Luke 14 is packed with hospitality insights. It’s customary to view hospitality as the responsibility of the one preparing and hosting a celebration. But Jesus’ story in verses 15-24 illustrates an equally meritorious aspect of hospitality:
…one of those at the table with Jesus said to him, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ Luke 14:15-17 NIV
Jesus then related three responses used by the initial invitees:
“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ Luke 14:18-20 NIV
Jesus was implying that every rebuff to attend this banquet was inexcusable. First, because both the host and the event described are extraordinary. Second, the reasons the friends of the host gave as excuses, although polite on the surface, range from disingenuous to self-centered.
This parable speaks to “no show” habits that have become increasingly prominent in modern life.
A few years ago, I asked a twenty-something employee of a Christian organization why young people sometimes appear reluctant to commit to community-building events or casually vanish when a commitment seems firm. I suggested my own analysis, “Is it because you have so many attractive options?”. She paused for a moment…. “Yes.”
Has your enthusiasm for live gatherings dimmed, especially from the social chaos stimulated by “pandemic lockdowns”? Is hope for genuine Christian community endangered by the lack of reciprocal hospitality of both the host and guest?
Here’s an expression: “I used to sneak out of my house to go to parties. Now I sneak out of parties to go to my house.” Does this sentiment reflect that attitude of preferring to do my own thing rather than exploring what the Royal Host of the Final Banquet of Luke 14:15 might have in store at one of his preliminary “mini banquets” here and now?
What have some of your favorite excuses been for avoiding gatherings with potential for community kingdom building? Look at the lame excuses above and think about how you might change your attitude toward an enthusiastic friend at a party hosted by our hospitable King.