Matthew 22:1-14 – The Parable of the Wedding Banquet


Matthew 22:1-14


Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is compared to a king who gives a wedding banquet for his son. When those invited refuse and mistreat his servants, the king invites all to fill the banquet hall. But when one guest is discovered without the appropriate wedding garment, he is expelled with the warning that “many are called, but few are chosen.”


Placed immediately after the Parable of the Vineyard, this parable, unique to Matthew, parallels it in many respects and seems to have been added to underscore their common themes of the kingdom of God and the seriousness of call to discipleship. Parallel motifs are suggested in the reference to the banquet being given for the “son,” to the repeated “sending” of the servants, and to their harsh mistreatment by those invited and summoned. The theme of the kingdom of God is again explicit, and further suggested in the fourfold mention of the “king” who gives the banquet (22:2, 7, 11, 13) and in the fourfold reference to those who have been “called” or “invited” (22:3, 4, 8, 14).

The exaggeratedly harsh rejection of the king’s generous invitation reminds one of the anger at the generosity of the landowner in the parable of the laborers (20:1-16). The sending of the slaves now to gather “all whom they found, both good and bad” (22:10) recalls the kingdom themes in the Parables of the Weeds among the Wheat and the Net (13:24-30, 47-50) as well as the motif of the last being first in the Parable of the Laborers.

At the end of the parable we hear of one of these late-coming wedding guests who is expelled for want of the proper wedding garment. This somewhat puzzling ending, coming with no explanation, appends a familiar Matthean theme. To enter without the wedding garment provided by the host is to despise his generous hospitality. Responsible and obedient discipleship is still required of all who respond to the king’s invitation, and there will come a time of judgment for all who presume on his generosity (see 13:42, 50; 24:51; 25:30).