09. A King Makes A Wedding Feast For His Son (Part 1)

For Zion’s sake, I will not be silent; and for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not rest; until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning lamp. And nations shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. And you shall be called by a new name which the mouth of Jehovah shall specify. You also shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of Jehovah, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You no longer shall be called Forsaken; nor shall your land any longer be called Desolate. But you shall be called, My Delight is in Her; and your land, Married. For Jehovah delights in you, and your land is married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you. And as a bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God shall rejoice over you. (Isaiah 62:1-5)

The kingdom of Heaven is compared to a man, a king, who made a wedding feast (Gk marriages) for (to) his son. And he sent his slaves to call those being invited (in)to the (marriages)wedding feast, but they did not desire to come. Again, he sent other slaves, saying, Tell the ones invited, Behold, I have prepared my supper; my oxen, and the fatlings are killed, and all things ready; come to the wedding feast. But not caring they went away, one to his own field, and one to his trading. And the rest, seizing his slaves, insulted and killed them. And hearing, the king became angry. And sending his armies, he destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, Indeed, the wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Then go onto the exits of the highways and call to the wedding feast as many as you may find. And going out into the highways, those slaves gathered all, as many as they found, both evil and good. And the wedding feast was filled with reclining guests. And the king coming in to look over those reclining, he saw a man there not having been dressed (put on) in a wedding garment. And he said to him, Friend, how did you come in here, not having a wedding garment? But he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, Binding his feet and hands, take him away and throw him out into the outer darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of the teeth. For many are called, but few chosen. (Matthew 22:2-14)

“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who made marriages for his son”.  In the Greek the word translated ‘marriage feast’ is a word that embraces the idea of the marriage in its entirety.  It’s the plural of marriage and so can be understood to refer to levels of meaning.  The plural is used because by ‘marriages’ the meaning is inclusive of all the elements that make up the marriage as an event.  Spiritually this is useful because it teaches us that the spiritual marriage in principle is not a one off occurrence, but is the culmination of a series of ‘mini marriages’ if you like.

What do we mean by this?  Think of it like this, when a couple is married, they undertake to participate in a ceremony, which we call a marriage.  Depending on the traditions used, this event is composed of a number of smaller events, which we taken together make up the whole wedding experience.  The marriage ceremony is not the end but the beginning of being married.  Thus, a wedding is really the beginning of ‘becoming’ married.  This is because the ideal of marriage is a life-long commitment that involves a continuous process of becoming married throughout the life of a couple.  Every day of their lives, from the day of the marriage ceremony is an opportunity to become more wedded to each other as their lives converge more and more through being drawn ever closer together.

The spiritual idea of marriage on a personal level has to do with each individual’s connection to the Lord and the process by which this is brought about.  The first aspect of this process is found in the parable where we read that it begins with ‘a king who makes marriages to his son’.  Who is this king and who is this son?  And what are these marriages?  Well, they must have something to do with what we experience as we seek to live the spiritual life.  It’s useful when thinking of spiritual marriages to remember that the term marriage is a term that describes our actual regeneration.  To be regenerated means that things are becoming married within us.  What things? Heavenly things from the Word, and in the process of these things being married we find that we are being given a new will and a new understanding, or a new internal and external man that act together as one.

This is the result of building up truths in our understanding that are able to govern how we act in response to how we feel and think because they provide us with the ability to reflect on our motivations.  These truths form the new understanding, in fact they are our new understanding.  And when we compel ourselves to act from them, for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do because the Lord commands them, our affection for what is heavenly is strengthened as the Lord undertakes to join heavenly affections with the truths we have been seeking to live our lives from.  The joining of our will and understanding in this way is an expression of the spiritual marriage.

Without the Lord in our life we are fragmented, we suffer from an inherent disconnectedness from everything and everyone around us.  The remarkable thing is that we hardly even notice the fragmentation we suffer from.  We fail to recognise the tension and discrepancy that exists between what we feel and say and do.  We think we are unified and consistent in ourselves, but without being connected to the Lord our state is such that we are spiritually destitute; we have no real or true connectedness in ourselves.  It is only as we begin to make spiritual things a priority for our lives that we can begin to see how separated we are and so begin to do something about it.

We have a sense of what we should be but find that even the smallest or most simple things that we experience in our day can throw us off, and bring up all kinds of things that are opposed to the heavenly life.  We shouldn’t be discouraged by this but rather we should encourage one another to press on, because now we see we have work to do and if we do this work the Lord will undertake to see that we are wedded to heaven where all that is felt, said, and done reflects the image and likeness of the Lord Himself who is the perfect marriage of Divine Love and Divine Wisdom.

The process of bringing about the marriage of our will and understanding or our internal and external man, which is what it is to be whole, flows in from the Word, which is described in this parable by the term king.  The king as we saw last month is the Divine Truth or the Word.  Here we see that Divine Truth in its operations within the human spirit is in a constant effort to bring about a marriage or unification of our being so that we might be joined within and, from this, are able to be joined with each other, through our being joined with the Lord.  When we integrate the truths from the Word into our life we are conjoined with heaven and so with the Lord, because the Lord is these truths.  This is the reason why it is said that the kingdom of heaven is like ‘a king who makes marriages to his son’.  We can’t be joined to the Lord as He is in Himself, but we can certainly have an increasing sense of being united to Him if we are willing to live from the understanding of truths we have.

The Divine Truth, as it is in itself, is beyond the comprehension of any finite mind.  Yet its activity through the Word, as it enters our minds, produces a response in our spirits that comes into our consciousness as our image of God.  No two people can have the same view of God.  The Word is the Lord and as such contains what is infinite and eternal, so we can only grasp it in a very limited way.  We don’t see the infinity or eternity of the Divine Truth; we only see there the things that we can grasp with our limited understanding in accordance with our own state of spiritual life.  But even though the things we grasp are limited and finite, the Word will always remain infinitely beyond the grasp of anyone, even the highest angels, so we should never presume to have a monopoly on the truth because all we can ever be in are appearances of truth. It’s important that we constantly remind ourselves of this in our dealings with others who may hold different views to our own – no one ever sees the whole picture.

So for every person who is able to come to the Word and draw their ideas of God from it there arises a different or personal view of God and spiritual things.  The truths one person sees are seen differently by another, yet all are from the Divine Truth or the Word.  These differences don’t exist in the Lord, for He is the same forever and in Him no change is possible, but they exist in the different states of mind into which He flows.  In this sense, the Word is like a father from whom comes as many different understandings or views of the Lord as there are human minds that come into contact with it.  All these different views of the Lord are still from the Word and so are the Lord with each person – this is what is meant here by the son of the king.  If the king is the Word, then the son of the king can be thought of as the image we carry of the Lord in our minds that arises from our limited understanding of the Word.

The limitations of a finite understanding of the Word is how the Lord is seen to take on human frailty and weakness. Again, these human weaknesses are not in the Lord Himself, nor have they ever been, but arise from our limited capacity to grasp the Divine as He is in Himself.  The Lord must accommodate Himself to our state of life and so the idea we hold of Him is the means by which He seeks to integrate each person’s life into a whole, or to bring us into the spiritual marriage which is the marriage of good and truth within our minds.  This is why the marriage is said to centre on the son.  Our idea or understanding of the Lord and spiritual things is intimately related to the level of motivation we have for working with the Word as the basis for examining our life.

Our response to our understanding of truth is so important here.  The Lord’s desire for our salvation means that all that is from Him in His Word looks to draw us into being united with Him.  This is captured in this parable in that we see that the command from the king to His servants is to invite all who are called into the wedding.  The general message that flows from every aspect of the Word is a call to wholeness.  Divine Truth works to bring healing and wholeness to every level of our being; this is what it is to be invited into the wedding.  It is a call found in the challenges truths make upon us when we consider their implication for our life.   These truths that invite us to live our lives in accordance with the principles we know are the servants who go out under the command of the Divine Truth to draw us closer to the Lord.

We then see various responses we can make to our understanding of the Word.  The first response is described in v3

And he sent his slaves to call those being invited to the wedding feast, but they did not desire to come.

The Word is read or heard, its truths are presented, but there is nothing in the heart that desires the spiritual life and so there is no will to live from the Word.

Then there is a second call that goes out from the Word in v4.

Again, he sent other slaves, saying, Tell the ones invited, Behold, I have prepared my supper; my oxen, and the fatlings are killed, and all things ready; come to the wedding feast.  But not caring they went away, one to his own field, and one to his trading.

In this call a greater understanding of the preparations the king has made is communicated.  This represents a deeper understanding of truths but again, without a desire to actually live from them, there is no response to do what is required to enter into the spiritual life.  All is ready, the oxen and grain-fed calves have been sacrificed or prepared for the marriage celebrations.  But the things of the world hold more allure.  This is a powerful warning to those who are in possession of truths, who know what they must do yet refuse to act from them.  Knowing that the Word is Divine and that it contains everything necessary for the spiritual life is of little benefit if the invitation It makes to us isn’t taken up.  What the Lord has prepared as food in His Word can have little effect if it is not eaten and so taken into our spirits.

In verse 5 we read that these ones made light of the invitation, literally they didn’t care for these things and so preferred to go to their own field and trading business.  This speaks of placing a higher priority on natural life and so caring little for the spiritual life.  To go to one’s own field is to prefer a life centered on the field of selfish interests and to go to one’s trading is to believe the false ideas and perspectives that self-interest generates to support living for self and so rejecting the Lord.

Having heard truths and having at least sensed something of the challenge they make, if these are then not acted upon, the mind works to dismiss the challenge to reduce the discomfort they produce upon the conscience and to dismiss and deny what was initially seen.  This process of trying to weaken the impact truth has on us and take away the responsibility it places upon us is described in the treatment of the servants by what remains.  In verse 6 we read…

And the rest, seizing his slaves, insulted and killed them. 

And so it is that the servants or truths that call us to account, that call us to the wedding or to the life of repentance, reformation, and regeneration are taken hold of or bound, insulted or discredited and then killed.  This speaks of doing violence to truths so that their life or spirit can no longer influence the mind.  It speaks of becoming dead to the power of the Word to transform our lives through having given ourselves over to the loves of self and the world. To insult truth is to discredit it or falsify it and this word is the same word used in Luke 18:32, and to kill it is to allow lower things reign in its place, this same word, kill, is also found in the passage from Luke in which the Lord speaks of what is to come concerning Himself…

For He will be delivered up to the nations, and will be mocked, and will be insulted, and will be spat upon.  And flogging Him, they will kill Him. And on the third day He will rise again. (Luke 18:32-33)

In this Scripture we find captured, the meaning of the parable; it is the same story in a slightly different form.  If we hear the truth but will not act on it because we prefer to live disconnected from the Lord in favour of our own self-interest, then we mock it. All this goes on in the natural man who is opposed to the things of the spirit – but this is not the last word for on the third day the Lord declares He will rise again as indeed the third invitation is to those elements within us that can and will respond. This is the subject of the second part of the parable which we shall explore next time.

The reason no one can enter heaven without being born again is that we are involved in all kinds of evil through what we inherit from our parents; we also inherit an ability to become spiritual by the removal of those evils. Unless we do become spiritual, we cannot enter heaven; and changing from being earthly to being spiritual is being reborn or regenerated. If we are to understand how we are regenerated, though, we need to keep three things in mind, namely, the nature of our first state, a state of damnation; the nature of our second state, a state of reformation; and the nature of our third state, a state of regeneration…. Our third state, the state of regeneration, picks up on this prior state and carries the process further. It begins when we stop doing wrong things because they are sins, advances as we abstain from them, and becomes complete as we fight against them. Then, as we overcome in the Lord’s strength, we are regenerated. When we are regenerated, the whole pattern of our life is inverted. We become spiritual instead of earthly, since what is earthly is contrary to the divine design when it is separated from what is spiritual, and what is spiritual is in keeping with the divine design. The result is that when we have been regenerated, we act out of thoughtfulness and make the elements of that thoughtfulness part of our faith. Still, we are spiritual only to the extent that we are attentive to what is true, since everyone is regenerated by means of truths and through living by them. It is truths that enable us to know what life is, and life that enables us to practice truths. This is how goodness and truth are united in the spiritual marriage where we find heaven. (Divine Providence 86{5&6})

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