In Matthew 22:14 Jesus tells us that “many are called, but few are chosen.”
What does this mean? What is the difference between being called and chosen? How can we make sure that we are one of the chosen?
The parable of the wedding feast
Well, Jesus actually starts off with a parable. He tells the story of a king whose son was getting married. He sends out many wedding invitations, but on the big day, not a single guest showed up. When the king sent out his servants to find out what was going on with the invited guests, it turned out they were just not willing to go. They were more concerned with doing their own thing, and even treated the invitation with outright contempt. The king was furious when he heard the report from his servants. He sent them out again, this time telling them to invite anyone they saw on the streets to the wedding. Then the wedding was full of guests. And when one man showed up at the wedding without proper wedding clothes on, he was cast out. This was a day of especially significant celebration, and it was only fitting to be dressed appropriately. (Matthew 22:1-14)
Then, at the end of the story, Jesus says: “for many are called, but few are chosen.”
What does it mean to be called?
The word “calling” is used several times throughout the Bible, in different contexts. In this instance Jesus is using the word “called” as an invitation. This parable is an analogy of what we have been invited to. An invitation to something more than a life lived serving only ourselves. An invitation to live a life together with Christ, serving God and experiencing the fulfillment that brings to life. An invitation to be Jesus’ disciples, to follow in His footsteps. And ultimately, an invitation to spend eternity with Him!
This is a calling that God puts in the heart, and there are many different ways people sense this. Anyone who gets the chance to hear the gospel and make a decision about whether or not to become ais considered to be among the many who are called. Many people receive this invitation. Jesus gave the disciples the job of going out and making disciples of all the nations. (Matthew 28:19) But who among those many become the few chosen?
What does it mean to be chosen?
To be chosen is to accept the invitation and to do what is necessary to accept the invitation: to give up everything in this world. (Luke 9:23-24; Luke 14:26) That is, to say “Yes!” to the calling and then to follow it up with a faithful disciple life. God calls us, but those who are chosen are those who wholeheartedly accept the invitation and its conditions.
Read more here: Did Jesus really say that we should hate our parents?
Why are there so few who are chosen?
Because not many want to pay the price! Jesus says in another place that the gate is narrow, and the way is hard that leads to life, therefore few choose this way. (Matthew 7:13-14) The reason it is hard is that we have to give up everything in this world. Our egotism, our own ideas, opinions, thoughts and feelings, our own will, our own desires. We do this in order to be completely obedient to the leading of the Master.
In order to be chosen, you have to show that you really want this life with all of your heart. You can’t hold a little back for the world, for relationships, for your self-seeking, etc. It’s 100% obedience to Jesus; 100% faithfulness.
Read more here: Jesus is the way – the narrow way
Making sure you are chosen
Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:10: “Therefore,, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure …” How do we do that? By doing the things that he writes just previous to that in verses 5-8: “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Only those who really want to follow Jesus, walking in His footsteps as He instructs them, get grace to do as it’s written above. They bear fruit, which are the virtues. These virtues are the proper wedding garments that we make for ourselves so that we can accept the invitation and be clothed appropriately, so that we are not cast out like the man in the parable.
No qualifications are necessary
In the story the king sent out his servants to all types of people. It’s the same with our invitation. It doesn’t matter what our starting point is, who we are by nature, what our background is, what talents we do or do not have, what knowledge we have, what our circumstances are. The thing that determines whether or not we are chosen is how we respond to the calling when we sense God’s invitation in our heart, and what fruit we bear as a result.
And the end of our faith is that we’ll be Jesus brothers and sisters, co-heirs with Him of all things. Not just eternal life, but we’ll be kings and priests together with Him for eternity.
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” Romans 8:16-17.
“And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:10.
Interested in reading more about what it takes to be a disciple? Check out our topic page on disciple life, or click on the following articles:
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.