This Bible Study is part of the "The Gospel of Matthew" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: "The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come." [They could have come, but were not willing.]
Greetings, friends around the world!
Once again, this is Roderick C. Meredith, bringing you a commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. Turn to chapter 22, if you are following along out of your Bible. If not, do check up on me later and see for yourself what these verses really mean. When you really study it, you find in the Bible an entirely different kind of Christianity than what most of you have ever understood. So open your minds and be willing to prove all things—and you will learn much.
"And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come. [They could have come, but were not willing.] Again, he sent out other servants, [The king was furious. He sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers and burned those cities.]… Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.'"
The ones He first invited rebelled and turned against God. This was certainly a message for the religious leaders of those days, as we have been discussing.
"So those servants went out into the highways."
Jesus turned away from the religious leaders, to the common people and, finally, even to the Gentiles. They were called to understanding—and many of them responded.
"'Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.' So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment."
A wedding garment pictures Christ's righteousness. It pictures God's character. It pictures purity—and this man did not have purity. In the historical church down through the ages, most people, frankly have never had on a wedding garment. Very few people have been conquered by God. Very few people have been willing to utterly surrender their hearts, their minds and their wills to do what this book says—and to yield themselves day by day and hour by hour for Christ to live His life in them.
"So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'"
There are certain people who teach "universal salvation"—that everybody is safe, that nobody will ever be lost, and there is nothing for us to do. Of course, Jesus did not say that at all. Over and over He shows us that we ought to obey.
Back in Matthew 19:17, which we covered a few programs ago, He said to the young man who asked Him the way to eternal life, that "if you would enter into life, keep the commandments." Then He began to name some of the Ten Commandments. Yes, there is a way of life. There is a righteousness that you must have—not on your own strength, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ put within you through the Holy Spirit.
"For many are called, but few are chosen."
Many are invited, but very few are going to be in the first resurrection when Christ comes back as King of kings. He went ahead here explaining more about this:
"Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk.
And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, 'Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone [They tried to flatter Him.], for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us [They were trying to trick Him, to get Him in trouble with the Roman authorities.], therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?' But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, 'Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.' So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, 'Whose image and inscription is this?'"
"Who has gone to the trouble of having his picture, his image and other things printed right here on this coin?," He asked—just as I can pull a twenty dollar bill out of my billfold and find the picture of President Andrew Jackson. The government prints that money; doing so costs money and trouble. The government takes care of the highways. The government takes care of the national forests. The government takes care of our national defense. It does need money. Sometimes it taxes us too highly; we know that. Nevertheless, it has a right to impose some taxation, and Jesus tells us to honor and respect the powers that be.
"And He said to them, 'Whose image and inscription is this?' ["Who has done this work?"] They said to Him, 'Caesar's.' And He said to them, 'Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.'"
He still did not tell them how much to give the Romans. But He said that the Romans deserve something.
"When they had heard these words, they marveled [Christ was able to "wiggle out" and not say "Yes, give them all their taxes and we think Caesar has a right to take these heavy taxes." He simply showed them the principle.], and left Him and went their way. The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection [The Sadducees were the Jewish sect who were the priests in the temple; they did not believe in the resurrection from the dead!], came to Him and asked Him, saying: 'Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother.'"
That is true. God particularly instructs the brethren to dwell together. The younger brother might marry the wife if the older brother died and had no heirs, and so on.
"Now there were with us seven brothers."
This is just a story they came up with to make the answer very difficult. People often ask about God's Sabbath, "How could you keep the Sabbath on the North Pole?" Well, of course, no one lives on the North Pole. People come up with some ridiculous thing—but, in fact, up there near the North Pole, the Eskimos know what day it is! People can figure out how to keep days—business days—it is just when it comes to God's days that they have a problem and have these excuses.
"'Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother. Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh. [All seven brothers married this woman one after the other.] Last of all the woman died also. Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.' [One brother after the other.] Jesus answered and said to them, 'You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. ["You don't even understand what the resurrection is all about, fellows," He said. "It is not about marriage, it's not about physical life. It is about becoming spirit beings in the very family of God." His listeners did not understand that, just as most professing Christians today don't understand.] 'For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven."'"
Spirit beings, with spirit bodies, will live forever—serving God and helping to rule this earth under Jesus Christ. The saints are called to rule this earth. Jesus is coming back as King of kings to be over the other kings. Jesus said, "He who overcomes shall rule over the nations with a rod of iron just as I have been given to do by my Father." So other kings will rule along with Jesus—those kings will be those of us who surrender to God and obey and walk with God and learn God's way. They will be those of us who let Him put within us His character, and who exercise that character and show God that we will be faithful. Then He can use us to help straighten out the problems on this earth—and perhaps later even rule planets throughout the universe. Most people never understand that, but that is certainly a great possibility. In the resurrection, we are like the angels in heaven.
"But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? [These men had been dead, even then, for hundreds of years. WAY gone in the far distant past.] God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
In Romans 4:17, God says, "God calls those things which be not as though they were." In other words, He is now the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob even though they are dead because their resurrection is just as certain as the rising of tomorrow's sun. He told Abraham, "I have made you a father of many nations." Abraham could have looked around and said, "Where are these nations?" They were not there, "Abraham died not receiving the promise," God tells us in Hebrews 11. But Abraham knew it was absolutely certain—and God counted for righteousness that faith and that total belief in God and in His way. We have to have that same attitude.
"'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
They are not dead. He is not the God of dead people. But in a sense He is the God of them because they are going to live; they are going to have a position in His Kingdom.
"And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching. But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. [They wanted to trick Him.] Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, [again, trying to catch Him] and saying, 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?' [Now listen carefully: here is the Son of God answering this question—He certainly should know.] Jesus said to him, 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'"
In other words, with all of your being. God differentiates in the Bible a number of times between the heart and the mind. There is something about the deep seat of emotion and conviction that comes—and God calls that your heart. Your mind can understand technical things, but your heart is something else. "With all your soul" means your animal life—all your physical energy—"and with all your mind," means to bring every thought into captivity to Christ. You are to love God, to worship God and to remember that He is the giver of every good and every perfect gift. Every beautiful sunrise, every beautiful sunset—indeed every good and wonderful and kind, absolutely magnificent thing that you have ever seen or known—came from God. And He has a lot more where that came from. He is our Father, and we have to learn to love Him, appreciate Him, worship Him, adore Him and believe in Him. Love God with all your being—that is the first and great commandment.
So many people I meet say, "Well, I just try to obey God and just love my neighbor as myself." That is just about all they know to do—actually, they don't even know how to do that. They "try to obey the golden rule," they will say, thinking that is the main thing. They are deceived about that because the main thing is first of all loving God with all of your being. The first four commandments in the Bible tell you how to do that—how to have no other gods before the true God. Don't ever make any picture or representation of God. God cannot be put inside a picture frame! The Creator, the magnificent God who created the universe, whose face blazes like the sun at full strength, cannot be fit in a picture frame, or in some kind of representation. God commands against that. You need to stand in awe of the invisible God—that great God of power. You should never take His name cheaply and talk about God or Christ in a cheap way. Don't take His name in vain.
Fourthly, "Remember the Sabbath"—don't forget it. Remember the Sabbath, the seventh day, not the first day. The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. You are to rest and worship Him in that day. Most people forget that day. If God told them to forget that day, then they would try to remember it, but since He told them to remember it, they are bound to forget it—that is human nature. But remembering the Sabbath is what we do when we love God. God tells us to do this because the Sabbath pictures Him as the Creator of the heavens and the earth and reminds us of His plan and of the seventh 1,000-year period that is coming—the millennial rule of Jesus Christ. And there are many other meanings in that wonderful Sabbath day.
The last six commandments tell you how to love your neighbor, so Jesus went on and said…
"And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"
Yes, that is the next command—not the main one. You cannot love your neighbor as yourself unless you have the fear of God and the awe of God. You need the understanding of God and His spirit; then you can love your neighbor as yourself. Without that, you cannot and will not.
"On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."
In other words, every one of the laws is based on one of those great laws—as we understand and nearly all scholars understand. They don't act on it, but they understand it. The first four commandments are an extension of the great commandment to love God. The last six commandments tell you how to love your neighbor. It all goes back to those two, but this does not do away with the ten. Jesus said to keep all ten. The Apostles did, and all of the rest of the Bible agrees that we are to keep them ALL.
"While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, 'What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?' [Here, Jesus was going to put them on the spot.] They said to Him, 'The Son of David.' [The Jews all believe, you know, that David was this great man of God and he was the picture of Christ, which is true, his whole heart and love of God. So, they said Christ was "the Son of David," because He is called that in the Old Testament prophecies.] He said to them, 'How then does David in the Spirit [guided by God's Spirit] call Him 'Lord,' [How does David call his Son Lord? Do you call your son Lord? Most of you don't do that.] saying: 'The LORD [Now here must be the great God.] said to my Lord…'"
David had no human boss. David had no human Lord. So this Lord, we can understand, was Jesus Christ. God tells us back in the book of John, "In the beginning was the Word; the Word was with God and the Word was God." He came into the earth and became our Savior. That Word—that Logos, that Spokesman—was the Christ. He was the God of the Old Testament. In 1 Corinthians 10:4, God described the Lord of ancient Israel, the Rock that led Israel out of Egypt and through the Red Sea. It says "that Rock was Christ." Christ was the Lord of the Old Testament. Christ was David's Lord.
"'The LORD [the Great Lord—God the Father] said to my Lord, 'Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool'? If David then calls Him 'Lord,' how is He his Son?"
They did not understand that—and most people have not understood that. The vast majority of preachers have never understood that either, because they don't understand that Jesus was, in fact, the God of the Old Testament. Jesus Christ—in the person of the Rock of Israel, the Lord of the Old Testament, the Lord God of Israel—is the One who spoke the Ten Commandments from the top of Mount Sinai. It blows their minds to think that the Ten Commandments CAME DIRECTLY FROM Christ! Yes, He is the One who said, "I am the Eternal God who brought you out of the land of Egypt." Some say, "Well, I thought God did that." Yes, God did do it. That God was Christ, that Rock was Christ—because Christ was God and Christ is God and He and the Father are ONE! We need to understand that. That Rock was Christ.
"And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore."
They were SHAKEN, and they realized that they did not even understand their own Holy Book—yet here they were, the chief ministers and priests of the nation.
We have a powerful booklet titled Restoring Apostolic Christianity. Some of the very things I have been explaining to you here are covered, along with many other wonderful things that I cannot explain today or in these programs—such as what happened to true Christianity and what true Apostolic Christianity is like—not only explained by the Bible but also confirmed by history. So please request your free copy of Restoring Apostolic Christianity. This is a wonderful little booklet easy to read, thoroughly proved. You will appreciate it. It may change your life. It is absolutely FREE upon your request. "Restoring Apostolic Christianity" is the theme of this Work of the Living Church of God.
Next time, I will continue on in chapter 23 as we go on through the rest of the book of Matthew.
This is Roderick Meredith, speaking for the Living Church of God.