Jesus and the Parallel Universe
Parables are parallels that pack a punch. The root meaning of the word parable is ‘to throw alongside.’ Parallels are stories with at least two meanings. The stories are often funny and sometimes ridiculous. They usually have a strong emotional impact. We miss much of the impact of these stories in the Bible because we are not familiar with the culture in which they were originally told.
Jesus used parables in His teaching after many rejected Him. Jesus taught in parables because those who accepted Him would understand, but those who rejected would not (Matthew 13:10-14). Again often, He used parables when confronted by enemies looking for an excuse to kill Him. Jesus was able to teach truths that His enemies could not use against Him.
Jesus stood in The Temple courts surrounded by the religious leaders who were desperate to silence Him by murder. Jesus used three parables to pronounce judgement upon these enemies. Many of the parables of Jesus were prophetic, foretelling what was going to happen.
Parables can also be useful for getting people to hear. After King David had committed adultery and murder, the prophet Nathan came to him. Nathan told David a story about a man who had lost his only animal, a young lamb. The thief was a wealthy landowner. When King David heard this story, he was outraged. Nathan quickly accused David of being like the landowner who had stolen a man’s wife and then killed. The parallel drove the point home to David.
Parables often are not about us. Many people misinterpret the meaning of parables because they keep trying to make them about themselves. We can learn from all parables but sometimes only indirectly. Because we are familiar with the stories of the parables does not guarantee we understand them.
The King’s Feast (Matthew 22:1-14)
The third judgement parable Jesus told in the Temple Court.
2 “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who made a wedding feast for his son,
There is a day coming when there will be a wedding feast involving Jesus, the King’s son and His Bride, the Church (Revelation 19:7, 9). There will be wedding guests, including the Old Testament Saints and the Tribulation Saints. The Jewish people who turn to their Messiah in the Tribulation will also be amongst these guests.
3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come
Right throughout the history of Israel in the Old Testament, the servants of God went out amongst the people inviting them to turn to God and ultimately to have a place at the marriage feast. Again and again, the Jewish people rejected the wonderful things that God was offering them, speaking through the prophets.
4 Again he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner. My cattle and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding feast!” ’
Even though Israel kept rejecting the invitation, God continued to send His servants inviting the people into the blessings of the King.
5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his merchandise;
There were many reasons why Israel rejected God’s invitation. They forgot God because they loved the material things they had received more than God (Deuteronomy 8:11-14).
6 and the rest grabbed his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them.
Not only did Israel ignore God’s grace, but the people turned on the prophets and killed them (Matthew 23:29-32). This hostility culminated in Israel rejecting the King’s son, Jesus and killing Him (Matthew 27:25).
7 When the King heard that, he was angry, and sent his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
When the nation of Israel rejected Christ, God rejected them for a time. A terrible judgement was visited upon them in AD 70 when the Romans burnt Jerusalem and the Temple to the ground. Throughout the land, many were slaughtered and crucified. There will come a day when God will remember the nation and they will turn to Him (Zechariah 12:10-14).
8 “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited weren’t worthy.
Israel’s rejection of Jesus did not result in the cancellation of God’s plans to redeem and bless people.
9 Go therefore to the intersections of the highways, and as many as you may find, invite to the wedding feast.’
After the resurrection of Jesus, He commissioned His Apostles to go into all the world and invite the nations to the wedding feast (Matthew 28:18-20).
10 Those servants went out into the highways and gathered together as many as they found, both bad and good. The wedding was filled with guests.
For over two thousand years, the good news of Jesus Christ has gone throughout the world, inviting both the good and the bad to believe (Acts 1:8).
11 “But when the King came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who didn’t have on wedding clothing,
Clothing in this context speaks of atonement. The word atone means to cover. When Adam and Eve sinned, they tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. The fact they were naked and ashamed, hiding from God, indicated they were unsuccessful. Jesus cursed the fig tree because it was fruitless (Matthew 21:19). Our attempts at covering our sins are never successful. We cannot atone for ourselves. It is when we allow the King to clothe us in His garments of salvation that we are acceptable to God (Isaiah 61:10)
12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here not wearing wedding clothing?’ He was speechless.
In the context of a wedding feast, guests were often provided with suitable clothing by the host. This man had refused the kings generosity. Those who refuse to let God clothe them with righteousness through Christ’s atoning death and resurrection will be speechless on the day they stand before God in judgement. There can be no defence for rejecting the good news (Hebrews10:29-31).
13 Then the King said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and throw him into the outer darkness. That is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be.’
All who reject Christ will be cast into the Lake of Fire forever (Revelation 20:11-15). There is a general application of this parable to all mankind, but there is also a specific application to Israel’s nation. The parable was explicitly addressed to the Jewish people in their Temple in Jerusalem. Strictly speaking, we cannot start by applying it to Israel and then focus on the church. We can see another way of viewing the servants going out into the cross-roads and inviting people to come to the wedding feast. This invite is during the Tribulation. Here Israel is once again, as a nation, offered the blessings of God and must choose. Like the man without the proper clothing, there will be those, when Christs returns, who Jesus will cast out (Matthew 25:11-12).
14 For many are called, but few chosen.”
The final verse is the punchline of the parable. Israel and the nations have been offered salvation, but most have rejected this (Matthew 7:13, 14). Those who do accept only choose because Jesus has chosen them (John 15:16). Here we see both man’s will and God’s sovereignty at work (Romans 9:14-25).
- What does this parable say to you?
- Who does the man without the correct clothing represent?
- How can we choose when God chooses?