Please read Luke 14:15-24 in your Bible.
This is yet another example of truth being stranger than fiction: there is a thing on the internet called a “random excuse generator.” There are several of them, actually. A Random Excuse Generator is something to use when you want to get out of a social event but you don’t really have a good reason. Your brain freezes every once in a while and you get stuck. No fear, just tap the button on the website and a random excuse will be generated in seconds!
Naturally, not all excuses are created equal, so you might want to read it first before saying it out loud. Here are some obviously lousy excuses for backing out of a commitment:
· I’m attending the opening of my garage door.
· My uncle escaped again.
· I’ve been scheduled for a karma transplant.
· I won’t find a parking space.
· I’m taking nuisance classes.
· I left my body in my other clothes.
· I’m going to the Missing Persons Bureau to see if anyone is looking for me.
· My pet rock died.
· The man on television told me to say tuned.
· I have to floss my cat.
· I changed the lock on my door and now I can’t get out.
I have a friend who defines an excuse as “the skin of a truth stuffed with a lie.” That is an apt description of how we deliberately mislead others, attempting to cover up rude behavior. Today’s Scripture centers on some folks who were making excuses. Jesus told this parable to illustrate this point:
Eternal life is found in faith, not excuses.
1. The point of the parable: only the faithful have a place at the feast.
While seated at an actual banquet table, Jesus affirmed the necessity of true faith by telling a story of a greater banquet. At that time, the Jews ate only two meals a day: one at 10 am and the other at sundown. The setting for this meal was presumably sundown Friday night. (Ancient Greeks ate 3 meals a day, Romans 4!) The concealed purpose of the event was to trap Jesus in a controversy about the Sabbath, so it’s safe to say there was a lot of tension in the room.
In that vein, in verse fifteen someone made a statement to attempt to relieve the tension created in verses 1-14. Darrell L. Bock paraphrased it; “Despite our differences, won’t it be nice for all of us to experience the blessing of sitting in fellowship with God when he reasserts his rule fully?” A “let’s get along” remark. He was expressing a commonly held hope among the Jews that the age of the Messiah would begin with a fantastic banquet. Among other things, roast sea monster would be on the menu and that was a sign that there was no longer anything to fear.
Jesus was having none of it. His parable was a warning that not everyone at that table would be seated at the heavenly feast. His parable is a rebuttal of the gross assumption made in the statement and elaborates on His teaching in verses twelve through fourteen.
2. The parts of the parable: making excuses is not the same as having faith.
The excuses made by the invitees (the people “worthy” of an invitation) disqualified them from attending the feast. This was a GREAT BANQUET; while we’re not told the occasion, one measure of the size of the greatness of the banquet is that MANY GUESTS were INVITED. It was customary in that culture to send guests an invitation in advance and a reminder on the day of a special event. This is similar to the “Save The Date” invitations you may have received.
The persons being contacted in verse seventeen knew in advance of the date. It implies they had time to send their regrets in advance or prepare to come. The invitation did not catch them by surprise.
Failure to do either of these respectful things makes their EXCUSES more intolerable and justifies the anger of the MASTER. To simply refuse to come when called and told dinner was ready was rude, a gross breach of etiquette. Regardless of how reasonable their excuses may sound and how politely they are worded, it was too close to dinner time to make excuses.
These three excuses are only a representative sample of what appears to have been the entire guest list cancelling at the last minute: verse eighteen says THEY ALL ALIKE BEGAN TO MAKE EXCUSES. If that seems unrealistic, remember a parable is a story; it does make sense but isn’t historic and doesn’t have to be completely realistic. It just has to serve the point.
The first excuse (18) sounds similar to a condition to allow one to be excluded from a draft, according to Deuteronomy 20:5-7. The second excuse (19) indicates the man was wealthy; a YOKE OF OXEN was five animals. This was a big purchase but a petty excuse. The third excuse (20) has some legitimacy in OT Law: Deuteronomy 20:7; 24:5 did allow newlyweds to beg off some responsibilities.
The MASTER ordered that his house be filled, so a different set of invitations were made. Rather than postpone and waste all that food, the MASTER decides to go ahead with the banquet. Who is left to be invited? All the previously invited guests have taken themselves off the guest list. The kind of people who would be available at the last minute would be precisely the kind of people Jesus suggested in verse thirteen: the POOR, CRIPPLED, BLIND, and LAME. This list represents people at the bottom rung of that society’s social ladder. Their social calendar was less likely to be already filled and they were not out buying land or oxen or having lavish wedding feasts of their own.
3. Applying the parable: Invite and serve.
Our part is the same as that of the SERVANT in the parable: we are to invite many people to the feast. The master’s intent was that the banquet hall be filled. It should be our desire to have company in church and in heaven.
The fact that two separate invitations were made implies the merciful nature of God; there will be second and third chances to have faith. 2 Peter 3:9 declares that God wants all people to be saved, so He gives us many chances to repent.
We can assume a second responsibility for the SERVANT. Once the banquet hall was filled, it was his job to serve dinner to the guests. This is a picture of service to the needy. While Jesus’ main point looked to the Great Banquet, the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19), this detail is also a reminder to minister to society’s neediest members.
Eternal life is found in faith, not excuses.
The people sitting around the table that night were Jews. They were probably pious, law-abiding, respectable people. If anyone believed they had special status before God, they did.
Jesus exposed their confidence as false. Though their status as Jews did get them an invitation to the FEAST IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD, they were making excuses that would result in their being excluded from the great celebration that will occur at the end of this age.
Instead, the people they decided were outcasts, unclean, pagans - a real “basket of deplorables” - those humble folks had genuine faith. They were included in the subsequent invitations and accepted their place at that GREAT BANQUET.
The NIV Application Commentary, Luke, Darrell L. Bock.