A Courteous Contrararian

Predestination 6

Written By: Jon Jaroszewski - Jan• 26•15

Many are called but few are chosen  (Matthew 22:14 NASB)

You’ve probably not thought deeply about what this might mean. They are the words of Jesus, the summation of a parable.

I used to think, just in passing, that it meant God called many to the faith but few actually responded but that doesn’t make much sense theologically. In fact, it’s the opposite of predestination.

Now I think it is Jesus talking about the two groups, Paul’s “we” and “you.”  The chosen are the predestined; apostles and the like. The called are those of us who came when we heard the word of truth. We’ll spend a post or two trying to strengthen the correlation.

The immediate conclusion we can draw, if we allow that the correlation exists for a moment, is that Jesus thought there were two paths. More, that there have always been two paths.

For who would Jesus have considered to be chosen? The Jews. The Chosen people, the royal priesthood. God tells them in various places in the OT that he did not choose them because they were a large group, or strong, or worthy. He chose them because he wanted to choose them. In other places God says he chose them because of his love for their father, Abraham.

He chose them to be his people, and he would be their God, but they didn’t complete their part of the bargain very effectively. And so with this parable and its summation, Jesus announces a prophetic change in method. The Chosen people did not bring God effectively to the world and so he would choose now on a different basis.

The parable in question is the story of a king who would hold a wedding banquet. He invited the citizens in his kingdom to attend, but when the big day came, they all had excuses as to why they couldn’t make it. In every case, life got in the way. The people of the kingdom all considered life’s small milestones as too important compared to the king’s wishes. Not only didn’t they attend, they beat and killed the people doing the inviting. Shades of the fate of the prophets throughout the OT, from Abel to Zechariah.

So then the king invited a different group. In fact, he was going to invite everybody; those traveling the main roads and those on the side streets, the good and the evil. And they showed up. So the Chosen people begged out but the called came.

But now we have a puzzle. When we view the parable in light of Jesus’ conclusion, we can understand “the many” of whom he speaks. The many who were called are the from gentile nations, those not of his kingdom. But who were the chosen?

Jesus says few are chosen, but we have two large groups in the parable, the original invitees and the ones that were subsequently invited. Who were the few?

We have two possible candidates, two groups of few. There’s the man who did not honor the king by wearing appropriate clothing. (We’re taught that appropriate clothing would have been provided by the king at a royal wedding, so no one would have been shamed by being too poor.) But that man was not “few,” he was “one.” More about him and his place in the parable later.

That leaves only one group that can qualify as the few. We might miss them if we’re not careful, but they are there, and more than once: those doing the inviting. They are the chosen of whom Jesus speaks.

Yet before we can understand Jesus’ conclusion, we must look at one inconsistency in what I’ve just written. In the paragraph above I said that the Chosen few are the inviters, but earlier i mentioned that all the citizens of the kingdom, all the Jews, were God’s chosen people. Well, which is it?

The answer to the question is the reason for the parable and the point of it. Those originally chosen were set aside because they chose not to participate. The Jews listening to the parable understood this; we can tell by their immediate reaction. Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. [Mat 22:15 NASB]

More next time.

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