When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’
“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”
- Luke 14:15-24
Jesus paints a stern picture here, but we need to know what He is saying and to whom. He is saying to the religious leaders and teachers of the law that they are, right that moment, being invited into the kingdom of God, and they are making excuses rather than accepting the message. Then Jesus is saying that the message will then be passed on to others who will accept it, eventually to the Gentiles.
It is in parable form, but it seems rather obvious, but I was intrigued by the use of one excuse after another.
When I was in the Army and I was being berated for one reason or another, the only accepted response was “No excuse, Sir!” Once you got past the shouting match, you might analyze what went wrong and how to fix it, but at that moment, you owned your mistake, even if it was made with good intentions. As an Army officer, you are trained to accept the guilt of something gone wrong when you were in charge but pass the praise for something done right onto the men that had done the work. I said “trained” to do that, not that I saw it in practice that often.
I also saw what was called “nametag defilade.” A defilade position was one in which you could see the enemy, but the enemy could not see you. The commander might look for a volunteer and everyone hides their nametag and hopes the commander did not recognize them. Nametag defilade rarely worked when someone was being blamed for a mistake that was made, but oh, how they tried.
It seems that deflection, feigning ignorance, and excuses are the norm in society these days. If you can avoid getting caught, there is no need to make an excuse. If you can deflect the blame to someone else, then you can get away unscathed. But if you are the poor fellow who just got caught red handed, you must have well-crafted excuses. If not, you may not survive, because forgiveness seems to not be a part of the present vocabulary.
I have met masters of excuses. It reminds me of some of the bizarre explanations in evolutionary “science” that disregard the facts that disprove their theory. These masters of excuses can create bizarre scenarios that are obviously false, but they tell their tale of woe with such passion and conviction, you want to let the infraction go, because their excuse was so entertaining.
Children learn early. My younger son was wanting to flunk a grade once in elementary school, in order to stay behind with a friend. They were convinced that the friend was flunking everything. They were shocked when the friend advanced to the next grade, along with our son, but our son was doing a better job of flunking than his friend. He was not turning in his homework. He avoided the classic dog eating the homework. He would claim that he left the homework at home, on the bus, in his locker, or his big brother three grades ahead had it in his book bag. He accused the teacher that she had told him that he must do the homework, but she never specified that he had to turn in the homework. When we quizzed him on why he did not turn in homework, he said, “The teacher knows that I know all this stuff. Why does she need added proof?”
The most shocking thing about all this is that he is now a teacher in elementary school where he learned how to be a master of excuses. In a way, he is great with the children, because he had used all their excuses when he was their age.
It is dangerous taking a parable and treating it literally. This parable literally says that some who are invited into God’s kingdom will make excuses and lose their chance, but is excuse making a sin that guarantees eternal torment? There are Christians who make little or no effort to grow as Christians, because of a variety of excuses. Does this indicate that their commitment to Jesus is false, or have they been lured into one of Satan’s traps? Still believers but living a defeated life? The answer to that is far above my pay grade.
For those not in the book of life, a mountain of excuses will fall upon deaf ears. And for those who give their excuses before the judgment seat of Christ will get less reward. When God only needs to hit the replay button and we see the truth instead of the excuses, repeating the excuse is not necessary.
But it would be wonderful if we could all live by the military response, “No excuses, Sir.”
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.