As we introduce the topic of excuse making, it is important to distinguish between reasons and excuses. Reasons are valid but excuses are garbage. Sometimes there are reasons why someone cannot do his duty. However, most of the time our "reasons" for not accomplishing what we should are simply nonsense excuses. Luke 14:15-24 aids us in understanding the danger of being an excuse maker, as well as the benefits of pushing past our excuses to accomplish good things for the Lord’s glory.
1. Life is Easier Without Excuses (v. 17)
In our text, the supper has already been made. The invitations have already been distributed. The text tells us it is now “supper time” and “all things are now ready.” The easy thing to do would be to sit down and enjoy the supper. Yet, the excuse makers choose the more difficult path.
God’s way is always easier than the world’s way. “The way of the transgressor is hard” (Proverbs 13:15). Abundant life is much easier than a carnally indulgent life. God’s will is always easier than self-will. Life is easier without our excuses.
2. Excuse Makers Can Always Find Others to Agree (v. 18)
Notice that verse 18 explains how “they all with one consent began to make excuse.” This implies that the three guests, and maybe more, assembled in a group and decided to offer individual excuses. “With one consent” they agreed not to attend the supper. To skip the supper was definitely the wrong thing to do, but in spite of that, and because of the "echo chamber" they were creating, they agreed together to make excuses.
3. Excuses Usually Include Some Truth (vv. 18-20)
The man in verse 18 had probably purchased a piece of ground. There was likely truth to that. It is similarly likely that the man in verse 19 had purchased five yoke of oxen. It is also probably true that the man in verse 20 had a very controlling wife. It is likely that there were bits of truth to what they were saying. However, who buys ground that he has not seen? And who purchases oxen he has not tested or “proven"? Those parts of the excuse were probably lies. But "white lies” are still lies. These excuses were partially true but nevertheless deliberately deceitful. Half-true deception is a common habit of excuse makers.
4. Excuse Makers Are Good at Posturing (vv. 18-20)
To posture is to exhibit behavior intended to impress or mislead. The statement “I pray thee, have me excused” was clearly posturing. I imagine that, as it came out of their mouth, they thought, “I wonder if he’s buying this?" To say “I pray thee, have me excused” was obviously phrased to impress and mislead. Their response was deceitful posturing, something excuse makers are good at.
5. Excuse Making Causes Work for Others (vv. 17, 21, 22, 23)
The servant in Jesus' parable had already done a lot of work. It is likely that he helped the man (v. 16) prepare the “great supper.” In verse 17, the servant was sent to retrieve the invitees because dinner was ready. And though he had already been working, because of the excuse makers in verses 18-20, the servant was given more work. When the “master of the house” instructs the servant to “go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city…” (v. 21), it means more work for the servant.
In verse 23, when the servant is instructed to “go out into the highways and hedges…” he receives even more work. If the original invitees had attended the supper, this servant would not have had to perform these extra tasks. Excuse making creates more work for others.
6. Excuse Makers Reveal the Condition of Their Hearts (v. 21)
Indirectly, the passage reveals the condition of the heart of the excuse makers. After all, verse 21 explains that the servant was now to invite the “poor, maimed, halt, and blind.” People with those disadvantages would be desperate. They would be excited to enjoy the supper. By contrast, the excuse makers had hearts of self-importance. They were arrogant in their hearts, not desperate. The excuse makers had an exaggerated sense of their own importance. The condition of their heart was clearly revealed by their preposterous excuses.
7. Excuse Making Causes People Who Love You To Be Angry (v. 21; v. 16)
Verse 21 indicates that the master of the house was “angry“ with the excuse makers. Previously, in verse 16, the master had shown his love for them by sacrificing to make a great supper, but now their nonsense excuses angered him. Eventually, even people who love you will grow weary of your excuses. Loving people want to see you accomplish God’s will for your life. They want to see you do great things for His glory, yet if you continue to flounder with nonsense excuses, even loving people will become angry and disappointed.
8. If You Don’t Want To Enjoy The Benefits, Someone Else Will (vv. 21, 23)
There was a seat at the table for the man who had the piece of ground but in his place sat someone else. There was a seat for the man with the oxen and another seat for the newly married man. However, in both of those seats sat two other individuals; likely their substitutes were maimed, halt, or blind. If you don’t want to enjoy the benefits that God provides, someone else will.
9. Excuse Making Always Has Consequences (v. 24)
Verse 24 indicates “that none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.” There were consequences for their excuses. It’s as if the master is saying “Nope! Nope! Nope! None of you will partake of the supper because of your excuses.” You can choose your excuse but you can’t choose the consequences.
10. Good Servants Are Not Excuse Makers (v. 22)
The servant in this passage is the most underrated character in the parable. He works and works without making excuse. He is submissive and helpful. He says in verse 22 “Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded…” He is obedient to the commands of his Lord. The next phrase that the servant utters is “…yet there is room.” The servant gives the master an update knowing that the update was going to cause him more work. Yet he gives the update anyway. He never complains or murmurs, even though those three excuse makers caused him more work. Why? Because a good servant shares the heart of his master. A good servant is not an excuse maker because he wants to see his master’s vision fulfilled. Good servants get stuff done. They don’t let excuses stand in their way.
To conclude, we Christians need to be like that obedient servant. Before we were saved, we were the “poor, and the maimed, and the halt and the blind” (Luke 14:21). Before our salvation, we were the desperate hearted people eager to attend the dinner. After salvation, we are His servants, and privileged to be so! No time for excuses, just eagerness to do the work of our Master and accomplish His will.
The above article was written by James C. Johnson. He is pastor of NorthStone Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL. To offer him your feedback, comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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In Pastor Johnson's latest sermon, he explains the Bible's teaching on physical weakness.