If many are called but only a small subset of those are chosen, is God playing a game with us, calling us back home from our playtime only to then say, 'sorry, there's no room for you at the dinner table'?
Do Jesus' words mean that it cannot be the same person doing the calling as the one doing the choosing as only a monster would trick us in this way?
If both verbs (calling and choosing) are expressed in a passive voice (ie something being done 'to us' rather than 'by us'), are these different parties operating with conflicting purposes, not with the same mind?
Do we become chosen because "we" choose to be chosen or because we will inevitably choose, meaning it is not really our choice?
If "many" are called, does this mean "many" or "all"? If not all, then does this mean that even the "many" are also chosen, to be called that is?
If your head is spinning at this point (assuming if you have reached this point), fear not, you are not alone! Often we come to verses like this with a framework of understanding already in place, then we seek to fit our interpretation into that framework. But a good place to start is the context of the quote . . .
Jesus is telling the parable of the wedding feast as an illustration of an aspect of the kingdom of heaven. Twice the king sends servants to deliver invitations to his son's wedding but those invited (a veiled reference to the Jewish nation) weren't interested, even abusing and killing some of the servants (for that read 'prophets'). The king was angry and sent an army to destroy the murderers and their city (as Rome would later destroy Jerusalem).
The king still wants people at the wedding feast so the servants are sent our everywhere (now to the Gentiles in the rest of the world) with instructions to invite as many as they could until the hall was filled (with the good and the bad!) When the king came down, he challenged a man there who was dressed inappropriately and had him thrown out into outer darkness. What are we to make of all this?
Maybe first, we should note the king's desire to bless his son. His generosity in calling to so many to such a prestigious occasion. Though just because you were invited, it doesn't mean you attend on your own terms, but rather you're there for the son, not simply your own entertainment and blessing. Coming unprepared, for your own benefit, meant though called, you're not chosen and therefore suffer the same fate as those who didn't even respond to the call.
God's elect One as prophesied by Isaiah, the servant God upholds, is the Lord Jesus himself. God's election or choice of Israel comes down to Jesus, Messiah, and those found in Him also enjoy the privilege and the blessing of his election by God. We are "chosen in Him" as Paul reminds us in Eph 1:4 and just as Israel the nation are the elect, so in Christ Jesus as new nation becomes the recipient of the kingdom of God, a nation that bears the fruit (see Matt 22:43)
To be chosen is to be found in Christ Jesus, bearing fruit through obedience to his teaching and faithfulness to his mission, dressed appropriately in his righteousness through faith. Let us not take this call lightly, being preoccupied with our own priorities and preferences (cf. Matt 22:5). Rather let us seek, in this year of 'EXPANSION', to be those out in the highways, compelling many to come in that by God's grace, some would be chosen.
Grace, Mercy & Peace,
PS Please consider joining with me for 3 Mondays in February (4pm-5pm), by registering for the Zoom conference on missional story-telling from the book of Acts (see below).