“Making Excuses”Categories: Bulletin Articles, M. W. Bassford
Luke 14:15-23 is commonly known as “The Parable of the Banquet”, but it might equally well be called “The Parable of Excuses”. In the parable, a man gives a banquet and invites a number of people. However, the invitees all have excuses for why they will not come. In response, the host becomes angry, instructs his servants to find absolutely anybody to fill the places at the table, and vows that none of the original invitees will be allowed in.
In the context of Jesus’ ministry, this obviously is a parable about the Jews and the Gentiles. The Jews were the ones originally invited to the spiritual feast of fellowship with God, but for various reasons, they declined the invitation. Consequently, God invited the Gentiles into His kingdom in their place.
However, it’s also valuable for us to apply the parable to ourselves today in a more direct sense. It is sad but true that people will lose their souls because of the excuses they used to justify their disobedience.
These excuses begin with respect to obeying the gospel in the first place. Some say that they would be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, except that their family always has held to a denominational tradition. Others say that they’re too wicked to become a Christian, so they need to get their lives straightened out first. Still others say that they are “not ready yet” for unspecified reasons. All of these excuses, though, allow the sinner to put off their salvation indefinitely, to their ultimate ruin.
The same applies to the justifications that Christians offer for prolonged disobedience to one of God’s commandments. Yes, they know that Christian husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and that Christian wives are commanded to submit to their husbands as to the Lord.
However, they tell themselves that these commandments were written with a generic inoffensive spouse in mind, not with their particular obnoxious spouse. “I know what I’m supposed to do, but my wife is a shrew!” “I know what I’m supposed to do, but my husband is an idiot!” Thus, they feel free to return evil for evil rather than obeying the commandment. Their lives are marked by decade after decade of disobedience in a dysfunctional marriage.
Excuses also often emerge when a Christian fails to assemble regularly. Of course, there are legitimate reasons not to assemble—illness, work (though the Christian whose work schedule often keeps them from assembling is well advised to look for another job), or, these days, vulnerability to COVID-19. Other excuses (the preacher is boring, nobody there likes me, etc.) are less legitimate.
It is worth asking, though, whether the obstacles that keep us from assembling also keep us from worldly activities we enjoy. Work schedules can be frustrating, but one wonders about the man who never is able to assemble on Sunday morning but somehow manages to reserve his Saturday mornings for fishing trips. Likewise, if we avoid worship services because we’re afraid of the coronavirus, but we don’t seem to be afraid of vacationing in crowded tourist traps, perhaps it is time to examine our motivations more closely.
Whatever our excuses, we must acknowledge that we have far less reason to disobey than Jesus did. In heaven, He was equal with God. He was guiltless and did not deserve to die, and we were guilty and did not deserve to be saved. Nonetheless, rather than offering excuses, He offered Himself in obedience to His Father. As His disciples, is our call to do anything less?