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Some think this after-dinner remark was to prompt Jesus to talk more about the coming Kingdom. Instead of an end-times discussion, what this dinner guest gets is a parable about how God’s Kingdom is received. Jesus doesn’t disagree with the comment; He takes it seriously. It will be a blessing indeed, but He’d rather talk about the invitation, on getting into the banquet itself. Jesus describes the Kingdom banquet as a “command performance”. We’re told to attend, yet we choose whether we will or not. Not everyone responds favorably to God’s RSVP; some make light of it…but not without serious consequences.
So Jesus tells a story of a banquet that was turned down. Large dinners were important social networking events. It was an honor to be invited. Like the enthusiastic guest of verse 15, we can hardly imagine anyone refusing to attend, yet some do. The invitations go out, and the host is anticipating a positive response. Have you ever invited people to a party only to have no one show up? In the parable the host represents God and the invitation is for the glories of Heaven. It was customary in Bible times to send out two invitations: an initial request, then a final summons when everything was made ready and it was time to gather. So the guests had plenty of notice and ample time to make arrangements.
The invitees offer feeble excuses to defend their abrupt change of plans. They initially agreed and were expected to come…but now they back down. This was a serious breach of etiquette. Had they been honest, they would’ve admitted they really had no intention to come. There’s nothing wrong with fields, oxen, or getting married, but there are no grounds for missing God’s banquet. Let’s briefly take the excuses, one at a time…
-One invitee has purchased a field, which was a long and complicated process. The man would’ve had several opportunities to examine the property. No one would buy property without first carefully inspecting it. He doesn’t need to “see” it; he’s already has. His field wasn’t going anywhere, so this is a lame excuse.
-Buying livestock was far from an urgent matter; people bought animals all the time, and no one would ever purchase a team of oxen without first “testing” them carefully to be sure they pulled together.
-As for the man who was recently wed, getting married did not exempt people from social obligations. He doesn’t even ask to be excused. He rudely tells the host not to expect him. Some invitations nowadays read “regrets only.” This guy doesn’t even have the courtesy
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