Jesus tells us a parable about a man who hosted a great feast, Luke 14:15-24. Although many of the guests had first accepted his invitation, at the last moment they all had excuses backing out of the commitment. The first one said he couldn’t come because he had just bought a piece of land and had to go and look at it. It is very unusual for a person to make a huge financial decision such as buying property without seeing it first. And even if he hadn’t seen it already, the examination could have waited until afterwards. The second guest said he could attend the feast because he had some livestock that needed to be tested. Once again, most people would look at livestock before they were purchased. And again, this work could have waited if the guest truly wanted to come to the banquet. The third person said he could not come because he was just married. He could have brought his wife to the celebration, but obviously he saw the feast as a burden that he did not want to bear at the time. In short, each of these were flimsy excuses used to provide an escape from having to go to the feast.
When Jesus invites us to celebrate with him in the church today, many people have similar excuses. They may superficially say they want to be in the church and they may give nominal obedience, but often they let the world get in the way of true discipleship. Some aren’t faithful because of lands or possessions. Their hobbies, sports, and busy lives keep them away from regular church attendance. Others lose their faithfulness due to their busy tasks. Some will attend church only if nothing else is going on that Sunday. Thirdly, some aren’t faithful because of family. They see the need to follow God, but they are afraid of offending someone or even inconveniencing them.
Jesus closes the parable by saying the master of the feast decided to open up the invitation to those in the alleys of the city and to the lame and blind. His invitation is open to all people. When we look at our lives, what is it that distracts us from full obedience? What do we sacrifice to show our commitment to the Lord and his church?