Since the beginning of time, people have made excuses. We can trace this behavior all the way to the Garden of Eden, where Adam made the first known excuse. After Adam sinned, the Lord demanded an explanation. He simply said, "It is the woman You gave me." We're not really sure whether he was blaming the woman, God, or both. But essentially he was saying, "Lord, I was taking a nap, I woke up, I'm a rib short, and she is here. She got me into this trouble. I am not responsible."
Then God turned to Eve and also demanded an explanation. She said, "The serpent beguiled me." A modern translation would be, "The devil made me do it. I bear no responsibility in the matter. He just overcame me."
Luke 14 records a story Jesus told about three men who offered excuses for not attending a wedding feast. Here we find an example of the excuses people make as to why they will not follow God and obey His plan for their lives. But first, we need to understand something about the culture of that day. When a great feast was thrown, it was customary to extend two invitations. The first was given months beforehand. Later, a second invitation would remind guests of their commitment and the host's expectation that they would attend.
This was important, because the feast was given at a considerable expense, with a great deal of time and effort. It was a great honor to be invited. To decline would be considered offensive and could cause an international incident — a legitimate reason to wage war. We need to understand this as we look at the three men who turned down invitations to such a feast. It wasn't that they had other things to do. Rather, they had been invited, had agreed to come, and then made lame excuses at the last minute.
The first said, "I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused" (Luke 14:18 NKJV). In that day, purchasing property was a long and complicated process. This was a ridiculous excuse, because this man would have had many opportunities to examine the land before he bought it. Basically, he allowed his possessions to hold him back.
The next person said, "I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them" (v. 19). Like the one before him, this man was either a complete idiot or a blatant liar. Buying animals without testing them first would be like purchasing a car without test-driving it.
While the first guy was held back by possessions, this man was held back by his career. He would plow a field with those oxen. That's how he would make his living. Pursuing a career isn't wrong, but in this man's case, it kept him back from the Lord.
Let's look at the third and final excuse. "Still another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come' " (verse 20). He was saying, "I'm married. Life is over. That is it." I am sure he could have pulled a few strings and brought his wife along. Obviously, this too was an excuse.
The first two excuses related to material possessions, while the third had to do with affections. Possessions and affections cover virtually every reason given by men and women who will not put their faith in Christ.
Jesus is offering His kingdom — a perpetual feast of peace, help, guidance, friendship, forgiveness, joy, certainty in the midst of uncertainty, and the hope of heaven. Yet people turn their backs on this, preferring a visit with their possessions or affections instead.
This parable isn't a put-down of things and relationships. What it is simply saying is this: If good things keep you from enjoying the best things, then they become bad things. They are shallow excuses people hide behind.
To go back to the original context of this parable, Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees, essentially saying, "You had an engraved invitation to God's wedding feast, but because you have so missed the point, you are not going to get in."
Maybe excuses have kept you from coming to Jesus. In reality, it's an issue of what you will or will not do. My prayer is that you will come to Him today. If you would like to know how, please see "God's Plan of Salvation" under A New Beginning.
What does Esther have in common with Rahab? Or Ruth with Tamar? They seem like diametrically opposed personalities. Shannon Bream gives insightful answers to those questions in her new book. We will mail you a copy when you make a donation of any amount to Harvest Ministries today!