Monday, February 19, 2007



After Jesus urged His Pharisee host to invite people to his table who cannot repay him, one of the guests replied to Jesus: When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, "Blessed are those who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God."

Jesus answers this statement by sharing another parable. Jesus replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.'
"But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, 'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.' "Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.' "Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.'

NOTE that many were invited to the banquet. This is not to be a small group experience. Of those who were invited to the great banquet Jesus notes 3 excuses. The first one was in the real estate business. The second was in the cattle business. And the third was recently married. He lists only 3 of the excuses, but apparently there were many who rejected the invitation. It says, “But they all alike began to make excuses.”

"The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'

Not to come to a banquet where one had previously indicated acceptance was a serious breach of social etiquette. It was an insult to the host. To make an excuse after having initially accepted was an insult. The story Jesus tells seems to indicate that several made excuses for not coming. Some believe that in this situation there was a major conspiracy to shame the host. As “they all began to make excuses” it seems to be a unanimous rejection.

Each of the excuse makers offered lame excuses. The man who was in real estate bought land without even seeing it. The cattle rancher bought oxen without ever testing them out. And, the third was just married.

The host of the banquet was very angry about this rejection and ordered that the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame be invited to come to the banquet. NOTE that these are the same people Jesus listed in the paragraph before this. They were truly those who couldn’t repay the host.

NOTE what the servant’s response was: "'Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.' "Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'"

The original guest list was made up of the prominent people of the town. The second was to comb the entire town and pull everyone in to come to dinner. The third invitation was to invite those out in the rural areas, even the vagabonds and the strangers.

These people would have to be compelled to come, because it will push them outside their comfort levels. They were poor and they were being invited to come and join the rich man for dinner. The host did everything he could do to fill up his house for dinner.

The primary meaning and application of this parable is that the host is God the Father, inviting the people of Israel to the banquet of the kingdom of God. Those who rejected the invitation were the Pharisees and other religious leaders. Those who were ultimately invited were the “unclean” and the non-religious.

There are five observations that readily appear in this story to me:
1. God offers the great feast of the kingdom to everyone.
2. The great feast is free to all who accept the invitation.
3. When the pompous, super-religious turn Him down, the banquet dinner is not cancelled, but advanced. The host (God the Father) will do everything possible to fill up His house.
4. The only thing that prevents anyone from eating this grand feast in the kingdom of God is the excuse they make.
5. Every excuse is a shell of a truth, stuffed with a lie.

Each one was telling a truth, but each one was also a lie. The lie in this case is filled with the spirit of rejection. And this spirit of rejection was basically the act of living one’s life separated from the gracious host who was offering this grand feast.

So, what are your excuses? What is it in your lifestyle that carries a spirit of rejection of what God may want from you? What is it in your life that keeps separating you from God? Whatever He is offering, you can count on it to be free and abundant.