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A Look of the Expositor Bible at The Marriage Feast {Matthew 22:1-14 }

The Marriage Feast. {#Mt 22:1-14 }

The manner in which this third parable is introduced leaves room for doubt whether it was spoken in immediate connection with the two preceding. The use of the word “answered” (ver. 1) would rather suggest the idea that some conversation not reported had intervened. But though it does not form part of a continuous discourse with the others, it is so closely connected with them in scope and bearing that it may appropriately be dealt with, as concluding the warning called forth by the first attack of the chief priests and elders. The relation between the three parables will be best seen by observing that the first has to do with their treatment of John; the second and third with their treatment of Himself and His apostles. The second and third differ from each other in this: that while the King’s Son, Who is prominent in both, is regarded in the former as the last and greatest of a long series of heavenly messengers sent to demand of the chosen people the fruits of righteousness, in the latter He is presented, not as demanding righteousness, but as bringing joy. Duty is the leading thought of the second parable, privilege of the third; in the one sin is brought home to Israel’s leaders by setting before them their treatment of the messengers of righteousness, in the other the sin lies in their rejection of the message of grace. Out of this distinction rises another—viz., that while the second parable runs back into the past, upwards along the line of the Old Testament prophets, the third runs down into the future, into the history of the apostolic times. The two together make up a terrible indictment, which might well have roused these slumbering consciences, and led even scribes and Pharisees to shrink from filling up the measure of their iniquities.

A word may be necessary as to the relation of this parable to the similar one recorded in the fourteenth chapter of St. Luke, known as “The parable of the Great Supper.” The two have many features in common, but the differences are so great that it is plainly wrong to suppose them to be different versions of the same. It: is astonishing to see what needless difficulties some people make for themselves by the utterly groundless assumption that our Lord would never use the same illustration a second time. Why should He not have spoken of. the gospel as a feast, not twice merely, but fifty times? There would, no doubt, be many variations in His manner of unfolding the thought, according to the circumstances, the audience, the particular object in view at the time; but to suppose that because He had used that illustration in Galilee He must be forbidden from reverting to it in Judea is a specimen of what we may call the insanity of those who are ever on the watch for their favourite “discrepancies.” In this case there is not only much variation in detail, but the scope of the two parables is quite different, the former having more the character of a pressing invitation, with only a suggestion of warning at the close; whereas the one before us, while preserving all the grace of the gospel as suggested by the figure of a feast to which men are freely invited, and even heightening its attractiveness inasmuch as it is a wedding feast—the most joyful of all festivities—and a royal one too, yet has throughout the same sad tone of judgment which has been characteristic of all these three parables, and is at once seen to be specially appropriate to the fateful occasion on which they were spoken.

As essentially a New Testament parable, it begins with the familiar formula “The kingdom of heaven is like.” The two previous parables had led up to the new dispensation; but: this one begins with it, and is wholly concerned with it. The King’s Son appears now, not as a messenger, but as a bridegroom. It was not the first time that Jesus had spoken of Himself as a bridegroom, or rather as the Bridegroom. The thought was a familiar one in the prophets of the Old Testament, the Bridegroom, be it remembered, being none other than Jehovah Himself. Consider, then, what it meant that Jesus should without hesitation or explanation. speak of Himself as the Bridegroom. And let. us not imagine that He simply took the figure, and applied it to Himself as fulfilling prophecy; let us not fail to realise that He entered fully into its tender meaning. When we think of the circumstances in which this parable was spoken we have here a most pathetic glimpse into the sanctuary of our Saviour’s loving heart. Let us. try with reverent sympathy to enter into the feeling of the King’s Son, come from heaven to seek humanity for His bride, to woo and to win her from the cruel bondage of sin and death, to take her into union with Himself, so that she may share with Him the liberty and wealth, the purity and joy, the glory and the hope of the heavenly kingdom! The King “made a marriage for His Son”—where is the bride? what response is she making to the Bridegroom’s suit? A marriage for His Son! On Calvary?

It must have been very hard for Him to go on; but He will keep down the rising tide of emotion, that He may set before this people and before all people another attractive picture of the kingdom of heaven. He will give even these despisers of the heavenly grace another opportunity to reconsider their position. So He tells of the invitations sent out first to “them that were bidden”— i.e., to the chosen people who had been especially invited from the earliest times, and to whom, when the fulness of the time had come, the call was first addressed. “And they would not come.” There is no reference to the aggravations which had found place in the former parable. {#Mt 21:39 } These were connected not so much with the offer of grace, which is the main purport of this parable, as with the demand for fruit, which was the leading thought of the one before. It was enough, then, in describing how they dealt with the invitation, to say, “They would not come”; and, indeed, this refusal hurt Him far more than their buffets and their blows. When He is buffeted He is silent, sheds no tears, utters no wail; His tears and lamentation are reserved for them: “How often would I, have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” “They would not come.”

But the love of the King and of His Son is not yet exhausted. A second invitation is sent, with greater urgency than before, and with fuller representations of the great preparations which had been made for the entertainment of the guests: “Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.” As the first invitation was that which had been already given and which they were now rejecting, the second refers to that fuller proclamation of the gospel which was yet to be made after the work of the Bride-groom-Redeemer should be finished when it could be said, as not before: “All things are ready.”

In the account which follows, therefore, there is a foreshadowing of the treatment the apostles would afterwards receive. Many, indeed, were converted by their word, and took their places at the feast; but the people as a whole “made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.” What was the consequence? Jerusalem, rejecting the gospel of the kingdom, even when it was “preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven,” must be destroyed; and new guests must be sought among the nations that up till now had no especial invitation to the feast. This prophetic warning was conveyed in terms of the parable; yet there is a touch in it which shows how strongly the Saviour’s mind was running on the sad future of which the parable was but a picture: “When the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.” Why “city”? There had been no mention of a city in the parable. True; but Jerusalem was in the Saviour’s heart, and all the pathos of His lament over it is in that little word. “Their city” too, observe, -reminding us of “your house” at the close of this sad day. {#Mt 23:38 } In the same way the calling of the Gentiles is most skilfully brought within the scope of the parable, by the use of the peculiar word translated in the Revised Version—”the partings of the highways,” which seems to suggest the thought of the servants leaving the city precincts and going out in all directions along the main trunk roads to “the partings of the highways,” to carry the gospel to all without distinction, wherever could be found an ear of man to listen, or a human heart to welcome the King’s grace and the Bridegroom’s love. Thus, after all, the wedding was to be furnished with guests.

The parable, as we have seen, is one of grace; but righteousness too must find a place in it. The demand for fruits of righteousness is no less rigid in the new dispensation than it had been in the old. To make this clear and strong the parable of the Feast is followed by the pendant of the Wedding Garment.

There are two ways in which the heavenly marriage feast may be despised: first, by those who will not come at all; next, and no less, by those who try to snatch the wedding joy without the bridal purity. The same leading thought or motive is recognisable here as in the parable of the two sons. The man without the wedding garment corresponds to the son who said “I go, sir,” and went not, while those who refuse altogether correspond to the son who answered “I will not.” By bearing this in mind we can understand, what to many has been a serious difficulty—how it is that the punishment meted out to the offender in this second parable is so terribly severe. If we simply think of the parable itself, it does seem an extraordinary thing that so slight an offence as coming to a wedding feast without the regulation dress should meet with such an awful doom; but when we consider whom this man represents we can see the very best of reasons for it. Hypocrisy was his crime, than which there is nothing more utterly hateful in the sight of Him Who desireth truth in the inward parts. It is true that the representation does not at first seem to set the sin in so very strong a light; but when we think of it, we see that there was no other way in which it could be brought within the scope of this parable. It is worthy of notice, moreover, that the distinction between the intruder and the others is not observed till the king himself enters, which indicates that the difference between him and the others was no outward distinction, that the garment referred to is the invisible garment of-righteousness. To the common eye he looked like all the rest; but when the all-searching Eye is on the company he is at once detected and exposed. He is really worse than those who would not come at all. They were honest sinners; he was a hypocrite—at the feast with mouth and hand and eye, but not of it, for his spirit isnot robed in white: he is the black sheep in the fold; a despiser within, he is worse than the despisers without.

Even to him, indeed, the king has a kindly feeling. He calls him “Friend,” and gives him yet the opportunity to repent and cry for mercy. But he is speechless. False to the core, he has no rallying point within to fall back upon. All is confusion and despair. He cannot even pray. Nothing remains but to pronounce his final doom (ver. 13).

The words with which the parable closes (ver. 14) are sad and solemn. They have occasioned difficulty to some, who have supposed they were meant to teach that the number of the saved will be small. Their difficulty, like so many others, has been due to forgetfulness of the circumstances under which the words were spoken, and the strong emotion of which they were the expression. Jesus is looking back over the time since He began to spread the gospel feast, and thinking how many have been invited, and how few have come! And even among those who have seemed to come there are hypocrites! One He specially would have in mind as He spoke of the man without the wedding garment; for though we take him to be the type of a class, we can scarcely think that our Lord could fail to let His sad thoughts rest on Judas as He described that man. Taking all this into consideration we can well understand how at that time He should conclude His parable with the lamentation: “Many are called, but few chosen.” It did not follow that it was a truth for all time and for eternity. It was true for the time included in the scope of the parable. It was most sadly true of the Jewish nation then, and in the times which followed on immediately; but the day was coming, before all was done, when the heavenly Bridegroom, according to the sure word of prophecy, should “see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied.” No creed article, therefore, have we here, but a cry from the sore heart of the heavenly Bridegroom, in the day of His sorrows, in the pain of unrequited love.

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Preceding

Matthew 22:1-6 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Parable of Invitation to a Marriage

Matthew 22:7-10 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Invitations after City’s Destruction

Matthew 22:11-13 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: King’s Inspection and Marriage Garments

Matthew 22:14 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Many Invited – Few Chosen

Matthew 22:15-22 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Caesar’s Things and God’s Things

Matthew 22:23-28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Sadducees Question on the Resurrection

Matthew 22:29-33 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Resurrection Proof from Moses

Matthew 22:34-40 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Which Is the Greatest Commandment

Matthew 22:41-46 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Jesus Asks a Trump Question

Additional readings to Matthew 22:41-46

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Additional reading

  1. Memorizing wonderfully 31 Son of David and God’s Kingdom
  2. Wilderness Transformed

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Related articles

  1. Twentieth week of ordinary time-cycle -I- Thursday-gospel-reading – Matthew 22:1-14
  2. The Lord’s Goodness – Two Souls, One Heart

Matthew 9:14-17 – What others are saying about feasting at the sinners’ table instead of fasting for God’s table

posted on Managing criticism (Matthew 9:14-17)

In his writing he looks at the disciples of John the baptist and the disciples of the king of the kingdom and how Jesus handled criticism.

He copped it from the scribes (9:3). He copped it from the Pharisees (9:11). Now he cops it from friends: John the Baptist’s disciples:

Mathew 9:14 (his translation) Then John’s students came to him saying, “How come we and the Pharisees fast often, but your students don’t fast?”

Browne writes

Jesus understands how disillusioned John’s disciples feel. His first reaction is empathy. They’re grieving. Their leader has been taken from them. When the day comes when Jesus is taken away, his disciples will be grieving and fasting too:

9:15 Jesus said to them,

“It’s not possible for the bridal party to grieve when the bridegroom is with them. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken from them, and they’ll fast then.

We may not miss the main point.

Like a people separated from their heavenly sovereign, Israel has lamented and fasted so long for the coming of the one who would restore the Davidic kingship. Now the son of David is among them! Jesus is the bridegroom they’ve been waiting for. The king is here. This is no time for mourning. You may have been grieving in the past, but you can’t attend a wedding dressed in black with sorrow written all over your brow! This is a day of celebration. God is at work among his people again. His Messiah is leading the nation in joyful feasting.

Browne looks at the people who find change difficult and feel nostalgic about the old ways, the familiar ways, things they’ve grown up with.

Israel had been fasting and grieving for so long that lament now defined their faith. They could not imagine a kingdom characterized by feasting rather than fasting.

So Jesus tells two stories to make the point that they cannot mix the old and the new. They must let go of the familiar to experience the kingdom being established in Jesus. If they try to hold onto the old, they’ll lose both the old and the new:

9 16 No one puts a patch of new cloth on an old garment; for the fullness of it pulls away from the garment and the tear becomes worse.
9 17 Neither to you put new wine into old wineskins; if you do, the wineskins break, the wine is spilled and the wineskins are ruined. You put new wine in new wineskins and both are preserved.

Jesus is re-establishing the reign of God over humanity. Their old mourning clothes seemed so appropriate to the kingdom that disintegrated in Old Testament times, but those old garments cannot hold the new cloth of the kingdom being establishing under his kingship. Try to patch them together, and you lose both. The old leather wine bottles they’ve used for so long cannot contain the fresh fermenting wine of the new kingdom. Jesus understands their nostalgia, but they can’t have it both ways.

Jesus extended genuine empathy to those who struggled to adapt, while at the same time being crystal clear that they must relinquish the familiar to experience life under his kingship.

What others are saying

R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007), 356:

For John’s disciples that indicated a movement which did not take its religious commitment seriously, and the feasting in Matthew’s house only deepened their suspicion. In their different ways the Pharisees, John’s disciples and the Jesus circle were all renewal movements within first-century Judaism, and this brief encounter serves to draw out their distinctive approaches and priorities.

Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009), 300:

Weddings generally lasted seven days … Weddings were a matter of joy with which any signs of sorrow seemed conspicuously incongruent … The Gospels’ readers would probably catch an allusion that Jesus’ first hearers missed: Jesus is the groom of God’s people in the coming messianic banquet foreshadowed in their table fellowship (22:2; 25:10–13). The “taking” of the bridegroom, of course, is a veiled reference to the impending crucifixion.

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Preceding article

Matthew 9:14-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Bridegroom and Fasting

Matthew 9:14-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Bridegroom and Fasting

Matthew 9:14-17 – The Bridegroom and Fasting

|| Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39

MT9:14 Then the disciples of John[1] [the Baptist] approached Jesus, asking,

“Why, though we and the Pharisees fast, your disciples do not fast?”[2]

MT9:15 Jesus told them,

“The sons of the bride-chamber[3] cannot possible feel sad[4] while the bridegroom[5] is among them. But the days are coming when the ‘Bridegroom’ will depart[6] from them and then they will fast.[7]

File:A Man Drinking from a Wine Skin; Images of Spain Album, 63 MET DP800218.jpg

A Man Drinking from a Wine Skin; Images of Spain Album, 63

MT9:16 “Nobody sews an unshrunk cloth patch on an old outer garment for the stretching garment will tear it and it becomes worse. MT9:17 Nor do they put new wine[8] into old wine-botas for the wine-botas will tear and burst[9] [Joshua 9:13; Job 32:19] and the wine is spilled and the wine-botas ruined. Rather, they put new wine into new and fresh wine-botas[10] and so both are preserved.”

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[1] Disciples of John: There is a clear difference between the disciples of the two Masters. John’s disciples view themselves as different from those of the Nazarene. Jesus had selected his disciples from among those baptized disciples of John the Baptist. This difference lasts for some years even into the Book of Acts (Acts chapters 18, 19).

[2] Fast: Going without food for religious reasons. The first occurrence of the word “fasting” in the Bible is 1 Samuel 31:13 for a total of 30 times. Jesus does not condemn fasting, indeed, he gives counsel regarding proper fasting in Matthew 6:16. The prophets and teachers in Antioch fasted before making appointments (Acts 13:1, 2). The same fasting occurs before appointments in Acts 14:23.

[3] Sons of the bride-chamber: The literal phrase in Greek. It is variously rendered: KJV: children of the bride-chamber; TCNT: bridegroom’s friends; GDSP: wedding guests; BAS: friends of the newly married; NASB: attendants of the bride-groom.

[4] Feel sad: Or, mourn. The bridegroom’s buddies mourn or feel sad their friend’s affections will now be divided and likely he will not be free to do some of the things he did before.

[5] Bridegroom: The Greek is, interestingly, NYMPHIOS from which the English “nymph” is rooted. Yahweh was viewed as the Husband of Israel. Jesus becomes such to his Church who is likened to a bride (NYMPH) (Revelation 21:2).

[6] Will depart: The Greek is APARTHE and related to EPERTHE of Acts 1:9, HARPAGESOUMETHA at 1 Thessalonians 4:17, and HERPASTHE at Revelation 12:5.

[7] Then they will fast: Compare John 16:20.

[8] New wine: Possibly the teachings of the Nazarene or a new relationship with God. Rather than use the old bota of Israel under the Law the Messiah uses a new bota, his Church to contain new doctrine and relationships. Remember the original context was fasting.

[9] Wine-botas will tear and burst: The language may be an allusion to Joshua 9:13 and Job 32:19.

[10] Wine-botas: Or, wine-skins. Compare Genesis 21:14, 15, 19; Joshua 9:13; Job 32:19.

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Preceding

Matthew 9:9-13 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Pharisees Accuse When Matthew Is Called

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Related articles

  1. Matthew 9, Jesus heals, forgives sins, calls Matthew, what about fasting?, great faith, the Lord’s harvest.
  2. Matthew 9:14-17
  3. Thoughts to Ponder from Matthew 9:14-17
  4. Daily Ponderings ~ “A Question of Fasting”…

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