No More Lame Excuses

  • No More Lame Excuses
  • Luke 14: 12-24
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • March 8, 2021
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Cringe: Words from Jesus that Are Hard to Hear – No More Lame Excuses
Good morning Church. Today we are continuing in our Lenten series, Cringe, where we have been looking at some of the words Jesus had to say that can be hard to hear, that might cause you to cringe just a little bit. We started with “Love Your Enemies” and then last week we took on “Deny Yourself” so you can see we haven’t been taking it easy. We have been coming face to face with some challenging things. Today we are looking at “No More Lame Excuses”.
Have you ever been invited to something and at the moment you told the person offering the invitation, “Sure. We’re in. We will be there.” and then later you thought, “I don’t want to go to that.”
Some of you are thinking, “Yes. I’m thinking that right now” because you were invited to come to church today.” You didn’t want to come, but you said yes so here you are because you didn’t know how to get out of it.
You know what I’m talking about here. You get invited to a party for Saturday. On Monday you start thinking you don’t want to go so you devise a plan to get out of it. And in your mind you are amazed at how good your plan is. You almost scare yourself with how diabolical you can be in putting together this plan to come up with the best lie on the planet to not go to this party.
Anyone ever done this? Anyone want to admit it in church? Parents of young children are especially good at doing this because you can always conveniently blame it on the kids and other people will go, “Oh, I get it. I completely understand. We’ve been there before.”
So we devise these excuses and then when they leave your lips you are thinking this is brilliant, but everyone else around you is thinking this is the dumbest excuse I’ve ever heard, that is the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard. It is sort of like the old saying that goes, “Excuses are like noses. Everybody’s got one.”
Now, think about all of this in the context of the scripture that we are going to talk about today. Also, ask yourself have you ever been guilty of making a lame excuse with God?
Have you ever come up with any great excuses for not being who God is calling you to be and to not do what God is calling you to do and you think your excuses for it are brilliant? But God hears the excuses and must think, “Really. That is the best you’ve got. That is what you came up with.”
Excuses Like:
• I’ll go to church when I’m older. Right now I just want to have some fun.
• We’ll serve when the kids grow up and get out of the house. Then we will have more time.
• We’ll get serious about our faith when baseball season is over — football, dance, cheer, soccer, etc.
• I don’t have time to read scripture right now because my work is just so busy, but when things slow down then I’ll have time to get serious about Jesus.
• We served for years. It is someone else’s turn. We’re retired now. This is my time to do what I want to do.
The thing that becomes pretty clear is that we as human beings have become pretty good at making lame excuses. We’ve all done it. It doesn’t make it okay, but we’ve all done it. Have you ever made a lame excuses or said something to someone and then walked away and thought, “What is wrong with me? How did I allow that to come out of my mouth?”
While we do that kind of thing Jesus on the other hand is incredibly intentional about every word that comes out of his mouth. At the same time Jesus isn’t afraid to offend you and me, but at the same time he does so with the purest of intentions.
Whenever Jesus says something that is tough for us to hear there is always a motivation – to grow people, to stretch people, to challenge people. Jesus understands that we need to hear the truth and that sometimes it is hearing the very truth that ends up keeping us from death. It is why Jesus is so to the point.
Let’s pick up with a Jesus story found in Luke 14:12-24, “Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich
neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. 13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”
15 Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!”
16 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ 18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”
So you can see that the word excuse shows up in this passage multiple times. The word lame doesn’t. I wish it did because there are a lot of lame things going on here.
There are a couple of things going on in this passage of scripture that I think we need to understand. It starts with a narrative and then it ends with a parable, which is a story with eternal implications in it. The other side of this is that Jesus has been invited to a dinner at somebody’s house. That is real. Jesus is sitting at the table. He is eating. He is having conversations with people. He’s listening. He hears things that don’t sit well with him and then he launches into a parable.
Just before this account here is what has been taking place. Jesus has healed someone on the Sabbath and that was considered to be a big no no so Jesus has already offended some people.
Then Jesus has to give a lesson about humility to someone at the dinner party. Everyone who showed up at the party had been trying to sit in the seats of honor. Jesus says rather than going for the head of the table why don’t you start out at the lowest place at the table. So Jesus is on a real roll here in terms of offending almost everyone gathered for the dinner party. They are all thinking, “Who invited this guy?”
Now, Jesus shifts his attention to the host of the party. Remember what it said in V. 12-14, “Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. 13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14 Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”
Jesus is actually talking to the religious elite of the day. He starts to check the host’s motives. Jesus understands exactly what is going on. In Luke 14:1 we get some insight as to why Jesus has been invited. It isn’t because they want to meet this new rabbi. It isn’t because they want to sit at his feet and soak up his teaching. They are trying to get Jesus to say something that they can later use against him. They’ve got their eye on Jesus.
Jesus realizes what is going on and he shows up at the party knowing all of this so Jesus flips the script on them. He calls them out for their hidden motivations. He takes up the issue of who is on the guest list with the host. Why are these people on the guest list? What is your reason for hanging out with these people?
It looks like the guests at the party are the ones who might be able to do something for the host. Jesus is checking the motivation that human beings often revert to which is I hang out with people who I think might be able to give me something or improve my situation.
Let’s think about our own lives here. Sometimes we get together with people for the wrong reasons. Sometimes we have gatherings, we get
together with people socially, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is okay. But maybe we need to ask ourselves some questions? For instance, when is the last time I did something for someone who couldn’t do anything in return for me?
Think about the word hospitality. How many of you would say you have the gift of hospitality? I know several of you do, because I’ve seen it in action. However, hospitality is about so much more than being nice to people because you have them in your home.
Let’s think about a biblical definition of hospitality. It quite literally means to welcome a stranger. There is a different biblical word for hanging out with people who are like minded who are friends. It is the word fellowship.
There is a difference between those two things. I love fellowship. I love getting together with groups of friends and being together. It enriches my life when I do so. But in this situation Jesus isn’t talking fellowship. He is talking hospitality and he wants to know when is the last time you welcomed a stranger?
Let’s just acknowledge that it is a lot easier to get together with like minded people than to get together with people who are different than us. And here’s the thing those who are different than us aren’t beating down our doors to come be with you and me. We are called to go to them.
But for most of us we make up excuses about why we can’t do that. “I just don’t have the time.” I’m willing to bet that there are plenty of people who have had someone ask you “how are you doing?” and the response you gave was something like, “I’m good, but I’m busy.”
How often are you putting yourself in the position to cross paths with people who need the Kingdom of Heaven the most? Sometimes because we think we are too busy we miss out on those who need to hear about Jesus. We end up with a lack of urgency to share the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ with those who need to have a life altering encounter with Jesus that ends up altering their eternity.
Remember at this point Jesus has pretty much offended everyone at the party. They are ticked off at him. Jesus is completely okay with offending them because he is doing so for the right reasons.
I’m thinking at this point there is a bit of a silence in the room. It is awkward. And in any group there is always someone who can’t deal with an awkward silence so they start talking. That is what happens in V. 15.
15 Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!”
This guy sounds noble at first. He is looking at Jesus like, “Do I get a gold star?” This guy is so close and yet so very far away. So Jesus launches into his parable.
16 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ 18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
The word translated “many” when Jesus is talking about the invitations more literally means “everyone”. Everyone was invited in this story Jesus tells. Because these people had received the invites and then they back out at the last minute it would have been a massive insult to the host. It was more than rude.
The culture of that time would have been that you showed up even if you were sick. You would have dragged yourself to this banquet. It was the proper thing to do. In some places in the Middle East during that time to not show up for a party like this would have even been considered a declaration of war. Can you imagine that?
This gives us some sense of the gravity of these excuses that we have. The first two excuses are a little bit similar. The first one is a guy who buys some property and says that he has to go see it because he hasn’t seen it yet. Who does that?
The next guy says I’ve bought five oxen and I need to check them out. He basically says I need to go test drive some farm equipment at night. Does anybody really believe that? You just don’t go at night to look at five oxen to see if they are going to work. You’ve already bought them.
The last guy, his excuse sounds kind of good. “I can’t make it. I just got married.” For us, we laugh at that. We chuckle at that. “He’s so whipped!” No, this really isn’t an excuse that is going to fly in first century Jewish culture that is male dominated. In essence he is saying I don’t really run my home and in this context that doesn’t hold water at all.
At this point we need to understand that Jesus isn’t talking about a banquet at home. He is talking about spending eternity with him. He is flipping all of their legalism, all of the tradition on its head and saying no more lame excuses.
Jesus is making it clear that the Jewish people of his day have rejected salvation through Jesus and so now Jesus is saying, I’m going to go and find people who want this party. I’m going to go and find people who want eternity with me.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU AND ME TODAY?
Well, we begin to get an idea of this in V.21-24, “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”
It says the poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame. We don’t need to rush past the inclusion of these people being on the invite list because in first century Jewish culture if you had any kind of physical abnormality you were not allowed to come worship at the temple. So Jesus is saying the invitation is even for those who you wouldn’t even think of inviting.
He notices that it says, “Urge them to come.” Some translations say, “Compel them to come.” Jesus is saying, “Go get those who need to be here.” They are all invited. Jesus is calling us to give those around us a message so compelling that they cannot deny it. Show them the transformation in your life. Show them what this banquet is going to be like.
Compel them to be part of the party. Church, are we doing that for the people in our world?
There is a very real urgency that accompanies the gospel. You see in this story we have woven together the sovereignty of God and our response. We have to understand that our time here on earth is limited. We have a tendency to believe that we have more time, but we all have an expiration date. We are all going to die. The closer we get to that expiration date the thinner the line of opportunity becomes for us to invite people to be part of it.
When is the last time we made an urgent invite of the gospel to someone in our lives? Jesus wants us to invite as many people as possible to the party and no lame excuse we can come up with is enough to exempt us from that call.
It seems to me that we have some work to do. Here’s my invite to you today, if you know Jesus allow those around you to know that same saving grace and love that God has showered upon you. Let people know the reason for the hope that you have in Jesus.