THE AMEN CORNER with DEACON RIGHT?
JOIN the PARTY
July 29th, 2018
Today’s lesson was from Unit III, JESUS CALLS for JUSTICE and MERCY. The lesson was entitled, JOIN the PARTY. The SCRIPTURE for today’s lesson was Luke 14:15-24. The KEY VERSE was from verse 21 which reads,
“Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.” (NIV)
The lesson for today featured one of Jesus’ parables, the parable of the “Dinner Party”. The parable begins with verse 15, however, the verses prior to 15 provide the setting for the telling of the parable. In those verses, Jesus is at a dinner when he notices some of the guests jockeying for positions at the table. He proceeds to give them a lesson in table manners by saying:
“When someone invites you to dinner, don’t take the place of honor. Somebody more important than you might have been invited by the host. Then he’ll come and call out in front of everybody,
‘You’re in the wrong place. The place of honor belongs to this man.’
Red-faced, you’ll have to make your way to the very last table, the only place left.
Instead, when you’re invited to dinner, go and sit at the last place. Then when the host comes he may very well say,
‘Friend, come up to the front.’
That will give the dinner guests something to talk about! What I’m saying is, if you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”
Then he turned to the host.
“The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned! —at the resurrection of God’s people.”
15 That triggered a response from one of the guests: “How fortunate the one who gets to eat dinner in God’s kingdom!” Then He told;
The Story of the Dinner Party
16-17 “Yes. For there was once a man who threw a great dinner party and invited many. When it was time for dinner, he sent out his servant to the invited guests, saying, ‘Come on in; the food is on the table.’
18 “Then they all began to beg off, one after another making excuses. The first said, ‘I bought a piece of property and need to look it over. Send my regrets.’
19 “Another said, ‘I just bought five teams of oxen, and I really need to check them out. Send my regrets.’
20 “And yet another said, ‘I just got married and need to get home to my wife.’
21 “The servant went back and told the master what had happened. He was outraged and told the servant, ‘Quickly, get out into the city streets and alleys. Collect all who look like they need a square meal, all the misfits and homeless and wretched you can lay your hands on and bring them here.’
22 “The servant reported back, ‘Master, I did what you commanded—and there’s still room.’
23-24 “The master said, ‘Then go to the country roads. Whoever you find, drag them in. I want my house full! Let me tell you, not one of those originally invited is going to get so much as a bite at my dinner party.’”
Amazingly, every one of the guests invited by the man had an excuse for not attending the dinner party. That is how it is with some people. Jesus calls and invites us to join Him, but they always seem to have an excuse for not going at all or putting it off until a “better time” or “another day”.
Jesus tells a similar story in Matthew 22:1-14—a story about a dinner party or banquet—in which, the invited guests behaved rudely and did not attend the party so, the host invites the poor people from the streets, alleys, and country lanes to attend instead. In Matthew 22 verse 14, Jesus makes the proclamation;
“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
I have a similar phrase;
“All are called, but few answer the call!”
Jesus is calling us all, but many of us are too busy making excuses. Which leads me to my subtopic;
EXCUSES, EXCUSES, EXCUSES!
A husband and his wife woke up one Sunday morning and the wife dressed for church.
It was just about time for the service when she noticed her husband hadn’t moved a finger toward getting dressed.
Perplexed, she asked, “Why aren’t you getting dressed for church?”
He said, “Because I don’t want to go.”
She asked, “Do you have any reasons?”
He said, “Yes, I have three good reasons. First, the congregation is cold; second, no one likes me; and third, I just don’t want to go.”
The wife replied, wisely, “Well honey, I have three reasons why you should go; first the congregation is warm; second, there are a few people there who like you; and third, you’re the pastor! So, get dressed!”
It is a wonder that people would make excuses when God offers the Kingdom!
The parable points out the three excuses people most commonly make:
- Stuff: “I have bought a piece of ground.” We are too busy with our ‘things’.
- Work: “I have bought five yokes of oxen.” People are too busy with work.
- Family: “I have married a wife.” People prioritize family over God.
Today people make the same mistakes that the people in the parable made. But, we are not alone in our excuse making. The Bible is full of people who made excuses. Moses had excuses!
When God commanded him to go to Pharaoh and demand that he let God’s people go, Moses complained that he could not speak well enough to do the job.
Adam made excuses! Adam ate the forbidden fruit, then when confronted about it, he came up with an excuse:
“The woman you put here with me– she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it”
THEN to make matters worse, Eve ALSO had an excuse for HER actions. She cried out,
“The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Then, it was the serpent’s turn BUT he didn’t have a leg to stand on!
Jesus’ call to the people of his day was that the kingdom of God was at hand, repent of your sins and follow me.
And yet people made excuses, reasons why they could not follow Him.
A man replied, “Lord first let me go and bury my father.”
Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Another said, “I will follow you Lord, but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.
Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
A story is told of a particularly strict teacher who had scheduled an exam for her students on a certain day. One of the students pleaded with her to be excused from the exam due to his grandfather’s funeral being scheduled for the same day as the exam. The strict teacher had no sympathy though. She suggested that the student reschedule the funeral!
Jesus isn’t that strict with us, but He stresses that time is of the essence! Here is what He wants us to do:
- First, He wants us to RSVP for ourselves.
- Then He wants us to help pass out the invitations to others
- He wants to see His house filled
- He wants us to go into the streets and lanes (Luke 14:21)
- He wants us to go into the highways and hedges (Luke 14:23),
Remember this anonymous quote:
“Excuses are tools of incompetence. They build monuments of nothingness, and those who specialize in them seldom accomplish anything!”