How would you feel if you planned a fancy dinner for a large number of your family and friends, but no one showed up? You sent out personal invitations, prepared a wonderful meal, decorated your house, and purchased gifts for each person invited. When everything was ready, you waited by the door with anticipation of greeting the people you love. Instead, you began receiving texts and calls of cancellation. They didn’t have another obligation; they were simply too busy with their own lives. Not only were they completely disinterested in coming, but they were actually angry that you asked them.
Of course, our feelings would be crushed. We would be upset, and rightfully so.
This is a modern-day interpretation of the parable Jesus told in Matthew 22, only He used the occasion of a marriage feast. The parable was directed at the unbelieving Jewish chief priests and Pharisees; they were the invited guests as God’s chosen people – Israel. By rejecting their Messiah, Jesus, they were the guilty invited guests.
In Jesus’ parable, the king who held the wedding feast for his son was enraged and sent armies to destroy those who rejected his invitation and killed the servants who delivered the invitation. He then sent out his servants to the highways, instructing them to invite everyone they found, both good and evil, to the wedding hall, to enjoy the feast. There was just one prerequisite…the guests had to be dressed in wedding clothes. When the king found one of the guests not properly dressed, he had him cast out.
Jesus completes the parable with the moral of the story: Many are called, but few are chosen.
Called is klētos and has two meanings in scripture: invited (by God in the proclamation of the Gospel) to obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom through Christ, and appointed (divinely selected) for the discharge of some office.
Chosen is eklektos; the literal meaning is “picked out, chosen” (ek, “from,” lego, “to gather, pick out”).
Scripture is clear that Christ-followers are chosen by God. The chosen are those who have responded to God’s invitation and “come to the feast” properly dressed in the righteousness of Christ. Robes of white linen represent the redeemed (Revelation 3:5, 4:4, 19:14) – a picture of the exchange of our sinful nature for the holiness and righteousness of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Isaiah 61:10 – I will rejoice greatly in the Lord, My soul will exult in my God; for He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Galatians 3:27 – For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.
Lest you get caught up on the “chosen” principle, here is how Vines’ Dictionary explains it, which I believe aligns with all of scripture.
The source of their “election” is God’s grace, not human will (Ephesians 1:4-5; Romans 9:11 & 11:15). They are given by God the Father to Christ as the fruit of His death, all being foreknown and foreseen by God (John 17:6; Romans 8:29). While Christ’s death was sufficient for all men, and is effective in the case of the “elect,” yet men are treated as responsible, being capable of the will and power to choose.
Jesus’ parable was immediately addressed to the unbelieving Jewish nation. They were invited but refused to come. This same principle is in operation today. The gospel is being proclaimed to all who will listen. Many will hear and be invited (called), but only those who respond are chosen.
How do you know if you’re chosen? The answer is, “How have you responded to God’s invitation?” Have you come to God through the righteousness of Christ? Are you wearing your wedding garments? One day, that white robe will be a literal robe as we sit around God’s table and share in the marriage supper of the Lamb, but today, the righteous robe of salvation that Jesus gives us is made visible by the Holy Spirit-empowered Christ-life as lived out here on earth – the transformation of our character (words, actions, thoughts) and the good works God prepared for us to walk in (obedience and service to God’s commands and “appointments”). See 2 Peter 1:1-11.
Revelation 19:7-9 – Let us rejoice and be glad and give glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”
The words of the invitation (your calling) are simple. God created humans for a relationship with Him, starting with Adam and Eve. They chose to disobey, and sin entered our world and brought death – immediate spiritual death as they lost fellowship and communion with God, and physical death as their bodies immediately began to decay. God always had a plan to redeem us, and for centuries He unfolded it until the day Jesus, God’s only perfect begotten Son who was God Himself, came to earth through a virgin womb. He lived a perfect life and died an innocent man to pay our sin debt (the wages of sin is death). All are invited; the invitation is still open, to receive God’s gift of grace and mercy and forgiveness by repenting of our sins and turning away from our own lives to follow Jesus. Those who respond are given eternal life and restored back to our original blueprint that began in the Garden – spiritually alive and part of God’s adopted family.
You have been called.
Are you chosen?