free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!
We have, in this Chapter, the Parable of the Marriage-feast, and Christ's discourses with the Scribes and Pharisees.
"And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, (2) The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, (3) And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. (4) Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. (5) But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: (6) And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. (7) But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. (8) Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. (9) Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. (10) So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests."
We shall enter, through the teaching of God the Holy Ghost, into the beautiful design of our Lord, in this parable, if we take with us, all the way we go through it, the leading features the Son of God hath drawn. The kingdom of heaven is uniformly meant to describe the kingdom of grace, in the present gospel state of the Church. The certain king, here spoken of, is God our Father. And the marriage is that union the Son of God hath been mercifully pleased, at the call of God his Father, to make with our nature, and with each Person in that nature, whom God the Father hath given to him, whose redemption Christ hath purchased, and God the Holy Ghost hath regenerated, for the purpose of grace here, and glory hereafter.
This marriage took place, in the plan and counsel of Jehovah, before all worlds. The Church was then presented by the Father, and fore-viewed by the Son, and sanctified in the will and design of God the Holy Ghost, when Christ betrothed her to himself forever. And although, in the ordination of the divine will, this Church of Jesus was to be involved in the Adam-fall of our nature, in common with the whole race of men, yet the original connection could not be dissolved by this spiritual adultery, but rather afforded occasion for the Son of God to get more glory and honour by her recovery, is the wonderful means he accomplished in time, by the salvation he wrought for this purpose.
The Church, therefore, departing from her glorious husband, and having lost the image of God by sin, and having mingled with the heathen, and learned their works; this parable represents the King as sending forth his servants to bring his Church home to her lawful Lord and Husband again, notwithstanding all her baseness and unworthiness of departure.
The invitation to this purpose is represented under the image and similitude of a great dinner, in which a plentiful table is spread, the richest food is provided, servants are in waiting, and all with one voice say, all things are ready, come to the marriage! It were needless to observe, that the several parts of the parable, in the servants being again and again sent, and the contempt shewn by some, and the cruelty by others; are meant to set forth the various ages of the Church, in which Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles, have ministered to this one end, and the events which have followed. These things are so plain, that everyone who is acquainted with the Bible, cannot but know them. All that seems necessary for the least additional information on this subject, is to observe, that the final issue of the Lord's design, can neither be frustrated, nor unaccomplished. The Lord Jehovah, in his threefold character of persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, hath made, for this, an effectual security. The Church is One with Christ, her Head and Husband, from all eternity. Hence every individual which constitutes a part in that mystical body, notwithstanding the after act in the Adam-nature, and Adam-fall, is secured from a pre-union with the Lord, her Husband, from everlasting ruin. Hence their effectual call and conversion is engaged for in covenant settlements. A secret union subsisted between Christ and his members from all eternity. And this brings up after it an open espousal of everyone of them at the season of their conversion. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power. And hence they are carried safely on through all the periods of time, and will be brought home to a more public display of the divine love, at the marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven. Revelation 19:9 .
"And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: (12) And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. (13) Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
This man without a wedding garment, is the representative of all, be they many, or few, who are found, in the day of enquiry, without the garment of Christ's righteousness. The parable doth not say that he was without a garment, for no doubt he was cloathed, as many are, in a righteousness of his own. But his crime was, that it, was not a wedding garment. A garment, of his Lord's. A proof of his marriage, his union, and oneness with Jesus. This ought to be particularly attended to, and clearly understood. How often is it heard in the mouth of the untaught by God the Holy Ghost, that this wedding garment is good works, an holy life, and charity, and the like. Alas! if our acceptance at Christ's table upon earth, or at his marriage supper in heaven, rested upon what some are so fond of talking of, but not a single son or daughter of Adam's fallen race ever knew; I mean good works and an holy life, no guests would be found for either. Neither doth this wedding garment consist in the adorning of a renewed soul by the graces of the Holy Spirit, such as faith, repentance, or any, or all, of the sweet effects of the Lord's work in the soul. These are all blessed and essential things in the life of grace, and every child of God, called by grace, will be blessed in the enjoyment of them, but they are not Christ. These are the effects, not the cause; the fruits of regeneration, but not the root of salvation. The wedding garment, therefore, is none of these. And though it is blessed, yea very blessed, when grace is in lively exercise, to behold how true believers in Christ, from an union with Christ, act faith upon him, and live to him, and his praise; adorning, the doctrine of God our Savior in all things: yet these form no part in the wedding garment, which is wholly of Christ, wrought out by Christ, and is; put on the believer by Christ. Every act of theirs is polluted, and must be cleansed in the blood of Christ, as well as their persons; for without this cleansing, neither the one, nor the other, can find acceptance before God. Reader! I pray you to seek for the teaching of God the Holy Ghost, to have a clear apprehension of these things. And both in ordinances now, as well as the appearing before God hereafter, see to it, that you have this wedding garment, the want of which made this man speechless, and the possession of which, proves the betrothing of every child of God, by which the whole body of Christ's church is made ready and prepared by Him, as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:12 . See Ephesians 5:23 to the end.
"For many are called, but few are chosen."
This close of the parable is the same with which Jesus closed the one of the Laborers in the Vineyard, and is very striking and solemn, but very obvious and plain upon the pure principles of the gospel. Calling, by the outward sound of the word, and the being chosen by the eternal purpose of sovereign grace, are very distinct things. In preaching the Gospel, to a mixed multitude of hearers, everyone within the sound hears the gracious invitation which the Lord gives to his Church; and, in one sense, it may be said the call to the duties of life goes forth to the whole world, and is a command from God, as a Sovereign, to hear and obey. But this outward call, differs widely from the inward work, wrought by the Holy Ghost in the hearts of the redeemed, and which comes not in word only, but in power. Paul, the Apostle, beautifully describes the difference; when speaking to the Church, he saith, We are bound to give thanks alway to God, for you brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath, from the beginning, chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, where unto he called you, by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Provision is made for this effectual calling of the Lord's people in time, 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 from their being chosen, in Christ, before the foundation of the world. Eph 1:3-4 ; 2 Timothy 1:9 . So that the whole process of grace, from the first awakenings of the soul, until grace is consummated in glory, while all these prove the everlasting love of God to his redeemed, in Christ, they become no less the fruit of that love, and are the sure earnest of eternal glory. Romans 8:29-30 .
"Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. (16) And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. (17) Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? (18) But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? (19) Show me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. (20) And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? (21) They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. (22) When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way."
A sweet instruction ariseth from hence to the children of God, If Jesus was thus beset, wonder not that his people should be. Oh! how earnest are the ungodly to wound the followers of the Lord! Reader! pray consult that sweet scripture. John 15:18-21 .
"The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, (24) Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. (25) Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: (26) Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. (27) And last of all the woman died also. (28) Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. (29) Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. (30) For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. (31) But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, (32) I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. (33) And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine."
It is worth observing, how the malice of both Sadducees and Pharisees was over-ruled to the Lord's glory and the comfort of his people. For had not those men brought forward this question, the Church would not have had the explanation, which it now hath, of this precious doctrine in this place; neither should we, most probably, have had those discoveries the Lord Jesus hath here given concerning himself at the bush of Moses. But what a blessed confirmation our Lord's answer to those men in this place is, to all the other unanswerable testimonies on this great-point of the resurrection. Jesus hath put it on its own basis, and, from the covenant relation between Christ and his people, most fully shewn that God, that is (God in Christ) is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him; their souls among the spirits of just men, made perfect, and their bodies, from an union with Christ, resting in this covenant hope of being raised at the last day. For if the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Romans 8:11 .
"But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. (35) Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, (36) Master, which is the great commandment in the law? (37) Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (38) This is the first and great commandment. (39) And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (40) On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (41) While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, (42) Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. (43) He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, (44) The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? (45) If David then call him Lord, how is he his son? (46) And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him anymore questions."
It is very blessed to discover, that let Jesus be attacked by Pharisees or Sadducees, everything tends to the Lord's glory, the promotion of his people's happiness, and the confusion of his enemies. Our Lord's conference with the Pharisees is of this kind, and so plain as to need no comment. But I would rather take occasion, from the Lord's question to the Pharisees, to propose the same, both to myself and Reader. What think ye of Christ, is the grand question of the whole subject contained in the word of God. And I beg the Reader to observe, Jesus doth not say, what think ye of me, but what think ye of Christ; that is, as God's Christ, the anointed, the sent, the sealed of the Father. For unless we have proper apprehension, both of his person and offices, in his double nature, and in his commission, our views of him will not be suitably formed. So that in this one question is involved a thousand others. What think ye of Christ? What think ye of his person, of his offices, characters, relations? What think ye of the completeness, fulness, suitableness, all-sufficiency of his salvation? What think ye of Christ as to his worth, preciousness, beauty, glory? What, as to his value, importance, his absolute necessity, and the living without knowing him, and the dying without enjoying him? Oh! for the proper apprehension of Jesus! Oh for the absolute and certain union with him, and interest in him! The soul that hath so learned Christ, will best know how to enter into the full sense of our Lord's question; and will best appreciate the being found in him, so as to render all other knowledge of no value, but the knowledge of Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God, for salvation to everyone that believeth.
Blessed Lord Jesus! Was there ever condescension like thine, to marry our nature? To pass by the nature of angels, and to take on thee the seed of Abraham! And didst thou, Lord, so fix thy love upon thy Church, that though thou knowest from the beginning that our whole nature would deal very treacherously, yet this did not prevent thy gracious design, but thou didst determine to pay our dreadful debt, to rescue us out of the hand of every enemy, to disannul our agreement with sin, and to call back thy spouse, the Church; who, as a treacherous wife, had departed from her first husband? Did Jesus indeed, in the prosecution of this great design, send forth his servants in all ages of the Church; Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles, to call home his own, and to bring all his redeemed to the marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven? Oh! peerless, unequalled love! Oh! matchless sovereign mercy! Lord Jesus! grant that when thou comest in at the last day to see thy guests at thy table, my poor soul may not be found like the man without a wedding garment, and from being Christless now, I should be speechless then. But oh! thou dear Lord! may my soul be found of thee in that all-decisive hour, so adorned in thy spotless righteousness, that both now, and then, my soul may sing the holy triumphs of the Church, and find the blessedness of it. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord: my soul shall be joyful in my God for he hath cloathed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
Dearest Lord Jesus! while Pharisees, and Herodians, and Sadducees, all confederate against thee; Oh! do thou cause my poor soul to be attached to thee more and more. Give me to enter into a proper apprehension of all the mysteries of faith, and the doctrine of the resurrection; that, convinced of an interest in the covenant of redemption made with Abraham, and the heirs with him of the promise, I may make the study of Christ, and the knowledge of Christ, the great essentials of everlasting life? and esteem Christ, and him crucified, the one thing needful, beyond all the knowledge of the earth. Oh! the blessedness of this living to Christ, and rejoicing in Christ, and making him, what God hath made him, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the and of salvation; convinced that there is no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Matthew 22". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent