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Matthew 22:1-40; Mark 12:13-34 Listen
In this passage, we see the following in Jesus' ministry:
|1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,
2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.
4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.
5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:
6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.
7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.
9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.
10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
This string of parables (this being the third in the series) began back in Matthew 21:23 (see notes) when Jesus was asked by the chief priests and elders, "By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?" The first two parables in reply (Matthew 21:28-32 and 21:33-46) are designed to point out that these so-called leaders would not be comprising the coming Kingdom of God (on earth) because of their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. This third parable makes the same point. The wedding setting (wedding celebrations sometimes lasted as long as a week) is a picture of the Kingdom of God (on earth) that Jesus has been proclaiming in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies regarding the Messiah.
It is obvious here that those who were initially invited to the wedding are analogous to these Jewish leaders. Just like the original guests decline to attend the wedding, these leaders who questioned Jesus' authority are declining to be a part of any Kingdom in which Jesus is the head. Interestingly, this parable offers them a second chance to reconsider; they again decline. Not only so, but they treat the messengers with contempt. Yup! We're still drawing an analogy to these wicked Jewish leaders of Jesus' day. Who ends up coming to the wedding? It's just plain common folks who attend. Likewise, Jesus reaches beyond the Jewish leadership of his day and extends an invitation for the common people to receive the message of the Kingdom of God (on earth). You will notice also that those who declined the invitation are destroyed in verse 7.
This parable has a little twist. One man manages to get into the wedding who does not belong. At the end of the tribulation, the Kingdom of God (on earth) will begin with only those who have come out of the tribulation with a believing relationship in Jesus Christ. No impostors will be allowed. The earth will begin the millennium (wedding feast) with only invited guests (those who trusted God by faith during the tribulation). Likewise, the party crasher is not permitted to participate because he was not an invited guest. Incidentally, here we see an oft-misused verse 14, "For many are called, but few are chosen." As you can see, the actual context of this verse indicates that, while many are invited to participate in the Kingdom of God on earth (we know it now as the millennium), only those chosen to be there and who have complied with the Messiah's criteria will be permitted to be a part of that Kingdom.
The wedding-supper scenario is used by Jesus to describe the millennium in Matthew 25:1-13 (see notes) as well. In that analogy we once again see those who do not belong there in an expanded scenario. The party crashers (so to speak) are then described in Matthew 25:31-46 (see notes), but there we find out more about their identity. They are Gentiles who rejected the Gospel message spread by the witnesses during the tribulation leading up to the millennium. Rather than being granted access to the millennium (the wedding feast), they are banished when it is said in Matthew 25:41, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Then we see in Matthew 25:46, "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."
| Pharisees: separatists (Heb. persahin, from parash, to separate). They were probably the successors of the Assideans (i.e., the pious), a party that originated in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes in revolt against his heathenizing policy. The first mention of them is in a description by Josephus of the three sects or schools into which the Jews were divided (B.C. 145). The other two sects were the Essenes and the Sadducees. In the time of our Lord they were the popular party (John 7:48). They were extremely accurate and minute in all matters appertaining to the law of Moses (Matt. 9:14; 23:15; Luke 11:39; 18:12). Paul, when brought before the council of Jerusalem, professed himself a Pharisee (Acts 23:6-8; 26:4, 5).
There was much that was sound in their creed, yet their system of religion was a form and nothing more. Theirs was a very lax morality (Matt. 5:20; 15:4, 8; 23:3, 14, 23, 25; John 8:7). On the first notice of them in the New Testament (Matt. 3:7), they are ranked by our Lord with the Sadducees as a generation of vipers. They were noted for their self-righteousness and their pride (Matt. 9:11; Luke 7:39; 18:11, 12). They were frequently rebuked by our Lord (Matt. 12:39; 16:1-4).
From the very beginning of his ministry the Pharisees showed themselves bitter and persistent enemies of our Lord. They could not bear his doctrines, and they sought by every means to destroy his influence among the people.
|Sadducees: The origin of this Jewish sect cannot definitely be traced. It was probably the outcome of the influence of Grecian customs and philosophy during the period of Greek domination. The first time they are met with is in connection with John the Baptists ministry. They came out to him when on the banks of the Jordan, and he said to them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (Matt. 3:7.) The next time they are spoken of they are represented as coming to our Lord tempting him. He calls them hypocrites and a wicked and adulterous generation (Matt. 16:1-4; 22:23). The only reference to them in the Gospels of Mark (Mark 12:18-27) and Luke (Luke 20:27-38) is their attempting to ridicule the doctrine of the resurrection, which they denied, as they also denied the existence of angels. They are never mentioned in Johns Gospel.
There were many Sadducees among the elders of the Sanhedrin. They seem, indeed, to have been as numerous as the Pharisees (Acts 23:6). They showed their hatred of Jesus in taking part in his condemnation (Matt. 16:21; 26:1-3, 59; Mark 8:31; 15:1; Luke 9:22; 22:66). They endeavoured to prohibit the apostles from preaching the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:24, 31, 32; 4:1, 2; 5:17, 24-28). They were the deists or sceptics of that age. They do not appear as a separate sect after the destruction of Jerusalem.
|Herodians: a Jewish political party who sympathized with (Mark 3:6; 12:13; Matt, 22:16; Luke 20:20) the Herodian rulers in their general policy of government, and in the social customs which they introduced from Rome. They were at one with the Sadducees in holding the duty of submission to Rome, and of supporting the Herods on the throne. (Comp. Mark 8:15; Matt. 16:6.)|
|15 Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.
16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.
17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?
18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.
20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?
21 They say unto him, Caesars. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesars; and unto God the things that are Gods.
22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.
|13 And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words.
14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?
15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.
16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesars.
17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are Gods. And they marvelled at him.
|20 And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.
21 And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly:
22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?
23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?
24 Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesars.
25 And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesars, and unto God the things which be Gods.
26 And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.
The Pharisees call in some reinforcements against Jesus - the Herodians, their political adversaries. These pro-Roman Herodians take their shot at Jesus. There's nothing whatsoever sincere about those who come to Jesus on this occasion in the temple. These Herodians were like Sadducees, but with a compliant attitude toward the Roman domination of Israel. They have very little in common with the Pharisees...except for extreme hypocrisy! That being the case, what's the deal with the Pharisee/Herodian collusion we see here in this passage against Jesus? Luke is quite clear regarding their intentions on this occasion in Luke 20:20 when he reports, "And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor." The phrase "feign themselves just men" means that they portrayed themselves as righteous." Righteous? It's very obvious that the Pharisees would make a deal with the devil himself if it would help them get rid of Jesus.
Since the Herodians were very loyal to Rome, they're the perfect hit men for this job i.e. to get Jesus to publicly renounce Roman rule. If Jesus were to renounce Rome, the Jewish leaders can have him arrested by the Romans on charges of treason. If he does not renounce Roman rule, they speculate that the people will turn away from him as Messiah; the Messiah (they conjecture) would surely express a disdain for Roman rule. Jesus outsmarts them with his answer. Well...of course he did; he had supernatural perceptive powers. As Jesus holds a Roman coin up he says, "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." The scripture tells us that they "marvelled" at that answer, but of course they were disappointed that their ploy had failed.
|23 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,
24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother:
26 Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh.
27 And last of all the woman died also.
28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
31 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,
32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.
33 And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.
|18 Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying,
19 Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a mans brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
20 Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed.
21 And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise.
22 And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also.
23 In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.
24 And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?
25 For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.
26 And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?
27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.
|27 Then came to him certain of the Sadducees, which deny that there is any resurrection; and they asked him,
28 Saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any mans brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.
29 There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children.
30 And the second took her to wife, and he died childless.
31 And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also: and they left no children, and died.
32 Last of all the woman died also.
33 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife.
34 And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage:
35 But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage:
36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.
37 Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
38 For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.
39 Then certain of the scribes answering said, Master, thou hast well said.
40 And after that they durst not ask him any question at all.
Here come the Sadducees to take their turn at attempting to humiliate Jesus before the people while he's teaching in the temple. These Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, among other scriptural truths they had also rejected. It's interesting, though, that they controlled the priesthood; the High Priest was always chosen from among the Sadducees during this period. I'm confident they used this hypothetical illustration of theirs quite often to show what they considered the fallacy of the resurrection doctrine. They base their illustration upon the provision for widows who had not yet born children in Deuteronomy 25:5-6 (see notes). These marriages are referred to in Hebrew culture as "levirate" marriages. This woman (their hypothetical woman) survives seven (count 'em, 7) husbands. Although they claim in Matthew 22:25 that the story is true, I'm just not buying it. To me, the bigger question should have been, "How bad can one woman's cooking be?" In my opinion, only the Son of God could hold a straight face while they go through this ridiculous scenario. Nonetheless, in their minds, Jesus must reject the doctrine of the resurrection which will once and for all put him at odds with the Pharisees. Instead, Jesus tells all of them something they did not know about Heaven - people don't marry there. It's easy to overlook, but notice in Luke's account in Luke 20:39, "Then certain of the scribes answering said, Master, thou hast well said." These were the professional copyists and students of the Law, and they were impressed.
Jesus makes another point here which strikes at the heart of the Sadducees' belief system when he quotes God speaking to Moses in Exodus 3:6 (see notes), "Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Since the Sadducees only respected the Law of Moses and rejected the resurrection, the "I am the God" (present tense) accentuated an inconsistency in their doctrine of no resurrection. In other words, God tells Moses that he IS the God of those who had already passed from mortal life to eternal life i.e. resurrected.
|34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.
35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
|28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:
33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.
34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question.
Not wanting to be outdone in this duel with Jesus, the Pharisees appoint one of their own scribes (and a lawyer) to ask Jesus a question, "Which is the great commandment in the law?" That seems like a pretty lame attempt to stump Jesus; every observant Jew (then and now) quotes several times a day Deuteronomy 6:4-6 (see notes), "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:" This passage is part of what is known to Jews as the "Shema." (Click her to see an explanation of the "Shema" from the notes on Deuteronomy 6.)
Notice the reply that Jesus gives in verses 37-40:
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
That's right. If you want to summarize the Law of Moses, here it is boiled down to just two action items: (1) Love for God and (2) Love for one another. Mark 12:32-34 are interesting here. It appears that the scribe who asked the question is impressed, and Jesus recognizes his softened attitude toward the Kingdom message when he says to him in verse 34, "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God."