Pastor Steve Ellison
In Matthew 21 and 22, Jesus told a series of parables aimed primarily at identifying, defining, and condemning hypocrisy. The Parable of the Two Sons, the Parable of the Wicked Tenants (more accurately the Parable of the Landowner), and the Parable of the Wedding Feast each teach us about the terrible dangers of hypocrisy. However, our always gracious and forgiving God stood ready to forgive. In the final parable, Jesus pointed out the great danger inherent in hypocrisy, which is that the hypocrite fools himself. The hypocrite believes that he has trusted Christ when in reality he has trusted himself.
In Matthew 22:1-14, Jesus told a parable about a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. The guests received at least four invitations but turned the invitations down for various trivial reasons. Verse three plainly states the real reason: they were unwilling to come. My own personal observation of this verifies that assessment. People, myself included, generally find time, money, and resources to do that which they are willing to do, i.e. what they want to do. Because those who had been invited refused to come, the king made an interesting pronouncement. He declared that they were not worthy to attend. Obviously, there can only be one reason why they were not worthy. It was because they had refused the invitation.
There is another important aspect to this parable. It describes a man (a hypocrite) who attempted to attend the wedding feast without accepting the king’s offer for clean clothes. This type of hypocrisy is the most dangerous of all, at least to the man himself. He has fooled himself into thinking that he can do something to clean himself up, to make himself presentable to the king and the king’s son. Jesus did not tell us how the hypocrite tried to clean himself up but it does not matter. The truth is that nothing except the undeserved, free grace of God will work. Thus, there was no need for Jesus to name any of the ways that man tries make himself presentable to God. Nothing else will work, not circumcision, not baptism, not keeping the Ten Commandments, not praying to Mecca, not bathing in the Ganges, not attending church, not sending money to a television evangelist, not following the Noble Eight-Fold Path, nor any other human effort. God’s free offer of grace found in His Son, Jesus, is the only way to be made presentable to Him. The man who refused the wedding clothes provided by the king found himself muzzled, tied hand and foot, and cast into a place of utter darkness and torment.
Matthew 22:14 concludes the parable with an unusual declaration, “For many are called but few are chosen.” (NASU) The testimony of this parable is that God has invited every person to the Great Marriage Supper of the Lamb which will take place at the end of time. In spite of the fact that every person has received multiple invitations, many have been declared unworthy based solely on their unwillingness to accept the invitation. In addition there are some who have fooled themselves into thinking that they have accepted the invitation when in reality they have not. Because they have tried to add some effort of their own to God’s free gift of grace they have rendered themselves unacceptable. Many are called but few are chosen. There are two beings that make the choice in this matter. God has made his choice. He has invited everyone. The other choice is made by humans. Each person must choose to accept or reject God’s invitation of salvation by grace through Jesus alone. What choice have you made?