Life-Study of Matthewby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to 22:1-14, the parable of the marriage feast. This parable is the continuation of the Lord’s answer to the chief priests and elders of the people. In His answer to their question regarding His authority, He spoke three parables: the parable of the shifting of the birthright, the parable of the vineyard, and the parable of the marriage feast. The parable of the shifting of the birthright reveals that the birthright, which had belonged to the nation of Israel, has been taken away and given to the church. The parable of the vineyard indicates that the kingdom of God was about to be taken away from Israel and given to the church. Thus, these two parables are parallel to each other. If you do not have the birthright, you cannot participate in the kingdom. By this we see that the birthright and the kingdom go together. These first two parables refer to Israel on the negative side, for both the birthright and the kingdom were taken away from Israel.
If the Lord’s answer had stopped here, it would have been incomplete. It would have dealt only with the negative side and had no positive issue. As we come to the end of chapter twenty-one, we have the realization that there must be something more. Therefore, after the first two parables, the Lord added the parable of the marriage feast as the completion of His answer. In giving this parable, He turned from the negative side to the positive side.
Matthew 22:2 says, “The kingdom of the heavens was likened to a man, a king, who made a marriage feast for his son.” The parable of the vineyard in chapter twenty-one refers to the Old Testament, in which there was the kingdom of God (21:43), whereas the parable of the marriage feast in this chapter refers to the New Testament, in which there is the kingdom of the heavens. The king here is God, and the son is Christ.
In the foregoing parable (21:33-46), the Lord illustrated how the Jews would be punished, and how the kingdom of God would be taken from them and given to the kingdom people. Another parable is needed for Him to illustrate how the kingdom people in the kingdom of the heavens will be strictly dealt with. Both parables indicate that the kingdom is a serious matter.
In the foregoing parable, the Old Testament was likened to a vineyard, with the focus mainly on the matter of labor under the law; in this parable, the New Testament is likened to a marriage feast, with the focus mainly on the matter of enjoyment under grace. The vineyard is not mainly for enjoyment, but for labor. But in a marriage feast there is no labor. Instead, there is full enjoyment. No one attends a marriage feast for the purpose of laboring; all attend for enjoyment. Thus, the parable of the vineyard depicts labor under the law, and the parable of the marriage feast depicts enjoyment under grace. We in the Lord’s recovery are not laboring under law, but are enjoying under grace. What a contrast between these two parables! Today, we are not under law, but under grace. We are not laboring, but enjoying. This is the basic principle in understanding these parables.
Verse 3 says, “And he sent his slaves to call those who were invited to the marriage feast, and they would not come.” The slaves mentioned in this verse are the first group of the New Testament apostles. Verse 4 continues, “Again he sent other slaves, saying, Tell those who were invited, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatted beasts are killed, and all things are ready; come to the marriage feast.” The slaves here are the apostles sent later by the Lord. This verse speaks of oxen and fatted beasts, both of which refer to Christ as the One killed that God’s chosen people might enjoy Him as a feast. Christ has many aspects for our enjoyment. As the oxen and the fatted beasts, He has been killed and prepared for our enjoyment. Although everything had been prepared and although the slaves went out again and again, the people refused to come, even laying hold of the slaves, treating them shamefully, and killing them (vv. 5-6).
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