An Open Invitation

Dr. Ron J. Bigalke

“Tricia Nixon” (on 12 June 1971) is the answer. The question is, “Who was the last child of a president to be married at the White House?” In the 21st century, Naomi Biden became the first grandchild of a president to have a wedding at the White House, which was the first ever to be held on the South Lawn. Her nuptials are distinguished as the 19th wedding held at the presidential seat of power.

Any American can receive a congratulatory note for his or her wedding, but the majority of people will never marry at the White House, and few will receive an invitation to one there. White House weddings are typically confined to members of the president’s family, or at least those close to the commander-in-chief. Historically, such weddings have promoted an often specious feeling of satisfaction for the country, yet with great esteem for the president, who is seen as the cheerfully pleased father.

Imagining the beauty of a White House wedding is not difficult, especially when the press refers to them as an American expression of being “royal.” Certainly, the extremely ornate would characterize such an affair. One can easily imagine the military band playing, in addition to the regality of the attire and the most exquisite food prepared by expert chefs. Imagination is needed, of course, since the majority of people will not be invited to such a wedding.

What an honor it would be to receive an invitation to a White House wedding! Yet do you know that an infinitely more important event is set to occur, for which there is an open invitation? There is much greater privilege and significance to this wedding than being invited to the White House or some earthly palace. You do not want to be preoccupied with other affairs, or to appear without proper attire (see Matt 22:2, 5, 12)!

(Matt 22:1-14) Jesus responded to confrontation regarding His authority (Matt 21:23-27) by introducing three parables regarding two sons (vv. 28-32), a landowner (vv. 33-46), and a wedding feast (22:1-14). Matthew 22 is thus a continuation of the previous chapter, wherein Jesus emphasized His message with another parable. A king (representing God the Father) planned an exceptional banquet for his son’s wedding. The bridegroom is the Messiah, and the wedding feast is the banquet that will occur when Jesus returns to earth in glory and power (Rev 19:9).

As in the parable of the landowner (Matt 21:33-46), the slaves are the prophets of God who announced the coming of the feast and urged those invited to prepare themselves. Yet sadly, “they were unwilling” (22:1-3). Demonstrating his grace and patience, the king repeated his invitation, which essentially was a command (v. 4). To ignore the invitation was unprecedented, yet to seize, mistreat, and kill the king’s slaves was downright evil (vv. 5-6) and irrational, when the lord only intended good. Rightly so, “the king was enraged” (v. 7).

The parable of the marriage feast reveals that God would judge Israel’s leaders for their rejection of Jesus as Messiah. The entire parable indicates Israel’s response to the ministry of the Godhead. Israel rejected the Father by refusing to heed the preaching of John the Baptist; they refused God’s Son by having Him crucified. The beginning chapters of the book of Acts indicate that the nation’s leaders also rejected the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the apostles, in addition to how they persecuted the church. Stephen would later declare of the nation’s leaders, “‘You ... are always resisting the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51). The nation is collectively condemned for their contempt toward God’s gracious offer to enter the Lord’s kingdom by faith in Jesus Christ. The kingdom would be postponed as a result, which was made certain by Jesus’ prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction (Matt 22:7; cf. 24:1-2), as did occur in AD 70.

The king sent messengers for a third time with an indiscriminate invitation to all people, whether good or bad (22:8-10). The king’s impartiality represents the grace of God, who invites all people “from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev 5:9)—without distinction—to the wedding feast. The king filled the wedding hall with those who availed themselves of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. God’s kingdom will be filled with trusting (believing) people from all nations.

Jesus mentioned a person “without wedding clothes” to prevent misunderstanding (Matt 22:11-12; cf. Rev 19:6-8), for it would seem that one could enter the Lord’s kingdom indiscriminately (Matt 22:9-10). The image is of a person not clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and thus attending the feast on his or her own terms, whereby that person will be excluded (vv. 13-14). Jesus identifying the person individually makes it evident that entering the Lord’s kingdom is personal. Every person is responsible to come in his or her own faith to be clothed in Christ’s righteousness (cf. Gal 3:26-27).

(Matt 22:15-22) In response to a plot intended to entrap Him, Jesus proved His authority in the realm of politics. The Sanhedrin sent the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus (vv. 15-16a). Sworn enemies were allied in opposing Jesus. The ancient proverb still rings true: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

The Bible says much regarding flattery, and none of it is good (cf. Ps 5:9; Prov 26:28; 28:23; 29:5). Jesus always conveyed truth and could not be ensnared by His opponent’s words (Matt 22:16b-18). Learn from Jesus not to let your ego inflate or pride cause you to be unprepared. Jesus is the “wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:30) and would not be overcome by flattery.

Ironically, the Lord did not have a denarius, but His opponents did (Matt 22:19-20). Jesus then spoke what are some of the most significant words in history: “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s” (v. 21). He acknowledged the legitimacy of human government, which God has ordained. Thus, it has the right to levy taxes and the prerogative to make laws. Authority by nature reflects God’s sovereignty (cf. Rom 13:1-7; 1 Tim 2:1-6; 1 Pet 2:13-17). God’s people have legitimate responsibilities to the government, so long as those do not interfere with the ability to honor, obey, and worship the Lord.

(Matt 22:23-46) The Pharisees and Herodians failed in their attempts to entrap Jesus, so the Sadducees (the majority sect of the Sanhedrin) came to Jesus with a theoretical question concerning the resurrection (vv. 23-28). The Sadducees, unlike the Pharisees, did not believe in resurrection. Their hyperbolical and hypothetical question was based upon Deuteronomy 25:5, which said that if a man died childless, it was the obligation of his next younger brother to marry his widow and bear a child to continue the family line. Jesus had no difficulty answering the question, and chided the Sadducees for not understanding “the Scriptures nor the power of God” (v. 29). Proving His theological authority, He then explained that in heaven, “they neither marry nor are given in marriage” (v. 30). Propagating the human race is needless in the new existence since there is no death (Rev 21:4). Jesus concluded by affirming resurrection, because God is the Lord of the living (Matt 22:31-32).

While the crowds “were astonished” at Jesus’ authority (v. 33), the religious leaders plotted further (v. 34). Rabbis counted 613 precepts in the Mosaic Law (248 commands, 365 prohibitions). Recognizing that all were not equally foundational or important, they debated the “light” and “weighty” commands (cf. vv. 34-36). Jesus quoted the Shema (v. 37; Deut 6:4-5) and specified the primary obligation of humanity: to love God with one’s entire being. He then added a second command: love your neighbor as oneself (vv. 39-40; cf. Rom 13:8). Every biblical instruction entails an expression of love toward God and other people.

Prior to His opponents thinking of another ensnaring question, “Jesus asked them a question” (Matt 22:41). Quoting Psalm 110, which the Jews knew to be a prophecy of the Messiah, Jesus asked how David could call a son of his “Lord.” The only manner in which a son could be greater than his Father was if he was more than simply the son of the Father. Therefore, the Messiah for whom the Jews longed must be the Son of God; that is, both God and man (Matt 22:42-45).

Jesus’ enemies retreated, for “no one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question” (v. 46). Their silence was a tribute to His authority. Scheming opponents were quieted by the manner in which Jesus answered and asked questions, which prioritizes the need for His followers to be skillful in doing likewise. “In the midst of wolves ... be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (10:16). First Peter 2:12 admonishes, “Keep your behavior excellent ... so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

Midnight Call - 02/2024

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