When we critically examine the parable of the great banquet as told by our Lord Jesus in the scripture above, it points to people who are invited for a feast. Christians have been granted the privilege through the finished works of Christ to partake in all the Lord’s goodness, including times in His presence, the opportunity to study the Word of God, and communion with God and the brethren, among many others. However, this great opportunity to feast with the Lord is ill-attended because the guests (here, Christians) give many excuses and do not show up.
God, through His leaders (of the church), puts up wonderful programs: prayer sessions, Bible studies, conferences, watch nights, etc. Sometimes, good publicity campaigns are put in place to ensure that the announcement goes on properly. Yet, after this invitation and “everything is now ready,” some Christians begin to give excuses to exempt themselves from attending these programs – great banquets. Many Christians do not even want to go to church anymore!
The variety of excuses given for not attending the feast of the Lord are summarised in the three given in the passage according to Luke 14:18-20: 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.’ (ESV)
A “field” here may represent all forms of properties that people crave. We toil day and night, indulge in businesses, embark on diligent labor, and one of the things we look forward to achieving through this work is to acquire properties. The net worth of a man in the physical, is a measure of the worth of his properties. We work tirelessly to acquire plots, build or purchase mansions, get huge bank accounts, etc. These are good, but let us not forget about this vital life question asked by our Lord Jesus, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36, ESV)
Another said, “I have bought five yokes of oxen, and I go to examine them.” The next category of excuses we give is about our jobs or work. We are always punctual at work because we understand fully that we need to work to make a living. Sadly, the seriousness Christians attach to their work is far greater than that which we give to the invitations of God.
Though we are not watering down how important the diligence of work and labor to earn ends meet and to cater for both ourselves, our dependents and even give to the Lord through the Church and the needy is. But we are saying that God has made a great feast for us and this invitation should be given utmost precedence because they have implications on the salvation and nourishment of our souls. Our walk with God and our success in life come through how we respond to God and attend to His invitations, be it our devotions, Bible studies, personal and corporate prayers, church programs, among others. We should not compromise. We should not give excuses, because these are lifeline issues.
And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come (Vs 20) This represents the excuses we give that proceed from our relationships. “My wife or husband said I shouldn’t go”, “my children’s school meeting”, “my friends invited me over”, “there was a family funeral”, etc. These are some of the unending excuses we give in this aspect. We mostly forfeit personal time with God or church meetings for the sake of these reasons.
Let us know that it is part of the disciplines and the cost of discipleship to count everything as null for the attainment of the rich relationship with Christ (Luke 14:26). When we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all these that we seek through these three forms of excuses we give daily, shall be duly catered for by the Lord Himself!
“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 6:25, ESV)
Let the present-day Christian prioritise the invitations of the Lord, and let us give God the first place in our lives, no matter what! Excuses excuse you from the Lord’s great banquet! Selah. Shalom!
Written by Elder Samuel Adjei (Member, PENSA Ghana Secretariat Committee, Abuakwa Area, Atwima Koforidua District)