In the parable of the Wedding Banquet, Jesus warned the religious leaders of the Jews that if they failed to believe in him as God's Son, God would reject them and replace them in his kingdom purposes with people who would believe, even Gentiles. In this same chapter, Jesus reveals that resurrected believers will no longer marry.
Parable of the Wedding Banquet (v1-14)
This parable is the second part of a pair, the first part being the parable of the tenants (Matthew 21:33-46). The two parables have a similar meaning.

In this parable, the king represents God, and the king's son who is the bridegroom represents Jesus the Son of God (v2). Later in this same chapter, Jesus questions the Jews about whose son they think Messiah is (vs41-46). The wedding banquet represents God reclaiming his people, just as the prophets foretold that God would one day become like a husband to Israel again (Isaiah 49:18, 61:10, 62:4, Hosea 2:16, 3:1). The parable also alludes to Isaiah 25:6-9 which prophesies that God will invite his people to a great banquet. Invitations are sent out, and at a later stage when the feast is ready, the king sends his servants to summon those who have been invited (v3-4). The servants represent God's Old Testament prophets. But the invited guests act with indifference, too concerned about their businesses to bother going to the wedding (v5). Others react with outright hostility, mistreating and even killing the king's servants (v6). In Matthew 23:35, Jesus specifically identifies the Prophet Zechariah as one of those prophets who was rejected and killed. Jeremiah would fit as an example of a prophet whom Israel mistreated (see Jeremiah 38:6). In this parable (unlike in the parable of the tenants), the son is not killed. The son is the bridegroom in this story and there would be no more wedding banquet if the bridegroom were killed. To make excuses and turn down the invitation is an insult to the king, and he is also furious at the mistreatment of his servants. So he puts the murderers to death and sets their city on fire (v7). In saying this, Jesus was prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem that would take place in 70 AD, resulting in the deaths of about one million Jews. The king declares that those who were invited were not worthy (v8). As in the parable of the tenants, we should understand Jesus to be referring to the chief priests and Pharisees (Matthew 21:45).

In verse 9, the king sends his servants into the streets to invite anyone and everyone, and the wedding hall is filled with guests, both good and bad. The good represent Jews who would believe in Jesus. These tended to be the poorer classes, as opposed to the Jewish leaders. The bad represent Gentiles, who were not part of God's 'righteous nation' (see Ephesians 2:11-12), but who would also believe in Jesus. Together, these guests represent the Church, a joining together of the Jews and Gentiles into 'one new man' (Ephesians 2:15). In verse 11, the king comes in to see the wedding guests, but spots a man who is not wearing wedding clothes. A person wearing wedding clothes represents someone who has been saved by grace and 'clothed' in salvation (Isaiah 61:10 and Zechariah 3:3-4). The wedding guest who is not wearing wedding clothes represents someone who is part of the Church but is not truly saved. Although there is only one such person in this parable, in the parable of the weeds (Matthew 13:24-30) and in the parable of the net (Matthew 13:47-50), the Church is seen to be a mixed bag containing many unsaved individuals who are not true believers. The king asks this individual how he got in without wedding clothes, but the man is left speechless (v12). Given that the wedding banquet occurs at the end of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 19:6-10), it is likely that by that time, most false believers will have fallen away. Having passed through God's refining fires, the Church will have been largely purified, and false believers may be very much the exception by that point. The king tells his attendants to tie this man up and to throw him into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Weeping and gnashing of teeth is a phrase that Jesus used repeatedly to describe hell (Matthew 8:12, 13:42 & 50, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30, Luke 13:28). The description of hell as 'outer darkness' fits with the parable. Wedding feasts were often at night, and the venue would be brightly lit, but outside would be dark. But it is also a picture of banishment, far away from God's presence.

In verse 14, Jesus makes a summary point, "For many are called, but few are chosen". His point is this: Make sure you believe in the Son so that you are one of God's chosen, not one whom God rejects.

In Matthew 8, when Jesus is amazed by the faith of the Roman Centurion who seeks his servant's healing, Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, I have not found such faith in anyone in Israel! I tell you, many will come from the east and west to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, but the sons of the kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth". His point is the same - many Jews will be rejected and replaced with believing Gentiles. Equally, the Church should take warning, for many of its 'sons of the kingdom' may also be rejected, as Paul warns in Romans 11:20-22.

Although the Parable of the Wedding Banquet is allegorical, God will throw an actual literal banquet for his people at the end of the age (Isaiah 25:6, Matthew 8:11-12).

Marriage and the Resurrection (v23-33)
The Sadducees' intention in asking Jesus about marriage after the resurrection was to catch Jesus out and to demonstrate that there is no resurrection (since they did not believe in it). Their question concerned what was known as the levirate law, prescribed in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. Concerning this law, the NET bible notes state, "The brother of a man who died without a son had an obligation to marry his brother's widow. This served several purposes: It provided for the widow in a society where a widow with no children to care for her would be reduced to begging, and it preserved the name of the deceased, who would be regarded as the legal father of the first son produced from that marriage". The Sadducees' considered this law to provide logical proof that there is no resurrection, since it wouldn't work for a woman to be resurrected and have multiple husbands at the same time. Jesus' reply gives us an unexpected insight into life after the resurrection. In our resurrected state, Jesus says that women will neither marry, nor be given in marriage, but will be like the angels in heaven (v30). The implication is that the angels do not marry, and neither will we.

Perhaps in our resurrected state, we will enjoy such intimate closeness to God that such human intimacy will no longer be necessary. In Ephesians 5:31-32, the Apostle Paul implies that marriage between a husband and wife prophetically points to Christ's relationship with the Church. Also in 1 Corinthians 6:16-17, Paul implies that the physical intimacy a man and woman experience in sexual intercourse is like the spiritual intimacy a person can experience with God through his Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 13:12, he likens that intimacy to the poor reflection you would see in a brass mirror. But after the resurrection, we will know God fully, and be fully known.

This does not mean we should not look forward to being reunited with deceased loved ones after we die. In several places, the bible describes death as 'joining your ancestors' (e.g. Genesis 15:15, 25:8, 25:17, 35:29, Numbers 20:24). And in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, when Paul talks about the resurrection and rapture, he makes it clear that we will be reunited with Christians who have died.

When Jesus talks about the resurrection, as he does here in his response to the Sadducees, we should understand him to be talking about the 'resurrection and rapture'. According to Paul, although the resurrection takes place first, it seems that the rapture follows immediately afterwards, so effectively these two are the same event. Christians today often refer to this event as 'the Rapture', which gets its name from the word for 'caught up' in the latin vulgate version of 1 Thessalonians 4:17. But use of the word 'rapture' to describe this event only began in the 18th century, when Puritan preachers, Increase and Cotton Mather, came up with the idea of a 'pre-tribulation rapture'. When Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians, his revelation of living believers being 'caught up' at the coming of Messiah was a new one. About twenty years earlier, when Jesus spoke about this event, he described it as 'the resurrection'. At that time, although the Sadducees did not believe in a bodily resurrection, the Pharisees did (Acts 23:8), so the Jews were divided on this point.

In this passage, Jesus rebukes the Sadducees in verse 29, "You are deceived, because you don't know the scriptures or the power of God". The scriptures Jesus refers to here concerning the resurrection of believers might include Isaiah 26:19-21, 53:9-12 and Daniel 12:13. But Jesus implies that it is not enough simply to know the scriptures. We also need an intimate and personal knowledge of the power of God, without which, Jesus says we are 'deceived'. The New Testament repeatedly warns us of the danger of being deceived in the end times (Matthew 24:4, 5, 11, 24, Mark 13:5, 6, 22, Luke 21:8, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 2 Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5:6, 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 10, 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:5, 13, 2 John 7, Revelation 13:14). In 2 Timothy 3:5, Paul prophesies that in the last days there will be people who appear to be religious and godly, but deny the power of the God. We must strive to know and understand the scriptures, but we must also strive to know God's power.

When Jesus uses the phrase 'in the resurrection', he is describing the state of believers who have received their immortal resurrection bodies, as described in more detail by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:35-56. The bible indicates that at least some of these resurrected believers will reign with Jesus during the Millennium (Revelation 21:4-6). During the Millennium, the earth will be populated by normal mortal human beings, the survivors of the Great Tribulation and their descendants. They will continue to marry and reproduce (Isaiah 65:17-23), but the resurrected believers, who rule with Christ over them, will not.
Symbols: Wedding, Banquet, Feast, King, Son, Wedding clothes, Bride, Robes of righteousness, Weeping and gnashing of teeth
Tags: Jesus as the Son of God, God as Father, Israel rejects Jesus, God welcomes Gentiles, Hell, The Church, End-time Church, Israel and the Church, Resurrection of the dead, Rapture, Deception, Life after the resurrection, Marriage, End-time bride, Millennium, Power of God
The Parable of the Wedding Banquet
22 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying:
2 “The kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.
3 He sent his slaves to summon those who had been invited to the banquet, but they would not come.
4 Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Look! The feast I have prepared for you is ready. My oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.”’
5 But they were indifferent and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.
6 The rest seized his slaves, insolently mistreated them, and killed them.
7 The king was furious! He sent his soldiers, and they put those murderers to death and set their city on fire.
8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but the ones who had been invited were not worthy.
9 So go into the main streets and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’
10 And those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all they found, both bad and good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 But when the king came in to see the wedding guests, he saw a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.
12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ But he had nothing to say.
13 Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Tie him up hand and foot and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!’
14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Paying Taxes to Caesar

15 Then the Pharisees went out and planned together to entrap him with his own words.
16 They sent to him their disciples along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are truthful, and teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You do not court anyone’s favor because you show no partiality.
17 Tell us then, what do you think? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
18 But Jesus realized their evil intentions and said, “Hypocrites! Why are you testing me?
19 Show me the coin used for the tax.” So they brought him a denarius.
20 Jesus said to them, “Whose image is this, and whose inscription?”
21 They replied, “Caesar’s.” He said to them, “Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
22 Now when they heard this they were stunned, and they left him and went away.

Marriage and the Resurrection
23 The same day Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to him and asked him,
24 “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and father children for his brother.’
25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children he left his wife to his brother.
26 The second did the same, and the third, down to the seventh.
27 Last of all, the woman died.
28 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had married her.”
29 Jesus answered them, “You are deceived, because you don’t know the scriptures or the power of God.
30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
31 Now as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God,
32I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living!”
33 When the crowds heard this, they were amazed at his teaching.

The Greatest Commandment
34 Now when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled together.
35 And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him a question to test him:
36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
37 Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

The Messiah: David’s Son and Lord
41 While the Pharisees were assembled, Jesus asked them a question:
42 “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said, “The son of David.”
43 He said to them, “How then does David by the Spirit call him ‘Lord,’ saying,
44The Lord said to my lord,
Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet”’?
45 If David then calls him ‘Lord,’ how can he be his son?”
46 No one was able to answer him a word, and from that day on no one dared to question him any longer.