Wednesday, July 11, 2007



Matthew 22:1-10

1Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 2"The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

4"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.'

5"But they paid no attention and went off-one to his field, another to his business. 6The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

8"Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' 10So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

The events of this parable are completely in accordance with normal Jewish customs. When the invitations to a great feast, like a wedding feast, were sent out, the time was not stated. And, when everything was ready the servants were sent out with a final summons to tell the guests to come. So then, the king in this parable sent out his invitations long ago, but it was not till everything was prepared that the final summons was issued-and insultingly refused. This parable has two meanings.

FIRST-It has a purely local meaning. Its local meaning was a driving home of what had already been said in the Parable of the Wicked Vine-Growers; once again it was an accusation of the Jewish leadership. The invited guests who when the time came refused to come, stand for the Jewish leadership. Ages ago they had been invited by God to be his chosen people; yet when God's son came into the world, and they were invited to follow Him they contemptuously refused. The result was that the invitation of God went out direct to the highways and the byways; and the people in the highways and the byways stand for the sinners and the Gentiles, who never expected an invitation into the Kingdom.

SECOND-This parable also has much to say on a much wider scale. One of the surprising things indicated here is that God's invitation is an invitation to joy and not gloom. I see three reminders:

It reminds us that the things which make men deaf to the invitation of Christ are not necessarily bad in themselves. One man went to his estate; the other to his business. These weren't bad things, but normal things. However, when the good gets in the way of the best, then you have a problem.

It also reminds us that the appeal of Christ is not so much to consider how we will be punished as it is to see what we will miss, if we do not take his way of things.

Finally, it reminds us that in the last analysis God's invitation is the invitation of grace. Those who were gathered in from the highways and the byways had no claim on the king and they could never by any stretch of imagination have expected an invitation to the wedding feast, much less could they ever have deserved it. It came to them from nothing other than the wide-armed, open-hearted, generous hospitality of the king. It was grace which offered the invitation and grace which gathered men in.

The only way anyone will get into the Kingdom is by the grace of God-unmerited favor from God, Himself!



Matthew 21:28-46

28"What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' 29" 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30"Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go. 31"Which of the two did what his father wanted?" "The first," they answered.

Jesus sets up two kinds of people: FIRST-The person who initially says that he will not, but then jumps in and works in the vineyard. Although the verbal response was negative, but the ultimate effect was that this person actually was a doer. NOTE this is the sinner, the non-religious.

SECOND-The person who initially says that he will yet does not go to work in the vineyard. This person quickly agrees to going along with the request of the father, but doesn't actually become a doer. NOTE this is the religious, the ones who you would expect to go to work in the vineyard.

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.

Jesus identifies the tax collectors and the prostitutes with the ones who initially aren't "naturally" with the Kingdom of God. Yet, because of their follow-through in actually doing the work of the father, they are getting into the Kingdom ahead of those you might think should be there already.

These same pseudo-righteous people are identified with tenants who were managing the landowner's land. See how He does this: 33"Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. 34When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.

35"The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37Last of all, he sent his son to them. 'They will respect my son,' he said.

38"But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance.' 39So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

40"Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" 41"He will bring those wretches to a wretched end," they replied, "and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time."

42Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: "'The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'? 43"Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed."

45When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus' parables, they knew he was talking about them. 46They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.

This parable tracks with the history of the Jewish reaction to God's blessings. The owner of the vineyard is God who gave His blessings for the Jewish people to manage. Yet every representative He sent to them, they turned on them, persecuted and some they even killed. These were the Judges and Prophets.

Then God, the owner, sent His own Son. They did the same thing to Him, too. Then, as the story goes, the owner went to the field to throw out the tenants and kill them. And after this, He gave the vineyard to others. In other words, this parable tells the entire history of the children of Israel in relationship to their God-Jehovah.

NOTE that the difference between the two types of people comes down to who will follow-through and produce fruit. The ultimate proof of whether something is of God or not is the fruitfulness. The proof is in the fruit! Now, one more thing. Remember what you must do to produce fruit? Abide or remain in the vine or hang on to Jesus. He will produce fruit in and through us. So, we are to be faithful and He will make us fruitful. That's the Kingdom way.