EATING IN THE PHARISEE'S HOUSE
This chapter shows the heart of God in seeking man, yet also man in thorough contrast and opposition to God. One of the chief Pharisees invited the Lord Jesus to his house for a meal, evidently not out of affection, but to find occasion for criticism, for "they watched Him." Yet the Lord did not refuse: He would genuinely seek the good of man, whether criticized or not. We may wonder if perhaps the Pharisee had invited the man with dropsy (edema) as a test case. But the Lord was not on the defensive. Lawyers and Pharisees were present, and He asked them if it was lawful to heal on the sabbath day. He knew their prejudice as to this, but they would not answer because they could find no law in scripture that would support them.
Verse 3 interestingly shows that His question was an answer to the lawyers and Pharisees -- evidently an answer to their watching Him.
He healed the man before their eyes. It is evident they did not approve of this, though they said nothing, for they had no honorable or scriptural basis for their opposition. Their proud, legal thoughts would not bend to simple truth and honesty, so He "answered them" a second time, though they had said nothing. His second answer was also a question they did not answer. They knew perfectly well they would rescue immediately any animal they owned, which had fallen into a pit on the sabbath day. He had spoken in chapter 13:15 of their concern in feeding and watering their animals on the sabbath. Should they have more pity for an animal than for a human being in need or in trouble?
Then He addressed the invited guests in the Pharisee's house as He observed them taking the most prominent places for themselves. He advised them not to assume such a place, in case this was intended by the host for a more honorable person, in which case the matter might end in the humiliation of the social climber. If this is true in the natural realm, how much more so among the saints of God! Aspiring to a high place is both unseemly and exposing oneself to the shame of humiliation.
If one takes the lowest place, however, he may be invited to go up higher, and others will give him honor (not worship, which is for God only). This led to the Lord's announcing the serious principle that self-exaltation will end in abasement, while self- humbling will end in exaltation. The outstanding example of the first is Satan, who said, "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds: I will be like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:14). He was answered, "Yet you shall be brought down to sheol, to the lowest depths of the pit" (v.15). The great example of self-humbling is the Lord Jesus, who humbled Himself to come down to the depths of the agony of the cross; but is now highly exalted above all the universe (Philippians 2:5-11).
The Lord Jesus then told the Pharisee who had invited Him that, in providing a supper, he should not call his friends, brethren, relatives or rich neighbors, but the poor, maimed, lame and blind. It would seem as though the Pharisee had in mind being in turn invited by others, for it is unlikely that the Lord would have said this if the Pharisee's motives had been unselfish. Apparently his motives in inviting the Lord had not been honorable.
Yet is this not a searching word for us all? How often do we think of inviting to our homes those who are in deeply trying circumstances? The Lord will not fail to reward such kindness shown even in a natural way. How much more so if we show kindness in seeking to meet the needs of those spiritually poor, maimed, lame and blind? Notice the expression, "at the resurrection of the just" (v.14). Such care, in unselfish honesty, would be evidence that one is truly born again, for only believers will have part in "the resurrection of life" (John 5:29) or "the first resurrection" (Revelation 20:6), which will bring full reward for every work of faith on the part of those who have trusted the saving grace of the Lord Jesus (v.14).
"A GREAT SUPPER"
A guest spoke of the blessedness of one who will eat bread in the kingdom of God. He had in mind the future glory of the kingdom, but did not realize that the kingdom had a present, vital, moral form that was not appreciated by the Jews, and the invitations to that great supper were being given at that very time, for the true King was present in lowly grace, yet many were excusing themselves.
For this reason the Lord gave the parable of the man making a great supper. It is God who has provided this supper in marvelous grace, and the invited guests were the Jewish people who had many great promises in the Scriptures. In contrast to Matthew 22:3-4, we are told it is "His servant" who is sent, not "servants." In Matthew the gospel is seen as carried by people, in Luke the emphasis is on the one "servant" who is typical of the Holy Spirit of God. It is His great work to bear witness to Christ as the fulfillment of the promise of God -- Christ in the perfect completion of redemption, as is beautifully indicated in the words, "all things are now ready" (v.17).
Every Israelite was invited first to the great gospel supper of the grace of God, fully prepared and freely offered. But all made excuses. One said he had bought a piece of ground, and it was necessary for him to see it. He made it clear that his property meant more to him than the friendship of the host. But the supper was at a set time: he could see his property at any time. Similarly, another had bought five yoke of oxen and excused himself because he wanted to try them out. Israel had more regard for their land and possessions than for the personal invitation of the King to eat bread in the kingdom of God. Another did not even ask to be excused, but said it was impossible for him to come because he had married a wife. What kind of a wife had he married? Was she so opposed to the host that she would not permit her husband to accept his invitation? Had Israel made such unholy associations? Gentiles today make similar excuses, and continue to incur the anger of the Master of the house, for they are insults to Him who has acted in marvelous grace and kindness toward mankind, seeking their blessing and their fellowship.
The King His servant therefore into the streets and lanes of the city to call the poor (those who cannot pay), the maimed (those who cannot work), the lame (who cannot walk) and the blind (who cannot see). This describes Israelites who by the law have found themselves exposed as desolate, guilty, helpless and blind; therefore fit subjects for the grace of God.
But even this effort did not fill the Master's house (v.22), so the message was sent outside the city to the highways and hedges, for the gospel is not to be fenced in, but now is broadcast to welcome Gentiles, that is, the whole world. Also it is added here, "compel them to come in." Only the Spirit of God can compel people, which He does by the sweet compulsion of God's love, for He is the Servant in this parable.
"Servants" in Matthew 22:9 are told only to invite, not to compel, for the servants are believers whom the Lord sends to proclaim the gospel of His grace. But the solemn word is given from the Master that those who were first invited would not taste of His supper. Those who claimed be looking for the kingdom would not enter it, for they despised the kindness of the King Himself.
THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
In the supper we have seen the grace of God freely offered and commended to everyone, but discipleship costs something. While grace is altogether without charge and saves souls eternally, yet grace produces such effects as to make one willing to sacrifice his own comfort for the Lord's sake. This is discipleship. At a time when great crowds followed him, the Lord strongly admonished them. Some were attracted to Him for selfish reasons, who knew nothing of His grace in their hearts and consequently and were not prepared to respond to that grace. But if one was to really be His disciple, he must "hate" his father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters, and in fact his own life also. If this seems a stern, startling declaration, it is because of its real importance, once properly understood.
The hate here is not the vindictive hatred of 1 John 4:20, for in that case one's hatred of his brother proved him to be a liar when he claimed to love God. But every other relationship must give way to the disciple's devotion to Christ. Christ must be first, or one is not a true disciple. One must bear his cross, virtually putting himself under the violent death of crucifixion, in honest self-judgment; that is, identifying himself willingly with Christ crucified. Other relationships will be rightly regarded and maintained only if the heart is undivided in true devotion to Him. For instance, an unbelieving father may accuse his son of hating him because the son is purposed to follow the Lord Jesus and refuses to worship his father's idols. If the world thinks this of us, then we just submit to their hostile thoughts, not showing love to their idols.
The tower being built (v.18) is symbolic of Christianity. The tower is a place of observation and a place of eminence, visible for all to see; and a place of defense. Is one prepared for these things in adopting a Christian stand? It is far wiser to count the cost of building before beginning. To honestly follow Christ is no light matter. On the other hand, one should count the cost of not following Him. Indolent self-pleasing will always end in tragic disappointment. But when one begins as a disciple of the Lord, then finds no ability to continue, he will be exposed to the ridicule of the world. Certainly the resources are not natural abilities: if we are to continue, it must be Christ who is the object of our devotion, Christ in whom are the resources for every need that may arise. In other words, let the disciple check closely on himself as to whether his confidence is fully in the One he professes to follow.
Christianity is also a warfare. A king going to war is careful to first evaluate the strength of his forces in comparison to that of the enemy (v.31). Satan is a formidable foe, having sway over the whole world (1 John 5:19). Who can stand against him? The Lord Jesus did, and He overcame the world (John 16:33) with all the power of Satan behind it (Hebrews 2:14). To be His disciple, one must count upon His strength, his confidence being fully in Him, for "this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our faith" (1 John 5:4). If in faith one fully counts upon the Lord, he is fully equipped to face the enemy. If one does not have this faith, he will make peace with the world, which will avoid conflict, but which will in effect make him an enemy of God (James 4:4)! Let one most carefully consider the issues!
The Lord then emphasized that one cannot be His disciple apart from forsaking all that he has. He does not mean that one should literally ignore his wife, his children or other natural responsibilities (1 Timothy 5:8), but to allow none of them to have a prior place. Christ must be first.
The seasoning of salt is involved in these things (v.34). Salt is good, though only in moderate quantities: if salt lost its seasoning savor, it would be useless. We are saved by grace, as the great supper has taught us, but grace must be seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6). It seems that salt speaks of righteousness, which must necessarily accompany the grace of God. If this seasoning of righteousness is lacking in our discipleship, then grace is not rightly represented. Though it is entirely by virtue of the grace of God that we are saved, yet grace does not exclude righteousness, as though we could "continue in sin that grace may abound." Certainly grace predominates, but grace is flavored by righteousness, as is indicated in Romans 5:21, "so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 5:21). Under law the demands of righteousness dominated, now grace dominates, but righteousness is not by any means discarded. In the honest recognition of these two balancing principles there will be true discipleship. Too little salt is not good, and too much salt can be offensive.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Luke 14". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Lent