Have you ever prepared for guests and they not show up?
Several years ago a dear lady invited Gloria and me to eat dinner with her on a date that was a few weeks away. We agreed to come but for some reason we forget to write it down. The lady called a few days after the date to see if we were okay—and that is when we realized that we had totally forgotten. I don’t remember what else had been going on, but we felt like heels. We would never have wanted to offend that lady. And if any of you invite us to your home for a meal, I will be careful to write it down. I hate to miss dinner dates!
But in the great banquet that is written about in our scripture passage the guests who didn’t keep their dinner date didn’t just forget. They deliberately refused to attend. But behind their refusal is the fact they had agreed beforehand to attend.
We don’t know what the occasion was for the banquet. It may have been a wedding banquet. It may have been a birthday celebration. It may have been a big holiday—like the 4th of July which we just celebrated this past Monday at the big feast and fireworks show at Richard & Leona Davis’ home. Or it may have just been a generous neighbor who wanted to bring all his neighbors together to get better acquainted. We don’t know the occasion other than It was an occasion.
I. THE INVITATION
In the culture of their day the invitations had been sent out well in advance and the RSVPs had confirmed the guest lists. The host had gone to considerable expense and trouble to make sure that there were enough provisions for everyone.
Remember that in those days there were no refrigerators or freezers. The way they keep their meat preserved was to keep the animals alive until just before meal preparations. Then the animals had to be slaughtered and butchered and made ready to roast or bake.
To accept the invitation and then refuse to show up was much more than just a costly misunderstanding—it was the ultimate insult.
So, in the parable the host prepares the banquet and sends his servants to tell everyone that it is time to come. This would have been a pre-approved time known by all those invited. It would be like ringing the dinner bell and yelling “Come and get it!” It would be the time when everyone was supposed to head to the table.
II. THE EXCUSES
But then the excuses were made. One had just purchased a field and needed to go and inspect it. Do you see the insult in that? The man would have already inspected the field before he purchased it. And even if he hadn’t, the field wasn’t going anywhere but the meal was ready and couldn’t wait.
Another had purchased 5 yoke of oxen and wanted to try them out. Just like the ones who had bought the field—these knew their oxen’s ability before they bought them –and if not, they could have waited until after eating before trying them out.
I like the one excuse—“I just got married and I can’t come!” He should have asked permission from his bride before agreeing—or at least sent word ahead of time that he couldn’t attend. To wait until the Banquet was ready and then refuse was just not excusable.
All of these excuses were logical and even had some merit. But the bottom line was that they were just excuses based on selfish desires that were totally inconsiderate and downright insulting to the host of the banquet.
III. THE HOST’S REACTION
The hosts sent his servants out to find others to come share in the feast. After all, the prepared meal had to be eaten or thrown out. It couldn’t be kept in the refrigerator or freezer. Eat it or lose it was the only choice!
And so, the servants went out and found those who normally would not have been considered because of their low social status and the fact they could never reciprocate.
Here’s what we need to understand from this parable:
The host represents God the Father.
>The Banquet symbolizes the covenant relationship God desires to have with each of us. In Oriental thought in Bible times, when you shared a meal with someone you were in fact pledging your friendship to that person and agreeing to defend that person from enemies.
>Those who reneged their agreement to attend represented the Religious Leaders of that day who refused to accept God’s Son Jesus and the lifestyle of love that God requires o His People.
>The poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame who were invited represents all of us who are totally undeserving of God’s mercy and grace.
God invites each of us to accept His Loving Forgiveness. He wants us to become part of his family. The Gospel is for “Whosoever will!” But we have the freedom to accept or refuse.
Romans 15: 7 says, “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
Children and parents, friends and guests: Vacation Bible School, and Sunday School Classes and Worship services are all about sending out invitations for you to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Life can offer all kinds of excuses, but none of them are valid when it comes to whether or not you will come to the feast. When it is ready, you must be ready. There is no guaranteed of another chance!