You Have to Show Up

People actually choose to not go to heaven.

Luke 14:15-24 (ESV)

When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”

Notice how the people invited to the banquet give ridiculous excuses for why they can’t come. That’s the point. They were invited some time ago; they had plenty of time to schedule things. They’re not coming because they don’t want to come. Their excuses are laughably lame.

Note also that this parable is a response to another guest saying, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” This isn’t about just any old banquet; it’s about the banquet.

Thus this parable has a surprising and creepy message. People are too busy and self-absorbed to accept an invitation to heaven. The invitation will not be repeated, and they will be locked out.

But remember the question in Chapter 13, “Will those who are saved be few?” This parable speaks volumes to that. The banquet will be big enough to accept everyone who is willing to come. If those who are saved end up being few, it won’t be due to limited space.

Jesus is, once again, trying to get their attention with a shocking metaphor. Their perspective is totally wrong.

As long as they’re comfortable, they’re not ripe for an attitude adjustment.


People who are comfortable are hard to reach. If you don’t have a problem, you don’t turn to God. This is the flip side of, “There are no atheists in foxholes.”

This principle applies to Christians too. We need to learn, over and over, that we can’t depend on ourselves; we have to depend on God. Unfortunately, this lesson can be painful and expensive.

This leads to a bold prayer – that God would teach us to depend on Him more. We can hope that this lesson won’t be painful, but if we’re serious we have to be open to however the Lord chooses to teach us.

It’s that important.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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