Here is another parable Jesus told that was packed with significance for both believers and unbelievers, modern and ancient. However, when we interpret any parable, we must realize that every parable is an imperfect comparison, and we need to discern which details are significant and which details have no significance at all in illustrating spiritual truths.
This parable is about the kingdom of heaven, and Jesus compared it to a great wedding feast prepared by a king for his son. Just like a wedding feast, heaven is going to be a place of celebration, fun and enjoyment. Like a wedding feast, it won't be a pointless party. It will be a place to honor God's Son.
Jesus may have also used the marriage feast illustration because the Bible speaks of those who believe in Jesus as being His bride (see Ephesians 5:25-32; Revelation 19:7-9). Marriage is a good illustration of our relationship with Jesus, because true believers are inseparably joined with Him in an intimate, trusting and devoted relationship. As husband and wife become one in God's eyes, so we have become one with Jesus. True Christians are not just Christ's neighbors or acquaintances, they are married to Him!
Many guests were invited to the wedding feast but refused the invitation. The king mercifully sent his messengers with invitations more than once, but they were ignored and even mistreated. The invited guests were more interested in other things, illustrating the attitude of so many people who hear and ignore the gospel.
Eventually, however, the king's patience ran out, and he became furious with those who spurned his kindness. Consequently, he sent his army to destroy them. This teaches us that although God is love, He will not be merciful forever with those who ignore Him. Judgment is coming.
Then the king sent his servants out again to invite anyone they could find to attend the wedding feast. If this part of the parable has any significance, it represents the gospel invitation that was rejected by the Jews and offered to the Gentiles.
Of course, even those on the street corners who were invited had a choice to accept or reject the invitation. Unfortunately, one man tried to accept the invitation but not abide by the rules of the king. In Jesus' time, wealthy people often provided special wedding robes for their wedding guests. In Jesus' parable, the wedding robes may well represent the "robes of righteousness" spoken of in the book of Revelation (see Rev. 19:8). The man who was caught without a robe was either lacking Christ's righteousness, something that is given as a free gift to every believer in Jesus, or he was lacking any personal obedience, the fruit of real faith. Consequently, he didn't belong in heaven.
Jesus' primary point, as He summarized in the conclusion of the parable, was, "Many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14). That is, many are invited to the kingdom of heaven, but the invitation doesn't guarantee salvation. Only those who truly believe are chosen to attend God's great wedding feast.
Q. What does this parable have to teach us about the idea that some people are predestined by God to be saved while others are predestined by God to be unsaved?
A. This parable teaches that everyone has a choice in the matter of his salvation, and that God has not predestined certain ones to be saved and certain ones to be unsaved. This parable shows us that it is God's will for people to be in heaven who will not be there.
Q. In Jesus' story, once the man at the wedding feast was discovered to be without a wedding robe, he was cast out. Is Jesus trying to tell us that some people who don't really belong in heaven will be mistakenly allowed in and then later be cast out and thrown into hell?
A. No, and this is where we must draw the line in trying to find significance in every detail of the parable. Jesus was only illustrating the fact that, even though the invitation is so freely extended to everyone and so many people do apparently accept the invitation, there will be those who will try to accept the invitation on their own terms and who ultimately will be rejected. The man who was cast out represents a false believer. He accepted the invitation but didn't do what the king required.
Application: The most important thing in life is accepting God's salvation invitation and then doing His will the rest of your life. If you've done that, you're on the right track and have a happy future indeed!
Family Devotion Subscription
To subscribe to the Family-Style Devotions by David Servant, simply submit your e-mail address below. You will receive a family devotional each weekday morning.