Summary: The parable of the great banquet is a picture of the invitation God extends to us to come to His eternal banquet of salvation–some accept and others refuse this great invitation.
Excuses: The Skin of a Reason Stuffed with a Lie
by David O. Dykes
There is a difference between a reason and an excuse. There are times when we may have a legitimate reason for what we do or don’t do. An excuse is actually the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie. In our text today, we’ll see that empty excuses actually anger the Lord. In the verses preceding our passage Jesus has spoken about the danger of pride and the value of humility. There is a powerful principle in verse 11:
“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot replay, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
There’s nothing wrong with having friends in your home, but when you show kindness to strangers and those who cannot return the favor, you’ll receive your reward in heaven. Look at verse 15:
“When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” 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.’ 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.’ ‘Sir, what you have ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those men who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”
Studying a parable of Jesus is like peeling an onion, not because it will sometimes make you cry! Like an onion, every parable of Jesus has several layers of application. The outer layer is the story itself. In this case, there was a rich man who invited people to a wedding feast. Below that layer is the historical layer that spoke to Jesus’ original audience. The Jewish leaders were infuriated because they understood Jesus was saying although God had invited His chosen people, the Jews, to come to Him, they made empty excuses. So the God of Israel was going to invite the Gentiles to come into His family. Those were fighting words!
Let’s peel off another layer and we’ll find the layer of personal application–what is God saying to me? Whenever you study the Bible you should ask two questions: First, “What did these words mean to the original audience who heard them or read them?” Second, “What do these words mean to me today?” This is message God has for us in 2002. First, let’s consider:
I. THE INVITATION: COME TO THE PARTY!
The parable begins with a rich man inviting guests to come to a wedding feast. It was a “great” banquet and “many” guests were invited, so it was the social event of the season. Of all the occasions in Jewish culture, the wedding feast was the most joyous celebration possible. This is not a last minute invitation. It was Jewish custom to send an earlier invitation giving the day of the banquet, but no time was set. The guests would have already accepted the invitation, and then on the day of the banquet, the servants would simply go out and announce the banquet was ready. In this parable, our Heavenly Father is the host and each of us is invited to the banquet: it’s the greatest wedding banquet in history. It’s the wedding celebration of His Son to the Church, the Bride of Christ. The Guinness World Book of Records claims the biggest and most expensive wedding in modern history took place in Dubai several years ago. An Arab prince was married and the cost for the ten-day wedding celebration was $44 million. That’s nothing compared to the glory and the splendor of God’s party! Let’s notice a couple of things about God’s invitation.