Matthew 22

Today we’re reading Matthew 22.

This chapter began with Jesus’ parable about the wedding banquet. The point of the parable was that God freely invites people into his kingdom but instead coming to his kingdom, those you would expect to be there reject the invitation and abuse those sent to invite them. In other words, the very religious Jewish leaders that people expect to be saved have in fact rejected Jesus and will suffer for it. Meanwhile, the common person will come into Jesus’ kingdom as an honored guest (vv. 9-10) provided they come clothed in the righteousness of Christ (vv. 12-13).

As if to illustrate the point, Jesus faced one encounter after another with religious leaders in Israel in the rest of this chapter. The Pharisees and Sadducees took turns trying to expose Jesus as a fraud by getting him to say something stupid. Jesus countered their rhetorical traps and exposed their self-serving tactics and lack of understanding of God’s word. At the end of today’s passage, Jesus gave the Pharisees a taste of their own medicine. He asked them a question that seemed like a softball: Whose son is the Messiah? (v. 41). They gave the predictable answer (v. 41b) and Jesus replied by quoting Psalm 110:1 in verses 43-44. The big question he called them to reflect upon was this: “If then David calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?” It is true that the title “lord” was used of human rulers and authorities. That was not Jesus’ point. But your son could never be your lord--your ruler or authority. Their culture revered fatherhood and your father was the leader of your clan until his death. So it was extraordinary for David to refer to any descendant of his as “lord.” Jesus called out this extraordinary statement in scripture to emphasize that messiah wasn’t not going to be just another man, another mere descendant of David to take his turn on Israel’s throne. No, by calling him “lord” David was giving him honor that suggested the true nature of Christ as both human and divine.

Remember that this section of Matthew records Jesus’ life during “Passion Week,” the week he was crucified. The identity of Christ is the key issue at this point. The crowd received him when he came to town, ascribing to him the title reserved for Messiah (21:1-16), calling him “Son of David” (v. 9, 16b)--the very title that is at issue here in Matthew 22:42. But the religious leaders were deeply offended that Christ received this title (Matt 21:16a). They tried again and again to show that Christ did not deserve this title and, eventually, they would conspire and kill him for receiving it because they did not truly believe in God and he threatened their religious authority.

All of this was part of the plan of God. Christ came to the Jews who should have received him but they rejected and crucified him. Instead of the crucifixion being his end, it was the beginning of his kingdom’s message spreading to the rest of the world and leading to the culmination of history. Like the invited guests from the parable in verses 1-14, the gospel goes out to many, but few respond and those who do respond are not the ones we would expect.

We don’t know how much longer God has ordained for the gospel to keep going out before Christ returns. There are still many people in the world who do not have a gospel witness. But as we wait for the wedding banquet to begin, we should be looking around us and inviting others to join. Yes, only the chosen will get in (v. 14) but God wants us to invite as many people as we can. Remember, though, that God loves to save the unexpected. The person you think will never trust Christ may be one of the very ones God has chosen. Let’s be liberal, then, in spreading the gospel message, not keeping it to ourselves but talking about Christ with as many people as we possibly can.