Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Luke 14: Excuse Me

Reading Luke 14:16-24 is a little depressing, mostly because I hear modern variants of the excuses given in the parable.

But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”  
(Luke 14:16-24 ESV)
These kinds of excuses haven't stopped; I hear many reasons for ignoring all things spiritual. There are too many trinkets, too much entertainment, too many activities impeding spiritual growth. Parents have their children scheduled for activities 24 hours a day, television is too addictive to give up any of the five (or more) hours a day spent in hypnosis, and it's all too easy to get sucked into spending too much time at work or on a hobby. Yes, I am guilty of much of this myself. For those enlightened, this class of excuse is very popular to give for skipping church, ignoring Bible reading or forgetting about prayer time. For people outside the church, these reasons are the primary ones given for not getting involved in anything spiritual. It's not that most people object to Christianity, they simply don't have time for it.

I realize that the point of this parable is that the Jews would reject the gospel, so it was going to go out to the Gentiles. But most people are in the same position now as the Jews were in the first century. We "know" the gospel the way the Jews "knew" God's Law (Romans 3:2). Sufficient interest does not exist to make the gospel a priority, however.

These verses (particularly verse 21) have an interesting parallel to the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12). Expanding beyond the local culture, there is a time-independent message of the type of person God gathers into his kingdom. In Matthew 9:12, Jesus says, "Those who are well have no need for a physician, but those who are sick." God is seeking the poor, the broken, the lost and the sick to bring into this kingdom, and these refer to spiritual conditions. There is no room for the proud, the religious, the distracted and selfish.

What would you be willing to sacrifice to inherit eternal life? [Matthew 13:44-46]

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