A reflection on Matthew 22:1-21
[And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.' But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.' And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. "But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen."]
In once sense it appears as though Christ was simply rebuking the religious leaders for their rejection of salvation. (And that it is, make no mistake!) But Jesus is going deeper than that here. His choice of wording is exposing something far deeper and infinitely more glorious. We know this because every time Jesus veers suddenly away (in word or action) from what would be expected, he is doing so to reveal more of the immensity and splendor of God.
"For many are called! But few _________!"
This should be obvious! He just went into length describing the failed response of those invited to the banquet! What does being chosen have to do with ANYTHING in this parable? The king invites, the guests refuse. Point of the story: Don't be a decliner!
But this is so much more powerful than anyone was anticipating.
This parable is not a shout out to the power of man's choice, or the importance of making the right decision. This is instead a monumental, awe-inspiring, pride-humbling, dominating demonstration of the width and breadth of God's merciful grace. We who believe in Christ are those who have been both called, (and even more gloriously) chosen. We are not called (one point for God) and choosing (one point for us). No, our very lives are invaded with the unacceptable offer that the Holy Spirit must re-create us to receive. That what it means to come to be born again. This is what underlies the parable.
Getting into the kingdom is impossible without both the calling and choosing of our sovereign Lord. If there was only calling, even if God were to speak audibly from heaven to each individual, there would be not a single believing soul in all the history of the world. If you are a true Christian, its because you were called and chosen and these two words are fatal to sinful hearts. These words are a war declaration and a announcement of victory. For this is what it means to be saved from sin. Our deepest hearts fight to the death against the invasion of grace. (And die they do, on a cross, with Christ.) The old way of living is dead, never to resurrect. Reinstated in its place is not an overturned, disorganized rebellion, abandoned to make it on our own once the evil dictator of sin has been assassinated. Christ does not dispose of the tyrant and leave the oppressed soul to live as it wishes. No, when the conquest is complete, he takes the crown, he sits in the throne and says unto the scattered remnant of the sinner's heart, "Behold, I make all things new!" The soul of darkness becomes the dominion of light. For from eternity past Christ has ordained that this territory, this province, this city, this village, this house, this heart will be his.
And no one can stop this warrior-king.
Many are called. The message of the king will certainly shake the corners of the earth. Many will hear, many will cover their ears. Many will scoff. But a precious, beloved few will be rescued.
He will come for you, little sheep.Though as frail as frail gets, he will come and deliver you. This great shepherd spoke these very words, "I have other sheep, not of this (i.e. Israel) sheepfold. I must bring them also," (John 10:16) Who can stay the hand of God? Who can bring any charge against God's elect? If God himself justifies, who is it that condemns? (Romans 8:33-34) For all the power and might of hell, flesh, the world, the devil, or even our own sin will never be sufficient to blot out the word written next to our names in the lambs book of life.