Questions about the Parable of the Wedding Feast

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ANSWER 1

The parable of the wedding Feast was told to many of the Jews who were plotting to kill Jesus. His purpose was to show them that they were without excuse for their rejection of Christ, and foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, just as the parable of the evil husbandmen (which is read on the preceding Sunday, the 13th after Pentecost).

In the parable, a "certain king" who made a great supper in celebration of the marriage of his son, and invited many to come. He sent out servants to extend the invitation, but they were rejected. He then sent out more servants, and these were also rejected with lame excuses, and some of the invitees even went so far as to beat and kill the man's servants. This angered the king, and he sent forth his armies to destroy the ungrateful and evil invitees. He then sent out more servants, telling them to go out into the highways, and bid as many as they found to come to the wedding feast. The wedding hall was filled with guests, "both good and bad". During the feast the king went out about his guests and found a man who was not wearing his wedding garment, and questioned him about it. The man was speechless and without excuse, and the king ordered that this disobedient man be cast out of the wedding hall, and bound. At the end of the parable, Jesus gives the warning: "For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14)

The parable of the Great Supper heaps even greater condemnation upon the Jews who were soon to crucify their Messiah, because it details the rejection of a wedding feast by the King's servants, which is a gift given totally gratis, whereas in the parable of the evil husbandmen, their rejection of their master came after he asked of them some fruits of his vineyard, which He had provided for them, with the expectation that they would work in it. Since the parable of the wedding feast follows the other parable, it serves to amplify and make even more clear the great crime of the Jews, and indeed, all those who reject the God-man Jesus Christ.

ANSWER 2

In the parable, the King is God, and the Son is Jesus Christ. The marriage is an allusion to the joy that is possible for those who are the bride of Christ, that is, the church. All those who love Christ, and live in the light of His commandments are joined to Him, in His body, as a bride and bridegroom are joined in marriage.

"And wherefore is it called a marriage? One may say. That thou mightest learn God's tender care, His yearning towards us, the cheerfulness of the state of things, that there is nothing sorrowful there, nor sad, but all things are full of spiritual joy: Therefore also John calls Him a bridegroom, therefore Paul again saith, "For I have espoused you to one husband;" and, "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church."" (St John Chrysostom)

ANSWER 3

The servants are the holy prophets, who proclaimed the coming of Christ by their words and deeds.

"And when were they bidden? By all the prophets; by John again; for unto Christ he would pass all on, saying, "He must increase, I must decrease;"7 by the Son Himself again, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you;" and again, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink."9 But not by words only, but also by actions did He bid them, after His ascension by Peter, and those with him. "For He that wrought effectually in Peter," it is said, "to the apostleship of the circumcision, was mighty also in me towards the Gentiles."

The two callings darkly mention a deep mystery - how God is revealed to the human soul. Our salvation is corporate, and it is personal. Truly the breath of the Holy Spirit enlightens a man, but this does not happen to him in isolation, as he must also be part of a body, that is the church, and respond to it's faithful teaching.

"If they were already invited, why are they going to invite them again? Learn, then, that each of us by nature has been called towards the good, for we are being called by the word of the innate teacher within us. But God also sends us external teachers, to call us from without, we who were first called by the word in our nature." (Bl. Theophylact, Commentary on Matt 22:1-7)

ANSWER 4

The second set of servants also represents the prophets. God sent many prophets to His people, and from Moses to Zachariah, through john the Baptizer, their message was not heard and obeyed, and some of the prophets were even persecuted and killed. Our Lord in another place confirms this and accuses the Jews: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! {38} Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. " (Mat 23:37-38)

The one who "went to his farm" denotes those who are turned towards a life of pleasure and carnality - in this case the field represents the flesh, that is, the body. Many fools choose the pleasures of the flesh above the invitation of God to become holy.

The one who went to his merchandise represents sins of acquisitiveness, and worldliness. Certainly, many who call themselves Christians, and yet keep their pocketbooks tightly closed, and give not their tithe to God, are guilty of this sin!

ANSWER 5

Jesus prophesies the razing razing of Jerusalem with these terrible words: "By His armies we understand the Romans under Vespasian and Titus, who having slaughtered the inhabitants of Judea, laid in ashes the faithless city." (St. Jerome)

The attentive Christina will also recognize in these words the foretelling of the state of the soul and body that rejects the mercy of God, and follows it's own path of sensual cares and worldly life.

ANSWER 6

The parable of the Wedding Feast not only condemns the Jews who would reject Christ, but is also prophecies the coming on of the Gentiles. Highways lead away from the city, the heavenly Jerusalem. Unclean things were kept outside the city walls, and the Gentiles were also considered unclean. Highways twist and turn, and lead to many places, and this signifies the many and varied errors of the Gentiles, who knew not the true God. The kings servants brought good and bad into the festal hall, and the church has always been filled with good and bad. In the last day, the good will be distinguished from the bad, as tares from the wheat (which the Lord also spoke of in a parable). The good will be known by how much they became like Christ - how much they lived in the light of the gospel.

ANSWER 7

"... if those that were called to a feast did not have their own festive garments, they received garments at the entrance from the steward of the house. Anyone who refused to receive such a garment upon arrival expressed thereby disdain and even contempt for the master of the house, as if saying: "I shall eat and drink with thee, but I want nothing to do with thee." (Fr Victor Patapov, http://www.stjohndc.org/parables/9509.htm)

ANSWER 8

The King passing among his guests represents the last judgment. We are admitted to the feast, that is baptized and brought into the church, at no cost, but we are given a "wedding garment" and charged to keep it clean. We sing in the baptism service: "As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ." Our Lord is good and pure, and we must desire to become like Him, and learn of Him, that is, to "put on Christ". This is what constitutes the wearing of a wedding garment. It is a life of repentance, and desire, and acceptance of God's mercy. At the last judgment, we will be examined - have we lived in the light we have been given? If we have not struggled to keep clean the wedding garment we have been given, all of our ingratitude and false way of living will be manifestly exposed, and there will be no opportunity for excuses.

"And yet the calling was of grace; wherefore then doth He take a strict account? Because although to be called and to be cleansed was of grace, yet, when called and clothed in clean garments, to continue keeping them so, this is of the diligence of them that are called." (St John Chrysostom)

"Wherefore also great is the punishment appointed for them that have been remiss. For as they did despite by not coming, so also thou by thus sitting down with a corrupt life. For to come in with filthy garments is this namely, to depart hence having one's life impure; wherefore also he was speechless." (St John Chrysostom)

"The Dread Judgment knows no witness or court records. Everything is inscribed in the souls of men, and these inscriptions, these "books," will be opened. Everything will become clear to all and to oneself; the state of a person's soul sends him to the right or the left. Some will go to the place of rejoicing, others to the place of horror. When the books will be opened it will become clear to all that the root of all transgressions is in a man's soul. Consider a drunkard or a fornicator: when the body dies, some think the sin, too, has died. No; the inclination to sin was in the soul, and to the soul the sin was sweet. And if the soul has not repented of this sin, has not freed itself of it, it will come to the Dread Judgment with the same desire for the sweetness of sin and will never sate this desire. There will be the suffering of hatred and wrath in this soul. This is the state of hell. "The fiery Gehenna" - this is the inner fire, the fire of weakness and anger, and here will be the wailing and gnashing of teeth of powerless wrath." (Saint John (Maximovitch), Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco, The Sunday of the Last Judgment, 1956. From Orthodox Life, Vol.2, 1985)

ANSWER 9

The angels will be Gods' servants in the last judgement:

"... in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn... {39} ... the reapers are the angels. {40} As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. {41} The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; {42} And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Mat 13:30, 39-42)

The binding of the unworthy servant indicates the "binding" of the soul's powers of action. "for in this present age is the time to act and do, but in the age to come all of the soul's powers of action are bound, and a man cannot then do any good thing to outweigh his sins" (Bl Theophylact, Commentary on Matt 22:11-14)

"The gnashing of the teeth is the meaningless repentance that will then take place" (Ibid.)

ANSWER 10

Our Lord's saying was partly directed towards the Jews, who were overly confident of their special position before God. They did not understand the meaning of this rebuke. God calls all, but chooses few, because few answer the call.

" For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. {15} For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. {16} The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: {17} And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. " (Rom 8:14-17)

ANSWER 11

  • Similarities
    1. Both rebuked the Jews for their rejection of the Messiah
    2. Both prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem
    3. Both prophesy the calling of the Gentiles
  • Differences
    But this parable hath something also more than the other. For it proclaims beforehand both the casting out of the Jews, and the calling of the Gentiles; and it indicates together with this also the strictness of the life required, and how great the punishment appointed for the careless.

"Seest thou both in the former parable and in this the difference between the Son and the servants? Seest thou at once the great affinity between both parables, and the great difference also? For this also indicates God's long-suffering, and His great providential care, and the Jew's ingratitude. But this parable hath something also more than the other does. For it proclaims beforehand both the casting out of the Jews, and the calling of the Gentiles; and it indicates together with this also the strictness of the life required, and how great the punishment appointed for the careless."





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