true that He thus contemplates all. Here, again, we see His critics so dumfounded that they interrogate Him no more.
THE THEOLOGIAN AND THE GREAT COMMANDMENTS
Matthew 22:34-40 ; Mark 12:28-34 . “And one of the scribes coming to Him, and having them interrogating Him, knowing that He answered them beautifully, asks Him, What is the first commandment of all? And Jesus responded to him, The first commandment of all is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these. [Deuteronomy 6:4; Leviticus 19:18.] And the scribes said to Him, Beautifully, Teacher, You spoke the truth, that He is one and no other beside Him; and to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the mind, and with all the strength, and to love the neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices. Jesus seeing him, that he answered intelligently, said to him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no one dared to interrogate Him any more.” This theologian so meekly and intelligently corroborated and endorsed Jesus on the great plan of salvation, as He showed from the Scriptures the pre-eminence of love into God supreme, with all the heart, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves, that Jesus, reading his heart like a book, saw his sincerity and candor, and notified him that he was not far from the kingdom of God. You see, the attitude of this theologian, when he exalted Divine love to God supreme and to the neighbor as ourselves and so frankly confessed that this love was infinitely more important than all the sacrifices of the Levitical law, clearly demonstrated that he was on the fight line, recognizing the pure spirituality of the redemptive scheme, while sacrifices and oblations are merely subordinate and symbolic. This man clearly evinces that the light of the Holy Ghost was already shining in on his mind, and revealing to him the true way of salvation. What a beautiful exception to the hypocrites, legalists, and ritualists, who so constantly thronged about Jesus with their captious questions and occult intrigue!
Matthew 22:40 . “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Hence you see that even the Old Testament teaches a religion of perfect love, its burdensome ritual constituting a symbolic school, in which the people were constantly and vividly reminded of the vicarious atonement of the Son and the Pentecostal baptism of the Spirit.
CHRIST THE SON OF DAVID
Mark 12:35-37 ; Luke 20:41-44 ; Matthew 22:41-46 . “And the Pharisees being assembled, Jesus asked them, saying, What do you think concerning the Christ? Whose Son is He? They say to Him, The Son of David. He says to them, How does David in the Spirit call Him Lord, saying, ‘The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My fight hand, until I make Thy enemies Thy footstool? [ <19B001>Psalms 110:1.] If therefore David calls Him Lord, how is He his Son? And no one answered Him a word, neither did any one from that day dare to ask Him anything.” Whereas on many occasions hitherto our Lord so dumfounded all of His critics as to silence all batteries, now we have really reached the finale of all their quizzical assaults against Him, vainly hoping to capture some remark dropped from His lips. Any other man in all the ages would doubtless have suffered more or less embarrassment, and probably entanglement, if thus beset from day to day by capricious, hostile critics, all combined, their wits under heaviest contribution, to entangle Him if possible. Amid all He is perfectly tranquil, and proves utterly imperturbable, by all the powers of earth and hell, throughout all the vicissitudes of His ministry, arrest, arraignment, and suffering. We see here they readily respond that Christ is the Son of David; but why he calls Him Lord, none of them can answer. This is plain and simple, setting forth in this terse manner His humanity and Divinity, the former being the Son of David, and the latter his Lord.
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Godbey, William. "Commentary on Matthew 22". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany