In Luke 14:15-24 Jesus told a story about a great banquet that was being thrown. The master in the story sent out invitations to this lavish banquet, yet the responses were that the people invited were too busy. One had land to look at. Another just got married. Another had some work to do with a new set of oxen that had just been purchased. So the master had his servants go out and gather others to come to the banquet. These people were the outcasts…the people that the important and powerful individuals did not want to associate with. Those who ended up coming to the banquet were the sinners and the outcasts…the ones who had nothing to bring to the table. The people who fancied themselves important with more pressing responsibilities did not have time for the banquet. They had too many excuses!
If you understand the story Christ was telling, you see the first set of invitees were the Jews, the Pharisees, the Scribes…the seemingly religious people. These invitees essentially rejected Christ. They rejected salvation. They chose the things of this world over the kingdom of Heaven to their eternal demise. Being as they were, self-righteous and religious, they did not know Christ. They did not recognize the importance of the invitation. Their eyes were blinded to the truth. Their faith was misplaced. They had just enough religion in them to not recognize the true importance of the banquet.
But by the grace of God I would be that person. It is quite easy to think I am a good person who tries to do the right things and make good choices, so I’m good. I could easily delude myself into thinking I am banquet-worthy even if I don’t really want to go. I can do it my way. The invitation and the banquet is not all that important. I have better things to do. The banquet is not that pressing.
Titus 3:3-7 (ESV) states, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
By the grace of God, my foolish heart would be dead in my sins, and my darkened eyes would not have been opened. I could have easily been among the first invitees thinking myself quite more important than I am and refusing the invitation. Left to my own devices, I would most certainly be completely and totally lost. “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (I Corinthians 15:10 NIV). The banquet is mine to attend and by the grace of God alone will I be present!
What about you? Have you received the invitation? What is your response? Is your faith in your own abilities, your own goodness, or even your own exercise of religious traditions? Are you counting on your own self-righteousness? Only those who have humbled themselves before Christ will sit at this great banquet feast. Only those who realize that apart from Christ there is nothing that makes them worthy of such a wonderful invitation will be at the banquet (cf. Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9). If you have received an invitation, make no more excuses.