Many of Jesus' parables must have been told again and again in different situations, and often to make a different point. Luke puts this parable at the end of a section about being invited, and inviting others, to a dinner (Luke 14:7-24).
There the parable is about inviting all and sundry to eat in the kingdom of heaven. Here the setting is the rejection of the invitation to the Messianic wedding by the Jerusalem religious establishment.
As in the previous chapter, the result is the inevitable destruction of the city (compare 22:7 with 21:41), and the inclusion of people of all nations (compare 22:8-10 with 21:43).
22:1-2 The parable is again about the kingdom of heaven (as in 13:18, 24, 31, 33; 18:1, 23), but the focus is now on the Messianic marriage between God and his people (Isaiah 62:4-6 spoke of a marriage with Jerusalem).
22:3-6 Nobody would dare refuse an invitation to a royal wedding. But in this case, the expected guests refuse to attend and even mistreat and kill the servants who are sent to invite them (as in 21:34-38).
22:7 The end of the Jewish religious establishment is therefore inevitable (as in 21:41; 23:33-36; 24:21, 51; but see Romans 11:11-24).
22:8-10 To take the place of the Jewish people who refused the Messianic kingdom, people of all nations are now to be invited in (21:43; 24:14, 31; 28:18-20; Romans 11:11). As opposed to the idea that God loves good people, and has no time for the bad, all people whether good or bad are welcome to the Messianic banquet.
22:11 The guests, who came in rags and their shabby clothes, are given a special wedding garment. This gives them all equal status in the Messianic kingdom.
22:12 The picture is of someone being tied up, thrown over the east wall of Jerusalem by night, and landing on the Gehenna garbage dump (see comments on 5:22, 29-30, 18:9, 23:22). We should not assume this is eternal damnation, but rather terrible consequences (wrath) in this life.
As Paul points out, the door is always open for Jews who have rejected the Messiah to change their mind (Romans 11:23-24). Nobody is thrown out into eternal damnation, but there is an awful possibility of deliberately choosing the eternal darkness (as in John 3:19-20).
22:14 On its own this text sounds confusing, but in the context of the parable the meaning seems clear. All are invited to the Messianic banquet (11:28-30), but many for a variety of reasons make light of the invitation or trust in their own good works to get them there (see comment on 22:11).
First the Pharisee theologians, then the Sadducees, and again the Pharisees, try every which way to prove to the crowd in the temple courts that Jesus cannot be the Messiah.
22:15-16 The Pharisee trap is carefully laid with the help of their Herodian enemies. The Herodians, who were mostly Sadducees, wanted to cooperate at any price with Herod who was the puppet ruler under the Roman emperor. Before springing the trap both religious parties in the religious establishment testify that he was sincere and so not a hypocrite, and taught God's way correctly, and treated all people impartially. This may have been false praise, but it is an important witness to their evaluation of his life and teaching.
22:17 If Jesus said taxes should not be paid to Rome, the Herodians would have him convicted and crucified for treason. If Jesus supported the paying of taxes, the people would view him as a traitor. In either case the Messiah would be eliminated from the scene.
22:18-21 The emperor's head and inscription appeared on the denarius (a day's wage as in 20:2). Jesus' answer was simple. You pay taxes to the government (as in Romans 13:6), and that does not interfere with your life in the Messianic kingdom. In Caesar's world we need to earn money, pay taxes, mortgage, insurance, and grocery bills. Jesus' teaching about our relationship to God in the Sermon on the Mount and throughout the Gospel does not prevent us being good citizens.
There could be a clash between the two kingdoms if government tries to make us disobey the moral law of the ten commandments (see 19:16-19). For example many Christians were martyred for refusing to burn incense to the statue of the emperor, which would have meant breaking the first and second of the moral laws.
22:22 The divine wisdom of this answer astonished the religious leaders. Earlier Jesus had told his disciples to look to the Holy Spirit for wisdom in such situations (10:19-20).
22:23 The Sadducees tried to order their life in this world without faith in the resurrection or the Holy Spirit. They could argue that the resurrection was not taught in the five books of Moses. What they missed was the Messianic texts in the Psalms of David (Psalm 16:10-11; 49:15; see Job 19:26-27).
22:24-28 Their question was based on a Jewish law that required the brother of a man who died without heirs to act in place of the dead person (Deuteronomy 25:5-6). The Sadducees tried to make the idea of resurrection (22:28) ridiculous by imagining an extreme case where a widow was taken by seven brothers in sequence, and still remained childless. Evidently the law of Moses had been fulfilled exactly, but if there was such a thing as a resurrection whose wife could she be in a life after death?
22:29-30 The Sadducee argument was based on the false idea that our resurrection life is the same as this one. Our resurrection bodies, like that of angels, would not be limited to the circumstances of this life. And angels are certainly mentioned in the life of Abraham (Genesis 16:7-11; 19:1; 21:17; 22:11; 24:7).
In this world rules are needed to protect life, property, and marriage. In heaven there will be no need of the laws against murder, stealing or adultery, or the moral laws for a day of rest or honoring parents. All will love and enjoy each other without interfering with the freedom of any.
22:31-32 The title deeds of the land and nation (which the Sadducees were so concerned about) depended on the promise made to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) and repeated to Isaac (Genesis 26:24). Jesus points out that they were again given to Jacob and introduced by the words "I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac" (Genesis 28:13-15). This implies the resurrection because God did not cease being the friend of Abraham when he died.
22:33 Whatever the Sadducees thought about this three-point answer, the crowd in the temple courts was certainly impressed.
22:34-36 Having heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees now bring forth a leading theologian with the question every rabbi had to answer. What is the greatest commandment among all the commands of the Torah?
22:37-38 Jesus quoted the Torah to sum up the first five of the ten commandments as the love of God (Deuteronomy 6:4). We might define this love for God as seeking love (7:7), childlike love (7:9), and enjoying love (7:11; see 1 Timothy 6:17).
22:39 The second group of commandments is summed up as the love of one's neighbor (based on Leviticus 19:18; which included not taking vengeance or bearing a grudge).
Similarly the laws of health can be stated as negatives: "You must not have pain, fever, swelling, coughing, weakness, lack of appetite, etc." But they can also be summed positively: "You should feel fit and energetic."
22:40 Two simple prescriptions therefore sum up all the Old Testament commandments.. As opposed to a legalism of obeying various rules, the Messiah is the physician (9:12) who prescribes the Holy Spirit to change us from the heart (see 12:33-35). Luke adds the words of Jesus that the gift of the Spirit is free to any who ask (Luke 11:13).
22:41-45 Jesus now counter attacks with a question to the Pharisees. They have no doubt the Messiah must belong to the genealogy of David. How then can David in one of the great Messianic Psalms call the Messiah "his Lord" (Psalm 110:1)?
22:46 Evidently the Jerusalem experts in the Old Testament had never considered that question, and they never dared ask him any more questions. Matthew has already given the correct answer to this question. Jesus had the legal right to the throne of David (see comment on 1:1, 16, 20; 21:14). But the Messiah was conceived in Mary's womb by the Holy Spirit (2:18, 20) and declared to be the Son of God at his baptism (3:17) and at the transfiguration (17:5).