There is a big difference between a reason and an excuse. There are times when we may have a legitimate reason for what we do or don’t do. An excuse is actually like gift-wrapping for a lie. In Luke 14:12-24 we find Parable of the Great Banquet and we’ll see that empty excuses actually anger the Lord.
The parable begins with a rich man inviting guests to come to a wedding feast. It was a “great” banquet and “many” guests were invited, so it was the social event of the season. Of all the occasions in Jewish culture, the wedding feast was the most joyous celebration possible. This is not a last minute invitation. It was Jewish custom to send an earlier invitation giving the day of the banquet, but no time was set. The guests would have already accepted the invitation, and then on the day of the banquet, the servants would simply go out and announce the banquet was ready. In this parable, our Heavenly Father is the host and each of us is invited to the banquet: it’s the greatest wedding banquet in history. It’s the wedding celebration of His Son to the Church, the Bride of Christ.
The Guinness World Book of Records claims the biggest and most expensive wedding in modern history took place in Dubai several years ago. An Arab prince was married and the cost for the ten-day wedding celebration was $44 million. That’s nothing compared to the glory and the splendour of God’s party!
Jesus said in verse 17, “Come, everything is now ready! I believe one of God’s favourite words is “come.” All throughout the Bible He invites people to Himself. Matthew 11:28: “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” That’s exactly what some of you need; you are weary and burdened and you need rest. But that’s not the only invitation God extends. When God was preparing to destroy wicked mankind with the flood, He directed Noah to build an ark. When the waters of judgement came, God was already on the ark. That’s why we read these words in Genesis 7:2, “Then the Lord said to Noah, ‘COME into the ark…’” Some of you need to come into the safety of God’s ark, Jesus, so you can escape the waters of judgement you are facing. In Isaiah 1:18, we read, “COME now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…” Is your soul filthy and dirty today because you are carrying a pile of sin and wickedness? If you will come to the Lord, He can totally cleanse you. On the last page of the Bible, God gives one final invitation: “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘COME!” And let him who hears say, ‘COME!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him COME…” (Revelation 22:17)
From Genesis to Revelation, God has been holding out His arms to sinful people saying, “Come to me, I love you, and I can help you.” It’s hard for me to believe anyone would decline His invitation, but many did and many do.