corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.02.23
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary
Luke 14

 

 

Verse 1

SABBATH WORKS AND WORDS

‘And it came to pass, as He went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched Him.’

Luke 14:1

Let us follow the Lord in spirit, and listen to the instruction that He gave to those who were gathered with Him at the board. Our subject calls us to notice two things in particular:—

I. His Sabbath works (Luke 14:1-6).—All His works may be summed up in one word—‘Who went about doing good’ (Acts 10:38). And the Sabbath was no exception. As the Father does good by carrying on His works of providence, so the Son His works of grace (John 5:16-17). See on the present occasion. He finds a poor man in the house suffering from dropsy. Without waiting for an application for help, He anticipates the sufferer’s wants (Isaiah 65:24; Psalms 59:10). He anticipates also the thoughts of the murmurers’ hearts (Luke 14:3; Matthew 9:4; Hebrews 4:12-13; Revelation 2:23). He performs the good deed of healing (Exodus 15:26; Jeremiah 17:14). He justifies Himself at the expense of His enemies (Luke 14:5-6; Romans 3:9). They were really annoyed with Christ, because He did good upon the Sabbath (1 John 3:12-13; cf. John 10:32-33).

II. His Sabbath words (Luke 14:7-11).—Like His works, they were always good. He always turned the conversation to what was important and edifying (Ephesians 4:29). Thus was He the faithful and true Witness (John 18:37). One is inclined to be silent in the presence of the wicked (Psalms 39:1-2), but not so Christ. See on the present occasion how He improves the opportunity. From the feast He leads their thoughts to the gospel feast (Luke 14:16). From their taking seats at table He teaches them humility (Luke 14:8-11). Christ’s eye is upon us in the commonest actions (Psalms 139:2). He sees us take our place at table, and remarks upon it. He bids us esteem others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3; 3 John 1:9). Pride goes before a fall (Luke 14:9; Proverbs 29:23). Before honour there must be humility (Luke 14:10; Proverbs 15:33; Proverbs 25:6-7).

Let us not fail to lay these things to heart. I fear that with many of us Sunday words and Sunday deeds are not what they should be. How much time is lost in idleness or foolish talking! Let us listen to the words of the Apostle, when he calls us to be followers of Christ (Ephesians 5:1-2; Ephesians 5:4; Ephesians 5:16).

—Bishop Rowley Hill.

Illustration

‘All God’s people always had the institution of the Sabbath. There was first of all the patriarchal Sabbath instituted of God, which was the life of the family, and for this patriarchal or family life God instituted the seventh day as a day of rest. This was followed by the Jewish or national institution, with additional ceremonial observances. And then, last of all, followed the Christian Sunday, which included the family and the national life, and also the whole world. First, the seventh day, then the Sabbath and the ceremonial observances, and then, last of all, the Lord’s Day. The Sabbath, under the Jewish régime, became almost a purely ceremonial observance; it overlapped everything, even to absurdity. So the institution of the Lord’s resting day had been over-larded by effete, absurd, and exacting ceremonials. Then comes our Lord and Master, and gives us very definitely the law about the Christian day of rest—the Lord’s Day.’


Verse 3

THE SPIRIT OF SUNDAY OBSERVANCE

‘Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?’

Luke 14:3

It was at Capernaum that the controversy with our Lord about the Sabbath took place. What do we learn from our Lord’s teaching?

I. All the ceremonial prescription must give way to necessity.—When the disciples of the Lord were hungry, and plucked the ears of corn and rubbed them in their hands, and so broke the law from necessity, He commended what they did. And so, we know, then, that when there is a case of necessity, the ceremonial law may be broken. And it comes into our lives in this way—some one says: ‘If I do not keep my little shop open on Sunday, I shall starve.’ Very well, if it is a case of starvation, I won’t say a word against it. If a man were to say, ‘It is absolutely necessary for me to go right away on the Sunday’—if it is absolutely necessary, you may cover yourselves under your Master. But the question is, Is it absolutely necessary? The Lord certainly did tell us all prescriptive ceremonial must give way to necessity.

II. Prescriptive ceremonial must give way to service—God’s service.—And if this first law of the Lord was for the people, this is for God’s ministers, ‘The priests in the Temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless.’ They kept the law by breaking it. Their work was very arduous. So arduous was the priest’s work, that, month by month, he had to go and rest. And that covers God’s ministry. In most cases, the clergy have the hardest work to do upon the Sunday. We can cover ourselves under the law of our God and Master, and say, the priests who did God’s service were blameless.

III. All ceremonial observance must give way to mercy.—If you are coming to church, and, in some necessity of life, some poor soul calls you away, needing your help, you must not say: ‘If I help that poor chap, I shall miss church’; or, ‘I shall be late for church’ You must say: ‘No; mercy is greater than sacrifice.’ You had much better stop and do a little work of mercy, and miss church, even on Sunday.

IV. ‘The Sabbath was made for man.’—It was made, first of all, for the family; it was made for the nation, and now it is made for the whole world. He, the Son of Man, is Lord of the Day that He hath made, and that is the only reason why we have from our Lord the authority for keeping the Lord’s Day, His day.

We ought to be on the Sunday the Lord’s Day observers. That is as the Bible has indicated to us and the Church, and I tell you our one duty is to go to the Lord’s service on the Lord’s Day.

Rev. A. H. Stanton.

Illustration

‘In the French Revolution they wished to abolish it altogether, and the men in the time of the Revolution said: “Let us have seven days’ work and seven days’ pay,” and they had it; and now they have seven days’ work, but only six days’ pay. They have lost their day of rest, and long to get it back. It was made for them, and they destroyed it.’


Verse 10

IN THE LOWEST ROOM

‘Go and sit down in the lowest room.’

Luke 14:10

He had a right to say these words, Who, when all the chambers of creation were open to Him, came and ‘sat down in the lowest room!’ And, in this lone world of ours, where was He ever found, but in its ‘lowest room’?

I. The humiliation of Jesus was the basis of His exaltation; and that which obtained in the Head is only being acted, over and over again, in each one of His members; hence the evangelical power and truth which lieth in the words, ‘He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.’

II. All the unhappinesses we have ever known in life have been from not taking ‘the lowest room.’

(a) There is one man—he has fallen into sin, and therefore he is wretched. But why did he fall into that sin? He did not take sufficiently abasing views of his own utter weakness.

(b) There is another. He cannot succeed. Life, in all its greatnesses, has been a failure to him. And why? He never went deep enough.

(c) There is another. He is conscious that he has no influence. He can do no good. And why? He has yet to learn that the secret of power is sympathy, and that the soul of sympathy is to stoop, and to be little, and to make self nothing.

III. Most persons agree that their earliest religious days were their happiest and best.—May not this be traced, in part at least, to the fact that, at the beginning, we all take ‘a lower place’ than we do afterwards? Was not it that then you were least in your own eyes, that your feelings were more child-like, that you walked closer, that you had more abasing views of the wickedness of your own heart than now? And, if it be so—if we may take these words as applicable to a spiritual, as well as to a temporal prosperity, ‘When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel’—then, is not the secret of a return to more religious enjoyment, and higher religious attainment, clearly defined and pointed out distinctly, ‘Go, and take the place where once you used to sit.’

IV. When you were nothing, but God was everything, God took a most stooping course with you.—He condescended to become a suitor; and, as if He had been the sinner, He said, ‘Come, and let us reason together.’ Do you want to reclaim any one? Do you want to lead any one? Do the same. Do not say, ‘You are a sinner’; but say, ‘I am a dreadful one.’ Do not say, ‘God will punish you’; but say, ‘God has had mercy even on me’! Do not place yourself at all above, but, whatever you are, go below that man. Be learners together, be penitents together, be seekers together, be saved together, be happy together. It is in ‘the lowest room’ that all the usefulness that ever was done in this world was done.

—Rev. James Vaughan.

Illustration

‘We have been taught to regard this parable as a counsel of prudence, and of a somewhat worldly prudence, rather than as a counsel of perfection. Some of our best commentators so read it, while they confess that, thus read, it enforces an artificial rather than a real humility, that it even makes an affected humility the cloak of a selfish ambition which is only too real and perilous. What [this interpretation] really comes to is this, that when our Lord was speaking to men who eagerly grasped at the best places, all He had to give them was some ironic advice on the best way of securing that paltry end, in the hope that if they learned not to snatch at what they desired, they might by and by come to desire something higher and better. Is that like Him? Do you recognise His manner, His spirit, in it? Can you possibly be content with such an interpretation of His words as this?’


Verse 10-11

HUMILITY AND ITS REWARD

‘But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth him=shall be exalted.’

Luke 14:10-11

So that is the result of being humble, is it? ‘Go up higher; have worship.’ Shall we not all do well to be humble at this rate? It will be easy enough to sit down meekly in the lower room if our position of inferiority has only got to last until some one arrives to bid us move up to a more deserving situation. Is it, then, but a preliminary condition, this Christian humility, which we must pass through in order to leave it behind? Is it merely the proper mode by which to make our approach to a higher dignity, by which to appeal to those who can authoritatively recognise and approve and promote us? If so, we shall sit on there in the chosen place where humility so aptly reveals itself, always expecting our probation to end, always listening for the good word that will release us from our self-imposed restraint. ‘Friend, go up higher.’ How we shall leap to hear the salutation! How gaily we shall be off to receive our due reward!

I. God means man to attain fullness of life.—Christ comes that man may have life, and have it ever more and more abundantly. He looks for no meagre abnegations that lead to nothing; He abhors all forms of mere negation and nihilism, of absorption into the unconscious; He has nothing to do with flight, or refusal, or retreat, or abandonment of the world in despair, or of death into nothingness. In Christ, on the contrary, the personal, individual man is to put out all his powers; he is to arrive at his full manhood; he is to be quickened into richer and richer development. Consciousness is to become more and more tingling with life, more and more keen on victorious adventures. It is to be ever moving on from glory to glory; it is to attain its end in gladness. Therefore the Gospel of Christ cannot stop short in the negations, in the deaths, in the forsakings, in the self-sacrifices; it must go on to contemplate and to display the excellent achievements that will follow. Christian asceticism is only the recoil by which the spirit may leap farther forward on its journey towards the glorious close; and Christianity, therefore, is pledged to uphold the vision of a humanity that ever advances in splendour of effort, in fulfilment of desire, in consummation of joy. It must utter the prevailing cry which for ever evokes from man a yet fairer service, a yet nobler attainment. ‘Friend, go up higher. Thou shalt henceforth have worship. He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.’

II. All the emptying of self is an admittance of God into action within the self.—According to the measure with which man distrusts himself, denies himself, negates himself, God in Christ enters, fills, takes possession, uses, feeds. Christ takes up the room left vacant; Christ pours in His own life abundantly; Christ makes all His own. As the man dies to himself, he becomes alive in Christ; he expands, he is transfigured, he is glorified. And the greater the glory, the less is it his own. The more glory there is in him, the more he recognises its true source outside himself. His own transfiguration then intensifies his humility; its very glory fills him with shame. That is the whole secret of Christian growth; it grows by growth in humility. Far from the rewards corrupting its humility, they provoke it; for the reward, the result, is what God Himself works in the soul; it is the signal proof that He is there; and, therefore, the more visible and unmistakable the reward, the greater the evidence that it is God alone Who achieves all that is achieved. And as the assurance grows that it is Christ Who does it, the greater becomes the abasement, the sense of unworthiness in the soul that is so blessed.

III. Two things follow from this which we may just notice.

(a) First, that humility is quite real. We are not asked by Christianity to take a false measure of ourselves, to pretend to be less deserving than we are. We have not to take a lower estimate of our powers and gifts than is true. On the contrary, humility is the only temper which takes the absolutely true and exact measure of the facts. We are, as a fact, nothing at all except what we become through being in Christ. We have nothing of our own, nothing except sin. It is sin, because it is our own; that is what makes it sin. Our true life is never our own. We cannot live in ourselves; we have no origination, no initiation in ourselves. All that we are or can be comes into us out of God, and carries us out of its own energy back into God. Humility is simply the precise and sincere recognition of this, the true inner law of our life. Humility, then, is our one true relation to the reality of things.

(b) And, secondly, we note that humility and its rewards are not so much to be thought of as consecutive, but as contemporaneous. We do not really first lose our life in order that we may gain it; but by losing it—in the act of losing it—we gain it. They are simply the obverse and reverse of the same act. We go on losing it, and so go on gaining it. The first condition is no mere preliminary; it never ceases to be the one condition on which the result takes place. The impulse, the instinct to seek the lower place, is itself the secret of a responsive discovery by which we find ourselves translated to a higher room.

—Rev. Canon Scott Holland.

Illustration

‘The Christian life is a life of energy, of aspiration, of exaltation, of heroic ambition. Always it is mounting on eagles’ wings, always it is inheriting new powers. Meekness is not weakness, but the secret of all our strength; for if we only distrust and deny ourselves and trust entirely in, the force of God acting in us, there is nothing that we cannot aspire to do; there is no glory that may not be achieved, no adventure too hazardous to risk, no hope too splendidly daring. “I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me.” That is St. Paul’s confident assertion. Because he can do nothing, because he is crucified, because he is dead to himself, because he confesses himself to be the chief of sinners, because he is weak, and worthless, and empty and vain, therefore for that very reason there is nothing that he cannot do. Therefore he labours more abundantly than they all, yet not he but the grace of God in him. Our worthlessness is the measure of our worth, If once we knew our own unworthiness, then in would pour the full tide of God’s energy to fill our emptiness, to recoup our failure. “With God all things are possible.” Now, with God and in God we may dream the great dreams; we may set out on the heroic hope, we may nourish the vast ambition.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)


Verse 11

THE DOOM OF PRIDE

‘For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.’

Luke 14:11

When our Lord first began His ministerial work, and was, as it seems, looked upon as a less important person than His forerunner, His disciples were content to listen and learn. By and by His fame spread abroad, and the glory that attached itself to the Master was reflected upon the disciple, and when they were bidden even to the feasts of the wealthy, they vied for the post of honour, and one and all claimed the chief seat for themselves. Jesus saw, and as He saw He left us one of those Divine sayings which have become the heritage of mankind, and will remain such for all time—‘Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased.’

I. No reproof of healthy ambition.—Let us not allow ourselves to think that our Saviour intends to reprove a healthy ambition. No man ever did, or ever will do, any worthy work in the world without that. For a true ambition is nothing more than an instinctive desire to do our best, and to find a sphere in which we may have full play for all those powers with which God has endowed us, and that is good for us all to have.

II. But lust of supremacy condemned.—But ambition is one thing, and the lust of supremacy is another. The mere craving to be above somebody else, to have somebody else to tyrannise over, or to patronise, that is simply contemptible and bad; and that is what our Lord reproves here. Take heed how you mistake the vile counterfeit of a noble ambition for the true coin; there are some among whom to be first is to be abased; there are some places where to be chief is to be most depraved. Well for us if we bear in memory, at the right moment and in the right place, the Saviour’s words, ‘Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased.’

—Rev. Canon A. Jessopp.

Illustration

‘Humble yourself that you may be exalted; surrender yourself that you may receive the vocation; yield yourself to God that He may move forward through you to His victory; in the name of Him, Who, by this same law of spiritual advance, went up so high because He had gone so low; and because He had emptied Himself of His Godhead and been found in fashion as a man, and had humbled Himself to death, even the death upon the Cross, “was therefore by God highly exalted, and given a Name that is above every name: that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”’

(THIRD OUTLINE)

MAN’S ABASEMENT

‘Whosoever’ from our Lord’s lips is an awful word. When a man speaks thus of the moral world, in general and sweeping terms, we are apt, and with reason, to disregard his assertions. But when He thus speaks, Whose eye nothing escapes, Who sees all from the beginning to the end, the saying carries with it an admonition to solemn self-searching.

I. ‘Lord, is it I?’—Assuredly to the fullest extent of that His assertion so shall it be; and of those included in it none shall escape. ‘Whosoever’ exalted himself—not only the proud ruler of empires, whom He casts down, not only the nation, whose self-esteem He chastens in love, but the man, wheresoever or whatsoever he be, who unduly exalts himself, his own power for good, his own importance in the world, his own advancement in the spiritual life, or whatever else forms to men the subject of self-congratulation—every such feeling shall lead to abasement.

II. The whole process of our time of trial here below will be a continued succession of examples of casting down ourselves, and exalting God within us. If thou art His, expect this every day.


Verse 14

THE GENERAL RESURRECTION

‘Thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.’

Luke 14:14

Most people expect to receive the reward of good service done to God, so soon as they leave this world and enter heaven. But our Lord says, ‘Thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.’ The hope set before us is the hope of receiving the reward of dutiful service at the resurrection, and not before. The condition after death is one of expectancy and not one of fruition.

I. The great change.—The resurrection body is:—

(a) Sown in corruption; raised in incorruption.

(b) Sown in dishonour; raised in glory.

(c) Sown in weakness; raised in strength.

(d) Sown a natural body; raised a spiritual body.

It is idle to conjecture. Suffice it that we know that the risen body will be as unlike the natural body that was sown in corruption as the beautiful butterfly is unlike the mean grub, and that, nevertheless, identity will not be lost.

II. Difference of degrees.—Each in eternal life receives more or less glory and honour and rule, according as he has deserved it. Some will be glorified as saints, others saved only with fear, as brands plucked out of the fire. God is just, and rewardeth every man justly.

III. What is it that infuses into our corruptible bodies the germ of the new resurrection life and glorification?—The miracles of healing wrought by our Lord were figures of restoration from sin, but they were more than that, they were foretastes of the great healing of human nature of all its infirmities that He would effect as the great Physician of bodies as well as souls. It is noteworthy that many of these cures were wrought by His touch. And He instituted the Holy Eucharist as the means whereby we might sacramentally, yet really, touch His risen body.

Rev. S. Baring-Gould.

Illustration

‘The expression, “Thou shalt be recompensed,” is worthy of notice. It confirms the doctrine of a reward according to works, though not on account of works, in the judgment day. The similarity between the Lord’s language in this place, and that used in the description of the judgment day in Matthew 25, ought to be observed. It seems to contradict the opinion which some hold, that in Matthew our Lord is speaking only of the judgment of the heathen who never heard the Gospel. Some arguments by which this view is maintained would apply to the passage before us. Yet here it is plain that our Lord is speaking of His own hearers and disciples. It appears, more probable, that both here and in Matthew our Lord speaks of the general judgment, and that the importance of works as an evidence of faith is the truth which He desires to impress on our minds.’


Verse 15

EATING BREAD IN THE KINGDOM

‘Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God.’

Luke 14:15

That was the chance remark of a bystander who had heard our Lord speaking of the reward that belongs to the resurrection of the just.

The resurrection of the just! The glory that belongs to the risen life, worth possessing, worth struggling after! Yes, blessed is he that shall taste of that heavenly bread, that shall enjoy that holy fellowship! It is all that we mean by heaven, all that we dare to look forward to when the pilgrimage is over, something far exceeding hope or thought. Yes, fortunate is the man that reaches that place of heavenly bliss!

It is in reply to that natural exclamation that our Lord tells the story—the parable of the Great Supper. The story might be called ‘The acceptance and rejection of an invitation,’ and in it we notice three facts of importance—

(1) The joy and happiness that belong to the heavenly state.

(2) Why so many are indifferent to it.

(3) Why others accept it.

Rev. Canon Walpole.

Illustration

‘The future belongs to the strenuous, the wrestlers, the watchers, not to the idlers, and those who take no trouble. But though so many are too tired and distracted with the interests of their business or pleasures to give any heed to the invitation to that best of blessings, the Great Supper, there are others who make every effort to get there; the maimed and lame, who can only walk with difficulty; the blind, who require to be led; the poor, who have nothing but shabby clothes to go in—these all clamour to be taken in. It is far more difficult for them in some ways to get there, but their great needs have made them sure that God meant to satisfy them. They have had too little of the prosaic realities of life to be killed by them. Their sufferings have only sharpened their imagination. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of God.”’


Verse 16

THE GREAT SUPPER

‘A certain man made a great supper, and bade many.’

Luke 14:16

It is very instructive to mark the conduct of our Blessed Lord in His intercourse with worldly people. Wherever He went, He sought to do good by word as well as action.

Here we find Him at a feast (Luke 14:15), but mark how He improves the occasion (Deuteronomy 6:6-7; Ephesians 4:29; Malachi 3:16). As they sit around the festive board, He tells them of—

I. Another great feast that was made (Luke 14:16).—The feast of good things in the Gospel. We meet with this picture often in Scripture (Proverbs 9:1-5; Song of Solomon 5:1; Isaiah 25:6). So it was familiar to the hearers. What three things go to make up a feast? Nice company (Revelation 19:9; Revelation 21:27); good cheer (Isaiah 55:1-2; Revelation 7:16-17); great joy (Revelation 19:7; Revelation 21:4). What a picture of the Gospel!

II. The invitation that was given, or rather the call made (Luke 14:17).—The guests had been invited, ‘were bidden.’ A messenger now tells them it is time to come in. We have been invited, the Spirit now says, ‘Come’ (Revelation 22:17). Notice the words of invitation—‘Come.’ Just as you are—whoever you are (Luke 15:2). ‘All things’ (Ephesians 1:3) ‘are now ready.’ Father is ready (Luke 15:20-22); Son ready (John 6:35); Spirit ready (Micah 2:7). Are we ready? ‘Now’—there can be no delay (2 Corinthians 6:2; Psalms 27:8; Psalms 119:60).

III. The excuses that were offered (Luke 14:18-20).—You see they all began to make excuse (Isaiah 28:12; Jeremiah 6:10; Jeremiah 6:16); but if we examine them, each is a lie. Would a man buy a piece of ground without seeing it? Would a man buy oxen without proving them! Would not a man be glad to take his wife with him? These are the excuses of earth, but what shall he say in the presence of God (Matthew 22:12)?

IV. The solemn consequences (Luke 14:21; Luke 14:24).—Those who excused themselves from accepting the call were deprived of all the privileges (Acts 13:46; John 5:40). By the Jews rejecting the grace of God, salvation is come to the Gentiles (Romans 11). It is a fearful thing to refuse God’s Word (John 6:66) or to delay its reception (Acts 24:25).

Let us take encouragement from the Word. ‘Yet there is room’ (Luke 14:22; Psalms 130:7); room for me, room for my family, room for all I can bring—but room for no excuse.

—Bishop Rowley Hill.

Illustration

‘Unhappily, there was a large proportion of those amongst whom our Lord moved who had nothing to say to the message one way or the other. It never stirred within them one genuine feeling of repentance, never excited a single hope. They were quiet, respectable folk, mostly belonging to the commercial and comfortable classes, but too much engrossed in commerce or home to have any real sense of the next world. The next world, when they had so much to occupy them about this! The world of imagination and fancy, instead of the world of fact! The world of God, instead of the world of man! No; they were too matter-of-fact, too practical—had too much common sense to be thinking about imaginary suppers when the actual work of the world had to be done! They had nothing against it; it was all very beautiful and attractive and interesting, and doubtless very true, but then, it was not business. They liked the Preacher—He was so good, spoke in such a wonderful way, was so earnest—but the message, well, it was all very well for Him, Who had no calling in life, no family to maintain, but for themselves, frankly impossible.’


Verse 17

THE GREAT INVITATION

‘Come; for all things are now ready.’

Luke 14:17

There are many things that inspire one about this glorious invitation of the Gospel.

I. Its splendid note of confidence.—There is too much apologising for the Gospel in these days. The old preachers never apologised for Christianity.

II. There is something touching in the personal invitation.—God, Who made you, Who has watched over you from your very cradle, Who knows all about you, He speaks to you by name.

III. There is an intimation of the long and costly preparation.—It wanted the Son of God to come down from heaven to earth and live here; it wanted Him to take human flesh; it wanted Him to go through the agony and the bloody sweat and to die upon the Cross; it needed His going back to heaven to purchase the key and unlock, as it were, and let out the greater blessing of God. What are you waiting for—you who care nothing about the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

IV. Underneath all is the pressing note of urgency.—Whatever opportunities there may be in the other world, as far as it is revealed to us in the Bible, ‘now is the accepted time and now is the day of salvation.’

—Bishop A. F. Winnington-Ingram.

(SECOND OUTLINE)

THE SATISFACTION OF THE GOSPEL

When we hear this glorious invitation it makes us ask this question: ‘Has it been justified by results?’ There are certain things which very much tell against a confident answer. It is something which ought to oppress the soul of every good man and woman, that only eighteen out of every hundred in the great city of London go either to church or chapel. Now, that of itself is something which certainly prevents one from giving a confident answer; but those who can look back over a long experience among the dying, the sick, and the troubled, are able to say that they know that there has been satisfaction found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the mind and for the conscience and for the heart and for the spirit of mankind. The Gospel satisfies—

I. The mind.—Take the mind first. Do you mean to say you never thought at all why the world was made? Do you never think on a starry night, Who made these blazing suns? And what is the answer? Does any one know? Does any philosopher know? Does any astronomer know? You ask, and they will tell you they know nothing at all of Who made the stars. They can trace the stars in their courses; they can tell you how things gradually came about. But what is the centre of everything? All the old philosophers asked the question: Was there a Person in the centre of the Universe at all? And, as thinking men and women, every day it is a source of intellectual satisfaction to us that we have been told what is at the centre of the world. There is not an insensate force, but a Person, Who has made the world. Herschel said there is a mark of mind on every created atom. And is not there a mark of mind upon the universe? It is just as impossible for the atoms of the universe to throw themselves into shape as for a box of letters to throw themselves into a play of Shakespeare. I find satisfaction for my mind in this. It is the good news. I can tell what is the Centre of the universe, and I thank God on my knees that I know there is a God, a Living Person.

II. The conscience.—Then, is there no satisfaction for the conscience? The character of Jesus Christ not only satisfies the conscience, but educates it at the same time. In other words, in the character of Christ there is something far more perfect than we could have thought possible if we had sat down to think by ourselves. I say that the life of Christ has satisfied the conscience.

III. The heart.—What about the heart? In the Gospel there is satisfaction for the heart (see Illustration).

IV. The Spirit.—And what about the spirit? I speak to living spirits—you are spirits. I ask the man who has prayed for years and has been to the Holy Communion, whether he has not come back with what the Prayer Book calls a heart strengthened and refreshed by the Body and Blood of Christ; and whether in answer to his prayers he has not received the peace of God which passeth all understanding?

Then, if the mind and the conscience and the heart and the spirit are satisfied with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, are we not right when, at the end of two thousand years, we as Christian ministers stand before you, and with the same old confidence say, ‘Come; for all things are now ready’? This is a true satisfaction for the needs of men. Why are you not coming to the satisfaction of your souls?

—Bishop A. F. Winnington-Ingram.

Illustration

‘The Bishop of London has mentioned a story which illustrates the satisfaction there is in the Gospel for the heart. He was standing one day in his room in Bethnal Green, where he was rector, and he was called away to a particularly sad scene in a working man’s home. There were three children—all ill, and while they were in that room altogether the three children died, one after the other, in an hour. What had the Christian minister to say to the father? What could the clever sceptic say to him? Nothing at all; the sceptic would have had no comfort for that poor man. But, thank God, the Christian minister could tell him of the Good Shepherd Who had taken up the lambs into His bosom and taken them safely to be with Him for ever. That man had comfort in that he believed the message. In the Gospel there was satisfaction for his heart.’

(THIRD OUTLINE)

WHY MEN HESITATE

Let us consider why men hesitate to accept this glorious invitation, ‘Come; for all things are now ready.’

I. In doubt.—‘I am so much in doubt,’ says one. ‘My mind is overclouded by doubts, and that is why I do not come.’ Do you remember what Thomas did when in doubt? Did he leave the Church? Did he go away altogether from the things of God? He stayed with the Church, he stayed with the others, praying for light, and therefore he received a revelation of Christ. If you will stay with the Church, and get some help for doubts and difficulties, you too will receive the revelation from Christ Himself.

II. A wrong conscience.—But you say, ‘It is all very well to preach to me; my conscience is wrong.’ Yes; when are you going to get that conscience so that you have the answer of a good conscience before God? Get your conscience right. God is right enough; there is love enough and grace enough; and, therefore, get the conscience right. Then the conscience will see its ideal in Jesus Christ.

III. The heart is wrong.—You say the heart is wrong. ‘I love the world, I love pleasures, I love enjoyment, I have no taste for these heavenly things.’ But you must have some taste if you are to enjoy the life of heaven. When you are wondering what your future is to be, remember you make your future yourself. We carry heaven and hell with us. Take a man to-day whose whole joy is lust of the flesh and sensual pleasure. Put him in heaven. He would hate it; and therefore we have to train our liking, our hearts and characters here, that we may love the pure joys of heaven when we have them.

Come, then; that is the ending as it was the beginning. ‘Come; for all things are now ready’; make a resolution that with clear minds, with true consciences, with liberated hearts and loving spirits you will make another trial of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and you will have this satisfaction, that not only will you live stronger, happier, brighter lives on earth, but you shall sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Bishop A. F. Winnington-Ingram.


Verse 18

INNOCENT OCCUPATIONS

‘They all with one consent began to make excuse.’

Luke 14:18

To make excuse, to beg off. This was no sudden, unexpected summons, something making an unlooked-for demand upon time already blocked with legitimate engagements. It was the case of an invitation offered and accepted, where, therefore, the coming of the guests might be looked for as a matter of course. Yet they begged to be excused, the great supper had no special charms for them as compared with what they had otherwise in hand.

I. The matters for which they disregarded the summons were right and proper in themselves.—There was not a neglecting of plain duty for some evil indulgence, some definitely sinful pursuit. It was right and proper that men who had bought a field or five yoke of oxen should examine the quality of their purchase. If a man wished to marry a wife, there was no reason why he should not do so. That men should put their heart into their normal work is obviously right. ‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,’ says the wise King, ‘do it with thy might.’ St. Paul bids the Romans not to be slothful in business, though he carefully qualifies his orders by adding the further command to be ‘fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.’ Obviously, too, the married state is at any rate permissible, not to say desirable, for men. Yet the giver of the supper was angry, and we feel that he was discourteously and unfairly treated.

II. Clearly there are occupations, which to name is to condemn.—If in work, be it manual or mental, or in amusement, for recreation of body or mind, we cannot ask the Saviour to look on and bless the work or the recreation, clearly neither the work nor the play is such as any Christian man or woman has any right to indulge in. Lawful recreation is a good thing, but think for a moment how much of what, by a ghastly misnomer, is now called pleasure would have to be swept away.

(a) For example, works of fiction, when the selection is wisely made, and where due regard is had to the time that can legitimately be given to recreation, have a very proper and wholesome function. Yet, to say nothing of excess of indulgence even in the best works of fiction, does not the press of the present day pour forth books, which presumably are read, which are a disgrace to our Christianity, not to say our civilisation?

(b) Or take a second instance: what of the craze for gambling that seems to eat like a cancer, where the interest of a game seems nought unless it has the excitement which comes from the risking of money, where, whoever wins, some one must lose? Clearly recreations such as these are outside the circle of possible blessing.

Now let us look at the other side.

(c) Honest hard work of the right kind should be an unmixed blessing, yet work may take aspects from which the Christian man shrinks back.

(d) Or, again, what more noble, intellectual pursuit than the study of the laws of God’s working in nature, if so be that the study of the laws brings us nearer to the Lawgiver? Yet there is knowledge which may not lawfully be come by.

III. To bring the matter to a practical issue for ourselves.—If we are to avoid putting ourselves in the position of the guests of the parable, to avoid the danger of making excuse, whether occasionally or all through life, then we must remember that there is a danger that even necessary and laudable work may obscure the sense of the higher duty. If God is in all our thoughts, in all our works, the danger does not assail, though it be ever nigh. The commonest occupation may be glorified if this thought be present; the noblest occupation may be vitiated if it be absent.

(a) Is the merchant in his counting-house, the tradesman in his shop, the student among his books, in some sort less the servant of God than when engaged in direct religious duties? Surely it would sometimes seem as if men thought so by the actions they appear to justify to themselves.

(b) Rightly viewed, a man’s riches, his influence, his talents, his learning, all is but a loan deposited with him by the Master to be used in that Master’s cause. Alas! how easy it is to forget this and half unconsciously to make excuse!

(c) Are we never in danger of allowing our public worship to become mechanical, of allowing our main thought on leaving church to be the beauty or faultiness of the singing, the eloquence or tediousness of the sermon?

We have to face more insidious dangers than denial of the faith, or defiant disregard of God’s laws. Many a one to whom defiance would be an appalling thought, does not find it an unnatural thing to make excuse. May He, may our Good Shepherd ever be so absolutely ruling in all our thoughts and actions that nought may obscure the perfect welcome we give to the Master’s invitation!

Rev. Dr. Sinker.

(SECOND OUTLINE)

EXCUSES

The necessity of serving Christ is acknowledged by most people, but they have formed their own standard of religion.

I. When a higher standard is urged upon them they make excuses for not accepting it.

(a) Consider, for instance, the attendance at the daily services of the Church. How many are there who could come to morning or evening prayer if they would! But now in this Christian land there are literally only ‘two or three gathered together’ whenever a church is opened for week-day prayer.

(b) Then, again, how many regular church-goers there are who always excuse themselves when they are invited to the Holy Communion. It is the chief Service of our Church. It is the Service which our Lord Himself instituted, and which no Christian in the early days of the Church ever thought of neglecting. But now it is completely ignored from year’s end to year’s end by the mass of those who have been baptized into Christ’s Church

(c) Then, again, take the case of the Offertory. How often may it be said, What a paltry number of copper coins and little bits of silver money has been given in God’s name by people who could perfectly well afford to give generously, if they only allowed their consciences to dictate the amount of their offerings! How often do they pray that they may be excused?

II. Now what are these excuses worth?—There can be but one answer to such a question as this. No real excuse has been found, or ever will be discovered, to justify professing Christians in adopting the world’s standard of religion. The excuses which are offered now by those who wish to enter heaven, on their own terms, are just the same pitiful pleas which were made by the invited guests spoken of in the parable.

(a) Some excuse themselves still on the plea of worldly occupations, and say that family cares leave them no time to think of personal holiness.

(b) Others excuse themselves on account of their love of pleasure, since they imagine that no one can enjoy life who tries to live as an earnest Christian.

(c) Then, again, the possession of this world’s goods is often a cause for these excuses. The rich man, in the parable, is represented as going to gratify his pride by walking about and gazing at the land which he had purchased, in preference to attending the supper.

(d) Even the love of relatives and friends may alienate the affections from God. Infatuated love for a godless husband, or for a worldly-minded wife, has often been taken advantage of by Satan to get a soul into his power.

If you wish to profit by the parable, examine yourselves and see what excuses you have been making for the neglect of any Christian duties which your consciences tell you ought to have been performed.

—Rev. W. S. Randall.

Illustrations

(1) ‘When the good missionary Bishop Otto was doing his best to spread the Gospel in Prussia, some centuries ago, he found that one of the most powerful influences against him was caused by some of the very people who had already professed Christianity. The inhabitants of Stettin, one of the most important towns in Pomerania, received the bishop with scorn. They refused to change their religion and give up idolatry; and to all the missionary said they only replied: “Are there not thieves and robbers among you Christians?” The inconsistent lives of their neighbours who were supposed to be Christians were an argument against which the good bishop had the greatest difficulty to contend. But this difficulty has been encountered in all parts of the world, and we should not be allowed to lose sight of the fact that the cause of the Gospel is still hindered, as much as it ever was, by the behaviour of many who call themselves Christians.’

(2) ‘An old Spanish proverb truly puts it—“The road of ‘by and by’ leads to the town of ‘Never.’”’


Verse 22

WHERE AND FOR WHOM THERE IS ROOM

‘Yet there is room.’

Luke 14:22

The language of the text reminds us that there is abundant provision in the counsels of God, and a gracious welcome in the heart of God, for all who need the Gospel and who are willing to comply with its requirements and accept its blessings.

I. Where there is room.

(a) In the heart of the Father. His desire is that all men should be saved, and should come to the knowledge of the truth. His appeal to men is, ‘Ho! every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.’ His entreaty and expostulation is, ‘Why will ye die?’

(b) In the covenant of Christ. He died for all. He was lifted up to draw all men unto Himself. His blood was shed for many.

(c) In the spiritual kingdom. The greatness of a kingdom lies largely in the number of the subjects. No right-feeling man can do other than rejoice in the inclusion of multitudes in the kingdom, which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Our Saviour Himself foretold that the tree shall grow and that the leaven shall spread.

(d) In the heavenly mansions. There are many abodes, and, to people these, many shall come from the east and from the west. No limitation, no exclusiveness there, but room for men of all nations, kindreds, and tongues.

II. For whom there is room.

(a) For the indifferent. There is room for those whose possessions and preoccupations too often render them indifferent to the Gospel invitation. The wealthy, the busy, and the festive, who, in the parable referred to, respond to the summons, are not excluded, save by their own folly.

(b) For the indigent. There is room for the spiritually indigent, who are sensible of their wants; those who may be represented by the poor, the maimed, the halt, the blind.

(c) For the outcast. There is room even for the outcast and the despised, who are abandoned by men, and who have given themselves over to despondency. And if there be any others, with human hearts and human wants, there is room for them.

Yet, thus far, even now, there is room. But the hour shall come when the Master shall arise and close the long-open door.

Illustration

‘The parable had primary reference to the Jewish nation; the first and second invitations were confined to the city, rich and poor; its ultimate reference was to the Gentiles; the third and last notices were outside the city, far and unbounded. Now the characteristic feature of our age is that the Gospel is penetrating into the back places of the world. Thus God’s House, His Church, His Kingdom, has for generations been filling, sometimes by hundreds, sometimes by thousands; and not a moment passes but some soul responds to that call. Still the heralds call; still His privileged servants pass to and fro, with the glorious cry, “Yet there is room.” Alas! that there should be narrow minds which invent narrow systems, which teach that Christ died only for the few, making His kingdom a little place, and heaven a very narrow room. And Satan likes to have it so, for it leads men to that condemning sin—limiting the Holy One of Israel—and then it drives them to despair.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

THE LARGENESS OF GOD’S LOVE

There is no passage in the Bible which sets forth more vividly the largeness of God’s grace and the infinity of His love, contrasted with the narrow mind of man, shut up with his possessions, his business, and his new connections. It is the saddest consequence of sin, that it contracts man’s heart till it is incapable of a conception of God’s nature and of His love.

I. The largest thing in God’s universe is the heart of Jesus, that sacred heart which is the home of homes of all His people. No one ever came to Christ and found Him too fully occupied to hear his prayer or supply his wants; they came to Him, in all the diversity of their distracted griefs, by multitudes; and not one was sent away unsatisfied; nay, not one without more than he had dared to ask or expect. ‘Yet there was room’—room for the blind, halt, room for all, body and soul! no crowds could fill Him; still there was fullness of grace, and mercy to the utmost.

II. Mark the fullness and freeness of His words, the comprehensiveness, the catholicity of His offer, the infinity of His finished work. Malachi had predicted all this—‘Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.’ His own words more than endorsed it—‘Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ ‘Whosoever believeth on Me shall not perish, but have everlasting life.’ And the voice still sounds from heaven—‘The Spirit and the Bride say, Come; and let him that heareth say, Come; and let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’

III. Look at the power of that love.—Round the Cross for all, with all their sins, there is room—‘Yet there is room.’ It is the Will of God. Heaven has no circumference—as yet; it can be filled by nothing but the Presence, the Will of God; and this is the Will of God—the salvation of the world—to have His house filled. Behold the love of God, planning through all eternity, through an infinite Saviour, to fill an infinite heaven. Why shall we not all be saved? Some—many are gathered in; yet there is room. Be not then straitened in Him. Cast your sins, no matter how great the burden, before His mercy-seat; knock loudly at the gate of heaven; lift up your plea, ‘Lord, Thou hast said it—“Yet there is room.”’ And press that plea for all you love; hold it as true for them as for yourself. Do not doubt for any living man. Bring each—bring all, again and again; for, wide as your utmost love can reach or your imagination soar, there is a space, an infinite space, beyond it—‘Yet there is room.’ ‘Yet there is room.’

—Rev. James Vaughan.


Verse 23

COMPELLED GUESTS

‘Compel them to come in.’

Luke 14:23

Our Lord was ever ready to turn the circumstances of the hour to some good end. Thus, when at table, it occurred to Him to depict the privileges of those invited to the banquet of the Gospel.

I. The provision made by Divine bounty.—The Old Testament had pictured spiritual satisfaction and enjoyment under the similitude of a feast, a well-spread table. ‘Ho! every one that thirsteth,’ etc. And our Lord in His discourses, and by certain of His miracles, had impressed upon men’s minds the happiness of sharing in the provision made by Divine wisdom and beneficence for the spiritual wants of men. He had declared Himself to be the Bread of Life, alone able to appease the hunger, and sustain the life and strength of the soul.

II. The invitation published by Divine lovingkindness.

(a) A summons is addressed by the Lord’s ministers and messengers: ‘Come!’

(b) Representations are made which should have the effect of producing immediate compliance: ‘All things are ready!’

(c) The invitation is addressed to ‘many,’ and those of very various position and occupation and character.

III. The insensibility displayed by many who are invited to be the guests at the spiritual banquet.—Observe the indifference displayed, the excuses offered, the courses preferred to the acceptance of the Gospel call. Some are detained by property, some by business, some by pleasure.

IV. The urgency with which the invitation of the Gospel is addressed to all classes and conditions of men.

(a) No position in life, no previous sinfulness, are regarded as a hindrance. The streets and lanes of the city, the highways and hedges of the country, must be frequented by the Gospel messengers in the execution of their benevolent functions.

(b) Urgency and entreaty are to be employed, and men are to be, by the presentation of motives and inducements, constrained, compelled to come in.

(c) Thus shall the Lord’s great heart be satisfied when His house shall be filled, and the multitudes shall be fed.


Verse 28

TOWER BUILDING

‘For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost.… This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’

Luke 14:28; Luke 14:30

In the parable set before us is one who without counting the cost set to work to build a tower, and was not able to finish it. He thus became an object of ridicule to his neighbours.

It is not difficult surely to apply the lesson of the parable to ourselves. In one sense, indeed, I doubt whether there is any one here present who has not experienced the unfinished tower, who has not some time or another grown weary under the thraldom of some besetting sin, some bad habit. And this because he has not first counted the cost and found out that he has no strength of his own.

I. A tower of holiness.—The motto for the Christian banner is, ‘Higher, evermore higher.’ The aim set before each one of us is, ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’ It is indeed a mark which can never be reached in this life, but our life now is to be a continual progress towards it. It was this that St. Paul tells us he devoted all his energies to. ‘This one thing I do, I press towards the mark.’ But how is this to be done? How, when there are so many towers building around us and by us, towers of usefulness, towers of fame, and most of all towers of mere earthly riches, mere glittering gold, how, bewildered by all these, are we to be diligent in building up the unpretending tower of holiness? Well, we must remember first and last that we are Christians. Christian progress is only possible in Christ. We must begin with simple faith in Him. The foundation of all human goodness must be made deep in the blood of the Redeemer’s Cross, and in the power of His Resurrection. God has a will concerning each one of us. We are not to hurry blindly first here and then there, where various ambitions rise before us, but for His faithful ones God orders all for good, He renders all progressive towards the great end. Apart from Christ all earthly ambitions must surely sooner or later end in bitter disappointment, but in Him not one sphere of honourable industry is unblessed.

II. A tower of usefulness.—Let me speak briefly of another tower, a tower of usefulness. I mean usefulness in its highest sense, that of working as a member of Christ’s Church for Christ. I seek not to answer the question as to what form this work is to take. Each one may best answer this for himself. In these days the opportunities for doing work for Christ and showing a living interest in our brother’s welfare cannot be said to be far to seek. There is abundant work for every member of this congregation to do in his own parish. In the work of usefulness there is every need of self-forgetfulness. It is enough for the most ambitious of men that God should deign to accept his services and make him an instrument for good. It is not any particular scheme of our own; it is God’s work that we have to strive for, and thus it is only when we do really surrender ourselves to God that we can do Him true and laudable service. We can all of us speak of self-surrender, but when we stop to think what it really means we cannot but feel a kind of shame. How full our days are of selfishness! Self-denial and self-sacrifice are doctrines far beyond us, impossible for our faith to attain to. And so, indeed, they are, but for one thought giving illumination to our path—‘the love of Christ constraineth us.’ Thus alone can the work of our life be made acceptable, not an unfinished tower, open to all the winds and rains of heaven, standing with its incomplete buildings ready to fall to pieces at the last great day, but a perfect building founded upon a rock, pointing towards heaven. Such a house will stand unshaken amid the ruins of that day.

Bishop C. H. Turner.

Illustration

‘How many are there of us, I wonder, who can bear to labour earnestly in good causes for years with no apparent result, and then at last to see the object attained, and yet, as it seemed not by our means or not in a manner that we wished, perhaps our own labour altogether forgotten? Who can bear this, I say, and be simply thankful? And yet this has been the lot of numberless saints of God. It is a wholesome discipline for us. We learn that we cannot in our own strength do any work for God; we are but instruments in His hands to be directed by Him. In undertaking each good work, set before your mind the example of our Saviour Christ, “Lo! I come to do Thy will, O God.” “Not My will, but Thine be done,” with only one object, and that is God’s will, for the edification of His Church, the good of His service.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

THE TRUE AIM OF DISCIPLESHIP

I. The building, or the true aim of discipleship.

(a) We are all building a house for our souls.

(b) What are you building?—a prison, or a house for God?

(c) What is Christianity for? For building.

II. The cost of the building, or the conditions of discipleship.

(a) Constant reference to the plan. The Bible is our plan.

(b) Continuous effort. You cannot ‘rush up’ a great edifice.

(c) Self-surrender—i.e. concentration and self-denial.

III. Note the failures.—Tower of the rash builder stands a gaunt, staring ruin.

Illustration

‘A certain man made public confession of faith in a surrender to Christ; whereupon his worldly friends lamented together that they would lose the enjoyment of the worldly entertainments for which his house had been noted. Not long after, these entertainments were resumed, and the profession allowed to fade away; with the result that the very friends who had respected, though they lamented, his change, now mocked at it and said: “After all, it has not made much difference.” The world which rejects the claims of Christ has often a keener apprehension of what those claims demand than the Christian who is careless about obeying them. The world can respect, even if it hates, the thorough disciple; but it mocks, even while it welcomes, the half-hearted and backsliding professor of religion.’

(THIRD OUTLINE)

.

EXAMPLES OF COUNTING THE COST

Look at some examples of counting the cost.

I. St. Peter.—When our Lord was enforcing the need for leaving all to follow Him, and St. Peter had asked the reward for doing so, He answered: ‘Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My sake, and the Gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life’ (Mark 10:29-30). A proper counting of the cost will therefore put down the loss of ten thousand per cent—for such is the value of ‘an hundredfold’—to every one, who refuses to leave aught that stands in the way of discipleship.

II. St. Paul.—Again, when St. Paul counted the cost, he reckoned ‘that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us’ (Romans 8:18); he declared that ‘our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory’ (2 Corinthians 4:17); he counted the seven topics of human righteousness he possessed to be ‘but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord’ (Philippians 3:8).

III. Moses.—Again, of Moses we are told the double comparison he made, ‘choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward’ (Hebrews 11:25-26).

IV. The glory to be gained.—Once more, in the second and third chapters of Revelation, there is put before us a sevenfold reward and glory to be gained by those who consent to the sevenfold conditions of overcoming. Surely here are found the materials for calculation, and a right estimate of profit and loss. Who can endure to lose such glories, both present and eternal, for the fleeting and illusive profit of a passing moment?

Let us sit down, count the cost, and decide for God. The principle of the true Christian life is given in the words, ‘We walk by faith, not by sight’ (2 Corinthians 5:7); and nowhere is the victory over sight more needed than when balancing the matters of profit and loss in the service of Christ.

—Rev. Hubert Brooke.


Verse 30

TOWER BUILDING

‘For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost.… This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’

Luke 14:28; Luke 14:30

In the parable set before us is one who without counting the cost set to work to build a tower, and was not able to finish it. He thus became an object of ridicule to his neighbours.

It is not difficult surely to apply the lesson of the parable to ourselves. In one sense, indeed, I doubt whether there is any one here present who has not experienced the unfinished tower, who has not some time or another grown weary under the thraldom of some besetting sin, some bad habit. And this because he has not first counted the cost and found out that he has no strength of his own.

I. A tower of holiness.—The motto for the Christian banner is, ‘Higher, evermore higher.’ The aim set before each one of us is, ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’ It is indeed a mark which can never be reached in this life, but our life now is to be a continual progress towards it. It was this that St. Paul tells us he devoted all his energies to. ‘This one thing I do, I press towards the mark.’ But how is this to be done? How, when there are so many towers building around us and by us, towers of usefulness, towers of fame, and most of all towers of mere earthly riches, mere glittering gold, how, bewildered by all these, are we to be diligent in building up the unpretending tower of holiness? Well, we must remember first and last that we are Christians. Christian progress is only possible in Christ. We must begin with simple faith in Him. The foundation of all human goodness must be made deep in the blood of the Redeemer’s Cross, and in the power of His Resurrection. God has a will concerning each one of us. We are not to hurry blindly first here and then there, where various ambitions rise before us, but for His faithful ones God orders all for good, He renders all progressive towards the great end. Apart from Christ all earthly ambitions must surely sooner or later end in bitter disappointment, but in Him not one sphere of honourable industry is unblessed.

II. A tower of usefulness.—Let me speak briefly of another tower, a tower of usefulness. I mean usefulness in its highest sense, that of working as a member of Christ’s Church for Christ. I seek not to answer the question as to what form this work is to take. Each one may best answer this for himself. In these days the opportunities for doing work for Christ and showing a living interest in our brother’s welfare cannot be said to be far to seek. There is abundant work for every member of this congregation to do in his own parish. In the work of usefulness there is every need of self-forgetfulness. It is enough for the most ambitious of men that God should deign to accept his services and make him an instrument for good. It is not any particular scheme of our own; it is God’s work that we have to strive for, and thus it is only when we do really surrender ourselves to God that we can do Him true and laudable service. We can all of us speak of self-surrender, but when we stop to think what it really means we cannot but feel a kind of shame. How full our days are of selfishness! Self-denial and self-sacrifice are doctrines far beyond us, impossible for our faith to attain to. And so, indeed, they are, but for one thought giving illumination to our path—‘the love of Christ constraineth us.’ Thus alone can the work of our life be made acceptable, not an unfinished tower, open to all the winds and rains of heaven, standing with its incomplete buildings ready to fall to pieces at the last great day, but a perfect building founded upon a rock, pointing towards heaven. Such a house will stand unshaken amid the ruins of that day.

Bishop C. H. Turner.

Illustration

‘How many are there of us, I wonder, who can bear to labour earnestly in good causes for years with no apparent result, and then at last to see the object attained, and yet, as it seemed not by our means or not in a manner that we wished, perhaps our own labour altogether forgotten? Who can bear this, I say, and be simply thankful? And yet this has been the lot of numberless saints of God. It is a wholesome discipline for us. We learn that we cannot in our own strength do any work for God; we are but instruments in His hands to be directed by Him. In undertaking each good work, set before your mind the example of our Saviour Christ, “Lo! I come to do Thy will, O God.” “Not My will, but Thine be done,” with only one object, and that is God’s will, for the edification of His Church, the good of His service.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

THE TRUE AIM OF DISCIPLESHIP

I. The building, or the true aim of discipleship.

(a) We are all building a house for our souls.

(b) What are you building?—a prison, or a house for God?

(c) What is Christianity for? For building.

II. The cost of the building, or the conditions of discipleship.

(a) Constant reference to the plan. The Bible is our plan.

(b) Continuous effort. You cannot ‘rush up’ a great edifice.

(c) Self-surrender—i.e. concentration and self-denial.

III. Note the failures.—Tower of the rash builder stands a gaunt, staring ruin.

Illustration

‘A certain man made public confession of faith in a surrender to Christ; whereupon his worldly friends lamented together that they would lose the enjoyment of the worldly entertainments for which his house had been noted. Not long after, these entertainments were resumed, and the profession allowed to fade away; with the result that the very friends who had respected, though they lamented, his change, now mocked at it and said: “After all, it has not made much difference.” The world which rejects the claims of Christ has often a keener apprehension of what those claims demand than the Christian who is careless about obeying them. The world can respect, even if it hates, the thorough disciple; but it mocks, even while it welcomes, the half-hearted and backsliding professor of religion.’

(THIRD OUTLINE)

.

EXAMPLES OF COUNTING THE COST

Look at some examples of counting the cost.

I. St. Peter.—When our Lord was enforcing the need for leaving all to follow Him, and St. Peter had asked the reward for doing so, He answered: ‘Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My sake, and the Gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life’ (Mark 10:29-30). A proper counting of the cost will therefore put down the loss of ten thousand per cent—for such is the value of ‘an hundredfold’—to every one, who refuses to leave aught that stands in the way of discipleship.

II. St. Paul.—Again, when St. Paul counted the cost, he reckoned ‘that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us’ (Romans 8:18); he declared that ‘our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory’ (2 Corinthians 4:17); he counted the seven topics of human righteousness he possessed to be ‘but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord’ (Philippians 3:8).

III. Moses.—Again, of Moses we are told the double comparison he made, ‘choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward’ (Hebrews 11:25-26).

IV. The glory to be gained.—Once more, in the second and third chapters of Revelation, there is put before us a sevenfold reward and glory to be gained by those who consent to the sevenfold conditions of overcoming. Surely here are found the materials for calculation, and a right estimate of profit and loss. Who can endure to lose such glories, both present and eternal, for the fleeting and illusive profit of a passing moment?

Let us sit down, count the cost, and decide for God. The principle of the true Christian life is given in the words, ‘We walk by faith, not by sight’ (2 Corinthians 5:7); and nowhere is the victory over sight more needed than when balancing the matters of profit and loss in the service of Christ.

—Rev. Hubert Brooke.


Verse 33

THE GENIUS OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION

‘So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple.

Luke 14:33

The genius of the Christian religion lies in sacrifice. Our Lord stands over against the souls of men inviting to sacrifice—claiming, welcoming sacrifice; meeting it with His solemn benediction. And He states this law of sacrifice again and again in its most paradoxical form, as in the great words, ‘If any man comes to Me, and hates not his father and his mother and his wife and his brethren and his sisters—yea, and his own life also’—that is as we should say, ‘if he be not ready to turn his back upon all of of them’—‘he cannot be My disciple.’

I. The call to the disciples.—He stands over against Matthew, the tax-gatherer, and calls him away from his profession—‘Follow Me.’ And this is quite deliberate. Just as our Lord trained His disciple in the confession of His Name, till at last He elicits from Peter the great acknowledgment: ‘Thou art the Christ,’ and arrests that acknowledgment with His supreme benediction: ‘Blessed art thou Simon, son of Jonah’; in the same way, He elicits from Peter the confession of His service, ‘Behold, we have left our own and have followed Thee.’ And, again, He blessed him: ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, that ye which have followed Me, and everyone that hath left house, or wife, or brethren, or parents, or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, shall receive an hundredfold in the present time, and in the world to come everlasting life.’

II. The call to men.—And it is not only in the case of those who are to be the ministers of His Kingdom—as we might say, only for the clergy. No. Zaccheus, the man of business, the wealthy publican, when his soul is converted, turns to desire the Lord. Jesus comes into his house, and when he is entertaining Him at the meal, he is invited by Him to make the same confession of sacrifice. Zaccheus stood forth, and like a man publicly making his great offering on the altar of God, he said: ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor, and if (in my capacity as tax-collector) I have done any wrong to any man, I restore him fourfold.’ And the Lord meets the sacrifice, as always, with His solemn benediction: ‘This day is salvation come into this house.’

III. The call to women.—It is so with the woman when they were disturbed at the lavish and wasteful expenditure of the precious ointment. Our Lord’s great benediction falls and resounds all down the ages; ‘wheresoever the Gospel is preached in the whole world, there also that which this woman hath done shall be told for a memorial of her.” It is so with the widow who threw into the Temple treasury the mite. He blessed her, not because, as we generally mean when we say we have given our mite, she gave what cost her nothing, but because it was all she had—her whole living; and the sin of the rich young man who wanted to know the way of perfection is in the minds of every one. It was to be found not in any extraordinary method of spiritual excuse, but in the completeness of manifest sacrifice. He was to sell all that he had and give to the poor, to come and follow Christ, and he should have treasure in heaven; and when he was not equal to the sacrifice, he was suffered to go away sorrowful, ‘for he was very rich’

IV. The living Christ is still the same.—Over against us all He is still the same. The living Christ stands over against the young just beginning their career, over against the old and the middle-aged, over against us who have settled down into our ordered and customary life, fondly imagining that nothing more is expected of us, and that we must go on as we have begun; over against the rich young men, old men; over against the poor with their mite; over against us all. He stands at every fresh beginning—and every day is a fresh beginning—that same Christ with that same claim: ‘Verily, verily I say unto you, whosoever forsaketh not … he cannot be My disciple.’

—Bishop Gore.

Illustration

‘We need to remind ourselves that the genius, the characteristic spirit of Christianity is sacrifice. It is a day when among all classes we find people trying to attract men by making religion easy. It is not the method of Christ. He allures, He attracts, by the claims of sacrifice. We have great problems to solve—overwhelming problems, of which we hear constantly—in commerce, in civilisation, restive under the yoke of Christ; at times it seems revolting. There are divisions; there is human life from the cradle onwards wasted in all directions, and by millions wasted. There are masses and nations unevangelised, unconverted. There is torpor, indifference, religious division. I think that if we would learn in the school of Christ we should know where is to be provided the remedy. It is in the exhibition by the believer of the spirit of sacrifice. There we fortify our faith. There we grow to know our power. There we are reassured of the love of God.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

THE FINAL CONDITION OF DISCIPLESHIP

The Master has already claimed from every one who would be His disciple the first place in the affections, the submission of the will, the acceptance of His reproach, the surrender of the life to Him. Now His claim takes in one more thing, and declares that without it discipleship is incomplete, nay, is non-existent. The disciple’s possessions and property, all he called his own, are now to be put under another Owner; he is to bid farewell to his rights and authority over them; he is to forsake his position as proprietor; henceforth they are the Master’s, and he is only steward or treasurer over what he once called his own.

I. Christ’s own example.—As in other conditions demanded from His disciples, so in this one also, the Master has fulfilled it Himself first, and has made Himself the Pattern and Example for His followers.

II. The example of the Apostles.—The example of Christ Himself was followed by His disciples and apostles, who could quietly and confidently appeal to Him and find their appeal accepted and a blessing given to it (Matthew 19:27).

III. The example of the early Church.—But not to the apostolic leaders and rulers of the early Church was this obedience to the call, and acceptance of the conditions, of Christ confined; the whole Church, in the first days of its Pentecostal fire, was equally ready and faithful to the Master’s will (Acts 2:44-45).

Rev. Hubert Brooke.

Illustration

‘It is probably no exaggeration to say that there is no topic upon which God’s Word is more neglected, God’s command more ignored, God’s will more overlooked, God’s principles more denied, amongst those who claim the title of Christian, than this of earthly possessions and temporal wealth. It is beyond dispute, it is a matter of plain figures and simple calculation, that this condition of discipleship is not accepted, this step in consecration is not taken, by the immense majority of those who “profess and call themselves Christians.” It is only too apparent that our opening premiss is true: the terms “Christian” and “disciple” are no longer coincident, synonymous, interchangeable. The claimants of the former title are the refusers of the latter. We may boldly assert, and do so with a sad abundance of evidence to confirm the truth of the assertion, that the condition of discipleship is no longer apparent in the Church at large, by which a man “forsaketh all that he hath “; that the mark of the early disciples is no longer to be seen, when “neither said any of them that ought of the things that he possessed was his own.” Rather does it appear that Christians are often indistinguishable from the world, in their bold assumption of undisputed ownership, and irresponsible rights, in what they call “the things they possess.”’

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Luke 14:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/luke-14.html. 1876.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, February 23rd, 2019
the Sixth Week after Epiphany
There are 57 days til Easter!
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology