They All Began To Make Excuses
with thanks to  Frank Pack for many ideas
Luke 14:16-20
By Paul Robison

In Luke 14:16-20, we find these words: “Then [Jesus] said to him: 'A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say those who were invited: 'Come, for all things are now ready.'  But they all with one accord began to make excuses.  The first said to him, 'I have brought a piece of ground, and I must go see it.  I ask you to have me excused.'  And another said; 'I have five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them.  I ask you to have me excused.'  Still another said: 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.'  “Our Lord presents to us in this parable, the picture of a great and important feast to which a number of guests were invited.  When the time came for the feast, and the call went out: 'All things are ready, come to the feast,' they all began to make excuses.  [Their excuses show flimsiness] in comparison to the graciousness of the invitation!  Each one of these excuses was for the purpose of presenting a plausible situation so that the invited guest would not feel obligated to go.  Yet, [these excuses] are so shallow.  How would you feel if you had prepared a lovely [meal] and had previously invited guests, only to have them [call] you just few [minutes] before the [meal with] such excuses as the following: 'I need to [have jacket repaired, so please excuse me since I need to see a seamstress.']  Or, 'I just brought a new car, and I can't wait until I can drive it, so please excuse me while I give it a test run.'  Don't you think that such behavior would show that the person who made the excuse did not really appreciate the invitation to your meal?  What Jesus is doing in this parable is helping us to realize some of the foolish excuses that people use in order to refuse God's favor.  For what God has spread before us is a great and wonderful banquet, the banquet of salvation [from sin and eternal condemnation].  The invitation goes out, and guests are invited, yet when all things are ready, and the feast is prepared, [many people] have such foolish and flimsy excuses that they hope will enable them to miss this gracious occasion.  How often is this [parable] reenacted in our experiences?  How many times do people have the opportunity to know Jesus and to feast at His wonderful banquet table, to enjoy all that He has provided for them, only to [offer] such foolish excuses?  No sermon on excuses can cover all the objections that [people] raise to accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ, but some of the ones … more commonly [given] are those that we [will consider in this sermon] today” (Pack).
This first excuse is this: “I'm not sure I know enough.”  “It is true that one does need to have some knowledge in order to become a Christian.  It is also a commendable attitude when one is humble enough to realize that he or she does not know all of the answers.  We always appreciate people who have that humility that recognizes the limitations of their own knowledge. … Yet it is obvious that we do not have to know everything in order to [become a disciple of Jesus].  If this were so, then we would never be able to respond to the gospel” (Pack).  The Christian life is a growth process, and Jesus Himself told His disciples that people did not have to know all His teachings in order to become a Christian.  In Matthew 28:18-20, He tells His apostles these words before returning to heaven: “All authority has been given Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  We see clearly that Jesus expects that there be teaching to persuade one to become a disciple, and then there is more teaching after one becomes a disciple.  This shows that one's initial knowledge does not have to be very comprehensive.  This raises an interesting question: “How much does a person need to know to become a Christian?”  When you look at the book of Acts, you can find the answer.  How many sermons did the Ethiopian official, Saul, Cornelius, Lydia, and a jailer in Philippi hear before they became Christians?  The answer for all of them is: “Just one!”  If you believe there is one true, living, active God, and His Son is Jesus, the Messiah, Who died on the cross to save us and Who rose from the grave to give us hope, that you want to have freedom from living under sin's domination and want to live in the future according to Jesus’ teachings, that you want to confess your belief in Jesus and your decision to follow Him, and that you want to be immersed for the forgiveness of your past sins in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit (as we just heard), then you know enough to become a Christian this morning.  Yes, you know enough, so don't hesitate any longer!
The next excuse is this: “I'm not sure about giving up sin's pleasures.” Hebrews 11:24-26 tells that Moses chose to suffer affliction with God's people than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.  It cannot be denied that a sinful life can involves some pleasures, but notice that they are passing carnal pleasures.  John admonishes us not to love the world nor the things in the world.  Why?  Was John just trying to be killjoy and ruin your fun?  No, he gives us two reasons in 1 John 2:16-17: “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”  A worldly lifestyle does not have its origin in God.  This means that its ultimate origin is in Satan. Sowing wild oats always ends in a bitter harvest!  “And the world is passing away, and lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever.”  Everything in this world is temporal; only doing God's will as He commands will bring lasting joy.  So, this means that you must make up your mind whether you want Satan's temporal pleasures or Jesus' eternal joys.  “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Galatians 6:7-8)!
The next excuse is this: “I'm not sure I can believe the Bible, Jesus, or hell.”  The literature of the cultures around Israel were from those that believed in many gods and explained them in mythical ways.  The Bible, however, strongly emphasizes that there is only one God and explains His actions in historical ways.  The Bible's historical accuracy has been verified time and time again by other disciplines.  “But doesn't science show that the Bible is outdated?”  No, not really, “science and scriptures do not cancel each other out.  They simply look at the world from different perspectives, but they are not finally contradictory” (McDowell & Stewart).  Some mice that lived in a piano once discovered that the wires vibrated and that hammers struck the wires.  They proclaimed, “We have now figured out what makes the music!”  In a sense, they were right, but in another sense, they were wrong.  The hand of the musician had been ignored (Knechtle).  Sometimes we are like those mice and choose to ignore the mind of God for other explanations.  There are only four possibilities in regards to Jesus: He was a liar, a lunatic, a legend, or the Lord (Kreft & Tacelli).  When you read His claims in the Gospels, He is either lying or telling the truth.  The Gospels' writers, who faced the real possibility of death for their beliefs, had no motive for inventing a legend.  Since the Bible is true historically and scientifically, then a God who causes miracles also is possible.  That God gave Jesus all authority, so Jesus' words are truth.  And since His words are truth, His teachings on hell must be accurate.  How can Satan and evil people never be punished? Our sense of justice cries against it.  The Bible not only claims to be inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17), but it also shows God's hand in its predictions and promises and their fulfillments.  Jesus' teachings have stood the test of time, but perhaps the best way to make the Bible and Jesus more believable is to try putting His teachings into practice in your own life and see if they don't bring improvement and a greater peace of mind.
The next excuse is: “I'm not good enough yet.”  Now people can appreciate “the modesty and honesty of an individual who realizes the limitation of his or her own moral and spiritual life.   But [think about it] this way.  If you were good enough, you would have no need of Christ and of His saving grace.  [One of the first requirements] for one to become a Christian is to realize that we are not good enough to save ourselves.   'For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God'” (Romans 3:23, Pack).  “Some mistakenly believe they are expected to act like mature Christians right away.  They look at those who have been Christians for years.  They know they cannot act like that immediately, so they assume they must change themselves completely before becoming Christians.  This actually is 'putting the cart before the horse'.  We gradually put off the 'old man' and put on the 'new man' (Colossians 3:8-10).  We overcome the sins of the flesh only with the help of Jesus and the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:12-13, Copeland)!
The next excuse is: “I'm better than most Christians.”  “We do not become Christians to be like other people; we become Christians to be like Christ.  He is our supreme Example.  He is the center of our lives, and the Lord of our spirits.  We have not tried to pattern ourselves after the example of others, but we are trying to follow in His steps.  To be a Christian is to ... model one's life after Jesus Christ in attitude, in thought, in word and deed.  [Since] this is true, whatever others may do and however insincere they may be should not keep [you] from being like Christ” (Pack).  While we're talking about Jesus, did you notice that He didn't let hypocritical religious leaders in His day keep Him from obeying God and going to the synagogues?  Here's another question for you: “Would it be worse to spend a few years with a few hypocrites or to spend all eternity with all hypocrites?  Don't compare your life with other people's lives.  Don't let insincere Christians cause you to lose sight of Jesus and salvation (Copeland)!
The next excuse is: “I'm not a church person.”  People who give this excuse usually mean that they have little experience in their past being in a congregation; they often fear that they will be “a fish out of water” when comes to the worship and work of the church.  The church is God's family, and it has all ages in it spiritually speaking.  Some are “babes in Christ”; some are tested soldiers who have endured many spiritual struggles.  Down deep, all Christians realize that we are sinful people who were blessed to learn the truth, and we realize also that we can still goof up, misread situations, and end up mistreating other members in the body.  Don't feel like you might not measure up.  In fact, none of us will ever measure up to the perfection of Jesus.  Learn together with us!
The next excuse is: “I'm not too happy with the preacher there.”  This statement can be based on many issues: doctrinal soundness, personality clashes, different expectations, lack of credibility or wisdom.  Now, as a preacher, I don't know too many preachers who enter the pulpit intentionally to browbeat, to insult, to downgrade, and to offend the flock.  Most of those I that know want to preach the truth in love and want to persuade others to follow Jesus and to live by His precepts.  The apostle Paul once asked in Galatians 4:16: “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?”  Paul also said this in 2 Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure [the Gospel] in earthen vessels [a human body], that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”  Bottom line: Preachers too are human with personalities, misjudgments, and sometimes even wrong words.  Even lousy preachers, however, usually have a couple of good ideas in each sermon.  Follow Jesus and pray for the preacher!
The next excuse is: “I'm not sure I can keep my job and be a Christian.”  Sometimes jobs aren't very compatible with Christ's teachings.  In this case, you might consider changing jobs.  Sometimes telling the truth is very hard for those with certain jobs.  Even though it may be hard, it can be done.  One Christian began telling the truth all the time.  His sales increased, and he developed a reputation for honesty.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) became this Christian's motto.  Jesus promises that if we will seek God's kingdom and His righteousness first, then our necessities will be provided (Matthew 6:33).  Being a Christians on the job can be challenging, but it is not impossible.
The next excuse is: “I'm afraid of going against my parents, spouse, or old friends.”  Jesus made a very challenging statement in Matthew 10:37: “He who loves father and mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”  The beliefs of our parents, spouse, and old friends are important and influential, but those beliefs could also be mistaken and contrary to Jesus' teachings.  Wouldn't others want you to stand for the truth and to live by your convictions?  Nobody can answer for you at the Judgment Day (Copeland).  Love Jesus above all others and help them to also see the truth of His teachings!
The next excuse is: “I'm satisfied with following a creed.”  Jesus stated in Matthew 15:6: “Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.”  In other words, these Jewish religious leaders’ interpretations and customs caused God's command to be disobeyed.  And isn't this the same danger with any man-made creed?  Instead of practicing divine instruction, we end up practicing merely human opinion.  Jesus said in John 12:48: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”  Jesus says that His words will judge us in the final day.  Shouldn't we follow Jesus' words rather than any human creed?
The next excuse is: “I'm hopeful that God will eventually save all.”  This is a comforting idea, but it is a false one according to Jesus.  In the parable of wheat and tares, the sons of the wicked one will be cast into the furnace (Matthew 13:37-43).  In the parable of the dragnet the wicked will be separated from the just and will be cast into the fire (Matthew 13:47-50).  Jesus told how all will be judged and separated into the sheep and the goats, and the goats will go away into everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:31-46).  Jesus’ words in John 5:28-29 are very clear: “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and whose who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”  Don't be deluded by the falsehood that God will save all.  Unbelievers will be punished.
The next excuse and one used very often is: “I'll do it later.”  A Roman official once told Paul: “... when I have a convenient time, I will call for you” (Acts 24:25).  That convenient time never came, and he died a lost soul.  “Somehow we wish to evade the issue, but there is a note of urgency that runs throughout the Scriptures.  It is the eternal now.  Now is the time of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 3:15)” (Pack)!  Satan knows that he will still be your master if he can persuade you with these words at every invitation: “Put it off!  Wait until later!”  Don't let your soul run the risk of being lost!  This actually could be your last opportunity to accept Jesus' invitation.  None of us knows when our death will come, and then it will be forever too late!
“However plausible you may think any excuse is in the presence of the great invitation of Jesus, it really becomes flimsy.  If this sermon has touched upon the excuse that you have been offering or not, there is nothing that is so important as to allow that to stand in your way of coming to Him who can bless and save your soul.  Won't you reconsider and come today?  Won't you let Jesus have His way with you?  “All things are ready, come to Jesus' feast!”  Jesus must get very very tired of our excuses. Don't disappoint Him again!  Don't delay!  Don't hesitate!