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Bible Commentaries
Luke 14

Godbey's Commentary on the New TestamentGodbey's NT Commentary

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Verses 1-6



Luke 14:1-6 . And it came to pass that He entered into the house of a certain one of the rulers of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread, and they were watching Him;” i.e., hawk-eyes were on Him every minute, with diabolical vigilance, watching every word and act, if possible to implicate Him. If you do not stir the devil enough to concentrate on you demoniacal eyes, to watch and criticize you night and day, remember you are not much like Jesus. Satan is no fool. He always shoots at something. If he does not shoot at you, go back to the mourner’s-bench, and stay till the Lord makes something out of you, which Diabolus will count worth firing on. While these preachers and official laymen were hounding Jesus, incessantly charging Him with violating the Sabbath, you see here that one of the rulers of the Pharisees actually had a big festival at his house on the Sabbath, thus overtly desecrating the holy day a thing which Jesus never did. N.B. He is still in Perea, east of the Jordan.

Behold, there was a certain dropsical man before Him. And Jesus, responding, said to the theologians and Pharisees, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day or not? And they were silent. And taking him, He healed him, and sent him away. Responding to them, He said, Of which one of you shall the son or the ox fall into a pit, will he not lift him up on the Sabbath day? And they were unable to respond to these things.” That rugged limestone country abounds in caves, precipices, chasms, and pits. Hence the liability of their livestock, and actually little children, falling in. All knew they would rally at once in that case, and extricate the sufferer, even on the Sabbath. Consequently those theologians, so shrewd in their exposition of the Scriptures, and those Pharisees, the official laymen of the Church, were all dumbfounded, and utterly unable to gainsay this plain, practical statement of Jesus. Nomikos, “lawyer,” E. V., is from nomos, “law,” and means a man cultured and skilled in the law of Moses, and an exegete of the O. T. Scriptures. Though here for the avowed purpose of lassoing Him by some vulnerable utterance which might drop from His lips, they are all utterly disconcerted.

Verses 3-35


Matthew 8:14-17 ; Mark 1:2-34 ; & Luke 14:3-35 Mark: “And immediately coming out of the synagogue? came into the house of Simon and Andrew and James and John. The mother-in-law of Simon was lying down scorched with a fever; and immediately they speak to Him concerning her; and coming to her and taking her by the hand, He raised her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she continued to minister unto them. And it being evening, when the sun went down, they continued to carry to Him all the sick and the demonized; and the whole city was gathered at the door. And He healed many sick with various diseases, and continued to cast out many demons; and did not suffer the demons to speak, because they knew Him.” Matthew gives a wonderful prophecy of Isaiah 53:4:

“He took our infirmities, and carried our diseases.”

That prophecy, corroborated by our Savior, is really wonderful on Divine healing, certainly setting forth our blessed privilege in the atonement to have our bodies healed. We need physical health in order to do the work the Lord has given us, to bless mankind and glorify God in this life; our faith being the measuring-line of blessings for body as well as soul. This case of Peter's mother-in-law, in his house in Capernaum, was really notable.

Luke says, “She was afflicted with a great fever.” The healing was so decisive that she got up at once, and proceeded to do her housework. I have seen that very case duplicated repeatedly. Last August, at Scottsville (Texas) Camp-meeting, we prayed for a lady in her tent who was burnt with a terrible fever, at the same time anointing her with oil. The fever left her immediately she got up and went to meeting within fifteen minutes. I saw her in the meetings constantly till the adjournment of the camp, with no sign of fever, and testifying to her healing. We see here that when the sun went down, they continued to bring the sick; as this was midsummer, and the sea of Galilee is seven hundred feet below the Mediterranean and surrounded by highlands, it gets exceedingly hot on the coast. Hence the importance of waiting until sunset, and perhaps in order to command necessary help, as men have more leisure at night than during the day. We see here that Jesus cast out the demons and healed the sick, thus ministering both to soul and body, converting, saving, and sanctifying the soul and healing the body. He is the same, “Yesterday, today, and forever.” O what a Savior we have! His mercies are boundless and free. It is our glorious privilege, not only to have all the demons cast out of our souls, but to have our bodily ailments healed. We should go to the ends of the earth, as our Lord commissioned us, casting out demons and healing the sick. We see here that, while all of those demons wanted to confess the Christhood of Jesus, His Divine Sonship, He prohibited them. How did they know Him? All these demons were once angels, as God never created a devil. During the bygone ages, before they forfeited their probation and were cast out of heaven, they all beheld the bright glory of the Son of God. Hence they recognized Him; but I am not astonished that He was unwilling for these fallen spirits to become the heralds of His Divinity. He preferred to let His mighty works vindicate His claims to the Messiahship.

Verses 7-11


Luke 14:7-11 . But He spoke a parable to those who had been invited [ i.e., called to the feast in the house of this Pharisaical ruler ], warning them how they were accustomed to select the first couches, saying to them, When you may be invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down on the first couch, lest some one may be more honorable than you, having been called by him, and the one having called you and him, having come, shall say to you, Give place to this one, and then, with shame, you will begin to take the last place. But when you may be called, going, sit down in the last place, in order that when the one having called you may come, he shall say to you, Friend, come up higher; then there shall be glory to thee in the presence of all those sitting at the table with you. Because every one exalting himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” In those days they had couches, much after the order of a modern sofa, on which they reclined at the table, leaning over on the left side quite an accommodation for gluttons, who were in the habit of eating a long time, as was customary at their festivals, meanwhile interspersing social confabulation freely, either with other. The Greeks and Romans were celebrated for simultaneous literary edification while eating, having some one standing in their midst and reading aloud the poems of Homer, Virgil, or some other poet, or the orations of Demosthenes, Lysias, Cicero, or Cato, or some other first-class literary production. Certain positions about the table were held in preference; e.g., the sides where they had the best couches, and edibles and potables most abundant and convenient. At this festival they were well accommodated in the way of literary edification, having with them the Prophet of Galilee, to preach the living Word and teach them the deep truths of the kingdom. John Wesley pronounces pride the great mother-sin, whose diabolical posterity is innumerable, swarming round in the form of envy, jealousy, revenge, bigotry, sectarianism, partisan strife, etc.; while the theologians of all ages concur in the recognition of humility as the primary and most important Christian grace, shining out so brightly in the character of Jesus, and in all ages the most beautiful diadem that has ever shone on the brow of God’s saints and martyrs. More vices are traceable to pride than any other sin; and more virtues to humility than any other grace. If we can keep truly humble, we will never fall, as perfect humility puts us down on the Lord’s bottom plane, from which there is no failing. Pride must do some climbing before you can fall. In this attitude, the final perseverance of the saints is a cardinal truth, very full of comfort. Pride is an awful impediment to the prosecution of study and the cultivation of the intellect, as a proud person feels that he knows it already; while humility, realizing its own ignorance, will always be an assiduous student.

Verses 12-14


Luke 14:12-14 . But He also said to the one having invited Him, When you may make a dinner or a supper, do not call your rich friends, brothers, relatives, or neighbors, lest they may also call you in turn, and there may be a recompense unto you. But when you may make a feast, call the poor, maimed, halt, blind, and you shall be happy, because they have nothing to recompense you; and it shall be recompensed unto you in the resurrection of the righteous.” The Bible plainly teaches two resurrections

that of the just and of the unjust. (Revelation 20:5.) This is certainly an exceedingly beautiful paragraph, enunciated by our Lord to that Pharisaical ruler who had complimented Him with an invitation to that Sunday festival. With what meekness and simplicity does He administer this good advice to His kind host! As we find the theologians and Pharisees present at this festival, and no allusion to the presence of the different sympathetic characters here specified ( i.e., the poverty-stricken, the lame, the maimed; i.e., persons whose hands were afflicted till they could not use them. All persons who are deprived of the use of either their feet or their hands are objects of universal charity; while the blind always deserve, not only our pity, but our benefactions), I trow this man had called his rich friends, brothers, relatives, and neighbors, while these real objects of charity are all absent. Jesus knew that they would all make a festival and invite this man, thus compensating his favor. Lord, pour in the light, that we may all see this beautiful truth taught by Thyself! How insignificant the recompense of another festival, where you will go, and lose your time, and make yourself sick, eating to gluttony! O what a grandeur and glory in the heavenly recompense of the first resurrection, giving you a place in the bridehood of Christ, to reign with Him a thousand years, during the glorious millennium, which will be succeeded by the celestial ages, promoting you to grander honors, and opening to you worlds of bliss and glory, possibilities, attainabilities, achievements, aggrandizements, emoluments, and triumphs infinitely beyond the possibility of conception while incarcerated in these mud houses! O the infinitude of immortal developments evolved out of the possibilities of redeemed intelligences, winging their flight from world to world, and exploring the grandeur, sublimity, and glory of Omnipotence through the flight of eternal ages! N.B. “There are infinite degrees in the heavenly state.” (1 Corinthians 15:0). Do you not know that the heavenly recompense in the resurrection of the just is a thousand million times more valuable than the invitation which some rich family could give you to a dining? How strange that the followers of Jesus do not remember and practice this beautiful precept, calling the poor, distressed, unfortunate, afflicted people of every sort to a feast, and using the opportunity to preach Jesus to them and get their souls saved!

Verses 15-24


Luke 14:15-24 . And a certain one of those sitting along with Him, hearing these things, said to Him, Happy is every one who eats bread in the kingdom of God!” Jesus and His disciples preached the kingdom of God all the time, in contradistinction to the law and the prophets of the old dispensation. While the precepts of the latter were extensively formal, ritualistic, and symbolic, the doctrines of the former were purely spiritual, appertaining to experimental salvation and practical godliness. This man at the table who thus responded to Jesus was evidently wrought upon by the Holy Spirit, and favorably disposed with reference to the preaching of Jesus, having come to the conclusion that it is very nice and desirable to enjoy a place in the kingdom of God.

And He said to him, A certain man made a great supper, and called many.” This is the gospel call given to all, from Abel down to the latest posterity, whether by the written Word or the Holy Ghost, who is practically the incarnate Word, being the Spirit of Jesus. “ And he sent his servant at the hour of the feast to say to those who had been called, Come, because all things are now ready.” This refers to the epoch of our Savior’s coming into the world, when He sent John the Baptist to invite the people, who had been called by all the prophets of all ages, to come at once to the supper. O what a pity that the high priests and Pharisees did not lead the way! In that case all Israel would have followed, as a flock of sheep will follow their leaders. Hence the awful responsibility they incurred by rejecting the Savior. The prophets, patriarchs, martyrs, and saints, under the leadership of the Holy Ghost, in the good providence of God, had labored four thousand years to get everything ready. A strange influence at that time had settled down upon all nations, impressing them that the Christ of Jewish prophecy was at hand. The polytheistic idolatries had expended their forces, and were everywhere waning. The profound philosophy of Greece and Rome, the mythology of Egypt, and the deep, metaphysical lore of India, had all exhausted their resources, and signally failed to expound the important problems of man’s origin and destination, and satisfy the longings of the immortal soul. The whole Gentile world was ripe for the Messianic advent. If the Jews had received their own Christ (as they certainly would have done if their preachers and ruling elders had led the way), turned evangelist under the Great Commission, and peregrinated the whole world, the nations would have fallen in line with paradoxical unanimity, inundated the world with the glory of God and actually have brought on the millennium in the early centuries of the Christian era.

They all, from one accord, began to make excuses. The first said to him [ i. e., John the Baptist ], I have purchased a farm, and I have need, having gone out, to see it; I entreat thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yokes of oxen, and I go to prove them; I entreat thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and on this account I am not able to go.” This catalogue of excuses belongs primarily to the high priests and Pharisees, who led the way in the rejection of Jesus; but secondarily to all the people in the world, in all ages, who hear the gospel and decline its overtures of mercy and grace. They all have their excuses. Examine these three. Does a man go to see a farm after he has bought it or before? Does he not test the oxen before he makes the purchase? And as to the man who had married a wife, why not take her along to the wedding supper, a place to which young brides are very fond of going? The solution of this matter is plain and simple. The very inconsistency of these answers shows falsehood on the front, as well as preposterous nonsense. Now, while these three excuses are ostensibly destitute of truth and sense, yet they are as good as any sinner can make for rejecting the kingdom of God and staying with the devil, under the liability of dropping into hell every moment. These excuses are a fair sample of the very best which the most intelligent sinner can make for staying away from God and rejecting salvation.

And the servant coming, proclaimed these things to his lord. Then the landlord, being angry, said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and lead hither the poor, maimed, blind, and halt.” City here means Jerusalem, including all the cities of Israel and intervening territory. When the rulers rejected Christ, the proclamation was carried to the common people, and especially to the thousands of poor invalids which Jesus healed. O what a flood of converts to His ministry came by way of His physical philanthropy! In connection with the personal ministry of Jesus, the twelve apostles, the seventy evangelists, and many others whose names are in the book of life, and the three thousand converted in the morning of Pentecost and the five thousand in the afternoon, and the swelling tide of gospel grace and sanctifying fire which rolled in heavenly billows from the Pentecostal scene of Mount Zion in all directions, inundating the whole country, we find a wonderful influx into the kingdom, consisting almost exclusively of the poor and the unfortunate, as the leading clerk and popular rulers had already rejected Him, and actually put Him to death.

And the servant said, Lord, it is done as you commanded, and yet there is room. And the Lord said to the servant, Go out into the roads and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” This is the call of the Gentiles, when the apostles, pursuant to the Great Commission, divided up the whole world among them James the First, at an early day, being decapitated by Herod Agrippa in Jerusalem; James the Less suffering martyrdom in Jerusalem, at a later date, by precipitation from a pinnacle of the temple; Matthew, taking Ethiopia; Mark, Egypt; Matthias, Abyssinia; Thomas, India; Jude, Tartary; Andrew, Armenia; Philip, Syria; Paul, Asia Minor and Europe; Peter, Rome; John, Lydia; Simon Zelotes, the British Islands, all of these pushing the battle in their various fields, like cyclones of fire, till bloody death set them free, thus booming the whole world with a gospel earthquake, everywhere shaking down the time- honored temples of idolatry, and flooding the nations with heavenly light.

For I say unto you, that no one of these men who have been called shall taste of my supper.” This is the death-knell of the high priests, Pharisees, and leading officials, who received the first invitation and obstinately rejected it, even imputing the miracles of Jesus to the devil, thus grieving away the Holy Spirit, crossing the dead-line, wrapped in the black delusions of diabolical intrigue, and sealing their doom in endless woe. Beware how you reject the offers of gospel grace, lest you fall into this black catalogue of irretrievable reprobacy! You see, in the above quotation, we are commanded to go out and compel them to come in. The persecutors who have murdered God’s saints by millions were always fond of quoting this, claiming that Jesus had sent them out to compel the heretics to come in, thus making it an apology for wholesale murder. It does not mean physical compulsion, as they construed it, from the simple fact that the gospel is not a physical transaction, but purely spiritual, simply involving the conclusion that we are to do everything in our power, by prayer, appeal, exhortation, argument, tears of sympathy, and deeds of mercy, to bring people to Jesus and get them saved. You also find in the above Scripture the statement, “ The Lord being angry.” N.B. It is impossible for God to be angry in the human sense, as He has no evil tempers nor passions to arouse. The anger of God is simply holy indignation against everything wrong. In this sense, Paul says (Ephesians 5:26), “Be ye angry, and sin not;” i.e., indulge freely the holy indignation which the Holy Spirit has given you against all evil, compromising with no sin, in thought, word, or deed, nor anything whatever out of harmony with God’s sweet will.

Verses 25-27


Luke 14:25-27 . The multitudes were traveling along with Him, and turning He said to them, If any one comes to Me, and hates not his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, and even his own soul, he is not able to be My disciple. Whosoever does not bear his cross, and come after Me, is not able to be My disciple.” Jesus carried His cross to be crucified on it. Paul says that bearing the cross is “denying: all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and living holy, righteous, and godly in this present world.” Hence you see that bearing the cross is forsaking every sin, in thought, word, and deed, and performing every duty, however arduous, irksome, unpleasant, repellent, unpopular, and embarrassing. In the justified experience, you do all this with an inward conflict. Sanctification is necessary to take out the “old man,” who fights against your efforts to abstain from sin and live a holy life, so that in the sanctified experience you have no cross to bear, as you have already died on it, and the crucified man no longer bears his cross, but the cross bears him. Therefore the true experience of entire sanctification puts you where you “ rejoice in tribulation;” i.e., shout under crosses, losses, persecutions, and triumph over the antagonism of men and devils. How can you hate father, mother, wife, brother, sister, and even your own life? Hate in this connection is a comparative with love, and a Hebraistic expression for love in a less degree. You may be so cold that ice laid on your body feels warm, and is warmer than you are. These expressions, “love” and “hate,” are here in juxtaposition and contrast. While you truly and sincerely love the dear inmates of your home and your own life, you must love Jesus so pre- eminently and supremely as to throw into eclipse all other loves, and contrastively give them a negative signification, so that you would unhesitatingly forsake them all, leave home and family, and die for Jesus if such an emergency should supervene. Hence we see that supreme love i.e., perfect love is the condition of successful discipleship. You can be a disciple in the justified state by carrying your cross. But you can not enter heaven with the cross on your shoulder, as there are no crosses there. Jesus was crucified before He ascended to heaven. If you would be His disciple, you must walk in His footprints, as none but the crucified ever go to heaven. Therefore, if you would be a successful disciple, and go up to heaven to live with Jesus, “O pilgrim, come to Calvary this moment, and let the Holy Ghost crucify thee on the cross which thou didst take up on leaving all to follow Jesus. It is heavy on thy shoulder, and high time for the exchange. Let the Holy Ghost crucify thee. Then the cross will carry thee, instead of thee carrying the cross.” Hence, you see, you can not be a perfect disciple, such as have admission into heaven, without that supreme love which eclipses and contrastively negatives all other loves, preparing you for martyrdom every moment for Jesus’ sake. Our Savior has left the festival, and is now traveling along the road, with His face toward Jerusalem, still in Perea, east of the Jordan, and about ten days before He laid down His life for a guilty world.

Verses 28-30


Luke 14:28-30 . For which one of you, wishing to build a tower, does not first, sitting down, count the cost, if he has unto sufficiency? Lest he, having laid the foundation, and being unable to finish it, all those seeing it may begin to mock him, saying that this man began to build, and was not able to finish.” The word which we here in two verses translate “finish” is ektelesai, “completely perfect.” Telesai is the regular verb constantly used in the New Testament where the E. V. has “perfect.” Hence this word for Christian perfection occurs twice in the above quotation. Besides, the preposition ok, preceding this verb, adds additional force to its already superlative signification. Hence the plain meaning of this forcible little parable is, that it is not worthwhile to become a disciple or set out for heaven, unless you are going for perfection. Before the man begins to build, he projects and contemplates, not an unfinished frame, but a house complete in every respect, suitable and comfortable for habitation. An unfinished house, exposed to the weather, soon rots down. Man is unwilling to live in an unfinished house; how can he expect Jesus to live in it? No wonder you have a lonesome time out in an uninhabited house. Stir up, push the work to completion, and turn over the key to Jesus, so He will move in, to abide with you forever, bringing down heaven and glory. Here you see that Jesus gives no encouragement to imperfect discipleship, but presents the highest possible incentive to Christian perfection, His plain statement clearly involving the conclusion of ultimate wreckage and failure, even becoming a laughing-stock for men and devils, if you do not reach the experience of perfection. O, what an inspiration to entire sanctification!

Verses 31-33


Luke 14:31-33 . What king, marching off to engage in war with another king, will not first, sitting down, counsel if he is able, with ten thousand, to meet him coming against him with twenty thousand? and if not, while he is still a great way, sending an embassy, he asks those things appertaining to peace.” This brief parable is very clear, explicit, forcible, and overwhelmingly convincing. The sinner is one king, and God is the other. The sinner is on his march to meet God Almighty, who is coming to meet him with the mighty hosts of celestial armies. Death and judgment are ahead. Every day makes the number less. Hence the transcendent importance of availing yourself of all your time and opportunities to prepare to meet God. How fortunate for you if the meeting is far enough ahead for you to send on an embassy and negotiate for peace! How can you send that embassy? Go to praying with all your might. Let every breath be a fervent prayer, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” and if possible make your peace with God before you must meet Him face to face.

“If now Thou standest at the door, O let me feel Thee near, And make my peace with God before I at Thy bar appear!”

The stupid indifference which characterizes an ungodly world is an incontestable confirmation of the total depravity so prominently taught in the Word of God.

Thus, therefore, every one of you who does not consecrate all of his possessions is not able to be My disciple.” This is a grand climacteric conclusion, rung out by the Savior in the ears of the vast multitude, and clinching all the nails which He has driven during this powerful discourse on discipleship.

“Here I give my all to Thee Friends and time and earthly store; Soul and body, Thine to be Wholly Thine, for evermore.”

How can I know that I have really consecrated all to God? He will let you know it. You will reach bottom-rock, and be conscious of the tremendous reality from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet. How wonderfully Jesus preaches Christian perfection! How can any man claim to be one of His preachers, or even a disciple, and entertain heretical or even superficial views on this grand central idea of the redemptive scheme? Errors on other matters of revealed truth may be overlooked and counteracted by the genuine and glorious experience of experimental perfection, but on this doctrine the fearful liability is that the experience will not rise above your Creed. Good Lord, help us all!

Verses 34-35


Luke 14:34-35 . Therefore salt is good, but if indeed the salt may lose its savor, with what shall it be salted? It is neither fit for the land nor the manure-heap. They cast it out. Let the one having ears to hear, hear.” In the Sermon on the Mount, our Savior says , “ Ye are the salt of the earth,” speaking concretely of His disciples. Here we have the same, but abstractly considered. The Christian religion is the salt, put in this world to save it. The Holy Ghost is the savor of that salt. Therefore when, like Judaism, Romanism, and many dead, worldly, Protestant Churches, the Holy Ghost has been grieved away, that religion becomes savorless salt, the most worthless thing in the world. If you put it on the soil, it covers it up, and disqualifies you to cultivate it. If you put it in the washes, you annihilate all hope of restoring them to fertility and productiveness. Jesus says it is only fit “to be cast out, and trodden under foot;” i.e., make nice, comfortable walks, along which the deluded members of the fallen Churches travel blindfolded down to hell. This statement about hearing, if you have ears, is quite axiomatic with Jesus and His apostles, keeping us reminded of the distinction between physical and spiritual hearing. Unless the Holy Ghost open the spiritual ear, you can no more hear the voice of God than the deaf man can hear the human voice.

Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Luke 14". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ges/luke-14.html.
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