1.  And Jesus answered and spoke to them again by parables and said:

The Lord continues speaking in parables against the Pharisees, as He was doing at the end of chapter 21.  The chief priests and Pharisees are the “them” in this verse.

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.

This sets forth the Pharisees’ reaction to the offer of the kingdom of God that had been made to them.  They were so concerned with maintaining their own little power and authority that they had over Israel that they were not willing to give it up in hopes of gaining God’s future Kingdom.

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.

Now the offer is made again.  This is a picture of what happened in the gospels.  First the truth of the kingdom was preached by John the Baptist, then by Christ Himself.  Then, He sent out first the twelve (Matthew 10) and then the seventy (Luke 10.)    They had ignored John and Christ, and now they despise the apostles.

6.  “And the rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them.

This is what happened eventually to Christ, as well as to His apostles in the Acts period.  The leaders were no longer satisfied just to mock them.  Now they killed them for their message.  The ridiculousness of their actions is pointed out by this parable.  Why would anyone kill the servants of a king who only wanted to invite them to the marriage of his son?  That would be foolish behavior indeed!  And it was just as foolish for the religious leaders to kill the servants of God simply for offering them access to God’s Kingdom.  Yet they did it nevertheless.

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.

This shows God’s attitude towards those religious leaders who rejected the Lord Jesus Christ.  It also foreshadows the fact that the Pharisees, with all their plotting against the Lord to keep their little rule in the city of Jerusalem, would in the end lose that rule when that city over which they held jurisdiction would be destroyed.

8.  “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy.

Remember, this means the religious leaders and those who, by their own admission, recognized Jesus as the Messiah (see John 3:2.)  The common people did not know Who He was (see Matthew 16:14.)  Thus, they could not be blamed for rejecting Him.  Indeed, they heard His teachings about the kingdom most gladly!

9.  “’Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding.’

The Lord again condemns the religious leaders by showing that, although they would not accept His invitation to enter the Kingdom, it would certainly be offered to the common people, even those in far away places.  This is the first hint of the gospel going out to all nations that we have seen.

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.

This is what the disciples did in the Acts period.  They went out across the world and gave all the common people of Israel, both in the land and in the dispersion, the offer of access into God’s Kingdom.  Both good and bad received this offer, and any could make the choice to enter.  All were bidden, not just those privileged to receive an invitation, as in the first inviting.  Now, the door was thrown open, and the wedding hall was filled.  In the same way, the Israelites flocked to God’s Kingdom in the Acts period (see Acts 21:20.)

11.  “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment.

The rich at their weddings would provide the wedding garment to all the guests.  This way, all the guests would be clothed the same, and none would appear more privileged than another.  In the same way, those who enter God’s Kingdom do so wearing the robe of righteousness that He offers to men.  Anyone seeking to enter that kingdom and found not wearing that robe would be rejected.  One we might think of in this regard is the disciple Judas Iscariot.

12.  “So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’  And he was speechless.

Those who are not found having Christ’s righteousness in that day will find themselves with simply nothing to say.  Perhaps this is a foreshadowing of those who will enter the Kingdom alive but not having had faith, who will then be cast out of it.

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.’

The one not wearing the wedding garment is cast bound out of the wedding feast.  “Weeping and gnashing of teeth” is symbolic of great sorrow and great regret.  Such will be the portion of all those who thus find themselves removed from God’s Kingdom.

14.  “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

The word for “called” here is “kaleo” and means “positioned,” and the word for “chosen” is “eklektos” and means “elected.”  Many receive a position from God, but few are chosen beyond that to special service.  We might liken this to the Lord’s disciples while He was on earth.  Although He had many who were positioned as disciples, there were only a few that were elected out of these disciples to hold the special place as one of the twelve, and then only three of the twelve were chosen out to be among the elect three who were closest to Christ.  Many were called indeed, but few were chosen.  Yet of those chosen, what a loss to then lose that election like Judas did!  This is a regrettable thing indeed.

15.  Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk.

They fear the people too much to move against Him.  Thus, they seek some accusation that they could bring before the people that would turn them against Him.

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.

They ascribe to the Lord the position of being absolutely unbiased.  This was completely true, and yet I do not think that the Herodians believed this.  They meant these words as a flattery to get on Christ’s good side and to make Him not think too closely before answering their carefully crafted trap.

17.  “Tell us, therefore, what do You think?  Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

This was a brilliant plot on the part of the Herodians (that is, those men who served King Herod.)  If the Lord said that taxes should not be paid to Caesar, they could claim that Jesus was a rebel and spoke against taxes, which would have angered both the Roman government of the day and the tax collectors who were known to be His friends.  Yet if He said He supported Caesar’s tax, as the Herodians themselves did in their alliance with Rome, they could claim that He supported the Roman invaders, which would have made Him a traitor in the eyes of many of the common people.  They were probably hoping by their flattery to get Him to side with them out of good will, thus causing a breach between Him and the people, but either way would have served their purpose.

The tax in question was specifically the poll tax paid by each citizen of the Roman Empire at the time of the census.

18.  But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?

The Lord is not fooled by their ploy and immediately reveals to them that He knows they are trying to test His wisdom.  These men themselves were hypocrites about this issue, claiming to the people to be on their side and yet to the Romans staunchly supporting their taxes.

19.  “Show Me the tax money.”  So they brought Him a denarius.

This was the amount of the poll-tax.  Remember, a denarius was an average day’s wages.  Hardly a large tax compared to what we have to pay today, yet enough to cause major contention in those poverty-stricken days.

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.”

The way our Lord outsmarted them shows that there was one Man, at least, who had a wisdom as great as Solomon’s.  These men used Roman money, given to them by Caesar.  Thus, how could they claim to the people that they were against Caesar’s taxes?  If they accepted the money from Caesar, then clearly they must accept the taxes as well.  Thus He not only disarmed their trap, but also showed them up in their hypocrisy at the same time.

22.  When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.

The Herodians realized they had been outsmarted, and gave up their attack.

23.  The same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him,

These groups generally hated each other and argued with each other under normal circumstances, but now they are all united in their hatred of the Lord.  Now it is the Sadducees’ turn to attempt to trap the Lord in His words.  They do this by an attack on the idea of the resurrection.  The Sadducees taught that there is no resurrection, and their indulgent lifestyles reflected their belief!  Now, they use a ploy that no doubt had stumped many a Pharisee before this time, and they knew well that the Lord held with the Pharisees on the issue of resurrection.  No doubt this trusty argument will work on Christ as well, they reason.

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.  “And 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.”

This story is rather out of date, as it has to do with laws and marriage arrangements in effect in that time and under the law.  Let us make up a modern day story.  Suppose a young girl who believes in the Lord Jesus goes out and marries a man who also believes in Him.  They live together as a couple for several years, after which he dies.  She mourns for him for a time, but after a course of years recovers from it and, meeting another man who believes in the Lord, marries him as well.  They live together for an approximately equal amount of time as the first marriage, and then, as her first husband did, he dies.  Again she mourns for a time, but again she eventually meets another man who is a believer and marries him.  This goes on for seven husbands, after which she also dies.  No significant event marks out any of the marriages, as there are no children in any of them, they all last about the same amount of time, and none of the husbands survives the woman.  Now which one of these men would she be the wife of when they rise from the dead, if there is indeed a resurrection?

29.  Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.

These men did not recognize what Paul pointed out in I Corinthians 7:39, that a woman was only bound to her husband by the law as long as he lived.  If he was dead, the marriage ties were over!  This is what the law did, and these men, being teachers of the law, should have known it, but they did not.  A woman in such a circumstance would have to remarry in the resurrection before she would be married to ANYONE, since her death erased all marriage ties.  And she could as easily marry a new man altogether as one of these men!  This is what the law would imply, and these men should have known it.

The Lord Jesus was quick to tell these men that they were mistaken.  Their problem, of course, was that they both did not know the Scriptures, and did not know the power of God.  Let us all strive to be guilty of neither of these!

30.  “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.

Many people get all excited here and insist that this passage proves there is no marriage in Heaven.  This is not even talking about Heaven, however, but the resurrection before the Kingdom when many of the very Jews who were standing there would rise from the dead and take their place as the nation of priests in God’s government.  I remember arguing about this passage with a man who claimed it taught that there is no marriage in Heaven.  I asked him if there was then any marriage in the Kingdom, and he said that he supposed that there was.  I found his statements rather devoid of reflection.  These men would have been talking about the Kingdom when they spoke of the resurrection, and the Lord would have replied in kind.

In the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels of God in heaven.  Since we do not know how the angel’s marriage arrangements work, this statement does not help us much.  Marrying is what a man does when he proposes to a girl and marries her, and giving in marriage is what a father does when he arranges a marriage for his daughter.  Since they do not marry or give in marriage in the resurrection, however, we may assume that that responsibility will be taken over by God Himself.  Surely no one could untangle such a hopeless mess as our modern marriages but He!  And if we doubt that He can do it, then we simply do not know the power of God.

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.”

Christ had spoken to their marriage argument by showing that they did not realize the truth that all marriages are dissolved in the resurrection and did not believe that God is powerful enough to sort all marriage relationships out.  Now, He moves on to the real point of their argument, which was to say that there is no resurrection at all.  He points out that God is so sure of resurrection that He speaks of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as if they were alive already.  God knows that it will happen, and He speaks of it thus.  It would be good if we would speak likewise, knowing that our own resurrection is as sure as the sun rising tomorrow.

33.  And when the multitudes heard this, they were astonished at His teaching.

Probably no one had successfully countered the Sadducees’ argument before.  His answer caused the multitudes to be astonished!

34.  But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.

Although the Pharisees could hardly have been too upset at Jesus’ defusing of the Sadducees’ argument, they are of a common spirit with them in wanting to catch Him in His words.  Thus, they now gather themselves for the attack.  Probably they had sent their cohorts, the Herodians and the Sadducees, to try Him first, and, finding that they had failed, stoop to getting their own hands dirty and take Him on themselves.

35.  Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying,
36.  “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?”

This lawyer brings Him this question.  Perhaps they were hoping He would be stumped so they could mock Him.  The Scribes divided the law into 248 affirmative commands, and 365 negative commands, for a total of 613.  They were always arguing, however, about which of these commands were more important than the others.  They probably viewed this as the most difficult question you could ask.  No matter which commandments you said were great, they could always claim that you were neglecting some command or other that at the moment they decided to claim was greatly important.

37.  Jesus said to him, “’You shall love the LORD your God with al your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
38.  “This is the first and great commandment.

Christ answers them wonderfully, and none can argue with what He says.  Can you imagine even the smooth-talking Pharisees trying to make out that this wasn’t the greatest commandment?  They would be the ones who would look like fools in such a case!  Christ had foiled their scheme once again.

This commandment is from Deuteronomy 6:5, 10:12, and 30:6.

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.”

Again, the commandment He lists as second is one that you would have to be a fool to argue against its greatness.  And what commandment could they possibly bring up that could not be included under one of these two basic commandments?

This second commandment is from Leviticus 19:18.  Although these commandments were part of the law, they are still most instructive to us today.  Let us all keep this statement of Christ in mind, as it can do much to guide our own actions just as it did those who were under the law.

41.  While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,

Now, while they are all gathered together hoping to trap Him, the Lord goes on the offensive and asks a question of the Pharisees Himself.

42.  saying, “What do you think about the Christ?  Whose Son is He?”  They said to Him, “The Son of David.”

Everyone knew this basic fact about the Messiah.  The Pharisees surely could not see how the Lord could trap them with this simple admission.  Yet He did!

43.  He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,” saying:
44.  “’The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”’?
45.  “If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?”
46.  And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.

They were trapped by this simple truth, and were utterly unable to answer Him.  They did not know, or at least were not willing to admit, the answer to Christ’s riddle.  The son is generally thought to be equal to the father.  Yet Christ, though He was David’s Son, was also David’s Lord, for He was not just the Son of Man, but He was also the Son of God Himself.  And of course they did not understand that both David’s Son and David’s Lord was standing in front of them!  But we do know it.  Let us never lose sight of that wonderful knowledge!