Have you ever received an invitation to “Come Now!” to a function? In many cultures, it is rude to refuse such an invite. Perhaps, you were already committed to other plans, were exhausted from work, or it was poor timing for you. There could be many reasons to decline an impromptu engagement.
We might request a rain check from the host or hostess, hoping to meet at a later date when it is more convenient. Sometimes, the delay may be justified. Other times, we create excuses for having other priorities — even misplaced priorities. Although a similar opportunity may come again, we must carefully consider each offer.
Jesus told a parable, a simple story revealing spiritual truth, about a great banquet. In the parable, the host offered no rain checks. “Come now!” he announced to his chosen guests.
“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.’”
Without even considering the gravity of their response, they “all alike began to make excuses.”
What? Everyone invited declined? Sadly, their excuses sounded strangely familiar to those we might use.
“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.’
Politely, they all requested a rain check on the dinner engagement. Preoccupied with newly purchased property, the potential of owning his own land flooded the thoughts of the first guest. The second, an obviously wealthy man to buy five yoke of oxen, felt secure in his possessions and wealth. He wanted to try out his latest and greatest investment. Besides, he could prepare a banquet for himself whenever he wanted. The third could think of nothing but the pleasure of being with his lovely bride.
Most of us can relate to at least one of these fine gentlemen. Just like them, things, money, and people occupy much of our time, energy, and focus too. We easily justify how much time and effort we place in these areas of our lives.
The host planned for months. He prepared for weeks. All his servants worked diligently to present the choicest delicacies for the master’s guests. Elaborate decorations adorned the great banquet hall. Everything was ready.
The master of the banquet saw through the feeble excuses of his chosen guests. At great expense, he had prepared his best, freely and liberally offering it to others without any expectations in return. Their refusal would not stop the banquet.
“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.’”
The servants obeyed. Up and down the city streets the servants ran, beckoning the outcasts and neglected to come now to the great banquet.
The wealthy elite who rejected the master’s invitation went about their personal pursuits, enjoying their luxuries and pleasures. The most unlikely of guests flocked into the great banquet hall. They sat around tables overflowing with delicacies. Their eyes bulged in disbelief and bellies rumbled with hunger as they gazed upon the abundance of provision. But there was still room for more.
“‘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.”
Can you hear the heart of the master? Can you feel his generosity? His compassion? The intent of his purpose? “My house will be full!”
The servants ran with haste into the countryside, beckoning everyone they saw to come now. The master desired every seat to be full. He had prepared for maximum capacity.
No Rain Checks
Jesus spoke not just to the listeners of His day. He speaks just as clearly to us — whoever and wherever we might be. The invitation of the Father, the Master of the house, reaches to you and me. It extends to our family, neighbours, and friends. Everything has been made ready.
The banquet points directly to the future marriage supper of the Lamb, Jesus Christ (Rev 19:9). It cost Him everything. It costs us nothing to accept His invitation. He waits for our, “Yes!”
One way or another, the banquet will be filled. Those who decline will miss out. Those who are ready will feast with Him. For some who delay, their place will be given to others.
There will be no rain checks — no opportunity for a change of heart once the seats are full. The Master commands His servants with an urgency, “Compel them to come in!” Then, He gives this warning,
“I say to you all, no one who receives an invitation to feast with me and makes excuses will ever enjoy my banquet.”
No More Excuses
How many excuses have we spoken or heard from others. Either verbally or through our actions, we tell God, “Later! When it is more convenient, I will follow You. When business isn’t going so well, I’ll come to You. If my relationships fall apart, then I’ll call on You.”
God’s invitation is to “Come now!” Jesus warned that there will be no room for those who refuse. And there will be no grounds for excuses then.
I weep as I consider all the Master has done for us. I also weep as I consider the consequences of those who decline His invitation.
The parable tells a true story — one lived out daily and being fulfilled throughout eternity. May the parable inspire each of us as God’s servants through the streets of our cities and down the roadways of our countryside, inviting others to come to the Master. May we each sense the Holy Spirit compelling us to come now.
Lord, like the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame, we accept Your gracious invitation. We come without excuse to sit at Your table. We thank You for the great preparation You have made for us. With humble hearts, we say, “Yes!” to You. And with urgency, we invite others to join us. As unworthy beggars, we feast of Your goodness and mercy. Thank You, Lord.