One of my favorite movies is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Probably because my family growing up was the Griswolds. My family even came complete with a 1983 Metallic Pea-Ford-Family-Truckster.
After failing to install 25,000 (250 strands, 100 bulbs per strand) imported Italian twinkle lights on their home, Clark tries to enlist his son to stay up late on his Christmas break to help him fix the problem. The funniest part of this scene are the excuses Rusty makes as to why he can’t help.
Clark: Russ, we checked every bulb, didn’t we?
Rusty Griswold: Sure, Dad.
Clark: Hmm… Maybe we ought to just go up there and check…
Rusty Griswold: Oh, woo. Look at the time. I gotta get to bed. I still gotta brush my teeth, feed the hog, still got some homework to do, still got those bills to pay, wash the car…
“Feed the hog,” that’s my favorite. To this day I still use “feed the hog” as an excuse if I jokingly don’t want to do something.
Parable of the Great Feast
Luke 14:16-20 (NLT) 16 Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ 18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’
To add additional context, Jesus tells this story right after, presumably a Pharisee, says, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God (v. 15)!”
The power of the illustration is actually found in the lame excuses of those invited. A person would never buy a field without looking at it first. Neither would a person buy five oxen without first having tried them out. Because the equivalent of a present day “Save the Date” went out for banquets like this, a person getting married wouldn’t have an excuse for not making the dinner. They would have been given ample time plan and prepare to be there.
The first two excuses (purchasing a field and oxen) are centered around a greater preoccupation with material possessions. While the “new wife” excuse was just that, an excuse.
As a pastor for twelve years, I have heard my fair share of excuses. The trouble is, I get that business and relationships are important to people’s lives, but Jesus keeps teaching over and over again that it should never come at the cost of relationship with him! Later in the chapter we even read that Jesus wants everyone to “count the cost” of following him; even making sure that we don’t put our own family ahead of him in our priority relationships.
The Good News Jesus proclaims is that EVERYONE’S INVITED to the wedding feast! Jesus’ audience again would have been astounded to hear that a wealthy man providing a great feast would invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame. But that’s the point! Everyone’s invited; but not everyone will come.
The invitations go out, and the servants (disciples) go out to let everyone know the banquet is ready, but some people choose not to attend. Through their excuses they communicate that other things are more important.
The table is set, the food is prepared, the “Save the Dates” have been sent out, and now the workers are telling everyone the banquet is ready. There’s a seat at the table for you, the question is, will you be sitting in it. Only you can make the choice, what’s your excuse?
If you would like more information on making the choice to follow Jesus, please email me at: email@example.com. I would be more then happy to talk about this with you.