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Sunday, June 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Luke 14

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Verses 1-6

Healing a Man Suffering From Dropsy

Although the Lord has just spoken of His rejection by Jerusalem, He continues to show grace and mercy. He entered the house of a Pharisee again to eat bread there (Luke 7:36; Luke 11:37). This time He does that on a Sabbath. He is surrounded by people who watch Him closely to see if He does anything that violates their laws. The Pharisees want to use their Sabbath commandment to bind His merciful hands with. He breaks their ropes by showing that He has at least as much compassion with a human being as they have with their animal.

His grace far exceeds their legal judgments. He proves this in His actions with the man suffering from dropsy who is also present there. They have the feeling that He will do something again, because they know He will work with His grace wherever there is suffering and sickness. It is possible that they have intentionally placed this man suffering from dropsy before Him. By placing him there they unintentionally give him the place where he can find healing.

A person suffering from dropsy is someone who holds water and is therefore inflated, blown up in appearance. This prevents him from entering through the narrow door. It is the dropsy of Israel. Water is a picture of the Word of God. As an application, one can see in this man someone who is blown up by the knowledge of God’s Word (1 Corinthians 8:1). He is the physical expression of the spiritual state of the Pharisees. However, there is a big difference. This man stands before the Lord Jesus and wants to be healthy, while the Pharisees believe that they are healthy and therefore are enemies of the Lord.

The Lord knows that they are watching Him. He knows their evil thoughts. His question of whether or not it is permitted to heal on the Sabbath is an answer to their evil thoughts. With His question He addresses Himself to their conscience. The evil, merciless leaders do not answer. The Lord gives a first answer through His act of mercy. He acts vigorously. He takes hold of the man. That is the only solution in such situations. In that way He also firmly took hold on the Pharisee Saul and threw him to the ground (Acts 9:3-Numbers :). He makes the man healthy and sends him away. This man has been cured and is going freely.

The Lord has even more teaching for the Pharisees. He continues with His answer by asking them a new question. This answer in form of a question differs slightly from the answer given to the official of the synagogue in the previous chapter (Luke 13:15). There it is more about the need to care for an animal on time, whereas this is a more urgent case. It is not only an animal that needs a drink and needs to be led to the well, but the animal has fallen into the well.

In the comparison, the Lord equates the healing of the man suffering from dropsy with a son or an ox who has found himself in a situation that he is about to die. By curing the man suffering from dropsy, he can function as a son and an ox again. A son is to the good pleasure of the Father (Ephesians 1:5) and an ox is a picture of a servant (1 Corinthians 9:8-2 Samuel :).

They have no reply to this reply either. The grace and truth of God are irrefutably good.

Verses 7-11

Teaching for the Invited Guests

Luke 14:1 says that they are watching Him closely, but in reality it is the other way around (Luke 14:7). He watches them and notices how the guests are picking out the places of honor at the table. Such people, who have no sense of the need in which they find themselves, not only want to prevent Him from doing good to others, but are also always aspiring to exalt themselves.

It is a reason for the Lord to continue teaching. He continues with this until Luke 17 where He does another work of grace in the healing of ten leprous men (Luke 17:11-Psalms :). With His teaching He wants to place their conscience in the light with the goal that they learn to see themselves in God’s light and come to repentance. It is also important to us because the tendency of everything He points out is also present in us. If we do not take his teaching to heart, we will fall into the same evil. For us, His education contains many warnings. When we look around us, we see happen what He says, but often we are not able to testify against it because we so often notice the same faults in ourselves.

The Lord gives His teaching through a parable. He presents it in such a way that there is an invitation for a wedding. For a wedding, certain places are reserved for distinguished guests. The pride of man desires a place that clearly shows his importance to others. If we sit in a place that we’re not entitled to, we will be taken from there, because a more distinguished person has come who has already been allocated this place.

We might have entered through the narrow door, but still get thoughts of pride about ourselves again. The old nature has also entered with us, but we must keep it at the place of death (Romans 6:11), that is, we must not give in to it. If we give in, we will be put in our place by the person who sent the invitation, because he has also allocated the seats. He knows where everyone belongs.

If we have taken a seat in the front row that is destined for another person, we will have to leave when the other person comes. Red of shame, we’ll have to take last place, furthest away from the center of the feast. Therefore it is better, if we are invited, to take the humblest place. When we are then told: “Friend, move up higher”, it is a tribute that is noticed by all. We will get it without having searched for it (Proverbs 25:5-Joshua :).

The Lord’s sympathy goes out to those who take the lowest place, the place of serving. It is identification with the place He Himself has always taken. All other guests also have respect for someone who has taken the lowest place and is addressed by the Lord as a friend and invited to a higher place.

The Lord closes the parable with an important principle. The seeking of oneself will inevitably lead to a deep fall. Whoever takes the lowest place will ultimately be allowed to take the highest place. The Lord Jesus has humbled Himself and has been exalted at God’s right hand (Philippians 2:8-1 Samuel :). This will happen to all who follow Him in that mind of humility (James 4:10; Job 5:11; John 12:26). With satan and his followers the first thing will happen. They have exalted themselves and will be humiliated.

Verses 12-14

Teaching for Those Who Invite

After a word for the guests, the Lord also has a word for the host and for all who invite others. He not only notes that the guests act purely for personal gain, He also notes that inviting does not happen selflessly either. There is a hidden intention to benefit from it. It must give prestige and, in the long term, also yield something. This is how al lot of people deal in the world, and unfortunately also Christians. To do good without gain is only possible in imitation of the Lord Jesus.

The Lord brings to mind what He Himself constantly does, and that is to focus on the lowest layers of society. Let them invite the disadvantaged and underprivileged, the poor and the disabled. There is no honor to be gained for the eyes of the world, but there is honor to be gained in the eyes of God.

Spiritually applied, the Lord Jesus wants us to share of our spiritual riches to spiritually disadvantaged people. The happiness that is connected with such deeds is the inner satisfaction that He gives because there is acted out of His grace.

That happiness extends far beyond the present satisfaction. Those who act in this way can count on repayment in the future, at the resurrection of the righteous. Before the judge’s seat of Christ, those who have acted selflessly in the grace of the Lord in this way will receive repayment for it in the form of a task to distribute blessing in the realm of peace.

Verses 15-20

The Invitation Rejected

Someone who is reclined at the table and has listened carefully, suspects the scope of the words of the Lord’s. He feels that He is talking about the kingdom of God and speaks out loud how blessed it must be to be in it and to eat bread there, to feed himself with what God offers as food. In this he resembles the woman in the crowd who, in response to His words, pronounces “blessed” on her who could be His mother (Luke 11:27-Hosea :). Just like there, it is here about an external impression that is correct in itself, but that does not take the person who is impressed any further. The man sees the privilege of being in the kingdom, but has no part in it.

In a parable the Lord makes clear why people reject the invitation to eat bread in the kingdom of God and which people will participate in the meal. The beginning of the parable shows the great grace of God and the wide offer of His grace. He has created a “big” dinner, where there is room for the many whom He invites. It is a “dinner”, a meal in the evening, at the end of the day. The day of grace comes to an end.

This parable represents the desire of God’s heart to fill His house with people with whom He can share the riches of His heart. The parable also makes it clear that He Himself takes care of that, because people don’t want to come. Here we see God’s sovereignty in showing His grace and mercy to fill His house. It is also important to see that it is about a house here on earth now and not about a house in heaven later on.

When it is time to start the meal, the host – a picture of God – sends out his slave. The slave is the Holy Spirit who, as a servant to men, lets the gospel, that is the good news, of a ready meal, be announced by servants. That the meal is ready presupposes that the Lord Jesus has completed the work on the cross. In the gospel it is said to the guests that everything is ready now.

The guests are the Jews. To them comes first and foremost the gospel (Romans 1:17), which deals with the treasures of heaven that have been laid ready and that can already be enjoyed by virtue of the work of Christ. Because Christ laid the foundation for it on the cross, the invitation can go out. God sent His Son to prepare the meal for the guests. God sent His Spirit to prepare the guests for the meal.

When the slave comes to the guests, they all have an excuse for not coming. They have too many possessions to go through the narrow door, things they don’t want to leave at the door. The reasons they give are not things that are wrong in themselves. They are ordinary human duties. It’s not about someone who’s too drunk to come, or someone who’s degenerated as a result of a dissolute life, like the prodigal son. They are all decent, esteemed people. They enjoy the gifts of the Creator, but the Creator Himself should stay out of their business. They are so preoccupied with their pastimes that they do not take time for the feast of grace. They are excuses of unbelief based on so-called duties, on temporary, material interests.

The first excuse comes from someone who bought a piece of land. He is very curious how it looks like and that really has to be done first. He will also be curious about the produce. He has just bought it and he wants to sow and earn money to prepare his own meal. So he doesn’t have a longing for the meal God has prepared. Perhaps he also dreams of large barns in which he can store the produce (cf. Luke 12:16-Psalms :). No, he doesn’t have time to accept the invitation and opts out politely.

A second person who receives the invitation makes excuses because he has just bought five pairs of oxen. This new acquisition takes so much time that he really cannot accept the invitation. He just has to try those five pairs of oxen first. And you can be sure that if he succeeds, he will provide his own meal, with a richly laid table provided with his own well-deserved delicacies. For him, the whole meal of God is not necessary. No, he doesn’t have the time, nor the need, to accept the invitation and opts out politely.

A third excuse comes from someone who is (just?) married. This is an extraordinarily good reason for him to reject God’s invitation. For this man too, life in the world here and now, having a family, is more important than his place at God’s table. Besides, his wife can prepare an excellent meal. He does not need God’s. No, he can’t come and doesn’t even bother to opt out. How can someone bother him with a message about an invisible meal, when he’s doing so well himself!

Verses 21-24

The House Must Be Filled.

The slave reports the responses to the invitation to his master. When the master hears the reactions, he becomes angry. His grace is despised (Hebrews 10:28-Joel :). The privileged people are too busy and have indifferently refused the invitation. The slave gets another command. He must do this quickly because there is a need for urgency. He has to get all kinds of people off the street, people who would never think they would get an invitation. They are not invited, they are not asked if they want to come, the slave has to pick them up. From now on it will be an issue of tax collectors and sinners and all those who are in a miserable state.

The first to be forced to enter come from the city, from Israel. They are aware of their poverty and have no problem entering through the narrow door. They do not have pieces of land or oxen or a wife who are a resistance to entering. We see this happening on Pentecost (Acts 2:40-Mark :; Acts 4:4). Obedient the slave executes this command.

But the house is not yet full. There is still room, even though first three thousand and later another five thousand entered God’s house, the church (Acts 2:41; Acts 4:4). God has so much that He wants to give away, that He will force others to come in. The master once again orders the slave to go out. He has to look everywhere where there might still be someone, and whoever he finds, he has to force to come in.

This is another step forward because this is obviously the gospel for the nations. By God’s mercy, after the rejection of the gospel by Israel, the gospel is now also being preached to them with the greatest insistence. No one accepted the invitation of his own accord, but was forced to do so by God’s sovereign grace. God fills, so to speak, not only the table, but also the chairs. What a grace! Who has ever heard of the richest celebration ever, in which only people who have been forced to take part!

The miracle is even greater, for all the glory of the meal prepared by God, which we will soon enjoy in perfection in heaven, may already be enjoyed by us in the house of God on earth. It is the house where the prodigal son is brought in by the father (Luke 15:22-Jeremiah :).

The master determines that those who were originally invited but refused to come will never taste his meal. Here the Lord Jesus states His judgment on the invited guests who rejected the invitation and that is especially the apostate Israel. They have consciously chosen for life on earth with all its pleasures. They repudiate eternal life (Acts 13:46), for without having tasted it, they know that they would not like it anyway. They get what they have chosen: they will never taste the dinner.

Verses 25-33

Calculate the Costs

If something is available for free, it attracts a lot of people. The offer of grace is wide and attractive. However, the fact that the dinner is free of charge does not mean that it is cheap. Therefore the Lord also highlights the other side of the invitation. He also has a word for those who follow Him without realizing what it means to follow Him. He turns around and speaks to all about the truth of discipleship. There are no conditions attached to the grace of God. However, the gospel in which this grace is proclaimed places our feet on the path of the disciple, which can only be entered under these conditions.

The disciple must follow Christ that simply and resolutely that it seems to others’ eyes that he completely neglects natural family ties and that he is indifferent to all claims from close relatives. It is not the case that the Lord calls for lovelessness, but that is how it can and must seem to those in the Name of Whom one says goodbye to.

To someone who wants to be a disciple, the attraction of grace must exert a greater influence than all natural bonds and all other claims of any kind. “Hate” is not cherishing hate feelings, but consider irrelevant when it comes to following the Lord Jesus. Neither did He allow Himself to be led by His mother and His brothers and sisters and hated them in this sense.

Furthermore, it is not enough to come to Him and begin to follow Him, but we must follow Him day after day. He who does not do this cannot be His disciple. Thus we see in Luke 14:26 that we must give up all things for Christ and in Luke 14:27 that we must follow Christ despite effort and suffering and with perseverance. The Lord makes it a matter of calculating the costs. All those who start a project are first going to make a budget. No one is rushing into an uncertain business. So it is with discipleship. Following the Lord Jesus is not a matter of emotion, but of sober consultation, resulting in a clear choice.

A tower speaks of a visible testimony, of vigilance and of a view of the future. We can say that we live for the future to then be with Christ, but that means that we give up everything on earth. That’s what it costs. Following Christ can only be continued if we remain vigilant and keep an eye on His coming. Otherwise, after a shorter or longer time, we will stop following Him because we are no longer willing to make sacrifices.

To cease following Him will cause us and also Christ reproach. Then we are like someone who has started a business, but stops after a while because he has budgeted wrong. Such a person becomes an object of ridicule. It really does not remain unnoticed that someone who first followed the Lord, quits. His environment has noticed that he had started building and also notes that after a while the building has stopped.

In addition to a building project, the Lord compares discipleship with war. He tells the crowd that a disciple is at war. If one thinks about following him, let him see first if he can cope with the battle. Is the army in which he serves strong enough to fight the enemy? The opposition is great.

Being a witness in the world also causes battle. It costs a lot to be a witness. In a war it is true that in the case of a battle in which you will certainly lose, you are wise to ask for the conditions of peace early on. You should ask for it when the other has not attacked you yet.

If we really give up everything we have, we will have to rely entirely on the help of the great Master. Then the path of discipleship is also open to us as a great challenge.

Verses 34-35

Tasteless Salt

After meeting the conditions, the true disciple is the salt. Each grain offering must be salted with salt (Leviticus 2:13). The life of a disciple is such an offering (Romans 12:1). The salt is good (Matthew 5:13). Salt prevents decay and is preservative. It repels the wrong and preserves the good. If the disciple slackens and forgets that he is the salt, he loses his characteristic as someone who uses God’s standards for a disciple. The next step is for him to adapt to the world. The corruption of the world he has escaped (2 Peter 1:4) regains entrance to his life. He loses his character of witness.

Such a person is no longer a true disciple of Christ. He is not fit for the plans the world has and he has given up the plan God has with him. He has too much light or knowledge to be concerned with the vanities and sins of the world and he does not enjoy the grace and truth that should preserve him in the way of Christ. The expression “it is thrown out” actually has an unlimited meaning, that is to say it is thrown away, without saying by whom.

The last words, “he who has ears to hear”, appeal to all who hear the word of the Lord. We see in the next chapter that they are only taken to heart by the tax collectors and sinners who come to Him to hear Him. They have ears to hear.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Luke 14". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/luke-14.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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