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The WORST EXCUSES to pass up the
BEST INVITATION

Luke 14:16–24 (CSB)

16 Then he told him, “A man was giving a large banquet and invited many. 17 At the time of the banquet, he sent his servant to tell those who were invited, ‘Come, because everything is now ready.’
18 “But without exception they all began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. I ask you to excuse me.’
19 “Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m going to try them out. I ask you to excuse me.’
20 “And another said, ‘I just got married, and therefore I’m unable to come.’
21 “So the servant came back and reported these things to his master. Then in anger, the master of the house told his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in here the poor, maimed, blind, and lame.’
22 “ ‘Master,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, and there’s still room.’
23 “Then the master told the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges and make them come in, so that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, not one of those people who were invited will enjoy my banquet.’ ”

Dear fellow redeemed:  Through Luke and the gospel he wrote, the Holy Spirit speaks often of a rescue.  God has invaded this world so that His kingdom now includes us.  In His kingdom the sick are healed, the dead are raised, and above all sinners are made righteous.  This is an invasion that begins among the Jews, but then encompasses the whole world.

This theme of rescue, and of God’s grace and mercy, and the value He places upon every human being, body and soul, is expressed over and over again, and so beautifully in the next chapter in the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost rebellious son.

But another theme centers on the great grief God expresses about those who will not be rescued because they are indifferent to the Lord’s goodness and mercy. I don’t know how it could be any more pointed than it is in this parable of the Rich Man’s Banquet and

THE WORST EXCUSES TO PASS UP THE BEST INVITATION

  1. The Banquet
  2. The Invitation
  3. The Excuses
  4. God’s Grace
  1. The Banquet

The setup for the parable includes a “great banquet.”  Lots of people had already been invited to it and all the preparations had been made.  This banquet is eternal life and salvation.  We could say that it is heaven, but it is more than heaven.  The kingdom of God has invaded all time and all history, so that even now we partake of this feast.  God Himself serves us in His word with the sweet comfort of forgiveness and wisdom, guidance, and correction.  He serves us with the cleansing bath of Holy Baptism, refreshing our souls and washing away the dirt and grime of our sins.  He sets out the feast of salvation in the Holy Supper of Christ, where He Himself is both the host and the feast itself.

How this foretaste of heaven will be fulfilled in eternity is an exercise in our imagination, for it is written in Romans “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18, CSB)

What’s more, Paul quotes Isaiah, 1 Corinthians 2:9 “But as it is written, What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived— God has prepared these things for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9, CSB)

What we can be sure of is that in that great love that God has lavished upon us, redeeming us from our sins and making us His children, God has everlasting joy and happiness in store for those who heed the banquet invitation, that is, those who repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

2. The Invitation

This is an interesting invitation.  Note that at first, all of the people in the parable already had already received an invitation.  16 Then he told him, “A man was giving a large banquet and invited many. But now the feast was ready.  This is like the Jews who had already known about the salvation that had been promised.  But now it was ready.  17 At the time of the banquet, he sent his servant to tell those who were invited, ‘Come, because everything is now ready.’

But the Jews, even though they knew the invitation, would not heed it as it was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  They had excuses. It is like people in our day who have heard all their lives about heaven and about Christianity.

But there comes a time when the invitation goes beyond a “save the date” and it is time to come.  Jesus had been proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is here.”  Paul and all true preachers of the gospel have continued, “…We also appeal to you, “Don’t receive the grace of God in vain.” For he says: At an acceptable time I listened to you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. See, now is the acceptable time; now is the day of salvation! (2 Corinthians 6:1–2, CSB)

People in our day, too, have heard of the invitation but when it comes right down to NOW, they have excuses.

3. The Excuses & Consequences of Refusal

, ‘Come, because everything is now ready.’
18 “But without exception they all began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. I ask you to excuse me.’
19 “Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m going to try them out. I ask you to excuse me.’
20 “And another said, ‘I just got married, and therefore I’m unable to come.’

All of these excuses are “instead of.”  It isn’t that they are wrong in themselves, but they take the place of the banquet.  So it is that the reasons for those who are invited to “repent and believe the gospel” ignore the gospel invitation.

And we need what this invitation gives: Forgiveness, life, and salvation! In the parable, Jesus doesn’t dwell on our great need for salvation, but outside this banquet, outside His kingdom of faith, there is death.

Indifference is deadly. But even though the banquet has started, so many cannot be bothered.  24 For I tell you, not one of those people who were invited will enjoy my banquet.’ 

What about those who don’t care about the gifts and the heaven God has prepared for those who love Him?

21 “So the servant came back and reported these things to his master. Then in anger, the master of the house told his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in here the poor, maimed, blind, and lame.’

Now why am I preaching this to you if you are here receiving His gifts?  First as a warning, I suppose, lest you grow indifferent..  Second, it underscores the need to continually witness to others that sinners like you and me have been redeemed by Christ and reconciled to God by Him.

4. God’s Grace

But you must realize that here is also the message of God’s grace.

21 “So the servant came back and reported these things to his master. Then in anger, the master of the house told his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in here the poor, maimed, blind, and lame.’
22 “ ‘Master,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, and there’s still room.’
23 “Then the master told the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges and make them come in, so that my house may be filled.

You and I, after all, are among those who lived in the streets and alleys.  You and I are among the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.  We are from the country lanes, far away from Judea.  But as far as we are away, so far has he sought us out to win us for Himself.

It is the love of God that did this.  For nobody deserved this banquet.  Nobody deserves heaven.  If God had never sent His son, but had let every last one of us be damned, it would be just.  We would get what we deserve, even the “best” of us.

Thanks be to God that his servants came so far as to find us.  God grant that we may go so far as to find others, so that we may all together proclaim the mercies of our Savior at the eternal banquet.

AMEN.