Gospel of Matthew Chapter Twenty-Two Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Verses 1-4: "Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying,2 'The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. 3 And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come.4 Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, 'Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.'" You have been invited, as an honored guest, to attend a "wedding feast." Paul would later say, within a discussion on the subject of marriage: "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:32). To give yourself to Christ, the Bridegroom, is a wondrous decision, for you become not only an honored guest of God, but even more, you become personally a part of His kingdom, through marriage to His "son," the Christ of this parable. "Everything is ready"—He has sought you and bought you... your part is to say "yes"—He did the rest.
Verses 5-7: "But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, 6 and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them.7 But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire." Our God utterly loves you and me. As this parable indicates, the Father sent His Son to be your Savior, for He is "not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). But we tend to have a wrong view of such love. God is not some emotionless robot-like creature, but instead He is passionate, alive and full of conscious, directed enthusiasm, bringing us out of self-centeredness so we will trust in His Son. And it is true, as these verses indicate, that a final refusal of His offer will end in eternal destruction. The "slaves" here are God's prophets, mistreated and killed by the forerunners of the men who listened to Jesus at this moment.
Verses 8-10: "Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.'10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests." The religious leaders Jesus was speaking to, had contempt for anyone other than themselves, and He had already told them to their faces that "tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom before you" (Matthew 21:31). Since we know our own lives better than anyone else, we are aware that our thoughts, words and actions are not as good as we like to pretend they are... which gives us hope in Jesus Christ. We have failed, but He has succeeded, and by saying "yes" to Him, we joyously enter the "wedding feast" of the Lamb of God, becoming an integral part of His faithful ones—forever.
Verses 11-14: "But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, 12 and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'14 For many are called, but few are chosen.'" When we place our trust in the Lord, we are changed, inside and out, which is both an event and a lifelong process. The "clothes" of these verses may be seen in places like Isaiah 61:10—"He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness..." relating those garments to the clothing of the bridegroom and bride. In Revelation 19:10, this clothing is linked to "the righteous acts of the saints." Permission to be a part of all this is granted by the "King." He is the One who clothes us with salvation and righteousness. Those who don't accept His offer are thrown into "outer darkness," a place of mourning and suffering—forever.
Verses 15-17: "Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said.16 And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, 'Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any.17 Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?'" One of the things I have noticed about anger and unforgiveness is that angry, unforgiving persons often decide someone is unlikeable, and then spend the rest of their lives trying to prove it. The "Pharisees" (separated ones) and "Herodians" (politicians) didn't like Jesus. He was a threat to their power over the people. They brushed aside His many amazing miracles, focusing instead on trying to find some way to accuse Him. The people hated those who worked as tax collectors for their Roman masters, and so these men came up with the question seen in Verse 17—and people are still asking it today: Do we HAVE to pay taxes? (The answer is yes—See Romans 13:6-7).
Verses 18-22: "But Jesus perceived their malice, and said,'Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?19 Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.'And they brought Him a denarius.20 And He said to them,'Whose likeness and inscription is this?' 21 They said to Him, 'Caesar’s.' Then He said to them,'Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.'22 And hearing this, they were amazed, and leaving Him, they went away." His answer was perfect, and we need to look inside ourselves... Do WE set little malicious traps for God? What do we feel about Him when our loved one gets sick—and doesn't recover? What if our prayer doesn't seem to be answered? What if your life isn't what you hoped it would be? Are we "testing" the Lord? God has set the standard for our relationship with Him—and that standard is faith in the Lord—no matter what! Paul started out as the enemy of God's people, but later trusted in the Lord. He said, "We walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). Unbelief, glimpsed in the anger of these Pharisees, is an expression of malice. Don't go away from God as these men did—Instead go TO the Lord and trust in Him.
Verses 23-28: "On that day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Jesus and questioned Him,24 asking, 'Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother as next of kin shall marry his wife, and raise up children for his brother.'25 Now there were seven brothers with us; and the first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother;26 so also the second, and the third, down to the seventh.27 Last of all, the woman died.28 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her.'" The Sadducees, another group of religious leaders, now stepped forward with a question of their own—they must have spent some time coming up with it, and no doubt they were amused as the question was asked. They cited Deuteronomy 25:5, where the Lord's Word, through Moses, was the basis of the Sadducees' question. Excitement must have filled these men, who, according to Josephus the historian, did not believe in any kind of heavenly rewards, penalties, or even life after death. They were essentially unbelievers who had become religious and political leaders.
Verses 29-33: "But Jesus answered and said to them,'You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.31 But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God:32 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.'33 When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at His teaching." The jaws of the Sadducees must have dropped as they heard the surprising answer of Jesus, and here is what He said: There is no marriage, no sexual intercourse or thoughts about it, in eternity. There will be no need for it because the people of God, humanity, the faithful, or whatever you call us, will be complete. Also, we see there is life after death. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all others who have died, have consciousness and awareness right now. Death is an instantaneous move from one place, one kind of existence, to another. Time doesn't exist in eternity, and though years on earth may pass, the resurrection is both future and it is also—now.
Verses 34-36: "But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together.35 One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him,36 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?'" We saw the "rich young ruler" who appeared in Matthew 19:16-26, with a similar concern. Unbelief showed itself in that young man, who looked to his money instead of trusting the Lord. And the question here can be summed up by the question—What does God WANT from our lives? And though the Pharisees (unlike the Sadducees) did believe that a resurrection would occur, most of them made the eternally critical mistake of not believing in Jesus, the Son of God.
Verses 37-40: "And He said to him,'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and foremost commandment.39 The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." In Colossians 1:27, Paul unveils the answer to the "mystery" which has puzzled people everywhere... The answer is: "Christ IN you, the hope of glory." When we say "yes" to the Lord, He moves right into the center of our being, filling us with His love. Jesus cited Deuteronomy 6:5, that we are to love God with everything we've got, and Leviticus 19:18—we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Through effort, through religious activity, we can't do it, but with "Christ IN you", we begin to find—we can.
Verses 41-45: "Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question:42 'What do you think about the Christ, whose son is He?'They said to Him, 'The son of David.'43 He said to them,'Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying,44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord, 'Sit at My right hand, until I put Your enemies beneath Your feet'?45 If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?'" This chapter illustrates Ephesians 6:17, where we are urged to take up "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." The unbelieving Sadducees and Pharisees in this chapter were using Scripture as a weapon, and so was Jesus, here quoting David's Psalm 110:1, where the Lord who is the Father, spoke to the Lord who is the Son. The author David was the lord of the land, but he had the faith to know that God was (and is) HIS Lord. David's earthly father was Jesse, and it was prophesied in Isaiah 11:1 & forward, that the Branch, the Messiah would be in the line of Jesse and his son, David.
Verse 46: "No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question." Again, this chapter illustrates the use of Scripture as "the sword of the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:17). The clash of spiritual weaponry occurred throughout this chapter, and at the end, only Jesus was standing because his adversaries were gone. And their malicious questions were no more, as His defeated enemies scuttled away from further conflict with Him.
Father, we thank You that many who read this chapter in Matthew will trust in Jesus Christ, Son of David, Son of God. Let Him and His Word fill our hearts and lives. Heal us and save us, Lord. Thank You. Praise God. In Jesus Name. Amen.