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Luke 14:18-21
‘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 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.” (NIVUK)

Jesus was telling the parable of a generous man who was preparing a banquet for his many friends.  When the time came for the feast to begin, a servant was sent to remind all those who had been invited that the banquet was ready and they must come.  The Master’s servant was Jesus, the Servant of Isaiah 42:1.  

However, all the invited guests made excuses and rejected the possibility of being included. It was a little parable of John 1:11 in which Jesus came for His own, but they did not welcome Him.  They therefore excluded themselves from all the blessing He would have brought to them (Luke 19:41-44).  They assumed they were masters of their own destiny, and rejected Jesus as irrelevant to their plans: but He was pivotal to Father God’s plans.  All who received Jesus would be welcome at the banquet.

In the parable, Jesus says that the excuses produced anger in the generous man, to the extent that the invited guests were no longer welcome.  Instead, the poor and despised people were urged to come.  Jesus meant the Gentiles - all those whom the favoured Israelites had detested for generations but to whom heaven was open if they believed the Servant and His message.  That same gospel message is on the lips of God’s people worldwide today, and through them many believe in Jesus (John 17:20).

Excuses are still a convenient way of saying ‘No’.  By placing business or family before the claims of Jesus Christ, many people think that their rejection of the King's command is somehow acceptable.  It is not!  Whoever Jesus calls has the responsibility to respond to the invitation.  To accept, is to enter into God's blessing; to refuse, is to incur God's wrath.  So excuses (which are always self-centred ways of avoiding the responsibility of saying ‘Yes’ to Jesus) have no validity.  We cannot give a higher priority to personal preferences, our work or our relationships, than to the Lord.  So, in Mary's words, “Do whatever he tells you." (John 2:5).

Father God. Thank You for Your desire that all people should turn to You and be forgiven as they receive Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Thank You for Your patience, waiting for people to accept Your invitation of new life even though they make many excuses. Forgive me for my personal resistance to Your call and my wilful disobedience. Please give me a heart to repent of my own agenda, and a heart which delights to do Your will. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams