Introduction: Matthew 21 contains stories which reveal that God has
enemies among humans. The problem with these enemies is that they do
not at first appear to be opponents, they appear to be supporters.
Last week we studied the parable of the prodigal son and learned
that the salvation of the older, “good,” brother was in dispute. All
of these stories are a bit unsettling for us “good” Christians, and
drive us to better understand the gospel. Let’s jump into our study
of the Bible to be sure that we are not in the camp of God’s

  1. Two Answers

    1. Read Matthew 21:28-29. If Jesus is telling a parable of
      the Kingdom of Heaven, what kind of person is this?
      (Someone who rejects God, but later in life changes his
      mind and follows God.)

    2. Read Matthew 21:30-31. Is this a person who is in church?
      (This is someone who agrees to be a follower of Jesus,
      but is either lying about it or later changes his mind.)

      1. Do you agree with the answer given by Jesus’

      2. If you agree with this answer, how can it be true
        that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the
        Kingdom of Heaven? These are not people who are
        doing God’s will! Or, are they?

    3. Read Matthew 21:32. What kind of “doing the will of God”
      can the prostitutes claim? (When we first started this
      story, the work was to labor in the vineyard. Now, we
      see the “work” – at least initially – is to believe and

      1. What is the problem with those who did not believe
        John the Baptist? (They did not believe what John
        said about “the way of righteousness.”)

        1. What should that teach us? (That it is
          essential to have a correct understanding of
          God’s path to righteousness. The people who you
          would expect to understand and accept did not.
          Instead, unlikely people understood and

        2. Is the path to righteousness difficult to
          understand? Is it like complex math? (No. The
          problem was one of belief, not a problem of

  2. The Original Invitation

    1. Read Matthew 22:1-2. What are we about to learn? (The
      answer to the question that we just discussed was of the
      greatest interest – what is God’s path to righteousness?)

    2. Read Matthew 22:3-5. Are these invited people the King’s
      friends? (Probably. They are considered worthy of being
      invited to the King’s celebration of the wedding of his
      son. The King certainly has some sort of relationship
      with them.)

      1. Is the King persistent in his invitation? (Yes. He
        invites them twice. He should be insulted by their
        initial refusal, but instead he repeats the

      2. Why do the King’s friends turn him down? (They are
        too busy with life! Business has their attention.)

    3. Read Matthew 22:6. What kind of attitude do these
      “friends” have? (They do not act like friends. They
      mistreat and kill the King’s servants.)

      1. How do you treat your local pastor? How about
        church officers?

      2. How can you explain what the “friends” did? (They
        were irritated and angry with the King’s

    4. Read Matthew 22:7. The King may be patient and slow to
      anger, but is he weak? (No. He executes punishment on his
      “friends” who act like enemies.)

      1. Jesus’ story takes place shortly before His
        crucifixion. What does this story bring to mind?
        (The religious leaders condemned Jesus and persuaded
        the Roman authorities to kill Him. Not long
        thereafter, their city, Jerusalem, was destroyed by
        the Romans.)

  3. The Second Invitation

    1. Read Matthew 22:8. Why did those who were invited not
      “deserve” to come? (They were not interested in coming.
      Or, they were less interested in coming then they were
      interested in the affairs of life.)

    2. Read Matthew 22:9-10. List the ways in which this new
      group of invited guests differs from the first group of
      invited guests? (1. The King does not know them. 2. They
      are not natural people to invite to a King’s feast
      because there is nothing special about them. 3. They are
      a mixed group of good and bad people. 4. They are willing
      to come.)

      1. Of those four differences, which one is the most
        important? (They are willing to come!)

    3. Read Matthew 22:11-12. Not too long ago we studied this
      parable and I called the second group of invited guests
      “Walmart shoppers.” Why should this man be “speechless”
      (without excuse) if he had gone straight from Walmart to
      the wedding feast? (The only way this makes any sense is
      if the King was giving out wedding garments to all of
      these guests. Clearly, none of the Walmart shoppers put
      on their royal wedding clothes to go shopping!)

  1. Initial Analysis

    1. We have a lot of information about the meaning of the
      gospel, the path to eternal life. If you put our first
      parable about the sons together with the second parable
      about the wedding feast, what common answer do we get to
      the question: “How do I enter into eternal life?” (In
      both cases the key was coming. Coming to work in the
      vineyard. Coming to the wedding feast.)

    2. As a practical matter, what does it mean for us to “come”
      to God?

      1. Perhaps the easiest way to approach this issue is to
        identify what constitutes not coming to God. What
        kept people from coming to God in the two parables
        we just discussed?

        1. Let’s start with the parable of the two sons.
          (Just talking about it was not sufficient. You
          had to do something about it. Indeed, talking
          about it might be a trap. If you say you are
          coming, but do not, you may have mislead
          yourself. At a minimum, whatever the sons said
          was completely irrelevant to the outcome.)

        2. What about the parable of the wedding feast?
          ( Matthew 22:5 tells us that ignoring God,
          putting our work or business before God, is
          fatal to coming. Matthew 22:6 tells us that
          hostility to God’s agents is fatal to coming.
          The Walmart shoppers were not hostile to the
          King’s helpers, and they were more interested
          in the wedding feast than shopping at Walmart.)

        3. Our conclusion, then, about what it means to
          “come” to God is: a) It means doing, not just
          talking; and, b)It means having the right
          attitude – a willingness to put God first.

  2. Staying Invited

    1. Re-read Matthew 22:11-13. This is a very curious guest.
      He answered the King’s invitation, left Walmart, and came
      to the wedding feast. Yet he gets tossed out into “the
      darkness.” Can we lose our salvation? (If coming to the
      feast means being saved, then this fellow became

      1. How do we avoid this fellow’s fate? (Thinking our
        Walmart clothes are good enough. We need to accept
        the free gift of the King’s robe of righteousness.)

      2. Consider this fellow just a minute. He put the
        King’s invitation above his own business, he was not
        hostile to the King’s agents, he came to the wedding
        feast. He just thought that his righteousness was
        good enough. Could this describe you?

  3. The Final Analysis

    1. Read Matthew 22:14. If you were working on this
      manuscript with Matthew, what would you say about the
      accuracy of this statement? (The first part is right –
      all sorts of people were invited to the King’s wedding
      feast. But, the last part is clearly wrong – the King
      chose everyone. He even invited Walmart shoppers! Since
      we know that the Bible is God’s infallible Word, how do
      you explain this? (The only way this makes any sense is
      to say that “God chooses those who choose to come to

      1. Given what we have studied, what is the path to
        eternal life? (1. Repenting (the decision to put
        God’s invitation ahead of our selfish interests); 2.
        Coming (acting on God’s invitation, having the right
        attitude; and, 3. Accepting God’s robe of
        righteousness (relying on Jesus’ righteousness
        instead of our own).)

    2. Read Matthew 22:15. How do you explain this? (Jesus was
      destroying their special status. They were the select.
      Jesus accepts Walmart shoppers who come to Him.)

    3. Friend, you may think that you are a friend of the King,
      you may think that you are special, but these parables
      show that talk means nothing. The wrong attitude is
      fatal. Your attitude of putting the King’s interests
      first, accepting His invitation, and accepting His robe
      of righteousness are key. Will you, right now, repent and
      enter the Kingdom of God?

  4. Next week: More Clothing Imagery.