Understanding the context of Matt. 22:14 is crucial to a proper explanation of this verse.
In Matt. 22:1-14 Jesus gives a parable of the kingdom of heaven, in which he weaves the concept of a “call” and selection of a spiritual family who will live and reign with him as his bride. Together they will restore and bless the remainder of mankind in his coming kingdom. (Rev. 22:17)
The first invitation, or call, to become the bride of Christ was extended to the Jewish nation during the three and a half years of Jesus’ earthly ministry. God’s promises, providences, and the Law Covenant were all intended to fit and prepare the Israelites to be God’s holy nation, and eventually become the elect church, Messiah’s joint heirs – his bride. Only a small number of the nation of Israel accepted the invitation (Rom. 9:27), and for the rest, their “house” was left desolate (Matt. 23:38). Because God had a predetermined number in mind, more would be needed to fill this holy position.
In vs 9-11 of this parable, the servants were instructed to go out into the “highways” with the invitation to the wedding banquet. What a wonderful picture of how God turned his attention to the Gentile nations, extending to them the same call, or privilege, to become his heavenly family. 2 Tim. 1:9 tells us that God has “called us with a holy calling…according to His own purpose.” In Phil. 3:14 the apostle Paul states that he “pressed on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” He also tells us in Rom. 8:28-30 that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom he foreknew, He also planned to become conformed to the image of His Son.” It is a call to become like Jesus, and it is a call that comes from God. “No one can come to me, unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6:44) It is a call to deny self, take up our cross, and follow the Master. (Matt. 16:24) It is a call to sacrifice and service. (Rom. 12:1, 2) It is a call to suffer with Him in the hopes of reigning with Him. (Rom. 8:17) It is a call to “glory, honor, and immortality” if proven faithful. (Rom. 2:7)
Yet, while it is true that many are called, few are chosen. Relatively few respond with a hearts’ desire to leave all and follow the Master, and will therefore not be counted worthy to have a share in this heavenly reward. Few, in comparison to the millions of those professing to be Christians, are chosen to “run for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14) It is God who does the choosing of those who would be the prospective bride of Christ. I Cor. 1:26-29 tells us to consider our calling, “that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble: but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.” “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” I Pet. 2:9
In the parable, Jesus speaks of a wedding garment that was provided by the host for each guest upon their arrival at the wedding feast. How well this depicts the robe of Christ’s righteousness that a truly dedicated Christian receives. It’s a symbol of their justification by the blood of Jesus. (Rom. 5:1, 9) “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.” Isa. 61:10
But in the parable there are those who do not have on a wedding garment when the king comes to inspect the guests. We are told that they are ‘bound hand and foot and cast into outer darkness.” The lesson here is that the only way to be part of the divine family is through the merit of Christ, pictured by the wedding garment. The privilege of walking in the light of the Gospel is removed from them and they find themselves back in the darkness of the world where there is sorrow and bitter regrets.
Being called by God is a blessing, being chosen to strive for the highest of all honors is a privilege beyond compare, and being found faithful to that end is the ultimate goal for those who will become part of the bride of Christ. “He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called, chosen and faithful.” Rev. 17:14