Lesson  13 September 21 - 27

The Last Invitation

Read for This Weeks Study: Matt. 22:1-14.

Memory Text: "He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness" (Isaiah 61:10, RSV).

Key Thought: The Christian journey has two beginnings.  The first occurs on this earth when we accept Christ's call to follow Him.  This beginning carries us down the path to the second one, which takes place in heaven at the marriage supper of the Lamb.  This event will inaugurate our freedom from the pain and tears of sin.



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BOUQUETS AND GARLANDS AS BRILLIANT AS A SUNRISE.  Guests bedecked in their finest, laughing, smiling, delighted to be included; a storybook bride and groom; tables laden with food that entices the taste buds.  Or indifferent people, totally preoccupied with personal affairs; proceedings put on hold; bloodshed and ruin; and finally the banishment of a tacky guest.

Which of the above wedding festivities would you rather attend?  The choice seems obvious.  Yet the latter version is the one Christ chose to portray in Matthew 22.

But despite this parable's twists and turns, suspense and dramatic action, there is a happy outcome implied by the text. As you study this parable, you will learn why Christ made the choice He did, what the happy outcome involves, and how you can attend the most joyous wedding banquet of all.

Sunday September 21

THE MASTER TEACHER (Matt. 22:1-14; Luke 14:15-23).

Upon first reading the parable of the marriage feast (Matt. 22:1-13), you might think it is the same as the parable of the great supper (Luke 14:16-24) which we studied in Lesson 3.  Many scholars focus on the similarities of these two passages and assume that one was originally a repetition of the other.  "Their conclusion denies Christ the privilege of relating the same story on different occasions and varying its details to suit the needs of the truth He designed to teach on each occasion." --SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 478.

Read the following texts to determine what major differences exist between the two parables.

    The wedding feast    

    The great supper    

Who gave each banquet?
Matt. 22:1, 2; Luke 14:16.
Why was each banquet given?
Matt. 22:2; Luke 14:16, 17.
How did the invitees treat the
Matt. 22:5, 6; Luke 14:18.

Furthermore, (a) Matthew 22 emphasizes the preparation needed to attend, while Luke 14 focuses on the excuses given by the guests; and (b) in Matthew 22, those who declined the invitation were banned from the feast, while in Luke 14, those who declined where destroyed!

What do these differences tell us about the lesson Christ wanted each parable to teach?

By modifying a few details, Christ could change the meaning of a parable to fit the lesson He desired to teach to a particular audience.  What techniques has He used to help you learn about His kingdom and with what effect?

Monday September 22

A UNIQUE HOPE (Matt. 22:1-3).

Yesterday we studied the differences that exist between the parables of the wedding feast and the great supper.  Today and the rest of the week we will study these differences as they relate to the wedding feast.

As is the case with so many of Jesus' parables, the parable of,the wedding banquet had a particular meaning for the people who heard it, as well as a special message for those who would come after.  Most likely told in the temple courts with the chief priests and elders present (Matt. 21:23), the parable of the wedding banquet was packed with meaning specific to their particular situation.

To discover a portion of the meaning this parable had for the Jews of Jesus' time, match the following parts of the parable to the items below:  (a) the Messiah; (b) the Incarnation; (c) the provisions of the gospel made possible by the Incarnation; (d) God; (e) the Jews; (f) John the Baptist, Jesus' disciples (the 12 and the 70), and Jesus Himself.

1. the king 4. the invited guest
2. the son 5. the banquet
3. the marriage 6. the messengers

"The union of the divine and human natures in one Person, Jesus Christ, makes possible the wedding banquet.  The Incarnation is the cornerstone for the whole edifice of salvation.  'Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness,' exclaims the apostle Paul.  'God was manifest in the flesh' (1 Tim. 3:16).

"The invited guests are the Jews, subjects of the king (Matt. 22:3).  The ancient promise of a coming Redeemer (Gen. 3:15) Israel treasured as her unique hope. Jesus declared, 'Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad' (John 8:56).  The awed patriarch, replacing Isaac on the altar with the ram found in a nearby thicket, realized as never before how the Messiah would redeem all sinners by His substitutionary death.  And he was glad! ...

"Jesus' emphasis is upon the banquet--the provisions of the gospel made possible by the Incarnation.'--Frank B. Holbrook, "Requested--the Honor of Your Presence," Adventist Review, Oct. 22, 1992, p. 10.

Think about how the promise of salvation provides unique hope for you personally.

Tuesday September 23

SCORNFUL WAYS (Matt. 22:2-10).

How many invitations did the king issue before anyone would come to the wedding feast?  Matt. 22:2-10.  Why was it necessary for so many invitations?

"To call those who were invited" (verse 3, NKJV).  It is still the custom in oriental countries to send messengers to remind guests of an invitation they have already accepted.

The Old Testament prophets were the ones who gave the Jews this original invitation.  John the Baptist, Jesus, and His disciples gave the first call in the parable, which was the second call to Israel given before the crucifixion.

Israel received the second invitation of the parable (verse 4) after the crucifixion.  In what two ways did the people generally react to this invitation?  Matt. 22:5, 6.

1.  _________________________________________________________

2.  _________________________________________________________

"The nation that claimed to be God's peculiar people rejected the gospel brought to them in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Many did this in the most scornful manner.  Others were so exasperated by the offer of salvation, the offer of pardon for rejecting the Lord of glory, that they turned upon the bearers of the message.  There was 'a great persecution.' Acts 8:1.  Many both of men and women were thrust into prison, and some of the Lord's messengers, as Stephen and James, were put to death.

"Thus the Jewish people sealed their rejection of God's mercy.  The result was foretold by Christ in the parable.  The king 'sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.'  The judgment pronounced came upon the Jews in the destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of the nation." --Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 308, 309.

After they received the second invitation of the parable, some of the people rudely returned to their farms and businesses--ordinary, daily occupations that in themselves were not bad, but that became an affront to royalty and stood in the way of the guests receiving the king's favor.  What daily activities, good in themselves, prevent you from partaking of the banquet of blessings salvation has to offer?  Are there aspects of the advent message that your way of life prevents you from accepting?

Wednesday September 24


Yesterday we began discussing the various invitations that occur in the parable of the wedding banquet.  Today we will concentrate on the final one that appears in Matthew 22:8-10.

To whom did the king issue the last invitation?

The obvious rejection of the King's first two invitations resulted in Israel's destruction and the loss of their status as God's chosen agency to spread the gospel.  The Lord gave the task to another--the Christian church, spiritual Israel. (Read Matt. 21:43; 1 Peter 2:9, 10.)

Thus the servants took the third invitation into the highways and byways, gathering anyone who would respond.  The chief priests and elders who were listening to Jesus heard that they would lose their privileges to sinners and Gentiles--people they considered unworthy of their King's favor.

"The wedding banquet is ready" (Matt. 22:8, NIV). Some people have difficulty with the statement that the wedding feast is still ready after the king eliminated his enemies (verse 7). But oriental feasts often last several days. And because no one had come to receive the king's generosity, the feast was still ready, even though the scheduled time for it had passed.

Of what is the third and final invitation in this parable a symbol? Matt. 28:18-20.

"In the original language the tense suggests that the intent of the king's command was 'Go, again and again,' until the banquet hall is filled (Matt. 22:9).  In that brief order, Jesus covered the whole Christian Era.  The banquet hall, filled with guests,' represents the church, the fellowship of believers.  Until human probation closes, the order of the King to His servants is (in modern terms):  'Evangelize!'" --Holbrook, "Requested--the Honor of Your Presence," p. 11.

Think of what it means to evangelize.  Is it more than holding meetings, preaching, and giving Bible studies?  If so, how much more?  What have you been doing lately to extend the King's invitation to participate in the bounties of salvation?  How do you believe your spiritual gifts can be used in attracting others to the Lord's banquet?

Thursday September 25

"HOW DID YOU GET IN HERE?" (Matt. 22:10-14).

The success the king's servants had in issuing the third invitation was tainted by the fact that the wedding hall was filled with both good and bad (verse 10).   How does this describe the nature of the church?

The varied dispositions of the 12 disciples reflect the nature of the church.  Christ suffered long with each disciple's temperament, giving them all an equal chance to be transformed.  But, as seen in the life of Judas and in the parable we are studying this week, the good will be separated from the bad.  (See also Matt. 13:41, 42, 47-50.)

Beginning with verse 11, the parable changes its emphasis from a correct response to the king's invitations to the correct preparation for the feast. This included provision that the guests be suitably clothed with wedding attire.

What does the wedding garment symbolize?  Isa. 61:10; Rev. 19:7, 8.

"There is a two-way process in getting ready for the king's banquet.  There is a disrobing of 'the old man,' or 'the old nature with its deeds,' and the clothing of oneself with 'the new man'--the new converted nature (cf. Eph. 4:22-24; Rom. 13:13, 14; Col. 3:5-11).

"When the sinner comes to God, repenting and confessing his sins, and by faith accepts Christ as his Saviour and Lord, he is graciously forgiven and clothed in Christ--His righteousness.  And in that 'robe,' the bond of union, he continues in the transforming process of grace."--Holbrook, "Requested--the Honor of Your Presence," p. 11.

"Put on the garments that suit God's chosen people, his own, his beloved: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience" (Col. 3:12, NEB).

"When the king came in to see the guests" (Matt. 22: 11, NIV).  This suggests inspection and evaluation, and thus represents the preadvent, investigative judgment.  Judgment symbolism is present also in: (a) how the unsuitably dressed guest is evicted, and (b) the phrases outer darkness" and "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (verse 13).  We find each of these phrases in other texts about the condemnation of the wicked (Matt. 8:11, 12).

Despite the fact that the guest was improperly attired, the king still called him "friend" (Matt. 8:11, 12).  What does this tell us about God's feelings toward the man.  How does the approach to the man relate to John 15:14?

Friday September 26

FURTHER STUDY:   Despite the one guest's being expelled from the banquet hall, the parable does have a happy ending.  There are still guests inside who were wearing the king's garments.  Read about them in Revelation 19:6-9.  This is the happy ending to the parable we alluded to in Sabbath afternoon's lesson.

Also read "Without a Wedding Garment," Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 307-319.

"The spiritual banquet has been set before us in rich abundance.  We have had presented to us by the messengers of God the richest feast--the righteousness of Christ, justification by faith, the exceeding great and precious promises of God in His Word, free access to the Father by Jesus Christ, the comforts of the Holy Spirit, and the well-grounded assurance of eternal life in the kingdom of God. We ask, What could God do for us that He has not done in preparing the great supper, the heavenly banquet?"--Ellen G. White Comments, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1097.

  1. Considering what the various elements of the parable of the marriage feast symbolize, what does the "outer darkness" represent? (Matt. 22:13).

  2. Explain what Christ meant by His closing statement of the parable, "For many are invited, but few are chosen" (Matt. 22:14, NIV).  These texts may help you:  Rev. 22:17; John 3:16; Matt. 5:6; 7:13, 14.

  3. The expulsion of the man without a wedding garment represents God's rejection of some professed believers before the second coming of Jesus.  Hence, we know that the story is designed to teach that God examines His professed people in a pre-advent judgment.  (Compare Dan. 7:9-14.)  What does this indicate regarding God's way of preparing us to meet Jesus when He returns?

SUMMARY:  Jesus invites us all to the marriage feast of the Lamb.  Will you accept His invitation and agree to wear His special wedding garment?

More Powerful Than Magic, Part 2

Peter Tambala and Beverly H. Koester

Peter thought Christians should not believe in magic.  But recent events had made him wonder.  The pastor where he canvassed invited him to offer prayer for the church service.  Peter agreed.  But people began to tell him, "You are just a boy; you should not pray in the divine service.  Go and sit where you belong."  Others called his willingness to pray in public a sign of pride and disrespect to his elders.  Peter worried about these charges, but he offered the prayer, as the pastor had requested.

The following day Peter rode a bicycle four miles to the pastor's home to pick up some materials.  To reach the pastor's house he had to pass through a village notorious for its powerful magic.  As he rode down a hillside past a certain spot on the road, suddenly his eyes became so blurred that he could not see.  Instantly he prayed that God would help him stop the bicycle without injury to himself or the other people walking along the path.  He managed to stop the bicycle and climb off.  Trembling, he pushed the bicycle the rest of the way to the pastor's home, still able to see only dimly.

To his dismay, the pastor was not home.  Peter, his eyes still blurry, turned and began pushing the bicycle toward home, squinting and struggling to see the path.  Peter suspected that magic had caused his near-blindness.  As he neared the spot where his eyesight had become blurry, he stopped and called out loud, "God, You are more powerful than magic.  Send the devil away!"  At that instant his eyesight was restored. Then, instead of hurrying away from the place where Satan had attacked him, Peter stepped into the bushes and prayed for several minutes, thanking God for the faith to trust in Him rather than to fear magic.  Then Peter mounted the bicycle and continued on his journey.

Peter did not tell others about his encounter with the powers of evil.  He knew that people in this area believed strongly in the powers of the devil, which they call magic.  His brush with blindness would only convince them of the devil's powers, and they would try to fill him with fear of the devil.  But when Peter returned to school, he shared his story with his close friend.  Peter admitted that now he knows magic is real, that it is the devil's power.  "But", he added with a smile, "God really is more powerful than magic!"

Beverly H. Koester is sponsorship coordinator in the Malawi Union in Eastern Africa.  Peter is a student in Blantyre, Malawi.

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