Matthew 22:1-14 – The Wedding Banquet

Updated: Jan 28

Once more Jesus spoke to the people in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”


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This Gospel reading will be delivered publicly by an Episcopal priest on the Sunday of the Ordinary season after Pentecost that is known as Proper 23. This will next take place on October 11, 2020, the day in the lectionary deemed the nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost.  It was last read aloud on October 15, 2017, which was also the nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost.


This reading comes from the string of parables Jesus taught while in Jerusalem prior to the official beginning of his final Passover attendance in the flesh.  Following Jesus’ return from beyond the Jordan, when he raised Lazarus from death, he spent four days making his presence be known, preaching on  the Temple steps.  This served as his time of inspection as the sacrificial lamb of God, when he would be found to be blemish free.  Matthew 21 told of his first day in this inspection process.  This reading is then an account of the beginning of the second day of Jesus’ inspection in the pubic arena.


It is worthwhile to take note that Luke presents a similar parable, told at a prior time when Jesus used the analogy of a great banquet.  In Luke 14 we read how Jesus went to eat dinner with some Pharisees on a Sabbath, at which point he noticed how the lawyers tried to gain favorable seating at the table.  This led Jesus to privately tell a parable that also told of invited guests refusing to accept an invitation to be freely fed by a man of great wealth.  That scenario is now made public, as Jesus is answering a question about the “kingdom of heaven” on the steps of Herod’s Temple.


When it is realized this is a parable about what the kingdom of heaven is like, it become important to grasp how nothing is stated by Jesus that says this place can be compared to some ethereal realm, such as Sheol. 


Instead, just as Jesus told a parable that was relative to the Pharisees scrambling to find a place of honor at a table inside a high-ranking Temple leader’s house, this parable about the kingdom of heaven is relative to the world we all live in.  It is a worldly comparison, which is both metaphor and symbolic of known reality.  That means the kingdom of heaven does exist in the worldly realm, just as Jesus existed there, while also existing beyond the realm of comprehension a human brain can fathom.


When the word “kingdom” is realized to be the place where a king rules, the realm of heaven is where God (YHWH) rules.  This means the “king” in this parable is God the Father.  When Jesus said his story was about “a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son,” it is easy to see how that metaphor is speaking of God as the king and Jesus as the son.  However, this is not the way to read the intent.


First of all, when Christians identify Jesus as the Son of God, the truth of that identification is Jesus became a vehicle of flesh within whom God spoke.  By realizing that, God was telling the parable through His Son Jesus.  This simple factor makes Jesus become synonymous in the parable Jesus told to a slave or servant, as one who went to invite others to a “wedding feast” (Greek “gamous“).


Second, and most important to realize, when Jesus is realized as the messenger in this parable, that says that when he spoke (as God) to the people, saying the wedding feast was “for his son” (“tō huiō autou  ” – “to son of him”) the metaphor is not about a marriage planned for Jesus (the servant) but to those others wo receive the message.  The invitation for a ‘wedding feast” (or “banquet”) is not to come as a guest, but the invitation is to become married to the king and become his son.  The invitation is a proposal from God to become the “son of him.”


Certainly, in the times of Jesus, men were the only ones of significance.  Women and the feminine pronouns were exempted from Jesus’ words, giving the impression that the message was only for males of importance.  Christians today love to think that having a penis was seen in olden times as a God-given right to rule the world (at least for men to lord over women).  Today, ordination of female priests, as an aftermath of “Women’s Liberation” and “Equal Rights” and as some mighty statement of power to all people, everyone loves to play the exact role as God painted through the words of Jesus (recalled by Matthew).  Nobody wants to hear an invitation to become the “son of [the king]” because all those hearing the invitation are so filled with self-importance that nobody (male or female) wants to submit to being the wife of God – and we all know that being a wife means being completely submissive to the Will of God, at all times.


[Here it is important to realize the tradition, as to who is responsible for throwing a wedding feast, says the father of the bride foots that bill.  Part of that designation is based on the tradition that having a female child is an ongoing expense, until someone takes that responsibility away through marriage.  Thus, a wedding reception is a celebration that a financial liability [a daughter] has been given away!  Seeing this makes it easier to accept the invitation to become a son of the king was metaphor for being a wife.]


The term “tō huiō autou  ” – “to son of him” must be grasped as an offer to become the offspring of God.  Because God is spiritual, God is the creator of all souls.  God is masculine [He is not a goddess], thus all souls are masculine as all that is spiritual is masculine.  All that is flesh is feminine, simply because feminine is the opposite of masculine.  The feminine flesh comes with different body parts that accommodate procreation [called males and females], so human beings like to think they are both masculine and feminine.  The proposal by God, sent via His messenger Jesus, says: “Your soul-flesh needs to marry God in order to become holy.  If you become holy, then you become subservient to God’s Holy Spirit, as the wife of God.  That, in turn, makes God your Father and you [regardless of human gender] His Son.”


Now, the metaphor in the parable told on the Temple steps spoke loudly of the Jews, who were God’s chosen people.  More than delivered to the normal Jews [many of them pilgrims in town for the upcoming Passover], God directed this parable though Jesus to those leaders of the Temple (Pharisees, Sadducees, high priests and the Sanhedrin), saying “they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them.”  Not only had those leaders plotted to have Jesus killed (roughly one week later), but they would later persecute the apostles of Jesus (“his slaves” of God reborn as Jesus in the Christ) the same way.  Still, that is the historic bend of this parable, which denies the present historic and all times since Christianity became an exact reflection of the degradation of a religion claiming to be chosen by God.


Christians today make light of the concept of marrying God and becoming His Son Jesus reborn.  Just as the Jews [the remnant leftovers of a fallen Israelite nation] were only special in the sense that God had sent His servant(s) Moses (and Aaron) to invite the children of Israel to begin a learning process that would lead them to complete servitude to Yahweh, all marrying His Holy Spirit and becoming His sons [regardless of them possessing penises or vaginas], they never could fully sacrifice their self-egos and become lowly servants of God.  Likewise, worship of Jesus as an external god [an idol] keeps Jesus on the car dashboard or in a box at the church, so one is free to sin and then kneel before an icon and pray for forgiveness.  Christianity has then become an exact reflection of ancient Judaism, because so few over time had bothered to actually marry God and become Jesus reborn.  It is much easier to pretend righteousness than actually walk that rocky road.


Today, none of the big names of Christianity [called all kinds of prestigious titles] would accept an invitation to give up all the celebrity that comes from being a leader of multitudes, only to serve God as a lowly messenger [sans golden crucifixes and bejeweled crosiers].  It would mean giving up the best seats at the buffet and all the benefits of being known as a cable media contributor, when times come to defend religion.  That is why God spoke through Jesus about one going to a “farm” [the Greek “agron” means “field,” thus an area of interest] and another to a “business” [the Greek word “emporian” means “trade” or “trafficking”].  Today, this should be seen as the invited choosing instead to go to their mega-churches or their major denomination headquarters [be it what it may be], rather than marry God.


Christians seize those who ask questions about seeming inconsistencies in Scripture or what the true meaning is about when Scripture has been twisted so it fits one group’s special political agenda.  Those who speak the truth that comes out from within them, making them minimally become temporary sons of God [regardless of human gender], they become mistreated as outcasts.  While the laws of the land no longer allow for public lynching’s, burnings at a stake, or stoning those deemed sacrilegious to death, the messenger is regularly killed if the messenger does not toe the line as to commonly held beliefs.  Those beliefs are where misguided ideologies have been constructed, themselves taught and worshipped as gods.  Jesus said a prophet is not a prophet in his home town; so, if they will try to kill Jesus, they will certainly try to kill anyone who threatens a safe (and profitable) way of existence.


When God then spoke through His Son Jesus, saying, “The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city,” this should strike fear in everyone who cannot place their (his or her) hand on a Holy Bible and swear to God, “I have sacrificed my self-ego so my body of flesh can serve the Lord totally as a lowly servant that does nothing but seek others who will receive the Holy Spirit and become likewise Jesus Christ reborn.  I understand that is the truth of being Christian.  So help me God or strike me dead for lying.”


Plenty would stand up and publicly state those words, knowing no lightning bolts will ever come from the sky and kill anyone who says them.  They would have too much to lose by giving up their lifestyles as leaders who profit from religion, knowing the masses will give and keep giving more to follow someone who says he or she is God’s servant, so he or she never has to do anything other than give a few bucks to be saved.  What they do not realize as they would have broken a commandment (using the Lord’s name in vain) and death will surely come to them, as they stand in a body of flesh that breathes air, because their soul will be promised nowhere to go once physical death does overcome that body of flesh [a certainty].  Thus, the king sending troops to destroy murderers and burn cites [remember Sodom and Gomorrah?] is then metaphor for removing all chances of eternal life from those who anger God by rejecting His invitation to marry His Holy Spirit and become His Son reborn.


The troops are not angels flying down from heaven, swinging flaming swords.  They are all dressed like soldiers in the Red Chinese Army.  They are so-called Russians with CCCP t-shirts under their fatigues.  They are any and all Muslim militia ready, willing and able to sacrifice their lives for Allah, just to think that the great Satan in the West can be struck down dead.  The King does not create those who are willing to commit evil deeds in the world.  The troops of evil are created by the lack of God’s sons on earth.


Marriage to God is the only way for a soul to avoid an end that will always find it returning into the world as a body of flesh that has no true life.  Jesus is the model that all true Christians must become, in order to release their souls from that path to death.  Refusing to accept a proposal of marriage to the King means signing one’s own death sentence.  An “incarnation” means “the embodiment of a soul in some earthly form,” so “reincarnation” says a soul failed to marry God and be released from that repetition.  Refusing the proposal says one said, “I believe,” when that was a lie, bringing about one’s own condemnation – always a weak soul controlled by the evils of the flesh.


God then told the crowd that had asked what the kingdom of heaven is like what God the King did next.  He ordered his slaves, saying “The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.” Then we read that “Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.”  Clearly, this is the advent of true Christianity.  The Jews no longer were the special people they thought they were, as simple Jews and Gentiles were invited by the servant apostles to come marry their God.  Those accepting the proposal became true Christians.


As true as that was, the truth is also that the rapid spread of true Christianity became stunted by Constantine beginning to use the separation made from the fallen Temple of Jerusalem and the influx of pagans into gatherings called churches [ekklesia] to create an organization that would be little more than a reproduction of that Temple system destroyed.  This becomes a model of the collapse of Israel and Judah [two nations split from one], falsely resurrected as Jerusalem in Judea.  Early Christianity also split into Eastern and Western ideologies that organized hierarchies that ruled over the people, rather than lead the people to individual marriage with God.  Thus, the “good and the bad” reflects a mix of true Christians (apostles-saints) with pretend Christians [themselves degreed in beliefs], all at the same celebration of marriage for different reasons; that becomes a comparison to Jesus later talking of the sheep and the goats.


It is here that the companion reading from Luke becomes helpful in understanding the collection of “both good and bad.”  After those invited to come to the great banquet came up with one measly excuse after another for not attending, the master of the house instructed his servants to “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.”  The metaphor of “poor, crippled, blind, and lame” says the replacement invitees were those deemed to be sinners because of their physical maladies.  As for the Jews being the invitees, that meant the servants were told to go find the lesser Jews and bring them in the house to be fed.  The same sense of oneness should be applied to the Christians brought to the wedding banquet (or feast), such that “both good and bad” is a poor translation that needs to be closely examined, in order to grasp what God actually told his slaves to find.


The Greek text states the servants of the king brought all they could find, who were “ponērous te  kai  agathous” or “evil both  kai  good in nature.”  The Greek includes the word “kai,” which is a word that makes a statement of importance that should be recognized in that to follow where “kai” is placed.  By realizing that and by knowing these words are separated by comma marks, making them work collectively as one segment of words, the translation actually states, “pain-ridden also  kai  good in nature.” 


When read as one segment of words, the “bad” comes first, but then importantly (“kai“) those have been transformed into “good.”  The word “te” has been translated as “both” (a good translation possibility), but it translates better as “and.”  Because “kai” translates as “and,” “te” is transformed into “both,” simply to avoid saying “and and.”  Because all words are part of one segment, the meaning is the ones called are “both – pain-ridden turned into good.”  Therefore, no one present in the wedding banquet is “evil” or “bad,” although all had prior been “wicked” as sinners, who were pained by those addictions to sin before their marriage to God.


Improper translations need to be addressed at this point, as twice the NRSV & NIV ignore an important element (in particular when realizing the Jewish audience Jesus was speaking to), which is translated as “guests.”  In both cases, forms of the root Greek word “anakeimai” are written (“anakeimenōn” and “anakeimenous“), which translates as “I recline, especially at a dinner-table.” (Strong’s usage)  Certainly, any hired help would not be permitted to recline at a wedding party, implying that any so relaxed would be guests; but the element of reclining at a table to eat and drink offers implications that must be grasped.


In the Passover Seder ritual, the Jews recline while eating that specific dinner.  It is customary for a child to ask his (or her) father, “Why do we always sit to eat, but tonight we recline?”  The father then teaches all in attendance that reclining while eating is something only the rich do.  This says the Israelite race is meant to be poor servants to Yahweh, with the exception allowed being when they honor their commitment to observe the Passover.  It is then symbolically stated through the ritual that it is the sacrifice of themselves to serve only God that makes them rich spiritually.  Thus, at a dinner offering bitter herbs and charred bones of flesh, they are allowed to recline while dining.


The Passover was when the Israelites committed to their God, through the sacrifice of a blemish free yearling lamb, whose flesh was eaten and whose blood was spread over the doorposts of their homes.  It was the presence of that blood that spared them from the physical death of the firstborn males that came when the Lord passed over Egypt that night.  This must be read into this parable told by God through His Son, as it says all who had been wicked but then were good in nature had made themselves sacrificial lambs, so their souls had married God making each of them the son of the king.


By understanding that everyone is wholly good, through that marriage to God the King, it then makes sense when God said through Jesus, “When the king came in to see the one’s reclining, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe.”  That translation leads a non-Jew to think, “Well, I guess the Jews back then all dressed in wedding robes and gowns, as some Jewish ritual us Christians don’t have to observe.”  That is wrong to think, as the only ones who dress up fancy in a wedding is the bride and bridesmaids.  That makes knowing what was actually written important.


The Greek text written states, “eiden ekei anthrōpon ouk endedymenon endyma gamou“.  That literally translates to say, “he saw there a man not being dressed in clothes of marriage”.  The last word, “gamou,” can either translate as “marriage” or “wedding,” as it is the root word written throughout this parable, even meaning “wedding feast.”  That makes the word “endyma” (“clothes”) combine to mean the “apparel of marriage” or the “wedding garment.”  This says that “the king” [i.e.: God, who has an all-seeing eye] looked out over everyone present in this metaphorical gathering [for what the “kingdom of heaven is like”] and “saw one of the human race [which can include males and females as “anthrōpon“] not wearing a wedding gown.”


Back when gowns were not so expensive they had to be rented for a day and returned.


Of course, most Christians have seen the movie Wedding Crashers and they know people looking for free food and alcohol at a wedding reception (especially one paid for by wealthy parents of the bride) do not show up dressed like street urchins.  Everyone shows up wearing nice clothes, but none of those clothes hang in their closets afterwards, never to be worn to anything again, other than weddings.  The only “clothes of wedding” are those worn by the ones being married, most particularly the wedding gown of the bride.  Knowing that, God the King saw someone crashing His wedding reception whom He had not married.


God then spoke to the wedding crasher.  He called him “Friend,” through the capitalized Greek word “Hetaire.”  While this importantly (capitalization) makes it seem God is not angry with the wedding crasher, the word should be read accordingly: “hetaíros – properly, a companion (normally an imposter), posing to be a comrade but in reality only has his own interests in mind.” (HELPS Word-studies)  God then called this human being out for what he (or she) truly was: a pretender; one who rejected the proposal of marriage, but then expected to enter God’s kingdom because of a life of pretense.


Knowing this, the capitalization becomes the importance of God the King knowing the heart of the impostor trying to sneak into the kingdom of heaven.  The importance is a statement about the goats Jesus told his disciples would be separated from the sheep when the “son of man” comes in his glory.  The sheep go to the right hand of the king, while the goats go to the left hand.  Both sheep and goats feed in the same fields, but only the sheep are married to God, as “sons of man.”  The sheep are true friends, who help God without their egos allowing them to realize that fact.  Conversely, the goats do nothing to help God and they are too egotistical to realize that failure.  Therefore, the one who is called out in this wedding gathering is a goat and clearly a false friend.


When God asked this human how he came without being dressed as a bride to be married, the impostor was “speechless.”  This act of “silence” becomes proof that there was no love of God that drew in this soul to the wedding party.  All who are married to God, as rebirths of the Son, speak only what the Father tells them.  If the impostor was indeed married to God, he would have spoken the truth.  The truth was then spoken through an inability to speak for the Father.


This failure to be a devoted bride of God became clear when God the King had his servants take this impostor and “Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  In that translation is another example of translators reversing the order of what is written.  The Greek text states: “Dēsantes autou podas  kai  cheiras“, where we find another “kai” indicating importance.   


The capitalized first word shows the importance of being “Bound,” by present actions in the past [Greek aorist active participle].  It was the inability to speak the Word of God that cause the human himself (or herself) to find its own actions “having Bound” itself to a state of being that was not a wife to God.  This meant the soul could not walk the path of righteousness – which was symbolized by the wedding dresses all the others had put on.  They had all walked down the aisle of righteousness, clothed in those robes that state commitment through self-sacrifice.  Thus, as Jesus had told his disciples only those who could raise the cross of responsibility and walk the path set by him could follow, this one wedding crasher was a failure in that regard.  That soul in a body of flesh was like Judas Iscariot and unable to walk, due to his own binding of his feet.


Following the use of “kai,” the importance is then placed on “hands” (Greek “cheiras“).  The importance must be read as another self-inflicted binding, where this soul would not sacrifice self-ego in order to serve God fully.  Thus, he (or she) bound its own hands, keeping them from being the hands of a servant.  According to HELPS Word-studies: “xeír – properly, hand; (figuratively) the instrument a person uses to accomplish their purpose (intention, plan).”  The importance says tied hands prevent one from truly becoming a Christian.


When the judgment of the impostor is found to be “throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” this should be realized as two phases.  In the Greek text a semicolon is placed, rather than a comma mark.  That punctuation mark makes it clearer to see the two are separate stages of punishment.  First, “the outer darkness” (or “skotos to exōteron” – “darkness about external”) is the opposite of the inner light of life that comes from God, through the Son: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)  God did not throw this soul there, as that soul cast itself into darkness [an absence of light] by not being willing to sacrifice self and serve only God.


Following the semicolon is a series of words that are separated by the word “kai.”  The first half of this segment places focus on the “weeping” or “lamentations.”  This becomes representative of the physical realm, where the plagues of the flesh cause pains and tears to flow.  The Greek word “klauthmos” (“weeping”) becomes a statement that says, “bitter grief that springs from feeling utterly hopeless.” (HELPS Word-studies)  The “wails” are from those who expect God to come to their aid, only to find their “cries” going unheeded, because of their own self-egos. 


Still, following the word marking importance to follow (“kai“), the “gnashing of teeth” symbolizes the true emotional feeling held for God, when He does not reward the goats of the Christian world, because they reap what they have sown.  The importance of this gnashing of teeth is similar to the “speechless” state the soul found.  The eyes of tears and the grinding of teeth are all physical elements surrounding a reincarnated soul, one which cannot be released from a soul’s refusal to serve only God.


Finally, God spoke through Jesus summing all this up by saying, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”  The “Many” (a capitalized “Polloi“) includes both Jews and Gentiles, so the whole world that seeks the truth of Yahweh will hear a call to attention.  The importance of capitalization says there is no human being that cannot find God offering their soul to marry Him and become His Son and letting Him become the Father.  This is the importance of the servants (apostles in the name of Jesus Christ) carrying invitations to more than just the Jews and then to the Gentiles.  Still, the “Many” are those who are seeking God in their lives.

The reality of “few are chosen” is it means “few indeed choose,” where it is up to the individual to self-sacrifice and say, “Yes” to God’s proposal.  When that devotion leads one to commit to God, then God will choose that soul to be His forever. 


Summary


The first words of Matthew 22 are: “Kai  apokritheis“.  This says this parable is most important to realize.  The importance it presents is such that what Jesus would then say  presents an “answering,” God “responding,” and a conversation “replying” to the questions seekers have about what the kingdom of heaven is.  It is a question that not only existed that day, because it is still one needing “answering” today.


The kingdom of heaven is then a marriage between one’s soul and God.  This is the merger of a soul with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus is the prototype of this state of being, such that it is his soul that becomes reborn into all who marry God.  Marriage to God means the death of the self-ego, to be replaced by the Christ Mind.  Thus, the invitation so easily refused asks, “Will you submit your ego to God and become His wife?” – an invitation those stubborn and stiff-necked people refuse to accept.


The moral of this story is the choice is always left to the individual.  God will not force humanity to walk a road of righteousness; but then the world is the only place sin is permitted to exist.  Choosing to not sacrifice self and be willing die of ego, to be resurrected as Jesus Christ, is what most people choose to do.  Only those whose hearts feel the presence of God is near will open those hearts to be penetrated by God’s Holy Spirit.  That is how all spiritual wives receive their husbands.


R. T. Tippett

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