Summary: How often do we miss God’s blessing upon our lives because of our excuses. We excuse ourselves right out of the kingdom of God.
Iliff and Saltillo United Methodist
January 16, 2005
“Excusing Ourselves Out of the Kingdom”
INTRODUCTION: Jesus was talking with some Pharisees and one of them commented, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God,” referring to the marriage supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19:9. Jesus responded by telling the parable of the Great Banquet where many missed out on the banquet not because it was withheld from them but because they “excused themselves” right out of the kingdom of God.
From my research I found that it was customary to send two invitations to a party--the first to announce it, and the second to tell the guests that it was all ready. The guests in Jesus’ story had received the first invitation which came much earlier and apparently had accepted it. God’s first invitation to the Jewish people came through the Old Testament prophets. They accepted this and believed the prophets. In the Parable of the Banquet, they insulted the host by making excuses at the last minute. Jesus was saying that they also insulted God by refusing to believe His Son Jesus. When the invited people--the Jews--refused, the servant was sent into the streets to invite the needy to the banquet. God sent His son to the whole world to tell them that the Kingdom had arrived--the banquet now was ready for them.
In this scripture there are many significant things that we can apply to our lives today.
1. They Didn’t Value the Banquet or the Person Giving it: The invited guests didn’t consider the banquet or the host very important. Although they had plenty of time to arrange their schedules if they had REALLY WANTED to go. Matthew Henry says, “they couldn’t be civil to their friends or kind to themselves.” They were saying to the host, “we really don’t care that you went to all the time and expense to prepare the banquet for us or that the food is getting cold. We have other things to attend to--more pressing things right now.”
How must the host have felt? Probably disappointed that they wouldn’t take the time to come and eat the meal. Verse 21 says the host became ANGRY. You can’t blame him.
You can probably think of a time when you went shopping for a lot of extra food, worked hard to get ready for an event and few people showed up. You probably felt a variety of emotions--let down and disappointment because people seemed to care less about coming even though they had originally accepted. They had a “ho hum attitude.” It wasn’t important to them. No big deal.
The same is true today of the cold response that the gospel message meets with. There is not much importance placed on the church today or the good news of the gospel to many people. Many Christians who rarely come to church are in fact saying, “I don’t value the banquet very much. I don’t place much of a priority on what Jesus did on the cross for me. I’ve got other things to do that are a lot more important right now. I’ll come to church another time. Sorry. It’s no big deal. It’s only church.”
How must the Lord feel?
2. People Didn’t Intend to Miss Out Completely: You will notice that none of the persons who were invited to the banquet came right out and REFUSED the invitation. Verse 18 says, “but they all alike began to make excuses.” The people didn’t INTEND to miss out completely. Each of the excuses they made was different from the other but they all arrived at the same end. Even thought it was a reasonably good excuse, they were still held as REFUSERS of the banquet. They were saying, “we have other things to attend to--more pressing just now. It was not a flat NO--it was an excuse. Some one once said that “An excuse is the skin of a lie.”
So far from declining to come, each represented himself as ONLY HINDERED by something in the way just now. It wouldn’t always be that way. When this hindrance is removed later on, they would be ready to come. Or at least that was the impression they wanted to leave with the host. “I would really LOVE to come, but.... Ask me again, at a later date. I can’t come now, but I don’t want to miss out on your invitation. Maybe next time.”
So it is today when people are not ready to receive the gospel message. The excuses are many and different greatly from one person to another. They may sound very reasonable at the time. Or they may sound really FLIMSY. When the hindrances are removed, then I can come to the Lord...then I can come to church...but right now I can’t because....