Following Jesus’ barbed parable of the wicked husbandmen, called vinedressers in the New King James Version, Jesus continued with the parable of the marriage feast for the king’s son, recorded in Matthew 22:1-10. Among His audience in Jerusalem were the Pharisees, the chief priests, and members of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of Israel.
“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. Again, he sent out other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business. And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them. But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 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.’ 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.”
Jesus spoke of a king sending out his servants as representatives for him on more than one occasion, inviting specific people to the wedding feast. He spoke of the people’s responses — some unwilling to come, and others who “made light of it,” or treated the invitation as unimportant, going their own ways. Some of the people invited actually took the king’s servants and mistreated them, even killing some. Jesus was talking about Israel’s rejection of God’s prophets through the years, and those listening to this parable were making the connections.
Jesus was speaking prophetically when He spoke of armies coming and burning the city, which came to pass when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. In the minds of the Jews, no one was more unworthy to receive God’s blessings than the Gentiles, yet, because Israel rejected the Son of the King, as the parable says, God’s servants were instructed to go out into the highways and byways and “as many as you find, invite to the wedding.” Jesus repeated these words: “For many are called, but few are chosen.” Everyone is called, but some people refuse the invitation and therefore are not chosen.
Years later, the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 11, “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. …blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” (Romans 11:1, 11, 25) This was not entirely new revelation, because Isaiah had prophesied hundreds of years before Jesus Christ about God’s blessings extending to the Gentiles. “He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him others besides those who are gathered to him.” (Isaiah 42:1; 56:8)
Before Jesus ascended, He instructed His apostles to be witnesses for Him “…in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Over the years, the greatest opposition that both Peter and Paul faced came from legalistic Israelites, all the same religious people who had opposed Jesus. It became clear that it was time to invite others to the marriage feast of the king’s son. Peter introduced the good news to the Gentile household of Cornelius in Acts 10, but Paul’s ministry extensively reached out to “preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ…”
“For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; In every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; For My name shall be great among the nations,” says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11)