A party is not a bad thing if you like such things. Not that I would know but I assume those who are the life of a party welcome party invitations unless it’s an invite with people that they if they had a choice, they’d see an orthodontist instead. I don’t get many invitations and that doesn’t keep me up at night. Coming up with a plausible excuse to get out of an invitation or dreading going to one does. I have learned from observation that a simple “no” to a party invite with no excuse or a lame one is a social no-no. Social interaction just doesn’t come easy for me and others on the autism spectrum.
One of Jesus’s parables was about an invitation to a great banquet. You can read all about it in Luke 14:16-24. The banquet was hosted by a certain man who I am speculating had a fair amount of wealth. I assume that since the banquet was for many guests. I have never hosted a party, but it just makes sense that the bigger the guest list, the bigger the price tag.
At the time of the banquet, the host sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ The servant went around giving the invitation and was turned down by invitees, one by one, who asked to be excused. They all had their excuses and some of them were so lame that the servant might have scratched his head wondering why they couldn’t have come up with a better excuse.
Jesus gave three examples of those who asked to be excused from coming. One said he had just bought a field and must go and see it. Hm? Who would buy a field before seeing it?
Another claimed he had just bought five yoke of oxen and was on his way to try them out. Hm? Who would buy five oxen before trying them out? That’s like me buying a car without a test drive.
And a third said he had just got married and couldn’t come. Hm? He couldn’t bring his bride along? Or, she laid down the law to him that his partying days were over?
The servant came back and reported the bad news of repeated “please excuse me” responses. The house owner was livid. Now why all his invited guests did not want to attend a banquet given by the host isn’t told in the parable. I gather that wasn’t the point Jesus was getting at in this parable. The meaning of the parable wasn’t about how to get out of a party given by someone you’d rather not break bread with.
The owner of the house ordered his servant to go out into the town streets and alleys and bring in the poor, crippled, blind and the lame. After the servant had completed the task, he reported to his master what had been done and that there was still room for more. The master told his servant to go out to the roads and country lanes and invite the folks to come in so that his house would be full. Instead of his banquet attended by those he had invited in the first place, it was full of strangers. The master said he did not want one of those who asked to be excused to even get so much as a taste of his banquet feast.
Every parable was an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. This one was no exception. Jesus was like the banquet host in extending an invitation. The Gospel was first given to the Jews. Some believed but there were those Jews who did not. Some of those unbelievers were Jewish priests, elders, and scribes among others. On the other hand, there were believers who were the outcasts. Like the Samaritan woman at the well, a short-in-stature chief tax collector named Zaccheus, and a woman who lived a sinful life whom Jesus allowed to anoint his feet with perfume.
Jesus gave His life to give the greatest invitation to all who will accept it. The gift of salvation isn’t limited to a particular group of people. My own personal favorite scripture of invitation is John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” I’m so thankful for that “whosoever”.
I’m thankful, too, more than words can say, that Jesus’s invitation was one I did accept!