Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)


Ms 46, 1896

Parable of the Marriage.



Formerly Undated Ms 45. Previously unpublished.

“The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, behold, I prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise, and the remnant took his servants and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. And when the king heard thereof, he was wroth, and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, the wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye can find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.” [Matthew 22:2-10.] 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 1

In this parable the Lord illustrates the manner in which God deals with men in regard to the gospel invitation. He presents the parable of a certain king who made a marriage supper for his son, and sent out invitations to those who thought themselves worthy to be bidden. But when the final call was made, “Come: for all things are now ready,” they would not come. [Luke 14:17, 18.] The general invitation is refused; but in order that he may assure himself that his guests understand the invitation he sends forth his servants to invite them personally to the feast; but although they are assured that all things are now ready, “they all with one consent began to make excuse.” [Verse 18.] 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 2

One said, “I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it. I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them. I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.” [Verses 18-20.] The manner of excuses urged for refusing the invitation cover the whole ground of excuses presented to the Spirit of God for refusing the gospel invitation. Men declare that they cannot jeopardize their worldly business by giving attention to the demands of the gospel. They hold their worldly enterprises as supreme, and think they have no time to serve God. 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 3

They make the excuse that they have no time to search the Scriptures to see what is truth. They have no time to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” [Matthew 6:13.] They neglect to be doers of the words of Christ, when He says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” [Verse 33.] They reveal the fact that they place less value upon things of eternal interest than they place upon things of this world. They place less value upon the great sacrifice made in their behalf to secure to them the rich treasures of grace and truth than they do upon the things which perish with the using. 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 4

Men do not see the littleness and the cheapness of the reasons which they offer as an excuse for refusing the gospel invitation. Great and abundant blessings have been secured to them by an infinite sacrifice, yet they dare to put aside the riches of the grace of Christ as a matter of minor consequence, and to place their temporal concerns, and the gratification of their own selfish desires above the eternal that are presented to them. They do not appreciate the great condescension of God in giving His Son to die for a sinful world that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. They think that if they give consideration to the gospel message their worldly interests will be imperilled. 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 5

They cannot make up their minds to run any risk of losing any worldly advantage, and therefore they refuse the invitation and insult the God of heaven, who furnishes them with every temporal good that they have in the world. They do not realize that if Christ had not died, taking their guilt upon His own divine soul, they would have had none of the blessings which they now enjoy. It was through His condescension, through His humiliation in bearing the stroke of justice for their sins, that they have the privilege of a second trial, the privilege of a second probation. 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 6

Yet they are not led by these blessings to devote to God their life-service. He could remove the blessings; He could disappoint their expectations; He could send to them adversity; He could scatter to the winds all they call their own; He could visit them with judgment because of their ingratitude of His rich mercies, but they do not think of this, nor appreciate His longsuffering. Christ has purchased them as His inheritance. Their bodies, souls, and spirits belong to Him, and all they have is His possession. Man should regard himself and his goods in this light, but instead of this he allows the very blessings that God has given him to become a hindrance, to be a separating wedge between him and his God, and to constitute an excuse for not surrendering his mind and will to God. In many cases the Lord has scattered that which man has piled up, because he made this an excuse for refusing to obey the truth. 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 7

The third excuse that is offered is, “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.” [Luke 14:20.] Our Saviour would teach us that the dearest earthly relation should not in any case divert our affections from God. We belong to Christ both by creation and redemption, and we practice robbery when we refuse to give God our heart-service. We are not to allow any earthly tie to stand between us and the gracious invitation of mercy. 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 8

Many are held back from obeying the Word of God, from living in harmony with their convictions, because their wives or their husbands will not accept the truth of God. The husband says, “I cannot take my position for the truth of God when my wife is opposed to it. It would make it exceedingly hard for me to do so.” When the wife hears the gracious invitation of mercy, “Come: for all things are now ready,” she says, “I beg you, have me excused. My husband refuses the invitation of mercy. He says his business stands in the way. I must go with my husband, and therefore I cannot come.” The children’s hearts are impressed when they hear the invitation. They desire to come, but they excuse themselves on the ground that they love their father and their mother, and if they do not accept of the truth, then the children cannot be expected to come. Therefore they say, “Have me excused.” 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 9

The invitation to the gospel feast came to the Jewish people. The people of God are represented as the Bride, the Lamb’s wife, and the Jews understood that as the people of God they must be at the marriage feast. Again the banquet is taken as a symbol of the feast of the gospel. Rich provision was made in the grace of God, in the Holy Spirit, in the treasures of truth, that were open to those who would receive the truth. Christ represented Himself as the Bread of life. The king is God, the son is the Lord Jesus Christ, whose marriage represents a close union with His church for whom He gave Himself, “that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” [Titus 2:14.] 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 10

The servant came and showed his lord how those who were invited to the gospel feast made light of his gracious invitation, and how they had treated it with contempt as a matter unworthy of their notice, and how they had gone about their temporal business as if the gracious invitation had not been extended, and as though the feast had not been provided at infinite cost. He showed his lord how one had gone to his merchandise, how another had turned to social attractions, and another had gone to his farm, as though the requirements of God could be ignored and forgotten. 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 11

Those who made excuse turned to the world as though they could respect and trust it; but God’s service was uncertain and questionable. They would trust the god of this world, serve mammon, and place contempt upon the benefits that Christ had provided. But they carried the matter still further. They were not satisfied to reject the message, to offer contemptible excuses, but they were provoked at being disturbed in their self-complacency. Conviction had stirred their soul, and they used harsh and bitter words. They despised the truth which reproved their sins, they hated the arguments which they could not meet from the Scriptures, and they entreated the messengers spitefully, and slew them. When the king heard of their wicked deeds, he sent forth his army and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 12

In this parable Jesus plainly warned the Jews of the fate that awaited Jerusalem in rejecting the only means that God had provided to save them. The Romans were permitted to carry out their purpose and to destroy the fated city. Then said He to His servants, “The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all that they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.” [Matthew 22:8-10.] In Luke the Lord bids His servants to “go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in ... Bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. ... For I say unto you that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.” [Luke 14:21, 23, 24.] 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 13

The question is often asked, Why is it that there are not more great men, not more noted men, among the ranks of those who believe the truth? The parable answers this question. Christ has sent an invitation to the great men of the earth for whom He has paid the ransom of His own precious blood. They have heard the messenger say, “Come: for all things are now ready” [Verse 17], but they have also listened to the voice of the wily foe, and have adopted the varied excuses which he has framed for them in refusing the gracious call. 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 14

Jesus by being a Sin-bearer, has opened a way whereby all may come unto Him who desire eternal life above every other earthly consideration. But great men, worldly-wise men, have refused the heavenly benefits, for this present world was their god. They refused Him who could have given real value to their characters, and who could have brought them back to their allegiance to God and His commandments. They would not take upon themselves the marriage contract and partake of the marriage supper, but framed foolish excuses to avoid the obligation. They would not associate with Him who would make them truly great and valuable, but turned aside from Him who could have turned their crosses into crowns. 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 15

They did not believe the promise, “I will make a man more precious than fine gold. Even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.” [Isaiah 13:12.] They would not permit Him to place His own image and superscription upon them, to work the miracle of changing them into His obedient, loyal children. God allows every one to choose his own Lord, and this is the reason we have so few worldly-wise men in the ranks of Jesus. 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 16

“And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” [Luke 14:25, 26.] This scripture is not to be taken to mean that we are to feel any enmity towards any of our relatives or friends, for this would not be in accordance with the commands of God, which enjoins upon us the duty of honoring father and mother, and of loving our neighbors as ourselves; but it means that no earthly relationship shall be regarded as an excuse for disobeying God. Husband and wife, parents and children, relatives and friends are to obey the requirement of God. We are His inheritance, His sons and daughters, both by creation and by the ransom that has been paid for our redemption. 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 17

Our first duty is to God, and we are to obey Him, even if it is against the will of father or mother, relatives or friends, or against the rulers of our land. If our relatives are in opposition to the commandments of God, they are on the enemy’s side of the question, and to follow their example would be to show insult to the Spirit of God. Where Christ abides in the heart we shall feel our moral accountability, and will not live to please ourselves. We shall realize the force of what Christ says, “Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” [Verse 27.] 11LtMs, Ms 46, 1896, par. 18