The kingdom of heaven has been compared to many precious things and also a king’s banquet where the invited guests refused to come and finally common people from the highways were called in. But the king found one man without proper dress, which probably was made available by the king’s servants and had him bound and cast into outer darkness for showing disrespect to the king. Our Lord came for all of humanity and the call goes out to all to join Him on His table of mercy and grace but still there are many who not only resent Him but hurt and kill His messengers. There are others who come but tend to disrespect the favor and the King of Kings through their actions and deserve to be thrown into eternal damnation for though He has called everyone but only a few will get chosen (Matthew 22:2-14). Though we are all uninvited guests to the party but the command is to bring in as many as we can.
Should the Word of God be shared with all? – Lord Jesus mentioned the act of salvation to two women in totally different circumstances and cultures. One is the Canaanite woman who comes to Him while He had retreated to Sidon and Tyre with His disciples to seek healing for her demon possessed daughter. The dialogue is revealing in many aspects- firstly, the words used by her to address Him “O Lord, Son of David”, thus implying her knowledge about the Messiah, who was to be from the line of David. Secondly, despite being a Canaanite and living in Sidon area, she was aware of the miraculous deeds of the Lord Jesus in healing the suffering. Thirdly, she managed to reach Him in spite of resistance from the disciples who insisted on the Lord to “send her away”. Fourthly, she understood the merciful nature of the Lord in not saying anything to her in reply to the disciples urging. Fifthly, she could discern the hidden meanings in the words of the Lord and persisted in her efforts to receive His blessings. And lastly, she remained steadfast in her faith that Lord Jesus is able and willing to bless each and everyone who comes to Him.
The word used by the Lord for dog while talking to this woman is ‘kynariois or kynarion’ which means a little or worthless pet dog; she understood the underlying message of being a part of the family but one who is least esteemed and undeserving. Lord Jesus had similarly told the Samaritan woman on the well that “salvation is of the Jews” and her persistence paid off (John 4:22). It is the attitude of the one who is asking that gets the answer and nothing else.
Though the King of Kings has opened the doors of His house for everyone, it does not mean that disrespect will be accepted or tolerated by Him. Lord Jesus compares the Kingdom of Heaven to the marriage feast for the king’s son and those invited were unwilling to come for unspecified reasons. Eventually to fill the marriage arena, servants were sent by the king to the highways ‘to invite as many as you find’. But when the king paid a visit to all these guests enjoying the feast, he found without a proper wedding garment- while these garments were probably provided to the guests in need. This man was then ordered to be “bound hand and foot, taken away and cast into outer darkness; where will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. This ‘outer darkness’ is hell where there will be eternal damnation only and the Lord then emphasizes that “Many are called but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:2-14). It is apparent, therefore, that there will be undeserving people in the crowd who do not deserve the blessings and must be left out.
What should we be careful about while sharing the Word of God? – Our Lord warned the disciples before sending them “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men…” (Matthew 10:16). Taking the message of the Gospel is like going among the wolves who are ready to pounce on us and harm us and we have to be wise as serpents but harmless and full of blessings like the Holy Spirit represented by the dove. The wolves will question our faith and belief, sacrifice and resurrection of the Lord Jesus or redemption of mankind through forgiveness of sins available to all believers. The requirement is to be well prepared to answer their questions with Scripture, both from the Holy Bible as well as from their own respective faiths, for the coming of the Savior has been revealed to the wise men and women of different faiths from time to time and recorded by them. But King Solomon also warns that “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words” (Proverbs 23:9). We have to be discerning of the intent of the listener and safeguard against their probable reactions.
The longest sermon recorded in the Bible is the Sermon on the Mount and Matthew has recorded in chapters 5 and 6 our Lord listing out the essentials for righteousness to be different from others of the world while chapter 7 mentions about the results of this righteousness of believers. In chapter 7 also the first five verses contain directions on not to judge or condemn others but to uplift them through love and compassion while the verses 7-12 contain the promise of answered prayers. Verse 6 in between is a difficult to understand verse for the Lord’s command “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Matthew 7:6), is to judge and then decide who deserves to partake of the holy things or your pearls. Thus the decision making requires not only judgement but also condemnation for anyone who does not receive the holy things- the Gospel and the message of redemption is destined to eternal separation from God and death. But this command also precedes the verse assuring God’s blessings to those who ask, seek or knock to gain entry into His Kingdom and has a bearing on what follows. Thus if our attitude is of a swine or a dog who does not respect the holy things of the Scripture or gifts of the Lord through His Holy Spirit, then the Lord will deny these to such a person. Our Lord is full of love for His entire creation, yet He cursed the fig tree for not bearing fruit and caused it to dry up and die immediately (Mark 11:12-25).
What is the precious pearl? – Value of a thing is in the eye of the beholder and it varies from one to the other. The legend has it about a saint who trying to illustrate the value of this life to someone gave him a diamond of great value asking him to all types of shops to check what was offered for it without selling it. The vegetable seller offered a dozen oranges, the grocery store agreed to give 5 kilos of sugar in lieu, a goldsmith offered 2, 00,000 cash but a diamond merchant on seeing the diamond spread a clean cloth to place it and after reverently seeing it returned the same with a token amount of a few hundred rupees as fees for getting a chance to see it. The saint explained the value of life to the man thus that the wise know and use it for good for others and God’s glory.
Kingdom of heaven is equated to a precious pearl and on seeing it one went and sold all to obtain it. What is this Kingdom? Man was created and placed in the Garden of Eden with all best facilities and all animals under his command but sin forced God to expel us from there. Kingdom of God or Kingdom of heaven is eternal living in the presence of God and this is only possible by His grace and mercy and not by our works. Lord Jesus came offering this grace to mankind and became the only true door providing assured entry into His kingdom. Those who understand the value surrender to His Divine authority and gain entry while others remain outside.
King Solomon described wisdom as the most precious thing and he sought this from God as an answer to his prayers, to be able to properly govern the chosen people of God. Solomon terms wisdom proceeds as “better than the profits of silver and her gain than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all things you desire cannot compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honor” (Proverbs 3:13-16). Wisdom and knowledge are gifts from the Holy Spirit and these gifts pertain to spiritual as well as worldly knowledge. Thus it is important to guard this from undeserving people.
What are ‘holy things’? – The word used for holy is hagios which is translated as holy. Its core meaning is “different” and a temple was hagios for being different from other buildings and in the New Testament its technical meaning is taken “being different from the world”. Thus anything that is in “likeness of nature with the Lord”; is distinct/different from other things because of being special to the Lord and set apart for Him is ‘hagios’ or holy. Because of this meaning different things are considered as holy and not to be shared with non-believers or undeserving people.
Firstly, the Holy Communion is considered holy and the bread and wine used for this service are exclusively meant for the believers only as representing the body and blood of Lord Jesus as per the procedure set by the Lord Himself. Secondly, the show-bread offered in the Temple in the Old Testament is considered holy and not to be shared with others in terms of instructions contained in Leviticus 24:5-9. Both of these cannot be the holy things referred to in Matthew 7:6 since the first was started in the last week of our Lord’s ministry while the first would lose relevance in light of His teaching to the Samaritan woman on the well. Worship of God was to change from place specific to a spiritual communication that is possible at any place and time. The third part is mysteries of the Word of God revealed to the chosen ones of God through their painstaking labor of love and devotion to the Lord. Apostle Paul reveals about his being lifted up to heaven and hearing inexpressible words (2 Corinthians 12:2-4) and likewise Apostle John is commanded “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them” (Revelation 10:4). It is these mysteries that are holy to God and should not be revealed to people unworthy to profit from that. The implication is that we are taking a person to a feast of the precious delicacies of our Father’s house, should we take anyone undeserving to be there to partake of this grand banquet?
Guarding the holy things and pearls – We must understand the exact motive of the Lord as contained in His command. The Greek word ‘didomi’ is translated as ‘do not give’. However, the word is used with a negative meaning thus having a double negative which means ‘never give’, thus placing a permanent injunction on this aspect of giving or sharing. The holy things are referred to as ‘hagios’ as already mentioned above. The third part is the dogs and the Greek sword used is not what was used for the Canaanite woman but ‘kunun’ which means dogs that are ‘out of control, wild, dangerous and diseased’ that fed on the garbage and corpses of animals and criminals executed outside the city. Walls were erected around the city to deny entry to these wild dogs to save the inhabitants. People with a similar nature are visible in our communities for their evil, vengeful and destructive behavior towards others and they despise all forms of authority, wanderers from one church to the other and are demonic by nature but not definitely demon possessed. Thus the exact command from the Lord is “Never give that which is holy to wild, dangerous, out of control, wicked, wandering and diseased dogs”.
Lord Jesus issued operating instructions to the twelve disciples before sending them out to take the message in His authority and one of the commands in verse 14 is “Whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house, shake off the dust from your feet” (Matthew 10:5-42). Such people are considered worse than the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah, the twin cities destroyed by the Lord for their sins (Genesis 19). These are the ‘dogs and swine’ who ruthlessly oppose the Gospel and the Lord. While it is wrong to force the message on someone, for the Lord Himself did not do so, it is also wrong not to take the message to others out of fear of the wild dogs and swine. Lord Jesus preached His message to all in the villages and towns but refused to speak to Herod despite the fact that “when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him” (Luke 23:8-9). The Lord Jesus blessed all and healed all who came to Him through various miracles but refused to be a ‘magician/miracle worker’ before a “dog” unable to understand the heavenly things.
Learning to discern – We often hear about and meet people who are very strongly opposed to each and every argument and fact that is put before them and oppose the Word for opposition sake only. Many not only oppose but also feel offended every time the subject of salvation is probably brought up before them or in their hearing. In today’s world, these are the Pharisees, Sadducees and the Jewish elders of Lord Jesus’ time who eventually came to the cross to declare “He saved others, Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him” (Matthew 27:42). They want to lay down conditions for believing in an attempt to test and judge God to see if He is worth believing in.
Lord Jesus wants even these to be saved and we can love them, pray for them and believe that God would send someone better equipped to tame these wild ones also. But may be that I am not the person suited for them and this power to discern can only come from the Lord God through the Holy Spirit for it is He alone who dispenses these gifts to the believers (1 Corinthians 12:10). Apostle Paul and Barnabas turned from the Jews towards the Gentiles (Acts 13:46) and Paul was guided away from Asia, his planned destination to Mycedonia, where Lydia and her family joined and later became pillars of the church in Philippi (Acts 16:6-9). Joshua surrendered to the “Commander of the heavenly host” and emerged victorious and we also have to surrender to the same, our Lord Jesus, who will through the Holy Spirit lead and guide us to make correct assessment and bear much fruit.
We have entered the Holiest presence of the Father through the Lord Jesus and we cannot assume the role of gate keepers to keep out those who are considered unworthy as per our assessment. For we were as unworthy as anyone else is and His grace is for everyone howsoever undeserving he may be. We must surrender to guidance and leading hy the Holy Spirit to discern the way for us and leave that for which we are not led. In the meanwhile be cautious in our dealings with every one while taking the message of salvation to the unreached.