The Rejection of Christ by the Nation
Matthew 21:18 - 22:46

Jesus’ Authority Questioned: The Sanhedrin's Need for Repentance (21:23-32)

The Sanhedrin Question the Lord's Authority (21:23)

 23 And when he came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, saying, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? 

The Lord Asks them To Define the Source of John's Baptism (21:24-27)

24 And Jesus answering said to them, *I* also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, *I* also will tell you by what authority I do these things: 25 The baptism of John, whence was it? of heaven or of men? And they reasoned among themselves, saying, If we should say, Of heaven, he will say to us, Why then have ye not believed him? 26 but if we should say, Of men, we fear the crowd, for all hold John for a prophet. 27 And answering Jesus they said, We do not know. *He* also said to them, Neither do *I* tell you by what authority I do these things. vv.25b-27 The Sanhedrin Caught Between the Fear of Man and Hatred.

The Parable of the Two Sons (21:28-32)

28 But what think ye? A man had two children, and coming to the first he said, Child, go to-day, work in my vineyard. 29 And he answering said, I will not; but afterwards repenting himself he went. 30 And coming to the second he said likewise; and he answering said, *I* go, sir, and went not. 31 Which of the two did the will of the father? They say to him, The first. Jesus says to them, Verily I say unto you that the tax-gatherers and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not; but the tax-gatherers and the harlots believed him; but *ye* when ye saw it repented not yourselves afterwards to believe him. 

The Wickedness of the Pharisees Exposed in Rejecting the Son (21:33-46)

The Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen (21:33-41)

 33 Hear another parable: There was a householder who planted a vineyard, and made a fence round it, and dug a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and left the country. 34 But when the time of fruit drew near, he sent his bondmen to the husbandmen to receive his fruits. 35 And the husbandmen took his bondmen, and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other bondmen more than the first, and they did to them in like manner. 37 And at last he sent to them his son, saying, They will have respect for my son. 38 But the husbandmen, seeing the son, said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him and possess his inheritance. 39 And they took him, and cast him forth out of the vineyard, and killed him. 40 When therefore the lord of the vineyard comes, what shall he do to those husbandmen? 41 They say to him, He will miserably destroy those evil men, and let out the vineyard to other husbandmen, who shall render him the fruits in their seasons. 

The Application of the Parable to the Pharisees (21:42-46)

42 Jesus says to them, Have ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which they that builded rejected, this has become the corner-stone: this is of the Lord, and it is wonderful in our eyes? 43 Therefore I say to you, that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you and shall be given to a nation producing the fruits of it. 44 And he that falls on this stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder. 45 And the chief priests and the Pharisees, having heard his parables, knew that he spoke about them. 46 And seeking to lay hold of him, they were afraid of the crowds, because they held him for a prophet. 

The Parable of the Wedding Feast (9th Similitude) (22:1-14)

The Wedding FeastThis is one of the ten similitudes of the kingdom of heaven, which describe this time when Jesus is rejected. Why does the Lord give this as a similitude of the kingdom of heaven? He is teaching that God's priority is the Honor of His Son, and He won't stop until heaven is full of worshipers. If the Jews refuse the Gospel, the invitation will go to the Gentiles, and they will believe it, but judgment will fall on those who reject it. It teaches us that the servants of the Kingdom are to be occupied with evangelism. It is possible that this is the same parable spoken by the Lord in Luke 14:16 with different details included.

God's Purpose to Honor His Son (vv.1-2)

 And Jesus answering spoke to them again in parables, saying, 2 The kingdom of the heavens has become like a king who made a wedding feast for his son, vv.1-2 In this parable we have God's heart told out, inviting guests to come to honor His Son. The king is God Himself, the king's son is God's Son. The king made a wedding feast for his son, but no mention is made of the of the bride or her portion. This is because the mystery of Christ and the Church (Eph. 5:25) had not been revealed yet. God's focus is on His Son. He wants to share that delight and joy with others.

Successive Appeals to Israel Rejected (vv.3-7)

vv.3-6 The "bondmen" are the carriers of the gospel, be it the gospel of the kingdom, or the gospel of the grace of God. In Luke 14:23 the servant (singular) is a picture of the Spirit of God. In Matthew 22:2 "his bondmen" (plural) are a picture of the carriers of the gospel. The bondmen "call" and "invite". But in Luke it says "compel them to come in" because that is the Spirit's work, not ours. We can't compel, but we can invite. Bondmen are sent by the king three times:
  1. To the invitees before preparations were complete - offer rejected.
  2. To the invitees after all things were ready - offer violently rejected.
  3. To those previously not invited - offer accepted with mixed reality.
This parable is quite different than that of the wicked husbandmen in ch.21. There it was a summary of Israel's history; demonstrating that God could not trust man. But here we have God coming forth in grace: a question if man would trust God and share in the honor of His Son.

3 and sent his bondmen to call the persons invited to the wedding feast, and they would not come. v.3 We have pictured here the ministry of John the Baptist and the Lord's disciples. They went to the "invited persons" which of course were the Jews. They preached "the kingdom of heaven is at hand". But the Jews rejected the gospel of the kingdom as preached by John the Baptist, but also as preached by the Lord's disciples (Matt. 11-12). Notice that this first call was before the preparation (work of the cross) was complete.

4 Again he sent other bondmen, saying, Say to the persons invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatted beasts are killed, and all things ready; come to the wedding feast. 5 But they made light of it, and went, one to his own land, and another to his commerce. 6 And the rest, laying hold of his bondmen, ill-treated and slew themvv.4-6 We might put the cross in between v.3 and v.4, because the king's "oxen and fatted beasts" are now killed; a picture of the finished work of the cross. It is amazing that even the cross would not deter God from His purpose to have a people in honor of His Son. Now "all things are ready"; Christ had died, risen, ascended, and received the kingdom. In v.4 we see the fresh but final offer made to Israel after the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2 - 4). The gospel went out "to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Rom. 1:16). In v.5 we see that offer largely rejected by the nation of Israel in spite of the Spirit's witness. Much of the nation was too distracted by earthly and natural things ("land and commerce") to heed the gospel message. But the religious class, here called "the rest" (v.6), became violently opposed to the Spirit's witness, and began to persecute and martyr the servants of God. We can see that the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7), the martyrdom of James, and the imprisonment of Peter (Acts 12) are contemplated in v.6. Doesn’t it seem a little extreme for things to escalate into violence over a wedding invitation? Clearly this parable is teaching something much deeper. God is serious about honoring His Son, and man is serious about rejecting His Son.

7 And when the king heard of it he was wroth, and having sent his forces, destroyed those murderers and burned their city. v.7 The destruction of "their city" is no doubt a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Clearly we see that the rejection of the Pentecostal witness of the Spirit is what sealed the doom of Judaism. It answers to the additional year that was granted to the fig tree in Luke 13. "And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well] and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down" (Luke 13:8-9). The end of the year having come, it was time for that tree to be cut down. Notice that the king didn't send his servants, but "his forces" to destroy the murderers, etc. God providentially used the Roman Army for this purpose, not the messengers of the gospel.

The Gentiles Invited (vv.8-10)

8 Then he says to his bondmen, The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy; 9 go therefore into the thoroughfares of the highways, and as many as ye shall find invite to the wedding feast. 10 And those bondmen went out into the highways, and brought together all as many as they found, both evil and good; and the wedding feast was furnished with guests. vv.8-10 We see God's heart turning to the Gentiles. Even the rejection of the Pentecostal witness - a slap in the face - would not deter God from His purpose. Israel's rejection of the gospel has opened up a door of blessing to the Gentiles!  For "by [Israel's] fall there is salvation to the nations" (Rom. 11:11). The king is not willing for one seat to be empty at the wedding feast for his son. God's heart is not the problem; the issue lies in the hearts of those invited; "those invited were not worthy". And so the gospel went out to the Gentiles in a remarkable way, largely through the Apostle Paul, and many were brought from poor and humble backgrounds to fill the place forfeited by the Jews. All were welcome, both "evil and good". It didn’t matter is they had been a thief or a rabbi. It isn't a question of whether they were fit for the wedding, because we find in vv.11-13 that the king had provided garments for all to wear.

The Guest without a Wedding Garment (vv.11-14)

11 And the king, having gone in to see the guests, beheld there a man not clothed with a wedding garment. 12 And he says to him, My friend, how camest thou in here not having on a wedding garment? But he was speechless. vv.11-12 The king immediately spied one who did not have on a wedding garment. He is one who partially accepted the invitation. He agreed to come to dinner, but did not put on the provided garment. It would be like saying, "I want to go the heaven, but on the basis of my own works." It stems from either self-righteousness or carelessness with regard to God's holiness. But it is really saying, "Christ has died for nothing" (Gal. 2:21). In v.4 we read that "all things" were ready; including wedding garments for all invited guests. It was the cross that provided the wedding garments, and it is the cross that puts an end to man in the flesh, his works system (Rom. 10:3-4). The probationary period was over at the cross, and now that wedding garments are readily available, God demands that you avail yourself of one. God is not looking for anything in you, instead He is providing you with something: Christ Himself for your wedding garment (1 Cor. 1:30), and He just wants you to accept it. "He was speechless", because there is no excuse, all was provided "freely by His grace" (Rom. 3:24).

13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him feet and hands, and take him away, and cast him out into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth. v.13 God won't have any there in heaven professedly in attendance for the honor of His Son who have spurned the wedding garment. It is open dishonor to the Lord Jesus Christ. But in that eternal "moment" of judgment, all men will "honor the Son" for they will acknowledge that He as the Son has the divine prerogative to judge men (John 5:22). Notice that there is a difference between the "bondmen or slaves" [G1401] who call the guests to the feast and the "servants" [G1249] who bind the Christ-despiser. The angels will do that service, not the disciples of the kingdom. For those who despise the light of Christ's presence, their portion will be "outer darkness"; i.e. eternal damnation in the lake of fire.

14 For many are called ones, but few chosen ones. v.14 The Lord concludes the 9th Similitude with the same words that He used to conclude the 8th Similitude. In the parable only one man was found without a wedding garment, but it is not a rare occurrence in the kingdom of heaven. Many are "called" by the gospel, but relatively few are "chosen" or elect. All blessing for time and eternity is owed to the sovereign grace of God.

Three Attempts to Ensnare the Lord in His Words (22:15-46)

By the Pharisees and Herodians: Paying Taxes to Caesar  (22:15-22)

 15 Then went the Pharisees and held a council how they might ensnare him in speaking. 16 And they send out to him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Teacher, we know that thou art true and teachest the way of God in truth, and carest not for any one, for thou regardest not men’s person; 17 tell us therefore what thou thinkest: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? 18 But Jesus, knowing their wickedness, said, Why tempt ye me, hypocrites? 19 Shew me the money of the tribute. And they presented to him a denarius. 20 And he says to them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say to him, Caesar’s. Then he says to them, Pay then what is Caesar’s to Caesar, and what is God’s to God. 22 And when they heard him, they wondered, and left him, and went away. 

By the Sadducees: Marriage at the Resurrection  (22:23-33)

 23 On that day came to him Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection; and they demanded of him, 24 saying, Teacher, Moses said, If any one die, not having children, his brother shall marry his wife and shall raise up seed to his brother. 25 Now there were with us seven brethren; and the first having married died, and not having seed, left his wife to his brother. 26 In like manner also the second and the third, unto the seven. 27 And last of all the woman also died. 28 In the resurrection therefore of which of the seven shall she be wife, for all had her? 29 And Jesus answering said to them, Ye 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 angels of God in heaven. 31 But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, 32 *I* am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not God of the dead, but of the living. 33 And when the crowds heard it they were astonished at his doctrine. 

By the Pharisees: The Greatest Commandment(s) (22:34-40)

 34 But the Pharisees, having heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, were gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, demanded, tempting him, and saying, 36 Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 And he said to him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy understanding. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And the second is like it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments the whole law and the prophets hang. 

The Messiah Proved to be Come from God, as Well as From David (22:41-46)

A Question Put to the Pharisees: Whose Son is the Christ? (22:41-46)

 41 And the Pharisees being gathered together, Jesus demanded of them, 42 saying, What think ye concerning the Christ? whose son is he? They say to him, David’s. 43 He says to them, How then does David in Spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The Lord said to my Lord, Sit on my right hand until I put thine enemies under thy feet? 45 If therefore David call him Lord, how is he his son? 46 And no one was able to answer him a word, nor did any one dare from that day to question him any more.