by Samantha Rozell
Excuses, excuses, excuses. Most of us hear them everyday. Many of us even make excuses throughout our day. Chapter 3, titled stories about excuses, focuses on one parable found in Luke 14, the parable of the banquet (or feast depending on your translation of the Bible). Most of us I’m sure recognize this parable and maybe your as confused by the title as I was.
This parable is generally taught as an invitation to salvation that was ultimately rejected by some. Gary Burge uses historical background to explore another dimension, the excuses given by those invited to the banquet. As a matter of fact, those people who were giving excuses were not only invited to the banquet but had already agreed to come! In Biblical times when a great feast is planned it is planned on a day when there are no other events happening because shame would be brought upon the person who had very few guests in attendance. When speaking of the excuses Gary Burge summarizes it this way,
“In each case the reason for the denial is given, an obligation or desire is explained, and a plea is offered.”
He then easily goes through and clues the reader in as to why each excuse is invalid; a man did not buy land in those days without it being close by and without having first walked over it and examined it, a team of oxen are ALWAYS tried together before they are bought, and finally as there were no other events planned for that day we know that the man did not get married that very day, and further more he shows no restraint in sexual matters, no one in those days talked openly about their private affairs with a woman. We know that from there the host sends his servant to bring in the poor, lame, sick, and those from other villages (a nearly unheard of practice in those days).
But why is this story so important? First off, Jesus Himself was sitting at a banquet table with the Pharisees. He had just healed a man. On the Sabbath. In front of the Pharisees! If there were ever a prize to give to the people who gave the most excuses the Pharisees would win hands down. Why, these men had a law for everything!!
My Bible has the heading ‘inflexible people’ over this chapter. Like the Pharisees we can all be inflexible sometime. Jesus tells the Pharisees after this parable “I tell you those invited will never taste my banquet if the circumstances of this story continue to prevail.”
When God tells us to do something, are any of our excuses truly valid? I have to wonder why it is that most people make excuses anyways. In Luke 14:11 Jesus tells us that only the humble will get into the kingdom of heaven. I’m sure we all know the Proverb “Pride goeth before a fall.”
I believe at the heart of many excuses, at least when looking at my own life is a heart centered only on myself. This chapter is a great reminder for myself to stop before I make excuses and look at my reasons for doing so.
About the author:
I (Samantha Rozell) am a senior at Rutgers University studying social work. I have a passion for working with children, the homeless, and communities and am excited to see where God will lead me after I graduate in May. I love reading and writing and have worked for a Christian bookstore for the past 3 1/2 years.