God’s Life-Giving Word of Wisdom
Matthew 22:1-22: Jesus compares the Kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast. Because the invited guests ignore the invitation, the king instructs his servants to gather people from the streets and bring them to the wedding hall. Today’s reading concludes with the Pharisees seeking to trap Jesus by asking him about paying taxes.
[The king said:] ‘Now go to the main streets and invite to the feast as many people as you find.’
The Parable of the Wedding Feast
1Jesus again used parables in talking to the people. 2“The Kingdom of heaven is like this. Once there was a king who prepared a wedding feast for his son. 3He sent his servants to tell the invited guests to come to the feast, but they did not want to come. 4So he sent other servants with this message for the guests: ‘My feast is ready now; my steers and prize calves have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast!’ 5But the invited guests paid no attention and went about their business: one went to his farm, another to his store, 6while others grabbed the servants, beat them, and killed them. 7The king was very angry; so he sent his soldiers, who killed those murderers and burned down their city. 8Then he called his servants and said to them, ‘My wedding feast is ready, but the people I invited did not deserve it. 9Now go to the main streets and invite to the feast as many people as you find.’ 10So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, good and bad alike; and the wedding hall was filled with people.
11“The king went in to look at the guests and saw a man who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ the king asked him. But the man said nothing. 13 Then the king told the servants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot, and throw him outside in the dark. There he will cry and gnash his teeth.’”
14 And Jesus concluded, “Many are invited, but few are chosen.”
The Question about Paying Taxes
(Mark 12.13-17; Luke 20.20-26)
15The Pharisees went off and made a plan to trap Jesus with questions. 16Then they sent to him some of their disciples and some members of Herod's party. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you tell the truth. You teach the truth about God's will for people, without worrying about what others think, because you pay no attention to anyone's status. 17Tell us, then, what do you think? Is it against our Law to pay taxes to the Roman Emperor, or not?”
18Jesus, however, was aware of their evil plan, and so he said, “You hypocrites! Why are you trying to trap me? 19Show me the coin for paying the tax!”
They brought him the coin, 20and he asked them, “Whose face and name are these?”
21“The Emperor's,” they answered.
So Jesus said to them, “Well, then, pay to the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor, and pay to God what belongs to God.”
22When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.
In the parable of the wedding feast, who is the king? Who is the son? What is your understanding of this parable? Verses 11-13 mention a guest who was not properly attired, an indication that the guest failed to honor the king and is an offense similar to those who ignored the king’s invitation. In what ways do you honor God? This parable may call to mind the description of the wedding feast of the Lamb, as described in Revelation 19:5-10; Revelation 19:9 says, “Happy are those who have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” When Jesus challenges the Pharisees who seek to trap him (verses 15-22), what does he mean when he says “pay to God what belongs to God”? How does this statement imply loyalty and honor to God?
Lord God, there are times when I may fail to honor you and act in ways that are not in accord with your will. Thank you for reaching out to me in love and inviting me to your feast. Teach me to honor you and to reach out to others in love, for the sake of your Kingdom. Amen.
Matthew 22:23-46: Conflict between the religious leaders and Jesus intensifies.