“But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.”
Some who are invited to the gospel banquet do not openly express their hatred of the one who gives it, but they make excuses. As the parable says, they go off “one to his field, another to his business” (v.5). Jesus elaborates that point in Luke’s version of the parable. There he says, “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). Each of those excuses is trifling. As Jesus tells it, it is not a case of a man’s being on his deathbed, unable to move, nor a woman’s being kept at home by a violent husband. Not one of their excuses has any weight at all. So what if a man had just bought a field? There is no reason why he would have had to see it on that particular day and so miss the banquet. The field would wait. There was no reason why the second person had to try out his oxen. They would keep. Even the excuse about marriage had no weight. Are we to think that a new bride would be unwelcome at a feast to which her husband had been invited?
Besides that, the invitation was not the first they had received. In both versions of the parable Jesus speaks of an invitation to those who had already been sent out. There was no excuse for the guests to have failed in arranging their schedules accordingly. When the final summons came they should have been anticipating the festivities eagerly.
Many who reject the gospel invitation today have equally flimsy excuses and will rightly incur the King’s wrath. They say they are too busy for spiritual things. They say they have fields or patients or bonds or whatever it is that imprisons their souls and keeps them from faith in him who brings salvation.
Spurgeon, whom I quoted yesterday, tells of a rich ship owner who was visited by a godly man. The Christian asked, “Well, sir, what is the state of your soul?” to which the merchant replied, “Soul? I have no time to take care of my soul. I have enough to do just taking care of my ships.” But he was not too busy to die, which he did about a week later.1
Do you fit that pattern? Are you more interested in your good credit than in Christ? Do you read the stock quotations more than you read your Bible? You do not have to murder a prophet to miss out. You have only to fritter away your time on things that will eventually pass away and thus let your opportunities for repentance pass by.
1 Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “Making Light of Christ” in The New Park Street Pulpit, vols. 1-6 (Pasadena, Tex.: Pilgrim Publications, 1975)