You would think the church leaders of Jesus’ day would have gotten it by now, but they haven’t. So Jesus begins His third lesson.
Starting in verse 16, “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.’ But they all alike began to make excuses.”
In that culture, after invitations were sent guests would send an RSVP back to the host letting them know if they planned to attend. This would let the host know how much food to prepare. Once the host had everything ready they would send messengers to their guests letting them know it was time to come to the party. This time consuming process typically meant that their parties would not start until the evening meal.
In this story, the people that had been invited sent RSVPs confirming their attendance, but at the last minute they began to make excuses.
The first person said he could no longer come because he had just purchased a field and had to go see it. This was a bad excuse because no good or even decent businessman would buy property sight unseen. Also, it would not make sense to travel and see it at night.
The second person’s excuse was no better. They changed their mind about attending because they had just bought ten cows and wanted to try them out. Just like the first person, no sensible farmer would buy animals sight unseen. And they definitely would not take them into the field to work in the dark.
The third person’s excuse might have been the worst. He said he could not attend because he had just gotten married. The party host was probably a close friend of the man who had gotten married and would have known about his wedding date, planning accordingly. People in that culture did not run off to Vegas and get married on a whim, not to mention that this man had already sent his RSVP.
So, after receiving these responses the host is not happy. Check out what he says to his servant in verse 21, “’Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ ‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’”
Interesting to note that none of the poor, crippled, blind, and lame said no. Instead of making excuses as to why they could not come, they gladly accept the invitation and attend.
The third thing that Jesus wants us to learn is… the Church is not complete without people affected by disabilities.
God makes this point clear throughout Scripture. We see in 1 Corinthians 12:22-23, “Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.” God is talking about the marginalized, the poor, and the disabled.
But remember “inclusion” goes far beyond being present. It involves being embraced and being made a priority.
For too long the church has viewed the poorness and disability of the marginalized as their only gift to offer the church. This should not be. If we hold this perspective we are making our friends the objects of ministry. Our friends should never be the objects of ministry. They should be our partners in ministry because they have so much to offer.
Do not be an excuse maker. Take action!
Ryan Wolfe is the Disability Ministry Pastor at First Christian Church in Canton, OH. Click to read Ryan’s full bio.