The Gospel Story by J. R. Cox
St. Matthew 22: 1 — 14
That our Lord could speak three parables and hold the crowd spellbound, while his adversaries shifted uneasily from one foot to another, is proof enough of his personality, and the absorbing interest in every word he spoke. He must have had a strong voice to speak at such length, and be heard above the noises of people coming and going about the temple courts. He was speaking probably in the southern part of the temple, the Royal Porch, where he could point out the great corner stone on the southeast wall, the pinnacle of the temple.
In the parable of the vine-dressers. Jesus singled out the leaders; but even there he warned the nation that it would share their fate unless it accepted him. In this parable he develops the national theme in traditional imagery of Messianic times, a banquet (for an almost identical parable, read the parable of the great supper). The parable of the vine-dressers was adapted to the present situation; this parable visualises the future, when the universal church will replace the Jewish nation. For all practical purposes 70 A.D. was the date in history when the fate of Israel was definitely settled. In that year Jerusalem, with its temple, was burned to the ground (‘burn their city’). In point of fact many Gentiles had entered before (St. Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, died three years before the fall of Jerusalem); but our Lord here dramatically pictures their entry only after Israel has ceased to exist.
The final sentence is a proverbial saying, summing up the two false Jewish ideas of the kingdom, against which the parable is directed. ‘Many’ — not all the saved will be Jews; there will be Gentiles too. ‘Few’ — not all the Jews will be saved; there are other requirements besides race; the wedding-garment of sanctifying grace is essential for salvation. It is probably to warn Judas that our Lord pictures only one man without a wedding garment: Jesus also addresses Judas as ‘my friend’ in the garden.