Bible: What Does Matthew 22 Teach Us About Jesus' Parables?
Jesus and Pharisees
Matthew 22: Jesus Instructs His Learned Opponents
Jesus Teaches in Parables
Unlike the previous two parables, the third story records Jesus’ response to an undisclosed question from His opponents (v. 1), and specifically deals with the kingdom of heaven (v. 2a).
Like the second story, this one mentions a father (here, a king), a son, and two sets of servants, some of whom are mistreated (vv. 2-6).
Unlike the “Parable of the Wicked Vinedressers” (cf. 21:33-45), this account relates the destruction of those who reject the king’s invitation to his son’s wedding feast (vv. 2-7).
The first guests are unwilling to come (v. 3); the second, thinking that they have a better use for their time, show indifference toward the invite (v. 5); and the “rest” rebel against the king, turn on his messengers, and kill them (v. 6).
Consequently, the king orders his army to annihilate these murderers and burn their city (v. 7).
[Jesus traces the development of the Jews’ rejection of God up until the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 foretold here.]
Afterwards, the king instructs more servants to invite others from the plazas (Ryrie, New Testament Study Bible, 6) to replace the unworthy (v. 8).
They assemble an assortment of “both bad and good” into the wedding hall until it is full (vv. 9-10).
[By “both bad and good,” He appears to mean the righteous and the unrighteous.]
Out of this crowd, the king notices one guest without a wedding garment, and asks him how he gained entrance to the feast (vv. 11-12).
When the man cannot answer at all, the king commands servants to “cast him into outer darkness” where others weep and gnash their teeth (v. 13).
Jesus completes His parable with a proverb that indicates the existence of a general call to salvation (“many are called”) and a specific election to salvation (“few are chosen”).
[If one is wearing a wedding garment, it signifies that one belongs at the feast; symbolically, the garment points to the divine righteousness that gains people entrance into His kingdom.
Therefore, the term “outer darkness” here refers to a place where God’s angels cast the self-righteous.]
The Pharisees Go on the Attack
Again, the Pharisees scheme together as to how they can entrap Jesus in His talk (v. 15).
Soon their disciples and certain appeasers of Rome, the Herodians, descend upon Him, endeavoring first to butter Him up with flattery by acknowledging His personal integrity, the faithfulness of His teaching to God, and His impartiality (v. 16).
Then they quickly follow up this slippery approach with translucent trickery, attempting to back Him into what they thought was a particularly nasty corner with a question that forced Him to decide a thorny “church-state” matter: paying poll-taxes to Caesar (v. 17).
[Many Jews thought that they should not pay tribute to any earthly king. See Ryrie’s more detailed explanation (New Testament Study Bible, 7).]
Seeing through their stratagem, Jesus forthrightly labels them “hypocrites,” and then proceeds to shame them by reminding them that they are responsible to obey authorities in both the political and spiritual realms (v. 18).
[The question “Whose image and inscription is this?” (v. 20) does not suggest that He did not know who Caesar was; He merely rhetorically positioned it to set up His bombshell reply (v. 21).]
Having heard His wise judgment, the Pharisees marvel at Him and leave Him at once (v. 22).
Liberals in the First Century
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Jesus Corrects the Sadducees
Now the Sadducees—the liberal theologians of the day—take their turn at Jesus.
Attempting to ridicule belief in the concept of resurrection, they relate a short (probably fictitious) account of a woman who had seven husbands in her lifetime, and then ask Him which man will claim her in the resurrection (vv. 23-28).
The Lord pointedly calls these learned men mistaken (deceived, NKJV), and ignorant both of Scripture and of God’s power (v. 29).
Since they do not understand that resurrected saints do not marry and are neither male nor female, He regards their question as irrelevant (v. 30).
Jesus, however, does not stop His instruction on this topic with that answer.
He goes on to prove to His opponents the truth of resurrection, using a familiar verse from Exodus 3.
Focusing on one word “am,” He shows that God remains the God of those who have “passed on” (viz., Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) [v. 32].
Jesus’ teaching elicits still more amazement from the multitudes when it finds its way to them (v. 33).
The Pharisaical conspiracy and assault continue (v. 34).
Next, a scribal lawyer tests His knowledge of Scripture, asking Him which one of the “Ten Words” is the “great commandment” (vv. 35-36).
[Why does this learned scholar ask the Teacher such an elementary question?]
Christ quite simply and correctly quotes Deuteronomy 6:5, part of the Shema—a verse enjoining wholehearted love for the LORD--something a first-year rabbinical student could answer.
Again, however, He does not stop there, but augments His response with the quotation of Leviticus 19:18—a verse that commands love toward all men (v. 39).
Jesus asserts His conclusion that both commandments summarize the torah and the nebi’im (v. 40).
Having manifested His supreme knowledge and wisdom, the Lord now assumes the role of Teacher, pointedly directing a question to probe the Pharisaical heart.
“Whose Son is the Christ?” is another elementary query, a query that the Jews answer correctly: “David” (vv. 41-42).
Jesus, however, delves deeper into a matter, drawing attention to an easily overlooked insight into the familiar and divinely inspired Psalm 110:1.
[He emphasizes the verse’s divine inspiration by mentioning that David spoke it while “in the Spirit” (v. 43).]
This verse highlights the fact that David regarded the Messiah as his “Lord.”
Jesus wishes the Pharisees to recognize that the Messiah is not only David’s son, but also David’s Lord (vv. 44-45).
Christ’s answer effectively shut the mouths of His critics (v. 46).
© 2013 glynch1