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Bible Commentaries

Godet's Commentary on Selected Books

Luke 14

Verses 1-6

1 st. Luke 14:1-6.

To accept an invitation to the house of a Pharisee, after the previous scenes, was to do an act at once of courage and kindness. The host was one of the chief of his sect. There is no proof of the existence of a hierarchy in this party; but one would naturally be formed by superiority of knowledge and talent. The interpretation of Grotius, who takes τῶν Φαρισαίων as in apposition to τῶν ἀρχόντων , is inadmissible. The guests, it is said, watched Jesus. Luk 14:2 indicates the trap which had been laid for Him; and ἰδού , behold, marks the time when this unlooked-for snare is discovered to the eyes of Jesus. The picture is taken at the moment. The word ἀποκριθείς , answering ( Luk 14:3 ), alludes to the question implicitly contained in the sick man's presence: “Wilt thou heal, or wilt thou not heal?” Jesus replies by a counter question, as at Luke 6:9. The silence of His adversaries betrays their bad faith. The reading ὄνος , ass, in the Sinaiticus and some MSS. ( Luk 14:5 ), arises no doubt from the connection with βοῦς , ox, or from the similar saying, Luke 13:15. The true reading is υἱός , son: “If thy son, or even thine ox only...” In this word son, as in the expression daughter of Abraham ( Luk 13:16 ), there is revealed a deep feeling of tenderness for the sufferer. We cannot overlook a correspondence between the malady (dropsy) and the supposed accident (falling into a pit). Comp. Luke 13:15-16, the correspondence between the halter with which the ox is fastened to the stall, and the bond by which Satan holds the sufferer in subjection. Here again we find the perfect suitableness, even in the external drapery, which characterizes the declarations of our Lord. In Mat 12:11 this figure is applied to the curing of a man who has a withered hand. It is less happy, and is certainly inexact.

Verses 1-24

3. Jesus at a Feast: Luke 14:1-24.

The following piece allows us to follow Jesus in His domestic life and familiar conversations. It is connected with the preceding by the fact that it is with a Pharisee Jesus has to do. We are admitted to the entire scene: 1 st. The entering into the house ( Luk 14:1-6 ); 2 d. The sitting down at table ( Luk 14:7-11 ); 3 d. Jesus conversing with His host about the choice of his guests ( Luk 14:12-14 ); 4 th. His relating the parable of the great supper, occasioned by the exclamation of one of the guests ( Luk 14:15-24 ).

Holtzmann, of course, regards this frame as being to a large extent invented by Luke to receive the detached sayings of Jesus, which he found placed side by side in Λ . This is to suppose in Luke as much genius as unscrupulousness. Weizsäcker, starting from the idea that the contents of this part are systematically arranged and frequently altered to meet the practical questions which were agitating the apostolic Church at the date of Luke's composition, alleges that the whole of this chapter relates to the agapae of the primitive Church, and is intended to describe those feasts as embodiments of brotherly love and pledges of the heavenly feast; and he concludes therefrom, as from an established fact, the somewhat late origin of our Gospel. Where is the least trace of such an intention to be found?

Verses 1-35


A great contrast marks the synoptical narrative: that between the ministry in Galilee, and the passion week at Jerusalem. According to Matthew ( Mat 19:1 to Mat 20:34 ) and Mark (chap. 10), the short journey from Capernaum to Judea through Perea forms the rapid transition between those two parts of the ministry of Jesus. Nothing, either in the distance between the places, or in the number of the facts related, would lead us to suppose that this journey lasted more than a few days. This will appear from the following table:

The fourth part of the Gospel of Luke, which begins at Luke 9:51, gives us a very different idea of what transpired at that period. Here we find the description of a slow and lengthened journey across the southern regions of Galilee, which border on Samaria. Jerusalem is, and remains, the fixed goal of the journey (Luke 9:51, Luke 13:22, Luke 17:11, etc.). But Jesus proceeds only by short stages, stopping at each locality to preach the gospel. Luke does not say what direction He followed. But we may gather it from the first fact related by him. At the first step which He ventures to take with His followers on the Samaritan territory, He is stopped short by the ill-will excited against Him by national prejudice; so that even if His intention had been to repair directly to Jerusalem through Samaria (which we do not believe to have been the case), He would have been obliged to give up that intention, and turn eastward, in order to take the other route, that of Perea. Jesus therefore slowly approached the Jordan, with the view of crossing that river to the south of the lake Gennesaret, and of continuing His journey thereafter through Perea. The inference thus drawn from the narrative of Luke is positively confirmed by Matthew ( Mat 19:1 ) and Mark ( Mar 10:1 ), both of whom indicate the Perean route as that which Jesus followed after His departure from Galilee. In this way the three synoptics coincide anew from Luk 18:15 onwards; and from the moment at which the narrative of Luke rejoins the two others, we have to regard the facts related by him as having passed in Perea. This slow journeying, first from west to east across southern Galilee, then from north to south through Perea, the description of which fills ten whole chapters, that is to say, more than a third of Luke's narrative, forms in this Gospel a real section intermediate between the two others (the description of the Galilean ministry and that of the passion week); it is a third group of narratives corresponding in importance to the two others so abruptly brought into juxtaposition in Mark and Matthew, and which softens the contrast between them.

But can we admit with certainty the historical reality of this evangelistic journey in southern Galilee, which forms one of the characteristic features of the third Gospel? Many modern critics refuse to regard it as historical. They allege:

1. The entire absence of any analogous account in Matthew and Mark. Matthew, indeed, relates only two solitary facts ( Mat 8:19 et seq. and Luk 12:21 et seq.) of all those which Luke describes in the ten chapters of which this section consists, up to the moment when the three narratives again become parallel ( Luk 18:14 ); Mark, not a single one.

2. The visit of Jesus to Martha and Mary, which Luke puts in this journey ( Luk 10:38-42 ), can have taken place only in Judea, at Bethany; likewise the saying, Luke 13:34-35, cannot well have been uttered by Jesus elsewhere than at Jerusalem in the temple ( Mat 23:37-39 ). Do not these errors of time and place cast a more than suspicious light on the narrative of the entire journey? M. Sabatier himself, who thoroughly appreciates the important bearing of this narrative in Luke on the harmony of the four Gospels, nevertheless goes the length of saying: “We see with how many contradictions and material impossibilities this narrative abounds.”

It has been attempted to defend Luke, by alleging that he did not mean to relate a journey, and that this section was only a collection of doctrinal utterances arranged in the order of their subjects, and intended to show the marvellous wisdom of Jesus. It is impossible for us to admit this explanation, with Luke's own words before us, which express and recall from time to time his intention of describing a consecutive journey: Luke 9:51, “He stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem;Luke 13:22, “He was going through the cities and villages... journeying toward Jerusalem;Luke 17:11 (lit. trans.), “And it came to pass, as He went to Jerusalem, that He traversed the country between Samaria and Galilee.”

Wieseler, taking up an entirely opposite point of view, finds in those three passages the indications of as many individual journeys, which he connects with three journeys to Jerusalem placed by John almost at the same epoch. It is hoped in this way to find the point of support for Luke's narrative in the fourth Gospel, which is wanting to it in the two first. The departure mentioned Luk 9:51 would correspond with the journey of Jesus, Joh 7:1 to John 10:39 (feast of Tabernacles and of Dedication), a journey which terminates in a sojourn in Perea ( Joh 10:40 et seq.). The mention of a journey Luk 13:22 would refer to the journey from Perea to Bethany for the raising of Lazarus, John 11:0, after which Jesus repairs to Ephraim. Finally, the passage Luk 17:11 would correspond with the journey from Ephraim to Jerusalem for the last Passover ( Joh 11:55 ). It would be necessary to admit that Jesus, after His Ephraim sojourn, made a last visit to Galilee, proceeding thither through Samaria (Wieseler translates Luk 17:11 as in E. V., “through the midst of Samaria and Galilee”), then that He returned to Judea through Perea (Matthew 19:0; Mark 10:0).

We cannot allow that this view has the least probability. 1. Those three passages in Luke plainly do not indicate, in his mind at least, three different departures and journeys. They are way-marks set up by the author on the route of Jesus, in the account of this unique journey, by which he recalls from time to time the general situation described Luke 9:51, on account of the slowness and length of the progress. 2. The departure ( Luk 9:51 ) took place, as the sending of the seventy disciples proves, with the greatest publicity; it is not therefore identical with the departure ( Joh 7:1 et seq.), which took place, as it were, in secret; Jesus undoubtedly did not then take with Him more than one or two of His most intimate disciples. 3. The interpretation which Wieseler gives of Luk 17:11 appears to us inadmissible (see the passage).

It must therefore be acknowledged, not only that Luke meant in those ten chapters to relate a journey, but that he meant to relate one, and only one.

Others think that he intended to produce in the minds of his readers the idea of a continuous journey, but that this is a framework of fiction which has no corresponding reality. De Wette and Bleek suppose that, after having finished his account of the Galilean ministry, Luke still possessed a host of important materials, without any determinate localities or dates, and that, rather than lose them, he thought good to insert them here, between the description of the Galilean ministry and that of the passion, while grouping them in the form of a recorded journey. Holtzmann takes for granted that those materials were nothing else than the contents of his second principal source, the Logia of Matthew, which Luke has placed here, after employing up till this point his first source, the original Mark. Weizsäcker, who thinks, on the contrary, that the Logia of Matthew are almost exactly reproduced in the great groups of discourses which the first contains, sees in this fourth part of Luke a collection of sayings derived by him from those great discourses of Matthew, and arranged systematically with regard to the principal questions which were agitated in the apostolic churches (the account of the feast, Luke 14:1-35, alluding to the Agapae; the discourses, Luk 15:1 to Luke 17:10, to questions relative to the admission of Gentiles, etc.).

Of course, according to those three points of view, the historical introductions with which Luke prefaces each of those teachings would be more or less his own invention. He deduces them himself from those teachings, as we might do at the present day. As to the rest, Bleek expressly remarks that this view leaves entirely intact the historical truth of the sayings of Jesus in themselves. We shall gather up in the course of our exegesis the data which can enlighten us on the value of those hypotheses; but at the outset we must offer the following observations: 1. In thus inventing an entire phase of the ministry of Jesus, Luke would put himself in contradiction to the programme marked out ( Luk 1:1-4 ), where he affirms that he has endeavoured to reproduce historical truth exactly. 2. What purpose would it serve knowingly to enrich the ministry of Jesus with a fictitious phase? Would it not have been much simpler to distribute those different pieces along the course of the Galilean ministry? 3. Does a conscientious historian play thus with the matter of which he treats, especially when that matter forms the object of his religious faith?

If Luke had really acted in this way, we should require, with Baur, to take a step further, and ascribe to this fiction a more serious intention that of establishing, by those prolonged relations of Jesus to the Samaritans, the Pauline universalism? Thus it is that criticism, logically carried out in questions relating to the Gospels, always lands us in this dilemma historical truth or deliberate imposture.

The historical truth of this journey, as Luke describes it, appears to us evident from the following facts: 1. Long or short, a journey from Galilee to Judea through Perea must have taken place; so much is established by the narratives of Matthew and Mark, and indirectly confirmed by that of John, when he mentions a sojourn in Perea precisely at the same epoch ( Luk 10:40-42 ). 2. The duration of this journey must have been much more considerable than appears from a hasty glance at the first two synoptics. How, in reality, are we to fill the six or seven months which separated the feast of Tabernacles (John 7:0, month of October) from that of the Passover, at which Jesus died? The few accounts, Matthew 19:20 (Mark 10:0), cannot cover such a gap. Scarcely is there wherewith to fill up the space of a week. Where, then, did Jesus pass all that time? And what did He do? It is usually answered, that from the feast of Tabernacles to that of the Dedication (December) He remained in Judea. That is not possible. He must have gone to Jerusalem in a sort of incognito and by way of surprise, in order to appear unexpectedly in that city, and to prevent the police measures which a more lengthened sojourn in Judea would have allowed His enemies to take against Him. And after the violent scenes related Joh 7:1 to John 10:21, He must have remained peacefully there for more than two whole months! Such an idea is irreconcilable with the situation described John 6:1; John 7:1-13.

Jesus therefore, immediately after rapidly executing that journey, returned to Galilee. This return, no doubt, is not mentioned; but no more is that which followed John 5:0. It is understood, as a matter of course, that so long as a new scene of action is not indicated in the narrative, the old one continues. After the stay at Jerusalem at the feast of Dedication ( Joh 10:22 et seq.), it is expressly said that Jesus sojourned in Perea ( Luk 9:40-42 ): there we have the first indication apprising us that the long sojourn in Galilee had come to an end. Immediately, therefore, after the feast of Tabernacles, Jesus returned to Galilee, and it was then that He definitely bade adieu to that province, and set out, as we read Luke 9:51, to approach Jerusalem slowly and while preaching the gospel. Not only is such a journey possible, but it is in a manner forced on us by the necessity of providing contents for that blank interval in the ministry of Jesus. 3. The indications which Luke supplies respecting the scene of this journey have nothing in them but what is exceedingly probable. After His first visit to Nazareth, Jesus settled at Capernaum; He made it His own city ( Mat 9:1 ), and the centre of His excursions ( Luk 4:31 et seq.). Very soon He considerably extended the radius of His journeys on the side of western Galilee (Nain, Luk 7:11 ). Then He quitted His Capernaum residence, and commenced a ministry purely itinerant ( Luk 8:1 et seq.). To this period belong His first visit to Decapolis, to the east of the lake of Gennesaret, and the multiplication of the loaves, to the north-east of that sea. Finally, we learn from Matthew and Mark that Jesus made two other great excursions into the northern regions, the one to the north-west toward Phoenicia (Luke's great lacuna), the other toward the north-east, to the sources of the Jordan (Caesarea Philippi, and the transfiguration). To accomplish His mission toward Galilee there thus remained to be visited only the southern parts of this province on the side of Samaria. What more natural, consequently, than the direction which He followed in this journey, slowly passing over that southern part of Galilee from west to east which He had not before visited, and from which He could make some excursions among that Samaritan people at whose hands He had found so eager a welcome at the beginning of His ministry?

Regarding the visit to Martha and Mary, and the saying Luke 13:34-35, we refer to the explanation of the passages. Perhaps the first is a trace (unconscious on the part of Luke) of Jesus' short sojourn at Jerusalem at the feast of Dedication. In any case, the narrative of Luke is thus found to form the natural transition between the synoptical accounts and that of John. And if we do not find in Luke that multiplicity of journeys to Jerusalem which forms the distinctive feature of John's Gospel, we shall at least meet with the intermediate type of a ministry, a great part of which (the Galilean work once finished) assumes the form of a prolonged pilgrimage in the direction of Jerusalem.

As to the contents of the ten chapters embraced in this part of Luke, they are perfectly in keeping with the situation. Jesus carries along with Him to Judea all the following of devoted believers which He has found in Galilee, the nucleus of His future Church. From this band will go forth the army of evangelists which, with the apostles at its head, will shortly enter upon the conquest of the world in His name. To prepare them as they travel along for this task, such is His constant aim. He prosecutes it directly in two ways: by sending them on a mission before Him, as formerly He had sent the twelve, and making them serve, as these had done, a first apprenticeship to their future work; then, by bringing to bear on them the chief part of His instructions respecting that emancipation from the world and its goods which was to be the distinctive character of the life of His servants, and thus gaining them wholly for the great task which He allots to them.

What are the sources of Luke in this part which is peculiar to him? According to Holtzmann, Luke here gives us the contents of Matthew's Logia, excepting the introductions, which he adds or amplifies. We shall examine this whole hypothesis hereafter. According to Schleiermacher, this narrative is the result of the combination of two accounts derived from the journals of two companions of Jesus, the one of whom took part in the journey at the feast of Dedication, the other in that of the last Passover. Thus he explains the exactness of the details, and at the same time the apparent inexactness with which a visit to Bethany is found recorded in the midst of a series of scenes in Galilee. According to this view, the short introductions placed as headings to the discourses are worthy of special confidence.

But how has this fusion of the two writings which has merged the two journeys into one been brought about? Luke cannot have produced it consciously; it must have existed in his sources. The difficulty is only removed a stage. How was it possible for the two accounts of different journeys to be fused into a unique whole? As far as we are concerned, all that we believe it possible to say regarding the source from which Luke drew is, that the document must have been either Aramaic, or translated from Aramaic. To be convinced of this, we need only read the verse, Luke 9:51, which forms the heading of the narrative.

If we were proceeding on the relation of Luke to the two other synoptics, we should divide this part into two cycles, that in which Luke moves alone ( Luk 9:51 to Luk 18:14 ), and that in which he moves parallel to them ( Luk 18:15 to Luk 19:27 ). But that division has nothing corresponding to it in the mind of the author, who probably knows neither of the two other canonical accounts. He himself divides his narrative into three cycles by the three observations with which he marks it off: 1 st. Luk 9:51 to Luke 13:21 (Luke 9:51, the resolution to depart); 2 d. Luk 13:22 to Luke 17:10 (Luke 13:22, the direction of the journey); 3 d. Luk 17:11 to Luke 19:27 (Luke 17:11, the scene of the journey). Such, then, will be our division.

Verses 7-11

2 d. Luke 14:7-11.

Here is the point at which the guests seat themselves at table. The recommendation contained in this passage is not, as has often been thought, a counsel of worldly prudence. Holtzmann ascribes this meaning, if not to the Lord, at least to Luke. But the very term parable ( Luk 14:7 ) and the adage of Luk 14:11 protest against this supposition, and admit of our giving to the saying no other than a religious sense and a spiritual application; comp. Luke 18:14. In a winning and appropriate form Jesus gives the guests a lesson in humility, in the deepest sense of the word. Every one ought in heart to take, and ever take again, the last place before God, or as St. Paul says, Philippians 2:3, to regard others as better than himself. The judgment of God will perhaps be different; but in this way we run no other risk than that of being exalted. ᾿Επέχων , fixing His attention on that habitual way of acting among the Pharisees ( Luk 20:46 ). Ewald and Holtzmann darken counsel about the word wedding ( Luk 14:8 ), which does not suit a simple repast like this. But Jesus in this verse is not speaking of the present repast, but of a supposed feast.

The proper reading is ἀνάπεσε , not ἀνάπεσαι this verb has no middle or ἀνάπεσον , which has only a few authorities.

In the lowest place ( Luk 14:10 ), because in the interval all the intermediate seats had been occupied. The expression, thou shalt have glory, would be puerile, if it did not open up a glimpse of a heavenly reality.

Verses 12-14

3 d. Luke 14:12-14.

The company is seated. Jesus, then observing that the guests in general belonged to the upper classes of society, addresses to His host a lesson on charity, which He clothes, like the preceding, in the graceful form of a recommendation of intelligent self-interest. The μήποτε , lest ( Luk 14:12 ), carries a tone of liveliness and almost of pleasantry: “Beware of it; it is a misfortune to be avoided. For, once thou shalt have received human requital, it is all over with divine recompense.” Jesus does not mean to forbid our entertaining those whom we love. He means simply: in view of the life to come, thou canst do better still. ᾿Ανάπηροι , those who are deprived of some one sense or limb, most frequently the blind or the lame; here, where those two categories are specially mentioned, the maimed in general.

In itself, the expression resurrection of the just, Luke 14:14, does not necessarily imply a distinction between two resurrections, the one of the just exclusively, the other general; it might signify merely, when the just shall rise at the inauguration of the Messianic kingdom. But as Luk 20:35 evidently proves that this distinction was in the mind of Jesus, it is natural to explain the term from this point of view (comp. 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Philippians 3:11; Revelation 20:0).

Verses 15-20

Vers. 15-20. ῎Αρτον φάγεσθαι (fut. of φάγω ) merely signifies, to be admitted to the heavenly feast. There is no allusion in the expression to the excellence of the meats which shall form this repast ( Luk 14:1 ).

Jesus replies, “Yes, blessed; and therefore beware of rejecting the blessedness at the very moment when thou art extolling its greatness.” Such is the application of the following parable. The word πολλούς , significant of numerous guests, Luke 14:16, is sufficiently justified when applied to the Jewish people alone; for this invitation includes all divine advances, at all periods of the theocracy. The last call given to the guests ( Luk 14:17 ) relates to the ministries of John the Baptist and of Jesus Himself. It cannot be proved that it was usual to send a message at the last moment; but the hour was come, and nobody appeared. This touch brings out the ill-will of those invited; there was no possibility of their forgetting. The expression, all things are ready, describes the glorious freeness of salvation.

The excuses put forth by the invited, Luke 14:18-20, are not in earnest; for, warned as they were long beforehand, they could have chosen another day for their different occupations. The choice made, which is at the bottom of those refusals, betrays itself in the uniformity of their answers. It is like a refrain ( ἀπὸ μῖας , understand: φωνῆς or γνώμης , Luk 14:18 ). They have passed the word to one another. The true reason is evidently the antipathy which they feel to him who invites them; comp. John 15:24: “ They have hated both me and my Father.

Verses 15-24

4 th. Luke 14:15-24.

The conversation which follows belongs to a later time in the feast. Jesus had been depicting the just seated at the Messiah's banquet, and receiving a superabundant equivalent for the least works of love which they have performed here below. This saying awakes in the heart of one of the guests a sweet anticipation of heavenly joys; or perhaps he seizes it as an occasion for laying a snare for Jesus, and leading Him to utter some heresy on the subject. The severe tendency of the following parable might favour this second interpretation. In any case, the enumeration of Luke 14:21 (comp. Luk 14:13 ) proves the close connection between those two parts of the conversation.

Verses 21-24

Vers. 21-24.

In the report which the servant gives of his mission, we may hear, as Stier so well observes, the echo of the sorrowful lamentations uttered by Jesus over the hardening of the Jews during His long nights of prayer. The anger of the master ( ὀργισθείς ) is the retaliation for the hatred which he discovers at the bottom of their refusals.

The first supplementary invitation which he commissions his servant to give, represents the appeal addressed by Jesus to the lowest classes of Jewish society, those who are called, Luke 15:1, publicans and sinners. Πλατεῖαι , the larger streets, which widen out into squares. ῾Ρῦμαι , the small cross streets. There is no going out yet from the city.

The second supplementary invitation ( Luk 14:22-23 ) represents the calling of the Gentiles; for those to whom it is addressed are no longer inhabitants of the city. The love of God is great: it requires a multitude of guests; it will not have a seat left empty. The number of the elect is, as it were, determined beforehand by the riches of divine glory, which cannot find a complete reflection without a certain number of human beings. The invitation will therefore be continued, and consequently the history of our race prolonged, until that number be reached. Thus the divine decree is reconciled with human liberty. In comparison with the number called, there are undoubtedly few saved through the fault of the former; but nevertheless, speaking absolutely, there are very many saved. Φραγμοί , the hedges which enclose properties, and beneath which vagrants squat. The phrase, compel them to come in, applies to people who would like to enter, but are yet kept back by a false timidity. The servant is to push them, in a manner, into the house in spite of their scruples. The object, therefore, is not to extinguish their liberty, but rather to restore them to it. For they would; but they dare not.

As Luk 14:21 is the text of the first part of Acts (i.-xii., conversion of the Jews), Luk 14:22-23 are the text of the second (xiii. to the end, conversion of the Gentiles), and indeed of the whole present economy. Weizsäcker accuses Luke of having added to the original parable this distinction between two new invitations, and that in favour of Paul's mission to the Gentiles. If this saying were the only one which the evangelists put into the mouth of Jesus regarding the calling of the Gentiles, this suspicion would be conceivable. But does not the passage Luk 13:28-30 already express this idea? and is not this saying found in Matthew as well as in Luke? Comp. also Matthew 24:14; John 10:16.

According to several commentators, Luk 14:24 does not belong to the parable; it is the application of it addressed by Jesus to all the guests (“ I say unto you ”). But the subject of the verb, I say, is evidently still the host of the parable; the pron. you designates the persons gathered round him at the time when he gives this order. Only the solemnity with which Jesus undoubtedly passed His eyes over the whole assembly, while putting this terrible threat into the mouth of the master in the parable, made them feel that at that very moment the scene described was actually passing between Him and them.

The parable of the great feast related Mat 22:1-14 has great resemblances to this; but it differs from it as remarkably. More generalized in the outset, it becomes toward the end more detailed, and takes even a somewhat complex character. It may be, as Bleek thinks, a combination of two parables originally distinct. This seems to be proved by certain touches, such as the royal dignity of the host, the destruction by his armies of the city inhabited by those first invited, and then everything relating to the man who had come in without a wedding garment. Nothing, on the contrary, could be more simple and complete than the delineation of Luke.

Verses 25-27

Vers. 25-27. “ And there went great multitudes with Him: and He turned, and said unto them, 26. If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Seeing those crowds, Jesus is aware that between Him and them there is a misunderstanding. The gospel, rightly apprehended, will not be the concern of the multitude. He lifts His voice to reveal this false situation: You are going up with me to Jerusalem, as if you were repairing to a feast. But do you know what it is for a man to join himself to my company? It is to abandon what is dearest and most vital ( Luk 14:26 ), and to accept what is most painful the cross ( Luk 14:27 ).

Coming to me ( Luk 14:26 ) denotes outward attachment to Jesus; being my disciple, at the end of the verse, actual dependence on His person and Spirit. That the former may be changed into the latter, and that the bond between Jesus and the professor may be durable, there must be effected in him a painful breach with everything which is naturally dear to him. The word hate in this passage is often interpreted in the sense of loving less. Bleek quotes examples, which are not without force. Thus, Genesis 29:30-31. It is also the meaning of Matthew's paraphrase ( Luk 10:37 ), ὁ φιλῶν ... ὑπὲρ ἐμέ . Yet it is simpler to keep the natural sense of the word hate, if it offers an admissible application. And this we find when we admit that Jesus is here regarding the well-beloved ones whom He enumerates as representatives of our natural life, that life, strictly and radically selfish, which separates us from God. Hence He adds: Yea, and his own life also; this word forms the key to the understanding of the word hate. At bottom, our own life is the only thing to be hated. Everything else is to be hated only in so far as it partakes of this principle of sin and death. According to Deuteronomy 21:18-21, when a man showed himself determinedly vicious or impious, his father and mother were to be the first to take up stones to stone him. Jesus in this place only spiritualizes this precept. The words: Yea, and his own life also, thus remove from this hatred every notion of sin, and allow us to see in it nothing but an aversion of a purely moral kind.

There are not only affections to be sacrificed, bonds to be broken; there are sufferings to be undergone in the following of Jesus. The emblem of those positive evils is the cross, that punishment the most humiliating and painful of all, which had been introduced into Israel since the Roman subjugation.

Without supplying an οὐκ before ἔρχεται , we might translate: “Whosoever doth not bear..., and who nevertheless cometh after me....” But this interpretation is far from natural.

Those well-disposed crowds who were following Jesus without real conversion had never imagined anything like this. Jesus sets before their very eyes these two indispensable conditions of true faith by two parables ( Luk 14:28-32 ).

Verses 25-35

4. A Warning against hasty Professions: Luke 14:25-35.

The journey resumes its course; great crowds follow Jesus. There is consequently an attraction to His side. This appears in the plurals ὄχλοι , multitudes, the adjective πολλοί , and the imperfect of duration συνεπορεύοντο , were accompanying Him. This brief introduction, as in similar cases, gives the key to the following discourse, which embraces: 1 st. A warning ( Luk 14:26-27 ); 2 d. Two parables ( Luk 14:28-32 ); 3 d. A conclusion, clothed in a new figure ( Luk 14:33-35 ).

Verses 28-30

Vers. 28-30. The Improvident Builder.

Building here is the image of the Christian life, regarded in its positive aspect: the foundation and development of the work of God in the heart and life of the believer. The tower, a lofty edifice which strikes the eye from afar, represents a mode of living distinguished from the common, and attracting general attention. New professors often regard with complaceney what distinguishes them outwardly from the world. But building costs something; and the work once begun must be finished, under penalty of being exposed to public ridicule. One should therefore have first made his estimates, and accepted the inroad upon his capital which will result from such an undertaking. His capital is his own life, which he is called to spend, and to spend wholly in the service of his sanctification. The work of God is not seriously pursued, unless a man is daily sacrificing some part of that which constitutes the natural fortune of the human heart, particularly the affections, which are so deep, referred to, Luke 14:26. Before, therefore, any one puts himself forward as a professor, it is all important that he should have calculated this future expenditure, and thoroughly made up his mind not to recoil from any of those sacrifices which fidelity will entail. Sitting down and counting are emblems of the serious acts of recollection and meditation which should precede a true profession. This was precisely what Jesus had done in the wilderness. But what happens when this condition is neglected? After having energetically pronounced himself, the new professor recoils step by step from the consequences of the position which he has taken up. He stops short in the sacrifice of his natural life; and this inconsistency provokes the contempt and ridicule of the world, which soon discovers that he who had separated himself from it with so much parade, is after all but one of its own. Nothing injures the gospel like those relapses, the ordinary results of hasty profession.

Verses 31-32

Vers. 31, 32. The Improvident Warrior.

Here we have an emblem of the Christian life, regarded on its negative or polemical side. The Christian is a king, but a king engaged in a struggle, and a struggle with an enemy materially stronger than himself. Therefore, before defying him with a declaration of war by the open profession of the gospel, a man must have taken counsel with himself, and become assured that he is willing to accept the extreme consequences of this position, even to the giving up of his life if demanded; this condition is expressed Luke 14:27. Would not a little nation like the Swiss bring down ridicule on itself by declaring war with France, if it were not determined to die nobly on the field of battle? Would not Luther have acted like a fool when he affixed his theses to the church door, or burned the Papal bull, had he not first made the sacrifice of his life in the inner court of his heart? It is heroical to engage in a struggle for a just and holy cause, but on one condition: that is, that we have accepted death beforehand as the end of the way; otherwise this declaration of war is nothing but rodomontade. The words: whether he is able, have a slight touch of irony; able to conquer, and, as under such conditions that is impossible, to die in the unequal struggle. Luk 14:32 has been regarded either as a call to us to take account of our weakness, that we may ask the help of God (Olshausen), or a summons promptly to seek reconciliation with God (Gerlach). Both interpretations are untenable, because the hostile king challenged by the declaration of war is not God, but the prince of this world. It is therefore much rather a warning which Jesus gives to those who profess discipleship, but who have not decided to risk everything, to make their submission as early as possible to the world and its prince. Better avoid celebrating a Palm-day than end after such a demonstration with a Good Friday! Rather remain an honourable man, unknown religiously, than become what is sadder in the world, an inconsistent Christian. A warning, therefore, to those who formed the attendants of Jesus, to make their peace speedily with the Sanhedrim, if they are not resolved to follow their new Master to the cross! Jesus drew this precept also from His own experience. He had made his reckoning in the wilderness with the prince of this world, and with life, before beginning His work publicly. Gess rightly says: “Those two parables show with what seriousness Jesus had Himself prepared for death.”

Verses 33-35

Vers. 33-35. The Application of those two Parables, with a new Figure confirming it. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. 34. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35. It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Here is the summing up of the warning which was intended to calm the unreflecting enthusiasm of those multitudes. The expression: forsaketh all that he hath, natural life, as well as all the affections and all the goods fitted to satisfy it, sums up the two conditions indicated Luke 14:26 (the giving up of enjoyment) and 27 (the acceptance of the cross). Salt ( Luk 14:34 ) corrects the tastelessness of certain substances, and preserves others from corruption; the marvellous efficacy of this agent on materials subjected to its quickening energy is a good thing, and even good to observe ( καλόν ). In this twofold relation, it is the emblem of the sharp and austere savour of holiness, of the action of the gospel on the natural life, the insipidity and frivolity of which are corrected by the Divine Spirit. No more beautiful spectacle in the moral world than this action of the gospel through the instrumentality of the consistent Christian on the society around him. But if the Christian himself by his unfaithfulness destroys this holy power, no means will restore to him the savour which it was his mission to impart to the world. ᾿Αρτυθήσεται might be taken impersonally: “If there is no more salt, wherewith shall men salt (things)?” But Jesus is not here describing the evil results of Christian unfaithfulness to the world or the gospel; it is the professor himself who is concerned (Luke 14:35: men cast it out). The subject of the verb is therefore, ἅλας , salt itself; comp. Mark 9:50: ἐν τίνι ἀρτύσετε αὐτό ; “wherewith will ye season it? ” Salt which has become savourless is fit for nothing; it cannot serve the soil as earth, nor pasture as dung. It is only good to be cast out, says Luke; trodden under foot of men, says Matthew 5:13. Salt was sometimes used to cover slippery ways ( Erub. f. 104. 1: Spargunt salem in clivo ne nutent (pedes). A reserved attitude towards the gospel is therefore a less critical position than an open profession followed by declension. In the moral as in the physical world, without previous heating there is no deadly chill. Jesus seems to say that the life of nature may have its usefulness in the kingdom of God, either in the form of mundane ( land) respectability, or even as a life completely corrupted and depraved ( dung). In the first case, indeed, it is the soil wherein the germ of the higher life may be sown; and in the second, it may at least call forth a moral reaction among those who feel indignation or disgust at the evil, and drive them to seek life from on high; while the unfaithfulness of the Christian disgusts men with the gospel itself. The expression: cast out (give over to perdition, Joh 15:6 ), forms the transition to the final call: He that hath ears....

This discourse is the basis of the famous passage, Hebrews 6:4-8. The commentators who have applied it to the rejection of the Jews have not sufficiently considered the context, and especially the introduction, Luke 14:25, which, notwithstanding Holtzmann's contemptuous treatment, is, as we have just seen, the key of the whole piece. Matthew places the apophthegm, Luke 14:34-35, in that passage of the Sermon on the Mount where the grandeur of the Christian calling is described ( Luk 14:13-16 ). Perhaps he was led to put it there by the analogy of the saying to the immediately following one: “ Ye are the light of the world. ” Mark places it, like Luke, towards the end of the Galilean ministry ( Luk 9:50 ); and such a warning is better explained at a more advanced period. Besides, like so many other general maxims, it may perfectly well have been uttered twice.

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Bibliographical Information
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on Luke 14". "Godet's Commentary on Selected Books".