Half the parable (Matthew 22:1-7) is about those who despised the king and would not come to the banquet. But there is a second half (vv. 8-14), which tells of those who did come. The king instructed, “Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find” (v. 9). In Luke that is elaborated to show how those persons were drawn from the lower ranks of life. “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame…. Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full” (Luke 14:21-23).
In terms of Christ’s story that seems an extraordinary thing for the king or master of the house to have done. But when we think in terms of God it seems inevitable. We ask these questions: Is it possible that God, the King of the universe, can be dishonored by having no one at the wedding supper of his son? Can the almighty God be defeated? Disappointed? Can the work of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, prove ineffective? Can Jesus have died in vain? Risen in vain? Ascended in vain? If he did all that and yet no one receives salvation through faith in his completed work, is he not dishonored? Would Satan not have triumphed? Would the demons not have taunted him: “He saved himself; his own he cannot save”? To put the questions in that way shows the impossibility of such an outcome. God must be honored. Jesus must be effective in his saving work. As Jesus himself said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37).
“But surely God is dishonored by the kinds of people who do come,” someone may say. “Those are not the noble people who were first invited. They are not wise, not mighty.” True. As Paul says,
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:27-29)
But God is not dishonored thereby. On the contrary, he is most highly honored. How is God honored? Let me share Spurgeon’s answer to that question:
The persons who came to the wedding were more grateful than the first invited might have been if they had come. The richer sort had a good dinner every day. Those farmers could always kill a fat sheep, and those merchants could always buy a calf. “Thank you for nothing,” they would have said to the king if they had accepted his invitation. But these poor beggars picked off the streets…welcomed the fatlings. How glad they were! One of them said to the other, “It’s a long time since you and I last sat down to such a joint as this,” and the other answered, “I can hardly believe that I am really in a palace dining with a king. Why, yesterday I begged all the day and only had twopence at night. Long live the king, say I, and blessings on the prince and his bride!” I warrant, they were thankful for such a feast…. The joy that day was much more expressed than it would have been had others come. Those ladies and gentlemen who were first invited, if they had come to the wedding, would have seated themselves there in a very stiff and proper manner…. But these beggars! They make a merry chatter; they are not muzzled by propriety; they are glad at the sight of every dish…. The occasion became more famous than it would otherwise have been. If the feast had gone on as usual it would have been only one among many such things; but now this royal banquet was the only one of its kind, unique, unparalleled. To gather in poor men off the streets, laboring men and idle men, bad men and good men, to the Wedding of the Crown Prince – this was a new thing under the sun, Everybody talked of it. There were songs made about it, and these were sung in the kings honor where none honored kings before…. Dear friends, when the Lord saved some of us by his grace, it was no common event. When he brought us great sinners to his feet, and washed us, and clothed us, and fed us, and made us his own, it was a wonder to be talked of for ever and ever. We will never leave off praising his name throughout eternity. That which looked as though it would defame the King turned out to his honor, and “the wedding was furnished with guests.”1
Ultimately, nothing will ever dishonor God. Nor will his work of salvation, upon which his glory chiefly rests, be seen to be imperfect.
1 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Wedding Was Furnished with Guests,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vols. 28-37 (London: Banner of Truth, 1970) 34, pp. 261-263.