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|This is the New King James text of the passages.|
Matthew 22:1-40; Mark 12:13-34 Listen
In this passage, we see the following in Jesus' ministry:
You can't come to a wedding dressed like that! (Matthew 22:1-14)
|1 And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said:
2 “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son,
3 and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.
4 Again, he sent out other servants, saying, “Tell those who are invited, ‘See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding.” ’
5 But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business.
6 And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.
7 But when the king heard about it, he was furious. And he sent out his armies, destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
8 Then he said to his servants, “The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.
9 Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’
10 So those servants went out into the highways and gathered together all whom they found, both bad and good. And the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 ¶ “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.
12 So he said to him, “Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.
13 Then the king said to the servants, “Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will 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 are You doing these things? And who gave You 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, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." Then we see in Matthew 25:46, "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
For additional study, you may find it helpful to consult the document, "Guide to Prophetic Scripture" by clicking here.
| 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.)|
Who's on that coin? (Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:20-26)
|15 ¶ Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk.
16 And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men.
17 Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
18 ¶ But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?
19 Show Me the tax money.” ¶ So they brought Him a denarius.
20 ¶ And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”
21 ¶ They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” ¶ And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
22 When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.
|13 ¶ Then they sent to Him some of the Pharisees and the Herodians, to catch Him in His words.
14 When they had come, they said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?
15 Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?” ¶ But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it.”
16 So they brought it. ¶ And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”
17 ¶ And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” ¶ And they marveled at Him.
|20 ¶ So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor.
21 ¶ Then they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You say and teach rightly, and You do not show personal favoritism, but teach the way of God in truth:
22 Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
23 ¶ But He perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Why do you test Me?
24 Show Me a denarius. Whose image and inscription does it have?” ¶ They answered and said, “Caesar’s.”
25 ¶ And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
26 ¶ But they could not catch Him in His words in the presence of the people. And they marveled at His answer and kept silent.
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, "So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, that they might seize on His words, in order to deliver Him to the power and the authority of the governor." Notice the phrase "who pretended to be righteous." Righteous? How deceptive can one be? 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 to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to 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.
Now the Sadducees take a verbal swing at Jesus (Matthew 22:23-33; Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-40)
|23 ¶ The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him,
24 saying: “Teacher, Moses said that if a man dies, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife and raise up offspring for his brother.
25 Now there were with us seven brothers. The first died after he had married, and having no offspring, left his wife to his brother.
26 Likewise the second also, and the third, even to the seventh.
27 Last of all the woman died also.
28 Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.”
29 ¶ Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.
30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.
31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying,
32 “I am the God of Abraham, 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 multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.
|18 ¶ Then some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him; and they asked Him, saying:
19 “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, and leaves his wife behind, and leaves no children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother.
20 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife; and dying, he left no offspring.
21 And the second took her, and he died; nor did he leave any offspring. And the third likewise.
22 So the seven had her and left no offspring. Last of all the woman died also.
23 Therefore, in the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be? For all seven had her as wife.”
24 ¶ Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?
25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
26 But concerning the dead, that they rise, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the burning bush passage, how God spoke to him, saying, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ ?
27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.”
|27 ¶ Then some of the Sadducees, who deny that there is a resurrection, came to Him and asked Him,
28 saying: “Teacher, Moses wrote to us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife, and he dies without children, his brother should take his wife and raise up offspring for his brother.
29 Now there were seven brothers. And the first took a wife, and died without children.
30 And the second took her as wife, and he died childless.
31 Then 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 does she become? For all seven had her as wife.”
34 ¶ Jesus answered and said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage.
35 But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage;
36 nor can they die anymore, for they are equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.
37 But even Moses showed in the burning bush passage that the dead are raised, when he called the Lord “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’
38 For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.”
39 ¶ Then some of the scribes answered and said, “Teacher, You have spoken well.”
40 But after that they dared not question Him anymore.
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 your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God." 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.
Is one commandment greater than the rest? (Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34)
|34 ¶ But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.
35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying,
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
37 ¶ Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
|28 ¶ Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”
29 ¶ Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.
30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.
31 And the second, like it, is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
32 ¶ So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He.
33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
34 ¶ Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” ¶ But after that no one dared question Him.
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, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your 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:
37 Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 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, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."