Luke 14:15 24

How would you characterize the Christian life? Jesus most often spoke of the Christian life as being a subject in
the kingdom of God. This involves sharing in the joys of the wedding banquet of God. To be in the kingdom is
to be involved in a feast. One comes to be in the kingdom only by special invitation. It is this special invitation
that Jesus emphasizes in our parable.

Jesus spoke the parable in response to an outburst. As Jesus discussed the coming of persons from the points
of the earth to share in the great banquet of the kingdom, it was too much for one man. With an excited
out¬burst, he said, "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God." Some think the man
said this thoughtlessly, it was just something to say. However, I am inclined to believe that it was an expression
of genuine excitement in the heart of the man. The parable was not a rebuke of the statement but rather
clarified how one can come to share in the kingdom. If he is to have a part in this blessedness, then he must
accept God's invitation.

Before we look in further detail, let's get the main characters in the parable clear. The man giving the banquet
is God. The servants sent to announce the banquet were the Old Testament prophets, Jesus, and His
witness¬es that would follow Him. Those first invited were the leaders of the Jews. Those called in from the
streets were the publicans and sinners that were attracted to the ministry of Jesus. Those brought in from the
highways and hedges were the Gentiles, the peoples from the north, south, east, and west. From this parable
we need to learn that excuses do not excuse.

There are some invitations that you do not reject. They take priority over every other detail of life. In this
parable, Jesus sets forth the claims of the Gospel upon us in the figure of the invitation to the banquet.

1.        The invitation is from God.
He is the one "inviting". How much impor¬tance you give to any invitation will be determined by the importance
and the significance of the person extending it. The invitation of the Gospel is a divine invitation. Unless you
understand this, you will never understand why your excuses do not excuse. Too many of you have confused
the invitation of the Gospel with the church. You have interpreted the invitation of the Gospel as a ploy by which
the church seeks to recruit more new members. Nothing could be further from the truth. God has sent an
invitation to you.

2.        The invitation is gracious.
It is an expensive thing for the host to prepare such a feast. We are made to understand that no cost has been
spared. He has prepared everything bountifully. His extending an invitation to you was purely a matter of grace
on his part. The host of the banquet is free to invite whomever he chooses to invite. He demonstrates this by
sending his servants in the streets to bring whomever they might find. Unless you begin to see the wonder that
God would invite you, you will never realize how foolish your excuses may sound. God has not invited you
because of some good thing He sees in you, His invitation is an expression of His love for you. He invites you to
come without any payment. It is a gracious invitation.

3.        The invitation is personal.
The banquet is not announced by a poster stuck upon the side of a building. The host sends his servants
personally to the invited. They hear from the lips of the personal servants of the host that the banquet is now
ready. This is precisely what is happening this morning. So you will understand the dynamics of it, let me assure
you that I am here representing the host personally. He sent me to tell you that the banquet is now ready, and
that you are invited. He did not leave it to chance. He sent me to you. He could have left it up to you to find out
about the banquet, but He did not. He extends the invitation personally.

The invitation is persuasive. He instructs the servants that he sends to "compel them to come in". He is so
anxious to share his banquet that he wants them to be compelled. We must not misunderstand this. Augustine
was wrong when he used this verse to justify persecution and the use of violence to bring people to the
Christian faith. Jesus meant simply that strong persuasion was to be used. The invited always have the right to
refuse the invitation, but we are to urge upon them how important it is. God is really in earnest about your
coming into His kingdom.

Unless you understand the invitation, you will not understand why your excuses have not really excused you.
When God invites, no excuse will do.

Listen to the parable again. 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 have got married, so I can't come.'" Jesus chose
excuses in the parable that would be obviously silly and inadequate. There is no legitimate, acceptable reason
for refusing God's invitation. It may be that Jesus chose these three as representing the primary type of
excuses that men offer.

1.        The first excuse deals with possessions.
The man reports that he just bought a field, and he must inspect it. Obviously a man would not buy a field
without first inspecting it. And since a banquet would probably be at night, what kind of inspection could you
conduct at night? But he was obviously more concerned about his "field" than he was sharing the banquet.
Jesus warned so often that possessions have a way of so captivating a man that he finds it easy to excuse
himself from the highest calling of life, the calling to the kingdom of God.

2.        The second excuse deals with a man's occupation.
He has bought five yoke of oxen, and he must try them out. Surely he would not purchase them without first
trying them out. It must have been something that could have waited until the next day. But he is so involved in
his occupation that it is more important to him than the invitation. He is so bound to his vocation that it blinds
him to the more important things in life. He is living for this life alone.

3. The third excuse deals with a man's affections.
He has just married a wife so he is sure that he cannot come. I wonder if he had asked her about it. There are
very few women who would pass up an opportunity to go to an event like this. While the Old Testament law
excused a man from military service for one year, it did not excuse him from social involvement. The thing that
was wrong was this man had become so involved in the earthly relationships that he had forgotten about the
higher relationship.

When you consider the excuses, they obviously involve good and innocent things in themselves. There is
nothing wrong with owning a farm, having some oxen, or being married. They however must not keep us from
accepting God's invitation. The host in the parable understood the excuses correctly. He understood that these
people did not desire his company. They did not want to come. This was a reflection of their attitude toward him,
and was taken as a personal insult. It angered him. That is just the way it is. Regard¬less of how reasonable
our excuses may sound to us, the bottom line is that we are insulting God. The bottom line reads, "I do not want
to come." So when you look at the excuses themselves, they obviously do not excuse one from such a weighty

Two consequences are demonstrated in the parable.
1.        Your excuses do not thwart the purpose of the host.
He will have His banquet whether you come or not. If the elite of the Jews do not wish to come to His banquet,
He will take the outcasts. He will even reach out to the unclean Gentiles who sleep in the hedges along the
highways of the world. He has determined to have a banquet, so He will have His banquet. The loss is not the
purpose of God, but it is to you.

2.        You miss out on God's best.
Jesus said it so emphatically,        "I tell you, not one of those men that were invited will get a taste of my
banquet." Jesus is speaking here, not the host in the parable. Notice that He identifies that banquet as "my
banquet        .” The great future of the kingdom of God is in His hands. But those who refuse the invitation will
miss it. God will give them the privilege of saying no.  Even though He knows fully that they are forfeiting the
privilege of partici¬pation in the kingdom of God, they can make that choice.

This brings a sobering thought before us. Are you ready to forfeit your place in the eternal kingdom of God?
This is exactly what that generation of religious leaders did. They made a choice and cloaked the choice in an
excuse. Their choice was not to go, so they made excuses. Is this what you have decided? Have you decided
that you have no interest in the kingdom, no interest in God's full salvation? Are you ready to reject that? This
is the consequence of the excuses that you have been offering.

Let me summarize what we have learned here. We learn that a man comes into God's great salvation in Christ
only by invitation. We learn that God has sent this invitation to all kinds of people. You can be sure that you are
invited. But we also learn that just to receive an invitation is not enough. We must be ready to receive the
invitation. We must be ready to act upon it. No matter what kind of excuses we may offer, they will not change
anything. There are no excuses accepted.