Thursday, October 12, 2017

Matthew 22:1-14 Called and Chosen

KEY TEXT: Matthew 22:8-14 "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy.  Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.'  And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment.  And he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless.  Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'  For many are called, but few are chosen." 

KEY THOT: Jesus told this parable of the king's wedding banquet where the first invited guests turned down his invitation. Then the king told his servants to invite anyone they could find in the streets to attend. But they must put on the wedding garment issued to them to enter. And so many came, but there was one guest who tried to sneak in without putting on the wedding garment--and he was rejected because he ignored the king's requirement for entry. Jesus then concluded with this statement: "For many are called, but few chosen."

The last statement suggests that the invitation to the wedding banquet (a picture of the future heavenly kingdom) can be rejected--in other words, not all who are called are chosen. Firstly, the call of God is a sovereign act: it is in his free will to call whomever He wishes. The first guests refer to Israel: God called them out to be His people and keep his commandments so they may enter the kingdom. He sent his Son to die on the Cross to secure a place for all He calls to enter into His kingdom. But they must put on the wedding garment. But Israel rejected the call and refused the wedding garments offered. So, they were not chosen.

While the call of God is a sovereign act of his free will, the entry into the wedding banquet is conditional on us putting on the wedding garment of Christ: "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Romans 13:14). We can't enter by putting on our own garment stained by sins--it has to be the righteous garment of Christ cleansed by His blood.

The call of God alone is not decisive regarding a person's ultimate destiny. He still has the choice to accept or reject God's call. Sadly, Israel rejected it as a people (though a remnant accepted this call to remain the "chosen" people). So the call now goes out to anyone in the street (Gentiles) who would respond to the call to become the new "chosen" people: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession" (1 Peter 2:9).

Just because one is called does not mean he is chosen: the call is God's part, but being chosen is our part. We need to put on the wedding garment of Christ to become a chosen people. God's gracious offer is not unconditional nor unlimited: a day will come when the offer will end. This takes place when the "fullness of the Gentiles" has come into the kingdom--that is, the quota has been reached for Gentiles: "Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers:  a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in" (Romans 11:25).

Then the call will again return exclusively back to the Jews: "And in this way all Israel will be saved" (Romans 11:26).

While the door remains open to the Gentiles, we must enter to be saved and not test God's patience by rejecting His call. The wedding garment is still available and freely distributed to whomever would call upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Don't try to come in by any other way--there is none other: "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12).

Abba-Father, what a glorious privilege this call of God is! And the blessing is even greater for those who accepted the call to become the chosen. Amen.

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