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LESSON 13 - THE LAST INVITATION (MATTHEW 22:1-14)

Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to
the NIV unless otherwise noted. Suggested answers are found within
parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard. 

INTRODUCTION: This week our study is the parable of the wedding
feast in Matthew 22.  It is quite similar to the parable found in
Luke 14. Let's get into it!

I. THE INVITATION

     A. Read Matthew 22:1-6. Ever get an invitation to stay free at
     a timeshare? Did you accept? It Is Written has an apparently
     very successful, and on the surface surprising, fundraising
     technique. They send me an invitation to stay at one of the
     more expensive hotels in the area over the weekend for free!
     They offer to feed me for free, and entertain me with speakers
     -- all for free!

     They also send me several invitations and reminders to attend
     this event.  

     How many times does the king invite the guests to his wedding?
     (Three times in total. Verse 3 reveals two times. "Those who
     HAD BEEN invited" have servants make a personal request for
     them to attend when the banquet is prepared. So it appears
     that they previously got an invitation, and the servants show
     up to tell them everything is ready. Then v.4 shows a new
     group of servants make a third request saying the food is
     ready, get over here!)

     B. What is the reaction of those who are invited? (They do not
     come.)

          1. Why don't they come? Do those who are described in vv.
          3, 5 and 6 have the same reasons for not coming? (It
          seems that there are at least three different attitudes.
          Verse 3 speaks of those who "refused to come." Verse 5
          speaks of those who were not paying attention because of
          their work. Verse 6 reveals that "the rest" are so
          hostile they abuse and kill the servants carrying the
          invitation.)

               a. If you were the king, which type of response 
               would you prefer? Why? (I would prefer those who
               refused because they didn't like me or didn't want
               to spend time with me over those who thought I was
               so unimportant that they might as well go hoe
               weeds. The worst are those that are so hostile and
               so contemptuous of my power that they kill my
               workers. They are not content with refusing my
               invitation, they want me to know that they think I
               will not (or cannot) do anything to them for
               destroying my property.)

     C. Remember that we started out with me asking you about 
     timeshares? If you have refused such an invitation, tell me
     why you refused.  The It Is Written weekends sound like
     something I would enjoy. However, I know they are not in the
     business of giving out free weekends, and I have not gone
     because of the "cost" of the "free" weekend. (However, they
     continue to faithfully ask me to come.)

          1. Is our reaction to these invitations the same as the
          reaction of some of the invited guests in the parable?
          (Yes. Some (v.5) are attending to other matters.)

               a. Does my modern parallel do justice to the nature
               of the invitation?  Would you consider an
               invitation to a timeshare to be the equivalent of
               being invited to Chelsea Clinton's wedding? (It
               really is "the event" to attend and an insult to
               refuse to come.)

          2. How do you explain the reaction of those who killed
          and abused the servants? (They were not preoccupied. They
          must have hated the king or hated hearing the invitation
          which would take them from their work.)

               a. Under what circumstances would you hate to hear
               an invitation so much that you would want to kill
               to stop hearing it? (Seems impossible except in the
               context of a guilty conscience. You cannot "reason"
               your way out, so violence is your only recourse.)

     D. Read v.7. Seem fair enough?

     E. I want to stop here a minute before we go on and remind you
     this is a parable. Who do these people represent? Let's go
     through the list:

          1. King? (= God)

          2. Wedding banquet? (= Kingdom of heaven)

          3. Servants? (= Servants of God)

          4. Invitees? (= Those who reject the gospel invitation.)

          5. What do the murders and the destruction of the murderers
          and the burning of the city represent? (We can see now
          that this is an astonishing prophecy. John the Baptist,
          Jesus and many of His disciples were killed giving the
          invitation. Their message originally was to God's favored
          people, the Jewish nation (Acts 13:46). In 70 AD,
          Jerusalem was burned.)

               a. Friends, Jesus says the King "was enraged." Was
               God angry at the rejection and murder of His Son?
               How do you square this with the picture of a loving
               God?  Why would Jesus paint His Father in such a
               way? (I do not see any way to sugar-coat this.)

               b. Are we murders too? Did Jesus die because of our
               sins? (Yes. 1 Corinthians 15:3 "Christ died for our
               sins....)

                    (1) Would the King be justified in killing us?
                    (Romans 5:8-11. Christ's death reconciled us
                    to the Father.)

                         (a) How do you explain that the same act
                         both enraged the King and reconciled us
                         to the King? (It depends upon which
                         "side" of the act you are on.  If you are
                         killing the Son because you reject Him,
                         you are on the "rage" side of the act. 
                         If you realize what your sins have done
                         to the Son, and that your sins merit your
                         death, and gratefully accept his death in
                         your place, then you are reconciled to
                         the Father.)

II. THE NEW INVITATION TO THE NEW INVITEES

     A. Let's read on. Matthew 22:8-14.

     B. Verse 9 says invite "anyone you find." Is there anyone who
     is not eligible to go to heaven? Do you have to be
     predestined? (No)

          1. What is significant about the fact that the servants
          were looking "in the streets" for invitees? (These were
          not necessarily property owners.  The invitation now went
          out to a group that was not segregated by social status.
          They were all "in the street.")

          2. How can "good and bad" (v.10) be "gathered?"

     C. Verse 11 tells us that the King cast a critical eye over
     his guests. He found one that was not acceptable. What made
     him unacceptable?  (No wedding garment.)

          1. If you were the King, what factors might have made a
          guest unacceptable to you? (How about the fact that they
          came from the "street" and included the "bad?"  My bet is
          that I would have found most of these guests
          "unacceptable.")

          2. Let's look at the practical side of this. Do you think
          these people from the streets were wearing wedding
          garments when they were out shopping or whatever? (Of
          course not.)

               a. So where did they get their wedding garment? 
               (They could only have gotten them from the King. He
               must have been giving them out.)

          3. When the King confronts the man without a wedding 
          garment, v. 12 tells us he was "speechless." Why do you
          think he was speechless?  Was he surprised? (No. He was
          without excuse. They were, after all, invited for free
          when they did not "deserve" to come and they were given
          the proper garments for free.)


               a. Put yourself in the place of the man without a
               garment.  What could possibly motivate him not to 
               put on the garment? (He must have thought that the
               clothes he had were just fine.  I can imagine that
               he happens to have his best clothes on (certainly 
               better than the guy who was going to the supermarket)
               and he does not need a garment that looks like just
               like everyone else. He thinks he looks good just as
               he is.)
                 
                         (1) What a spiritual error to think we are 
                          fine just as we are!

          4. This wedding garment is obviously incredibly
          important. What is it?

     D. Explain to me how "bad" street people are acceptable if 
     they have on the free wedding garment? (The Greek word for
     "bad" is "poneros" and it means bad! Thayer says, "in an
     ethical sense: evil wicked, bad. (The same word is translated
     "evil" in Matthew 13:38 in the parable of the wheat and tares.
     "The weeds are the sons of the evil one.")

          1. In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the weeds
          are "pulled up and burned." (Matthew 13:40)

          2. How do you explain this apparent contradiction between
          these two kingdom parables? (The difference is the
          wedding garment.)

          3. What does this say for the "perfection people" -- 
          those who say we have to be perfect (not have any
          cherished sin) to go to heaven? Can that position survive
          this parable?

          4. If the bad can get in (and the "perfection people" are
          wrong) how do you explain v. 14: "Many are invited, but
          few are chosen?"  The whole place was invited, and all
          were chosen, except for this one bloke! What is the
          meaning of this? (First, many more than those who were
          there were invited. However, the fate of the person turns
          on whether they have a wedding garment. Those "chosen"
          ones are few.)

          5. Turn with me to Revelation 19:6-9. Whoa! This is the
          fulfillment of the prophetic part of this parable, right?
          What about the description of the wedding garment?  The
          NIV says "Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the
          saints."  (Same NKJV and several others)  The KJV says
          "fine linen is the righteousness of saints." (Thayer,
          Vines and other authorities suggest the underlying greek
          word (dikaioomata) can refer to "deeds" or "what has been
          deemed right ... [by] force of law." (Thayer) Romans 4
          and 5:16-18 plainly tell us that righteousness comes by
          faith and "covers" our sins. (Rom. 4:7)

          6. Praise God for His invitation and His wedding garment.
          Make sure you accept both!

III. NEXT WEEK: New Quarter! Get new quarterlies. "Creator and
Healer."  I wish we were studying a book and not going into a
"proof text" study.