Matthew 22:1-14-The Parable of The Wedding Banquet

  In this Parable of the Wedding Banquet/Feast, a first invitation (a sort of "Save the date!" notice)) is followed by the summons carried by the host's servants when the banquet is ready. Then things start to fall apart. The invited guests simply refuse to come, and when the second call comes, they treat the invitation as a joke and go about their business. More than bad manners are at stake, for some invitees even assault and kill the servants. In his anger, the king then escalates the confrontation by sending in his troops to destroy both the offenders and their city.  With the party ready, the king is determined that it will go forward, and so the servants are sent out again, this time to the main streets. They are to bring in everyone, "good and bad" (verse 10), so that the hall will be filled. (cf. Luke 14:15-24) 

The final invitation that will fill the banquet hall is inclusive in the extreme. In that sense it mirrors other instances of Jesus' table community that embodied the hospitality and inclusiveness of the divine project or empire He proclaimed. Questions of social status or observance of Torah regulations, or even one's ethical behaviour are set aside in favour of the urgency of the host's plan. That radical inclusiveness comes to a sudden stop, however, when the king encounters a guest who is not properly dressed (verses 11-13). Clearly the issue is not only the man's physical clothing, but rather something else about how he presents himself in this ultimate moment. We are left without a list of specific criteria that move a person from the list of the many "called," to that of the few "chosen" (verse 14), but it appears that Matthew envisions further accountability beyond one's initial response of discipleship, our "yes!" to God's invitation to the banquet. 

A wedding can be a metaphor for the relationship between God and Israel (Isaiah 54:5-6; 62:5; Hosea 2:16-20), and a banquet a sign of the covenant between them (Isaiah 25:6-10; 55:1-3). "Worthiness" thus involves being able to recognize the king's "wedding banquet" for what it is and responding to it as one's top priority.

Posted on October 11, 2014 .