“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 this parable of the wedding banquet mean?

Jesus broadcast his teachings through a variety of complex parables. This was intended to communicate deep spiritual values to those who wanted to learn more. But it 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.

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 forget our relationship with God. In this world we can execute our desires to be the center of the universe.

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

This state of affairs is 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.

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 harming their ability to be self-centered and try to enjoy life independent 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.

How is the banquet ready?

With regard to "those I invited" - Jesus is speaking of those ecclesiastical sectarian institutions such as the temple institution involved in the arrest and murder of John the Baptist - who would also be 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 sectarian 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 simple 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 ones consciousness. This is how one becomes entitled to returning to the spiritual realm. A consciousness full of greed, envy and lust does not belong in the spiritual realm. Such a consciousness belongs in this physical world - where we each wear physical bodies full of pain and suffering and compete for the resources of the physical world.

"Wedding clothes" in particular symbolizes love for God, humility and service. These are the tickets to the spiritual realm - our relationship with the Supreme Being. A self-centered person - who does not love the Supreme Being - has no place in the spiritual realm. A person who is not humble - thinking themselves a great person - does not belong in the spiritual realm.

And a person who does not want to serve the Supreme Being - who only wants to be served - does not belong in 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. We must become God-centered instead of self-centered.

This begins with humility. We must have the attitude that we are not the king. In other words, we are not the center of attention. We are not the one being served. We are servants. We are beggars. We do not deserve God’s mercy, especially 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 the various relationships with God in the spiritual world.