When one of those who sat at the table with Jesus heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”
Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’ ” (Luke 14:15-24)
What’s your excuse? Jesus had just told his host that when he invited people to a meal, he should not invite people based on whether he’d get a reciprocal invite. Instead, he should think about how he’d get repaid come the resurrection. Then one of the dinner guests proclaimed how happy those would be who shared in the banquet in God’s kingdom.
So Jesus taught about who would be invited to share in the banquet in God’s kingdom. Jesus perhaps adapted an ancient Jewish tale about an ambitious tax collector who tried to gain social standing with the aristocrats by inviting them to dinner. But they rebuffed his offer. In order that the dinner not go to waste, the tax collector invited all the poor instead. Jesus wanted his audience to understand that God offered everyone a seat at his great banquet. God doesn’t care who comes, only that they come. Those who miss out have no one but themselves to blame.
Jesus wants us to understand how easy it is to get into God’s banquet and how hard he’s working to get us there. We have no good excuse for not showing up.