Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Further Warnings To The Leaders

Matthew 22:1-22

“And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

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. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.” (Matthew 22:1-6)

Experience tells us people don’t take something very seriously until they have herd it several times.  Jesus had just finished two parables in which he warned the chief priests and scribes and Pharisees of their sin in rejecting his message, but he wanted to make sure they understood what he was telling them so he told them another parable.

He compared the kingdom of heaven to a king whose son was getting married.  They had invited a large number of guests, on the wedding day he sent servants out to remind the guests, but they all said they were not interested.  Since no one came he sent his servants again, to try to convince them to come because they had already catered the dinner and everything had been delivered.  Some of them made excuses, one that he had to take care of things on the farm that couldn’t wait and another that he had a shipment of merchandise that had to be priced out and put on the shelves.  Some of them even got mad about being asked again and beat up or killed his servants.  Clearly they were not concerned about the kings feelings or desires.

“But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.  Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.  Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.   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.” (Matthew 22:7-10)

Angry that they had murdered his servants, the king ordered the murderers executed and their property burned.   He told his remaining servants that since those who were invited didn’t consider it worth their while to come, they didn’t deserve to come.  Instead he asked the servants to go and invite anyone who wanted to come, regardless who they were.

“And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.  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.  For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:11-14)

When the king came into the feast, he found a man who hadn’t bothered to clean up and get ready to participate even though it was a wedding for the king’s son.  Angered that someone should take such a major occasion so lightly, the king ordered him arrested and imprisoned for his disrespect.  While everyone was invited, only those who took it seriously were welcome, and the same is true of the kingdom of heaven. 

The Pharisees and religious leaders had not taken God’s offer seriously, ignoring his messenger, and refusing to get ready, excusing themselves that other things were more important.  It would be hard not to get the message after hearing these three parables.

“Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.  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.  Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” (Matthew 22:15)

Determined to get rid of Jesus, the Pharisees first tried to use political means.   They sent some of Herod’s supporters to challenge him whether he believed they should pay taxes to Caesar or not.  After all they really resented being forced to pay taxes, believing that the Romans were robbing god by taking it from them., and assumed since he taught some of the things they believed, that he would hold the same position, not knowing he had told Peter that while they didn’t owe it, they should pay it for the sake of their testimony to other people. 

“But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?  Show me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.  And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

They say unto him, Caesar's.

Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.  When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.” (Matthew 22:18-22)

Knowing what they were up to, Jesus asked them why they were trying to trick him.  He then asked whose picture was on the money and whose writing was on it.  When they told him it was Caesar’s, he told them that if it was Caesar’s money they should give it to him and give God the things that were his.  They were surprised by his answer but it was impossible to argue with his logic so they left.

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