This one is tricky, sort of.

Matthew 22

January 22

Like the parable of the tenants from the previous chapter, the parable of the wedding banquet illustrates how God has and continues to call out to His people. Yet time after time they reject Him with many of His prophets dying at the hands of the Israelites. This is a bit of foreshadowing on Jesus’ part as the Jewish leaders would soon call for his death.

Although Jesus was speaking to the people of his own day and their situations, verses 11-14 could just as easily be directed at our current age. A fine dining restaurant today will provide the loan of a suit jacket during the meal and the king would have provided the loan of the required garments for his banquet. The man not accepting the clothes and refusing to answer the king are deliberate acts. Here we see, in parable form, a man standing boldly defiant before God. How often do we see people doing this same thing today?

As difficult as that is, what we find after the parable is where it gets really tricky, or rather where they get tricky. The Jewish leaders were constantly trying to trip up Jesus, to find some flaw or inconsistency in what he taught. Naturally, they failed every time.

A major issue that they had with Jesus as the Messiah and why they did not accept him as such goes back to their expectations. The Messiah was supposed to be this mighty king who would save them all from the oppression of the worldly rulers. They expected a return to the earthly kingdom of Israel while God’s plan for Jesus was to establish His heavenly kingdom here on earth.

Their question about paying taxes was a challenge to his supposed authority. It was kind of a, “If you are the king then we should be able to tell Caesar to take a hike.” How Jesus responded was probably the last thing they expected. It says that they were “amazed” and we might think, “Wow!” but it is just as likely that it was a disbelief, shaking of their head as they walked away.

There are a number of Scriptures that tell us that God sets each ruler in place for His purposes. Jesus makes clear that we give to the worldly rulers what is due to them – the material things that are of the world and will decay and be gone. He then says to give to, “God what is God’s.” What is God’s? Everything! Specifically? Our love, adoration, praise, worship, attention, focus, our faith, our very life. These things, what is God’s, will endure. These things matter.

Then a group that did not believe in resurrection tried to trick Jesus concerning marriage. It says that they were astonished by his answer. I think about them standing completely speechless with their mouths hanging open. What really prompted that reaction was his description of God, quoting from Exodus 3:6, “I am the God…” and the revelation that “He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” By adding that Jesus reminded them that God did not speak in past tense but in the present. He did not say, “I was.” This points to the resurrection, to new life.

The rivals to this group were probably very pleased to see them stupefied and stepped in with their own question. “Which is the greatest commandment?” Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy and Leviticus to beautifully sum up all of the Law. “Love the Lord your God” – the first four of the Ten Commandments are about our relationship with God. “Love you neighbor” the remaining six commandments are about our relationship with one another.

Each time they tried to trick Jesus, they failed. Jesus responds to every inquiry and deception with Scripture and they are said to be astonished, amazed, and in awe. Then it is Jesus’ turn. He asks whose son the Messiah is. Knowing that the Messiah would come from the line of David it is a no-brainer to say David. Jesus then reminds them of Psalm 110:1, “The LORD said to my Lord.” LORD is God – Yahweh who is speaking to David’s Lord, or one greater than David and not his son. This points to Jesus as the Son of God which shuts their mouths once and for all, “No one dared to ask him any more questions.”

Trickery is the weapon of the devil. It is used to cause doubts to rise. Trickery makes us question what we know and believe. We are bombarded constantly with misinformation and attempts to shift reality to fit feelings and desire. Jesus faced these same challenges and responded confidently with the truth contained in the Word of God. I pray that we all follow his example.

-Jeff Ransom

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. The best way to avoid bad situations is knowing how to recognize them. What subtle ways do you see people, corporations, etc. standing defiantly before God? The ungodly may use what points to God to deceive people. What evidence of this have you seen?
  2. Remember that God places all authorities in place; from our parents, teachers, supervisors, politicians, etc. What are some things that we ought to give back to these authorities? I already mentioned what is God’s but what does that look like in your own life?
  3. The truth in God’s Word, as I mentioned, is vital to staying true to God and not being deceived. What are some other ways that you can be prepared to defend against the trickery of the world? And remember to always temper your discernment with love.

You are Invited!

Today’s Bible Reading – Matthew 22 and Genesis 43 & 44

What was the best party you have ever been to? How did you get invited? What was your relationship with the host? With the guest of honor? Who else was there? What did you wear?

Or, maybe there was a party you were invited to that you didn’t make time for? Perhaps you didn’t really know the guest of honor that well so you weren’t too interested. Or maybe you were mad at the host so you stayed away? Or you figured it would be boring since they didn’t have (insert hobby/entertainment of choice). But then, come to find out – you missed out on the party of the century.

Jesus knew we like to talk about parties. Wedding receptions are particularly exciting – and royal wedding parties top the charts. So what a perfect parable and analogy for the Kingdom God is preparing. God is the King – and as host of the party he decides who to invite to this event of all events which will honor His Son – Jesus.

The guest list starts out somewhat small and elite which is very fitting for a royal party. The Jews were the first to be invited to the party. They could trace their heritage back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the fathers of the faith. But, they ignore their invite and the God who sent it. They don’t even RSVP. God sends his servants out as messengers (the prophets and those who speak for God) to remind God’s people of the graciousness of their host and the splendor of the party. But, the potential guests of the party are too deep into other things – their fields, their businesses, their homes, their selfish pursuits, their false gods. Most just ignore God’s messengers – but some decide the best way to decline the invite is through violence. In rage they attack God’s messengers, even killing some. For a time they may have thought they got away with it. But, God knows and delivers judgment.

The guests didn’t show but the party isn’t cancelled. God sends his messengers again. They hit the streets with new invitations. “Invite them all,” says the host. It no longer matters who your great great great grandfather was. It doesn’t matter who you were or what you did. Old, young, rich, poor, men, women, children, black, white, and every color in between. You are invited! And all your neighbors in the world are invited! Let the party begin.

But, wait – that’s not yet the end of the parable or God’s expectations. The host has indeed invited all and is ready to receive all into His Kingdom Party. But, you must come dressed appropriately for the party so you aren’t tossed out. No, God won’t check to see if you have a designer label – but He will check to make sure you have clothed yourself with salvation. To accept your invitation accept God’s Son as the only way to salvation. And then put on the robes of righteousness – seek to live the life that will bring glory to the Father and the Son. There are many passages that continue the analogy of being properly clothed with righteousness, not stained with sin – some are Job 29:14, Isaiah 61:10, Jude 23, Revelation 3:4 and 19:8).

The greatest party ever to come is about to begin and you and all your neighbors are invited. Don’t turn down the invite because you are mad at God or don’t know Jesus well or are busy at home and work. Accept His invitation. Come to the party. But don’t make the fatal error of trying to sneak in unprepared. Accept His Son and clothe yourself with righteousness. Make sure your neighbors know they are invited and help them select their proper attire.

And then – let the party begin!

-Marcia Railton

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