One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, “Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the Kingdom of God!” Then Jesus said to him, “Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”
This great story encapsulates many of the themes we’ve been discussing this week. How many of them can you find? It adds a new and poignant message also. What do you notice in the refusals in our passage? Since wedding invitations were given well in advance, last minute turn downs are very odd. Particularly for the reasons given. No one inspects a field after buying it. No one sees if oxen can pull together after purchasing them. This is done before any deals are struck. Marriage would not exclude one from celebration—bring your wife! These are not normal excuses but insulting rejections.
Many religious people in Jesus’ day refused to come to the celebration in which he invited them. Feeling no need to change their lives and ways, and horrified by his inclusive company, they preferred not to come. What a tragedy! To be on God’s guest list and to refuse his invitation.
Gracious God, Help us to be winsome inviters who reach out to our friends and neighbors. Give us the energy to go to the “highways and byways” and find those not normally included in our guest lists. We want our celebrations to honor your values. In Jesus’ name. Amen.