“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared ...” (Matthew 22:1-13)

“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have 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 and went off— one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, ill-treated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 22:1-13)

What does Jesus' parable of the wedding banquet mean?

Jesus broadcast his teachings through a variety of complex parables. These were intended to communicate deep spiritual values to those who wanted to learn more. But they also provided a means for filtering those who were not intent on learning about God.

This particular parable of the wedding banquet is extremely complex. It illustrates the process the Supreme Being undertakes to bring us back home to Him. It also reflects how God handles those who harm His messengers.

God is involved in a myriad of relationships and this parable details some of those relationships.

Let's understand the symbolism of Jesus' parable more closely:

Why a wedding banquet?

The king in the story symbolizes Supreme Being. And the wedding banquet is the spiritual realm. 

The reason Jesus is comparing the spiritual realm to a wedding banquet is because the spiritual realm is full of loving relationships: It is a carnival of loving relationships.

And the Supreme Being is the center of those loving relationships.

The citizens of the spiritual realm are focused upon the Supreme Being - they are loving Him in a myriad of different types of relationships. And based upon these relationships they are also loving each other in a myriad of ways.

This may not translate well in the physical world, because this is the place where those who rejected love of God have been sent. In this world, we are given a virtual body - the physical body - and a place where we can completely forget our relationship with God. 

In this world, we can execute our desires to be the center of the universe without any remembrance of who is the actual center of the universe.

Yes, if we look around, we can see that each of us is trying to achieve our version of being the center of the universe. We each have our own agenda to achieve our personal objectives.

This translates to our various activities to attempt to achieve fame, wealth, physical beauty, influencer, father or mother of a big family, and so on. While some strive to be leaders of companies; others strive to be political leaders. Some seek the admiration of workmates or colleagues; others seek the admiration of fans or schoolmates.

Then of course there is the seeking of boyfriends, girlfriends, and eventually spouses and children.

In all of these affairs, we seek to be the center. We seek to become admired and praised. But we also seek to be loved. We yearn for love throughout our physical lives, as though love was water and we were stranded in a waterless desert.

These activities all reflect the reality that we are each seeking the love that we've forgotten - love from the spiritual realm.

But why have we forgotten it? Because we sought to become the object of love rather than the giver of love.

By nature, we are givers of love. This is our natural constitution. 

God and God's children are objects of our love. When we seek to remain outside of our natural constitution we are given physical bodies in the physical realm - to play out our desires along with learning lessons that try to teach us that giving love makes us happy.

This is the state of affairs symbolized in Jesus' parable by those who rejected the invitation of the king and then harmed his servants.

Who are the servants?

The servants He sent out to invite people to the banquet represent those loving servants who God has sent to the earth over millennia to try to bring us home to Him. These are His devoted messengers such as David, Moses, Abraham, Noah, Solomon, Job, Jacob, Samuel, Jonah, John the Baptist and of course Jesus and Jesus' disciples like Peter and James.

The dinner preparations symbolize the readiness of the Supreme Being to take us back - even though we've neglected Him for so long. This is called mercy.

As history has illustrated, most of us have refused this invitation to return home to our relationship with the Supreme Being. That is why we keep returning to the physical world, lifetime after lifetime.

Why are the servants seized?

God's messengers have been trying to bring us home to the spiritual realm, but we have been refusing. In addition to refusing to return, some have gone out of their way to harm God's messengers.

This is precisely what occurred in Jesus' life. He was trying to pass on to others God's invitation back to the spiritual realm. But they rejected Jesus' teachings and instead persecuted him and killed him.

Why did they do it? Because Jesus was interfering in their ability to see themselves as the center of the universe. He was interfering with their self-centeredness and independence of the Supreme Being.

Why did the king send his army?

Many have misinterpreted this as the Supreme Being being vengeful. Rather, what is being described is love.

Just consider what would happen if someone hurt someone's child. The parent would be deeply hurt yes? Why? Because of their love for their child.

In the same way, the Supreme Being becomes spiritually hurt when His loving servants are harmed. This is because of the loving relationships that exist between the Supreme Being and His loving servants.

But he doesn't send others to harm us. He sends others who love us and want us to return to Him. This is God's army of love.

How is the banquet ready?

With regard to "those I invited" - Jesus is speaking of those institutions such as the temple institution involved in the arrest and murder of John the Baptist - also involved in Jesus' arrest and persecution.

As these individuals among these organizations proved unworthy because they disrespected and even harmed God's messengers, the Supreme Being reaches out to those who may not be articulate members of these institutions. He reaches out to those who consider themselves more humbly - not thinking they deserve to be invited back to the spiritual realm.

These more humble persons - often lost in the minutia of the physical world - are not pretenders. They are not faking that they know so much. They are not pretending to be worthy of sitting in judgment of others. 

As such, assuming they follow God's guidance as they follow the instructions of the king's servants and come to the banquet. This illustrates their method of gaining entrance into the spiritual realm: Being invited.

What about the man not wearing wedding clothes?

This part of the parable may be disturbing to some but only if the symbolism is not understood. The "wedding clothes" are the key to understanding this. The "clothes" represent one's consciousness. This is how one becomes entitled to return to the spiritual realm. A consciousness full of greed, envy, and self-centeredness does not belong in the spiritual realm. Such a consciousness belongs in this physical world - where we occupy physical bodies full of pain and suffering that compete for limited resources in the physical world.

"Wedding clothes" in particular symbolizes love for God, humility, and service. These are the tickets into the spiritual realm - our relationship with the Supreme Being. The person who sees themselves as the most important has no place in the spiritual realm. A person who sees themselves as great does not belong in the spiritual realm.

A person who does not want to serve - who only wants to be served - is not a citizen of the spiritual realm.

This consciousness is suited for the physical world - where we misidentify ourselves with these temporary physical bodies and chase after the illusory names and forms of this temporary physical dimension.

To gain entry into the spiritual world - to gain entry into our relationship with God - we must be wearing the proper attitude and state of consciousness. Our consciousness must become God-centered instead of self-centered.

This begins with humility. The attitude that we are not the king. We are not the center of attention. We are not being served. We are servants. We are beggars. We do not deserve God’s mercy after we have been rejecting Him.

The second and critical piece - one that cannot be separated from humility - is our reliance upon God’s mercy. Our complete faith that He will take care of us, and that He is all we need. This is also called surrender.

If we are wearing the clothes of humility and reliance upon God's mercy, we will be invited to the wedding banquet because this is the consciousness that prevails among relationships with God in the spiritual world.