Matthew 22:1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.' 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.' 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 "But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, 'Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' 14 For many are called, but few are chosen."
Jesus told this parable to the Jewish people. He was sent to the lost sheep of the House of Israel (Matthew 15:24). The Jewish people were invited to enter the Kingdom of Heaven by the King of kings (Revelation 19:16), but rejected His invite. They paid no attention to Jesus' call to repent and believe the Gospel because the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15). The City of Jerusalem was burned by the Romans in 70 AD as in the parable (Matthew 22:7). The invite to attend the wedding feast was then sent out to those never before invited by the King, the Gentiles. The Gentiles repented of their sin and believed the gospel and will fill the wedding hall.
Some seek to be a part of the wedding feast, but are not allowed to participate and are cast into the outer darkness, a place of eternal torment (Matthew 22:11-13). The one cast out had no wedding clothes. What are the wedding clothes? Revelation 19:6-8 instructs us that the wedding clothes are the righteous deeds of the saints. Those truly saved by grace through faith in response to the call of God to repent and believe the Gospel walk in the good works prepared before hand for them to walk in (Ephesians 2:10). As James teaches us in James 2:17-26, faith without works is dead. Faith without doing the will of God is compared to the faith of demons (James 2:19). Saving faith desires to do God's will. People with saving faith not only call Jesus Lord, but do His will (Matthew 7:21).
Jesus stated many are called, few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus told us that we are to enter by the narrow gate that leads to life and not the wide gate that leads to destruction. We enter by the narrow gate by repenting of our sin and believing the gospel (Mark 1:15; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 10:9). We know we have saving faith by our desire to do God's will, to walk in the good works He has prepared before hand for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:26). Have you responded to the call to repent and believe the gospel? Are you desiring to do God's will? If so, then you are chosen by God. "For many are called, but few are chosen." Matthew 22:14
Matthew 21:33 "Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, 'They will respect my son.' 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.' 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?" 41 They said to him, "He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons." 42 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: "' The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'? 43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him." 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them. 46 And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet.
A parable is story of everyday life with a point. What is the main point of this parable? The chief priests and Pharisees were to be good stewards of the resources they had been given and bear fruit for God. However they were selfish and sinful and did not bear fruit for God (Matthew 21:34, 41). Matthew 23 describes the lives of fruitlessness lived by the Jewish leaders of the day. These leaders lived in the top 3% of the population materially, but did not lift a finger to help the people they themselves burdened down (Matthew 23:4). The works done by the scribes and Pharisees were not the works of God, but were sinful works (Matthew 23:3). The people around the Jewish leaders were not drawn closer to God, but were made children of hell (Matthew 23:15). Our parable today tells us the rule of God and benefits of God's rule will be taken away from people who use them selfishly and don't bear fruit for God.
People who are true followers of God bear good fruit, while people who claim to be followers, and are not, bear bad fruit. We can tell the true followers of God by the fruit they bear (Matthew 7:15-20). What is the good fruit? Read the following scriptures and make a list of what is considered good fruit by our Lord. Each of the passages has the Greek word fruit in it. Although the Greek word for fruit may be translated by a different English word, the good fruit we are to produce is described (Luke 3:11, 13-14; Romans 1:13; 15:28; 1 Corinthians 9:7-14; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:9; Philippians 1:11; James 3:17-18). Take a look at the list you produce. Are you producing fruit. Could you be producing more fruit?
1 Corinthians 4:6 I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.
The key point of 1 Corinthians 4:6 is the dependent clause, "that you may learn not to go beyond what is written." Today, as throughout history, there are people and spiritual beings who would change the word of God, add to it, or cause it to be doubted, sincerely thinking they are speaking truth or insincerely trying to deceive (Genesis 3:1-5; Matthew 4:1-11; Revelation 22:18-19). In the Corinthian church conflict and division was being caused by people who were going beyond what is written and causing division in the Body of Christ and leading the people into error. Paul used what is written to correct error.
Today, we need to learn the word of God so we will not be carried into error by human experience and imagination and by spiritual deception. How gullible we humans are is revealed by the uncritical acceptance of the book and movie, Heaven is For Real. It is not scripture. It does not clarify scripture. It adds to scripture from human and spiritual imagination. I read the book and found at least 8 scriptural errors - some going beyond scripture and some contradicting scripture. I spent three hours reading the book. Many millions of people are spending that time reading a book that goes beyond what is written instead of reading what is written by God, the Bible. Our first reading should be in the word of God so we will not be fooled by fiction presented as truth. Heaven is for real, but I learned that reading the word of God validated by the resurrection of Jesus Christ (John 2:18-22).
Are you systematically learning the word of God. Make it a priority in your day every day.
Job 23:8 "Behold, I go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but I do not perceive him; 9 on the left hand when he is working, I do not behold him; he turns to the right hand, but I do not see him. 10 But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold. 11 My foot has held fast to his steps; I have kept his way and have not turned aside. 12 I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.
We all enter times in our life when we can't see God at work in life at all. In our text today Job is in that situation, not because he did something wrong, but because he was doing things the right way more than anyone else (Job 1:8; 23:8-9). What do we do when this happens to us?
When we can't see God at work in our life in the midst of pressing trials, we need to remember that God knows the way we take (Job 23:10a). God is always with us. He will never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).
When we can't see God at work in our life in the midst of trials, we need to know that God is testing us and the outcome will be of great value to us (Job 23:10b; James 1:2-4).
When we can't see God at work in our life when it seems all is going wrong, we need to keep feasting on His word more than on food and we need to keep practicing His word. God's word tells us to give thanks for all things (Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18), to count it all joy while going through the trial (James 1:2; Philippians 4:4), and to call upon Him in the day of trouble (Psalm 50:15; James 1:5).
How have you been handling times of trouble and trials when all seems against you when you have been doing things the right way? Make sure in the future you handle the times as Job did as recorded in Job 23:8-12. (Be sure to read all the verses listed in this devotional. You will be glad you did.)
Matthew 21:28 "What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work in the vineyard today.' 29 And he answered, 'I will not,' but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, 'I go, sir,' but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.
The passage today instructs us about "lip service" and "life service". One son said he would do what his father commanded and did not do it. He gave "lip service" to his father. The other son said he wouldn't do what his father commanded, but changed his mind (repented) and obeyed his father. He gave "life service" to his father.
Many people say they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but give only "lip service". These people do not do what Jesus commands them to do. These are the people that call Jesus, "Lord", but do not do what He commands. The "lip service" people continue in a life of sin with no repentance. The "lip service" people walk the broad road that leads to destruction and take many with them to destruction. Matthew 7:21-23 describes these type of people.
The "life service" people recognized themselves as sinners, repented of their sin and began to follow Jesus. The "life service people" exercise faith in the Son of God by attempting to obey His commands expecting Him to fulfill their attempt with His power. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10 describes these type of people.
Lip service people think they are right with the Lord Jesus and do not repent of the sin they live in. They don't acknowledge they are in sin. The life service people recognize their sin, repent of it, receive His forgiveness and by faith seek to follow Jesus. The lip service people end up in eternal torment. The life service people live an abundant and eternal life. Which person are you? Would Jesus agree you are attempting to do His will by faith?
Matthew 21:23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, "By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?" 24 Jesus answered them, "I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?" And they discussed it among themselves, saying, "If we say, 'From heaven,' he will say to us, 'Why then did you not believe him?' 26 But if we say, 'From man,' we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet." 27 So they answered Jesus, "We do not know." And he said to them, "Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.
Two examples are given us in this passage of scripture. One example we are to follow. One example we are to guard against allowing into our life. The example of the chief priests and elders of the people is to be avoided. The elders and chief priests exercised authority to benefit themselves. When asked a controversial question they declined to answer because if they answered as they believed, their power would be called into question. The chief priests and elders lied rather than jeopardize their personal benefits.
Jesus' example is to be diligently followed in our lives. When Jesus was confronted by the people holding the power in the culture that could affect His personal well-being physically, He stayed with His message and didn't back off for personal safety reasons. Jesus knew He had authority from the Creator God, the most powerful Person in the world. He did not fear what man could or would do to Him. Jesus was sent on assignment to seek and save the lost. He was willing and able to complete His mission by the power of the Holy Spirit, even if it cost Him His life.
Which example are you following while going about your daily life? I encourage you to follow the example of Jesus. As believers we are sent by God with a primary mission to make disciples. We are given authority to do this by the Creator God, the most powerful Person in the universe. We have been given the Holy Spirit to enable us to do the work God has given us to do in the manner He desires us to do it (Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:8; 2 Peter 1:3-4). "Stand firm, let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord knowing your labor in the Lord is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:58. Use the authority you have been given to please God and benefit people.
Matthew 21:18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, "May no fruit ever come from you again!" And the fig tree withered at once. 20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree wither at once?" 21 And Jesus answered them, "Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith."
To understand the message this passage of scripture speaks to us we need to know that Jesus only did His Father's will. To do His Father's will He needed to know what it was. John 14:10 tells us the Father who dwelled in Jesus did His works through Jesus. Jesus spoke only what His Father told Him to speak (John 12:49). Jesus did only what His Father commanded Him (John 14:31). When Jesus spoke and the fig tree withered at once, He was doing God's will. All Jesus says to His disciples is predicated on knowing and doing God's will.
Abraham knew God's promise to him was to be the father of many nations and that he and Sarah needed to have a child for that promise to be fulfilled. He had faith God was able to do what He promised even when both he and Sarah were beyond child bearing in years. He exercised faith in God ability to keep His promise and a child was born to Sarah and him (Romans 4:18-21). Faith believes God has the power to do His will. Abraham was not caused to doubt God even when the circumstances looked impossible from a human perspective.
Another key element in receiving what we ask in prayer is asking according to God's will. 1 John 5:14-15 instructs us that whatever we ask according to God's will we receive because He hears us. How do we know God's will? We know God's will because we have His written Word (1 Thessalonians 5:18; 2 Timothy 3:16). We know God's will by hearing the Holy Spirit within us (Acts 8:29-30). Ezekiel 36:27 and Ephesians 1:13-14 instruct us that the Holy Spirit in every believer will move them to do His will. We can pray with confidence for each believer stuck in sin to be moved out of their sin by the Holy Spirit. The Apostle prayed God's will for each believer. In Ephesians 1:15-20 he prayed for each believer to know the hope they have, the riches they have and the power they have. James instructed us to pray in faith for wisdom to go through trials that come upon us knowing it is God's will to give it to us James 1:5-6
We may not be led to dry up fig trees or have mountains move, but we are to pray for God's written word to be established in each believers life. We know this is God's will. We are to pray in faith. When we pray in faith, not doubting, we will receive what we ask. Trouble with knowing God's will? Be a diligent student of God's word. Trouble with little faith? Ask God to help your unbelief (Mark 9:24). Ask God to increase your faith (Luke 17:5). When the Holy Spirit prompts us to pray a certain way the prompting will never contradict God's written word.
Matthew 21:12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you make it a den of robbers." 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant, 16 and they said to him, "Do you hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read, "' Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise'?" 17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.
Jesus lived His life according to the scriptures. His actions and replies were in accordance with the written word of God. Matthew 21:12 records Jesus removing the money changers and those who sold pigeons from the temple. Why did He do that? Matthew 21:13 reveals Jesus acted according to the scriptures. The temple area was to be a place of prayer for all people, not a market place gouging people by selling goods at inflated prices.
Jesus responded to the indignant chief priests' and scribes' outrage when the children in the temple welcomed Jesus by crying out, "Hosanna to the Son of David!", by quoting Psalm 8:2, "Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise." Jesus spoke and acted according to the scriptures.
Jesus left us an example to follow. How do we follow His example? We need to learn the scriptures and base our actions and responses upon the written word of God. In the United States today about 4% of the population lives according to the scriptures. Our moral condition is spiraling downward. We need to practice Romans 12:2 "Be not conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you will be able to test and approve God's will, His good, please and perfect will." Are you willing to renew your mind by reading, learning and practicing God's written word? If you are begin to read Genesis 1-11 and then go to Matthew 1 and systematically read through Revelation. Do that three times and then begin to read systematically through the Old Testament and New testament - some of each every day. It will not only change your life, but the lives of the people around you.
Matthew 21:1 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Beth-phage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, "Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. 3 If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord needs them,' and he will send them at once." 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.'" 6 The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!" 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, "Who is this?" 11 And the crowds said, "This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee."
The Prophet Zechariah prophesied in about 518 B.C. that Israel's king would come riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Jesus sent His disciples to get a donkey and its colt in the village just ahead of them. If anyone questioned the disciples about taking the donkey and colt, they were to say, "The Lord needs them." The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them and found everything to be just as He said it would be. If we do as Jesus directs us we will find that what Jesus said will happen just as He said it would. Are you doing just as Jesus has directed you in the word of God, the Bible?
In Zechariah 9:9 is recorded that Israel's king would come riding into Jerusalem. Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16. The King of kings entered Jerusalem to suffer for the sins of His people. Matthew instructed us that Jesus, the Son of Man, came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). Jesus used His authority and position to serve His people, even to the point of death. He left us an example to follow. We are to use our God-given authority and position to serve people and lead them to salvation.
This passage of scripture identifies Jesus as Lord and King. When He entered Jerusalem, however, the people still asked, "Who is this?" This same thing can happen when we serve in the area God has placed us (Acts 17:26-27). People don't recognize the Christ coming to them to save them from their sins. We want to make sure we are displaying Christ in our lives by living according to His will by the power of His Spirit in us. We don't want the lack of recognition to be because we are not displaying Christ. Living according to the will of God by the power of God results in abundant life for us and for all who recognize the Christ in us. As we enter the place God has assigned us, let us enter according to the scriptures just as Jesus did.
Matthew 20:29 And as they went out of Jericho, a great crowd followed him. 30 And behold, there were two blind men sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was passing by, they cried out, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!" 31 The crowd rebuked them, telling them to be silent, but they cried out all the more, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!" 32 And stopping, Jesus called them and said, "What do you want me to do for you?" 33 They said to him, "Lord, let our eyes be opened." 34 And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.
We need to be like the two blind men. When they heard Jesus was near they called out to Him and would not be silenced by the stern rebuke of the crowd following Jesus. The two blind men asked for mercy. What did they ask for when they asked Jesus to have mercy on them? They asked Jesus to be greatly concerned about their need. Jesus stopped and asked what they needed and met their need, a need impossible for people to meet. The two formerly blind men followed Jesus.
What need do you have that is impossible for people to meet. Learn a lesson from the two formerly blind men. Call out to Jesus for mercy. Jesus is greatly concerned about your unmet need. He has invited each of us who believe to come confidently to His throne of grace to receive mercy and grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Jesus can do the impossible. Jesus can do what man cannot. Jesus cares about our needs and can meet them. Ask Jesus to do for you what no person can. He will have mercy and give from His unlimited resources (grace) to meet your need.