David Guzik Commentary on the Bible
Luke 14:1-35 - FEASTS AND INVITATIONS
A. Healing on the Sabbath.
1. (Luke 14:1) Jesus eats in a Pharisee’s home.
Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely.
a. He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath: Even though Jesus had some of His greatest disputes with the Pharisees, He still associated with them - not to be one of them, but to show them a godly example.
b. They watched Him closely: Jesus was under constant observation. People wanted to know what He would do in different situations, and they would form their opinions about God and Jesus based on what they saw.
i. In 2 Corinthians 3:2-3, Paul explains that we are letters from Jesus, that all men read; that the letters are not written with ink, but with the Holy Spirit, and not on paper, but on our own hearts. We are the only Bible many will ever read.
2. (Luke 14:2-4) In front of His critics, Jesus heals the man.
And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had dropsy. And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go.
a. Dropsy is an “abnormal accumulation of serous fluid in the tissues of the body.” (Liefeld) The word for dropsy here comes from the Greek words for “water” and “face,” because the disease often made a person look bloated in their face.
b. He took him and healed him, and let him go: We notice that there seems to be no ceremony or hocus-pocus in the healing ministry of Jesus. He just did it, and the man was completely well.
c. Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath? The issue would not revolve around the healing directly, but on healing on the Sabbath. When Jesus healed the man, did He do work on the Sabbath, and violate God’s command?
i. Of course, Jesus never broke the commandments of God. But He did often offend man’s traditions that surrounded the commandments of God. We can do the same thing. For some reason, Christians have come to think that smoking breaks a commandment of God; that dancing breaks a commandment of God, and so forth. We are challenged enough by God’s commandments without laying man’s traditions on top of them!
3. (Luke 14:5-6) Jesus explains why He can heal on the Sabbath.
Then He answered them, saying, “Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” And they could not answer Him regarding these things.
a. Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day? Jesus’ logic is simple and can’t be disputed. If it is all right to help animals on the Sabbath, how much more is it right to heal people who are made in God’s image?
b. The legalism of the Pharisees is really an expression of their pride. What can be more proud than setting man’s traditions above the law of God?
B. Jesus teaches on pride and humility.
1. (Luke 14:7) The setting for this teaching.
So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them:
a. So He told a parable: What follows is a parable, a real-life illustration set along side a Biblical truth to give an example. Parables are not fables; Jesus didn’t tell fanciful stories with morals. He took real-life situations familiar to all, and used them to illustrate God’s truth.
b. When He noted how they chose the best places: At the home of the Pharisee, Jesus noticed how people strategically placed themselves so as to be in the best places; that is, the places of most honor.
c. In Jesus’ day, the seating arrangement at a dinner showed a genuine “pecking order.” The most honored person sat in a particular seat, the next most honored person in another seat, and so on down the line.
2. (Luke 14:8-9) What not to do: don’t take the highest place on your own initiative.
“When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place.”
a. Do not sit in the best place: If one takes the most honored seat for himself, he may be asked to be removed if the host would rather have someone else sit there.
b. This is a perfect picture of a person trying to advance himself by self-promotion and politicking, instead of being humble letting God do the work.
i. Then how do you get promoted? Don’t play the self-promotion games; do your work hard and unto the Lord, and let God raise you up. For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south, but God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another. (Psalms 75:6-7)
3. (Luke 14:10-11) What to do: take a lower place, and let God move you up.
“But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
a. Go and sit down in the lowest place: When we are at the lower place, we aren’t there just to be noticed so we can go up higher. Nor are we miserable there, and letting everyone know by our facial expressions that we really don’t belong there.
i. Jesus isn’t merely teaching good manners, but a lifestyle that in lowliness of mind esteems others better than himself. (Philippians 2:3)
b. Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you: Instead, we joyfully embrace the lower place; we aren’t filled with such a high opinion of ourselves that we think we don’t “belong” there. Then we are rewarded before the Lord. To truly humble yourself is to get your eyes off yourself, and to start living an others-centered life.
c. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted: When we seek to take honor to ourselves, we will always be humbled - if not on earth, then for all of eternity. The promise of exaltation for the humble and humiliation for the proud is one ultimately fulfilled in eternity.
i. We don’t the same cultural situation for wedding feasts today; but we certainly do have the desire to grasp for a certain position or status. And we even learn how to do our grasping with a spiritual veneer!
ii. We may choose the low place, and act meek and humble, so that others may notice how humble we are. This is a subtle form of spiritual pride that is very dangerous.
iii. When we get our own position, either through outward or subtle pride, we can even say “it was the Lord, it was the Lord” - but in our heart of hearts we know it was us, our own calculation, our own schemes, our own grasping. We should remember the words of George MacDonald: In whatever man does without God, he must fail miserably - or succeed more miserably.
d. Jesus had the right to teach on this subject, because He fulfilled it perfectly. He is the ultimate example of someone who deserved the highest seat, but took the lowest seat, and was “moved up” to the highest seat. (Philippians 2:5-11)
4. (Luke 14:12-14) Jesus warns His host about the danger of pride when it comes to the guest list.
Then He also said to him who invited Him, “When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
a. When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends: We can show pride not only as the guest, but also as a host - and we do so through our “guest list.”
i. Do not ask is actually “do not habitually ask.” It isn’t wrong to ever invite your friends, your brothers, and so on; but it is wrong to only invite such people.
b. Lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid: Do we associate only with people who can “advance” us or give something to us? Or are we willing to be “givers” in relationship also? It is easy for us to limit our “guest list” to a few comfortable, easy people, instead of reaching out to others.
i. Jesus is telling us to not associate with people on a “what’s in it for me?” basis. That is self-centered living; we are called to follow Jesus, and He showed others-centered living.
c. You shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just: This kind of living will cost us something, and the full repayment comes only at the resurrection of the just; but it is worth it!
C. The guests of the Messiah’s Banquet.
1. (Luke 14:15) An exclamation about the Messiah’s Banquet.
Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”
a. Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God! From Old Testament times, the Messianic Banquet was greatly expected. In the New Testament we know it as the marriage supper of the Lamb: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! (Revelation 19:9)
b. Feasts were the most joyous, happy occasions of life. God shows us that we shouldn’t have a dull, gray Christian life.
2. (Luke 14:16-24) Jesus’ parable about the great feast.
Then He said to him, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’”
a. Come, for all things are now ready: In a day without clocks, the date of the banquet was announced long before, but the exact time only was announced the very day.
b. But they all with one accord began to make excuses: Central to this parable are the excuses that are offered. The excuses are different, but really all the same - they all with one accord began to make excuses.
i. Excuses are made. They are fashioned for convenience, and are clung to in desperation.
c. I have bought a piece of ground . . . I have bought five yoke of oxen: The first two excuses have to do with material things - and are each pretty lame. After all, what kind of fool first buys a piece of land, and then goes to check it? If you have already bought ten oxen, what is the use of testing them after you have already bought them?
i. When we buy something new, we are almost always preoccupied by it. Preoccupation with the things of the world is a common excuse for not following Jesus.
d. I have married a wife: The third excuse has to do with a man who puts his family before the Lord. The best thing we can show to our family is that they are not first in our lives, but that the Lord is.
i. These excuse makers condemn themselves; their excuses are only a thin veil hiding the fact that they do not want to come. “Back of an excuse is a lack of desire.” (Morgan) There is no rational reason why someone would not want to be part of this feast; they just don’t want to.
e. Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind: If those first invited to the feast refuse, there will still be a feast - the master will not give a feast in vain!
f. Jesus responds to the man’s exclamation Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God! by saying “You admire the Messianic Banquet; are you ready to receive the invitation to come? Will you make excuses?”
i. Especially when you know what sort of people will be there: redeemed sinners and the maimed and the lame and blind.
g. Compel them to come in, that my house may be filled: Augustine and others have used the phrase compel them to come in as a justification to coerce people into Christianity, sometimes-using persecution and torture.
i. Why did Jesus say compel? These wanderers and outcasts would need to be convinced that they were really welcome - compel, yes - but in love.
ii. Bruce on compel: it “Reflects in the first place the urgent desire of the master to have an absolutely full house, in the second the feeling that pressure will be needed to overcome the incredulity of country people as to the invitation to them being meant seriously. They would be apt to laugh in the servant’s face.”
C. The cost of receiving the invitation.
1. (Luke 14:25-26) Disciples must put Jesus first.
Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.”
a. He cannot be My disciple: With this teaching, Jesus will help us define what a disciple is. The word disciple simply means “learner.” A disciple is someone who is a student, a learner of Jesus.
i. So, what does it take to become a learner of Jesus? Jesus has just shown us that coming to God is like accepting an invitation (Luke 14:16-24); is that all there is to it?
b. If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple: First, Jesus boldly says that nothing can come between you and God. Even good things such as family and the instinct of self-preservation cannot become idols to the true disciple.
i. Think of how audacious Jesus is! He asks for this kind of ultimate commitment, and we give it to Him - why? Because of love. When we know the love of Jesus; when we are in a love-relationship with Him, only then can we be committed to Him with this great devotion.
ii. Napoleon understood this principle when he said, “I know men; and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander [the Great], Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love; and this hour millions of men would die for him.”
c. Hate is a strong word, but that is exactly how it can seem to family members and friends when we put Jesus before them.
2. (Luke 14:27) Disciples must count themselves as dead; they must go all the way.
“And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
a. Bear his cross and come after Me: The one carrying a cross essentially walked down death row to their place of execution. They knew there was no turning back, and it was a total, complete commitment, with your life was completely yielded. You knew your life didn’t belong to you any more.
b. This is total commitment; Jesus gave Himself for us totally, and expects us to give ourselves to Him totally.
i. We can understate the demands of Jesus when we preach the gospel to others. We can give them the impression that coming to Jesus is only believing some facts instead of yielding a life.
c. “The general idea that these words of Jesus about bearing the cross refer to passive submission to all kinds of afflictions, like disappointments, pain, sickness and grief that come upon man in life, is totally wrong . . . only a person who for the sake of His service surrenders all self-seeking and abandons all striving after his own interests can be His disciple.” (Geldenhuys)
3. (Luke 14:28-33) Counting the cost before you come to Jesus.
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it; lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.”
a. Sit down first and count the cost: In the parable of the tower, Jesus says “sit down and see if you can afford to follow Me.”
b. Sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand: In the parable of the king, Jesus says “sit down and see if you can afford to refuse My demands.”
c. Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple: We have a difficult challenge in understanding and communicating the gospel here; there are two extremes to avoid.
i. We can never give people the impression that they have to clean up their lives before the come to Jesus; that is like washing up before you take a bath.
ii. But also, we can never give people the impression that Jesus won’t want to clean up their lives with their cooperation after they come to Him.
iii. It is as if we have an apartment and give the ownership of that apartment to Jesus. We don’t have to remodel the apartment before we give it to Jesus; but once we do, He comes in and starts tearing down walls and fixing up things. Being a disciple means that you help Jesus in that work instead of resisting it, or changing things back to the old way.
d. When the ancient Greek phrase forsake all that he has was applied to people meant, “to say goodbye to.” Jesus tells us to “say goodbye” to everything we have, entrusting it to Jesus.
4. (Luke 14:34-35) Don’t be a lukewarm follower of Jesus!
“Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
a. If the salt has lost its flavor: Salt that loses its “saltiness” can’t be of use to Jesus. God looks for believers with “tang” that He can use.
b. Salt is only useful when it has the nature of salt. A Christian is only useful when he has the nature of Christ.
5. (Luke 15:1) How do people react to the radical demands of the gospel? These sinners respond, they do not reject.
Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.
a. This stern gospel was not inconsistent with Jesus’ love; it was the result of His love. Sinners and outcasts saw the love prompting the bold call to discipleship, and they responded.
b. People respond to a challenging gospel, if the truth is spoken in love. We do a great disservice when we “soften” the demands of the gospel, either for others or for ourselves.
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