They Paid No Attention
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 22:3b . . . but they didn’t want to come.
The only ones excluded from the wedding banquet were those who excluded themselves. They refused to come due to a bad attitude. Letting their foul mood cause a mean-spirited snub certainly made their refusal worse. To sullenly refuse to come to the King’s party is defiance, an insult.
Israel had been invited to God’s banquet for centuries. But when the feast came, they boycotted it. The refusal was their own doing, and undoing.
No one can be forced to come to the Lord’s banquet. It is freely offered, with no cost to us; and must be freely received, without coercion.
When we interact with unbelievers, we need to sense a personal responsibility to make sure they are invited to the banquet, but if they refuse to come, we do not need to bear all the blame. Not everyone will be saved. At some point we have to let go of guilt and let God do what only He can do.
In every evangelistic situation, there are things only God can do (convict and regenerate), things only the believer can do (witness and pray), and things only the unbeliever can do (repent and believe). May God make us wise to know the differences between these three, and faithful to our duty.
Matt. 22:4-5a Again, he sent out other slaves, and said, “Tell those who
are invited: Look, I’ve prepared my dinner; my oxen and fattened
cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the
wedding banquet.” But they paid no attention . . .
God is gracious and patient, even with those who repeatedly reject Him. He invites people to the banquet often. In this parable He gave them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe some of the inviters were harsh or did not explain the time or circumstances well. He gave the hearers another chance.
“They paid no attention.” How can this be? They disrespected God’s dearest and best masterpiece: salvation gained for us through His dear Son.
They disrespected the King and His Son. This affront has happened often for centuries. For instance, many are offended with the deity of Jesus.
I have for obvious reasons always been an admirer of Chief Justice John Marshall. I was told he is my ancestor, but found out I am descended from one of his first cousins. In recent years it broke my heart to learn that he never could embrace the fact Jesus is God. I wonder who influenced the other the most, his wife’s cousin Thomas Jefferson, or John Marshall.
Many today face the same struggle. “Jesus is God” trips many. The story of a God sending His Son to die for sinners sounds too good to be true.
This explains why some sinners avoid the banquet. They do not believe God would ever throw a party this fantastic in their behalf. They do not know how gracious the King is. We must gently try to convince them.
Matt. 22:5b . . .and went away, one to his own farm, another to his
Many felt they had more important things to do. They wished to be left alone; to live their life unbothered. They wanted to tend to their farms and businesses, and run them efficiently and effectively. They were neither antagonistic nor guilty of carousing and immorality. They were indifferent.
Some of them may have intended to come, but delayed. Feeling no need to hurry, they thought they might happen to think about the King later and attend if they got around to it. Sadly, for many someday becomes never.
Some don’t care about a banquet. The self-righteous, having no sense of spiritual hunger, feel no obligation to attend a banquet, and sense no need of forgiveness. The hardest part of getting sinners saved is getting them lost.
Some sinners never even contemplate attending God’s party. Many outwardly impressive, upstanding people are going to spend eternity apart from God due to carelessness. Neglect is as condemning as out and out rejection. No one will be unconcerned or lackadaisical in eternity. There will be no atheists in Heaven, and none in Hell. People need to focus here.
It is amazing how we can talk incessantly about, and treat as important, trivial things like weather and sports, yet be silent about topics that really matter. When conversations become more serious, uneasiness often enters the room. For instance, the most verbose unbelievers sometimes become speechless at a wake. They are clueless as to what to say or think.
People easily ask, what is your Zodiac sign? Baseball season starts again when? What is the temperature at the beach? But they rarely ponder, why am I here? Why are these possessions mine? What is my duty in life? How will I respond at death? What happens to me after death? Mercy me! Please don’t go to Hell by default. At least seriously evaluate the options.
Farming and business are good pursuits, unless they keep us out of Heaven. The biggest enemy of best is second best. Good things go bad if we put them in God’s place. Don’t let what’s in our hand take over in our heart.
Some felt the party was not worth their time to come to because daily materialistic concerns were deemed more valuable than what the King was offering. Preoccupied with the secular, being materialists who want stuff and having ambitions to get ahead, we too often cash in the unseen for the seen.
Why do we humans often sell gold for beads, preferring swine’s husks to God’s bounty? Manhattan Island sold for about $1000 in our current money. Russia sold Alaska to us for two cents an acre. Napoleon sold the Louisiana Purchase for three cents an acre. These three sales were unwise, but not nearly as foolish as selling eternity and Heaven for the here and now.
Matt. 22:6 And the others seized his slaves, treated them outrageously
and killed them.
The first refusers had been indifferent. These were antagonistic. We see this in the new wave of militant atheism sweeping across our culture.
The ultimate problem in this parable was not invitees versus inviters. The trouble was; the way they treated the inviters was what they wanted to do to the King who sent them. They did not like Him, and opposed Him.
Do not be fooled. Beware the God-talk flippantly used in our country. Underneath it seethes a huge volcano of hatred against the God of the Bible.
Matt. 22:7 The king was enraged, so he sent out his troops, destroyed
those murderers, and burned down their city.
We do not know for sure if Jesus explicitly referred to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman general Titus, son of Emperor Vespasian, in 70 A.D. But we cannot read this parable without thinking of that horrible event.
The refusers in the parable had not reckoned on this. People focus too much on the temporary pleasures of sin. They need to ponder its permanent consequences. Wise are the people who weigh the results of their actions.
Make no mistake. God does show anger. His patience has a limit. Lay this truth to heart, and tremble. One of my life quotes is from Matthew Henry, “Always rejoice in the Lord, but with a holy trembling.” Amen.
The King had every right to be angry. Few things hurt more than unrequited love. Love thrown back easily angers. George W. Truett advised Pastors to accept gifts when offered. He felt to refuse them (which we do sometimes due to pride) was to rebuff and wound the giver’s loving heart.