Matthew 22:1-7 (NIV) Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
“But they paid no attention and went off–one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.”
Jesus was still talking to the chief priests and Pharisees. (They don’t storm off until 22:15.) He isn’t letting up on them, but continues to push the truth forward in ways that they cannot deny. God is not willing that any are lost, even those who hearts are hard and necks stiff. If they are ultimately lost, it is not because God failed to speak, but because they have refused to hear.
The figure has changed in this parable, but the message is still along the same lines. The guests invited to the wedding feast first are these religious leaders, and the picture is tragic. The king, God Himself, who has prepared a wedding feast for His Son, Jesus, extends an invitation to the best people of the land, these leaders. All is ready, and the doors to the palace are thrown open for them. But the invited guests ignore two separate invitations. They have more important things to do that to go to the king’s feast! And some even mistreat and kill the messengers, God’s prophets.
The next action of the king is to destroy these murderers and to burn their city to the ground. This foretells yet again God’s judgment that resulted in the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, taking away the temple and its rituals – a judgment that has lasted until the present day.
Jesus was never shy about telling it like it is, including all of the gory details. But He did it in an honest effort to get people to respond, to repent, to turn away from the path that ensures their ruin.
Father, Your grace and mercy are mind boggling. In Your place, I would have been tempted to wipe these people out before they could murder Jesus. But Your way was better, and much more merciful. You gave them every opportunity to repent, and even spared them for another almost 40 years before your final judgment fell on the city! Thank You for all that You are, and all that You have done. Amen.