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the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Luke 14

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

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Verses 1-24

Luk 14:1-24

Commentary On Luke 14:1-24

Galen Doughty

Luke 14:1-6 - On a Sabbath Jesus is once again eating at a Pharisee’s house. This appears to be a fairly regular occurrence in Jesus’ ministry and shows he was still willing to fellowship with them despite their hostility to him and his criticism of them. That is a lesson that we need to learn as well!

The Pharisees were watching him closely to find something they could criticize and they placed before him a man who had dropsy, swelling in his arms and legs like cancer patients who have had lymph nodes removed. Jesus asks them if it is lawful to heal on the Sabbath and they are silent. He then heals the man. Jesus then asks them if they would rescue one of their animals if it fell into a well on the Sabbath day. The Pharisees have nothing to say. Jesus points out their hypocrisy and the bankruptcy of their Sabbath rules. They didn’t want to hear this but Jesus is trying to help them see how far their laws have separated them from the heart of God and how much they need repentance and salvation. The whole chapter moves with increasing drama towards the parable of the great banquet. Chapter 15 will climax in the parable of the two lost sons and the opposition of the Pharisees will only increase. Unfortunately for them Jesus could not convince them.

Luke 14:7-11 - Jesus teaches them about humility. The Pharisees were all concerned with face and honor and who got what. Jesus says in the Kingdom the surest path to honor is humility. He shows us God is the humble God. We need to be like him. The Pharisees’ rules did not result in the humble character of God. They resulted in religious and spiritual pride which separated them from God!

Jesus’ instructions to them are don’t exalt yourselves. Let someone else show you honor lest you be embarrassed and lose face! Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. This plays out in Jesus’ life. He humbled himself even to death on a cross so God raised him from the dead and gave Jesus the name above every name! The truest mark of humility is to think of others before one thinks of oneself just as Jesus did.

Luke 14:12-14 - Jesus continues to teach them about humility, speaking to them about whom to invite when they have a dinner party. Don’t invite people who will pay you back. Invite people like the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind, people who are never invited to banquets. They cannot pay you back. Let your reward be from God not people. Do like God does. Which of us can ever pay God back for his forgiveness or eternal life? The Pharisees’ spiritual pride told them they had earned God’s favor and the Kingdom. Jesus is telling them no one can earn it. It is a gift!

He will return to the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame in the parable of the great banquet. These were people the Pharisees considered unclean and unworthy to attend a banquet. The popular notion was they were this way because of some sin and God was punishing them. In many ways their view is not unlike the Buddhist-Hindu idea of karma. They deserve their suffering for something they did and consequently they are out of favor with God. Jesus will show them how far out of synch with God’s heart they are. In fact it is the Pharisees who deserve judgment for their spiritual pride!

Luke 14:15 - Jesus has just finished talking about inviting those who cannot repay you and how at the resurrection you will be rewarded, when one of the Pharisees sitting at the table says blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the Kingdom. In response Jesus tells the parable of the great banquet. The Pharisee thinks he will be at the feast because he is worthy! He believes he has made it and misses Jesus’ point all together. That is why he tells the parable to get them to see that their works righteousness really separates them from God rather than draws God to them.

Luke 14:16-17 - A rich man prepared a feast for his friends and sent out the first invitation to his guests. They accept the invitation. As the host he procures all the food and slaughters the meat to accommodate his guests. The guests are given a great honor by the invitation and the host is honored to have them accept. The guests know the day and the time of the feast and have accepted the host’s hospitality. The day of the banquet arrives and the host sends his servant to tell his guests that everything is now prepared. This would be the second invitation to the feast and was customary. The guests would know the day but not the time and to save everyone embarrassment and waiting around the host sends the servant to let his guests know everything is now ready. The host is filled with anticipation for his guests to arrive and the guests would likewise be filled with the same excitement. The Pharisees who are listening to Jesus’ story have probably been through something similar and maybe even been the host at a dinner party. This is familiar ground.

Luke 14:18-20 - Something unexpected and unthinkable happens. The guests all make excuses to their host as to why they cannot come! Unless one was ill this would never happen!!!

The first says he has just bought a field and needs to go inspect it. A farmer in that culture knows every rock in a field he is going to buy! No one buys a field sight unseen! The next guest says he has bought five pairs of oxen and now must try them out. That is like buying a used car without ever test driving it. You wouldn’t do such a thing. Oxen that are not paired correctly can hurt each other. They must work as a team otherwise the stronger can literally work the weaker to death. They must be compatible with each other. To buy one pair without knowing this would be stupid but this guest has bought five! At this point the Pharisees are wondering what kind of guests the host has invited and they would be incensed that they have treated the host this way. The third guest doesn’t even say please excuse me. He simply tells the host that he has just gotten married and can’t come. Even though the first two guests’ excuses are ridiculous they are at least plausible. The last one doesn’t even work because the guest would have known when the wedding was and should never have accepted the host’s hospitality in the first place! He lied that he could come because he knew he wouldn’t be able to attend because he would be with his new bride! This was the height of rudeness towards the host!

Jesus is trying to tell the Pharisees that their excuses as to why they cannot follow Jesus as their Messiah are like the excuses of the rude guests to the host. They are foolish and ridiculous and offensive! They have insulted Jesus and insulted God! They think they deserve to be at the Messiah’s table but don’t know that they are insulting him by refusing to follow him

Luke 14:21 - The servant returns and reports back to his master what his guests have said. The master is furious! He orders his servants to go out into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame! These are the same people Jesus told the Pharisees to invite to their banquets in 4:13. Jesus contrasts who the master of the house invites with the guests and their foolish excuses. The poor can’t afford to buy a field. The crippled can’t work a team of oxen. The blind don’t get married and the lame don’t get invited to banquets! The master is inviting people who wouldn’t make anyone’s list. They all know that the banquet is being held because the whole town will know. In fact some of them may come to the door of the estate hoping to beg and maybe receive a little crumb from the master’s table. Suddenly they find themselves sitting at the master’s table with a feast spread before them. They had never imagined that something like this would happen to them. They are overjoyed and overwhelmed. It’s too good to be true!

Jesus is telling the Pharisees who will actually enter the Kingdom of God: those who receive the gracious invitation of God who don’t deserve to be there. In fact no one deserves to sit at the Messiah’s table. It is an invitation of grace whereas the Pharisees have believed it is an invitation of worthiness. They are not worthy. In truth they are foolish because in their self-righteousness they do not see their need for forgiveness. When the Messiah has come and the second invitation to the banquet has gone out and Jesus has called people to follow him they make excuses and still believe they are invited because they deserve to be there. They are blind and foolish and have made God angry for rejecting his Son!

Luke 14:22-24 - The servant comes back and says the master’s instructions have been carried out and there is still room at the table. The master then says go outside the town, out to the highways and along the hedges and compel travelers there to come in because my house will be full. Jesus now opens the doorway to the Gentiles because the chances are there would be more than faithful Jews on the roadways around the town. He also uses an interesting word, compel. This is more than an invitation; this is grabbing someone and bringing them in. The travelers out on the roadway don’t even know the master and don’t know there is a banquet. The poor of the town did, they just didn’t think they would ever be invited! The Gentiles out on the highway are surprised and confused by the invitation and must be stunned when they recline at table to eat the feast. How did they get here? What is this all about? This feast is amazing! Who is the master and why is he inviting me?

Jesus is telling the Pharisees that Israel and her spiritual leaders are the guests invited at the first. They have rejected the Messiah because his invitation has gone out! They are making excuses as to why they can’t come to Messiah’s feast. The poor who don’t think they will be invited at all because they have been told they are not worthy are invited instead of the religious. Even more, those who don’t even know there is a banquet are invited, including any Gentiles that accept the master’s invitation! What about those who were first invited and now make ridiculous and insulting excuses for why they cannot come? They are excluded! They will never taste of Messiah’s table! The Pharisees who thought they deserved to be at the table will be on the outside, excluded and lost! It is a stunning and bold parable that Jesus tells to try and shake the Pharisees into confronting their self-righteousness and need for God’s grace and forgiveness. Chapter 15 will be the climax of Jesus’ efforts.

Verses 25-35

Luk 14:25-35

Commentary On Luke 14:25-35

Galen Doughty

Luke 14:25 - Luke now shifts the scene away from the Pharisee’s dinner party to the crowds that were following Jesus as he traveled along towards Jerusalem. Jesus is going to address counting the cost of following him. These are people who have been attracted to Jesus because of his miracles, his teaching and forgiveness and the Kingdom of God. Jesus is going to push them to make a decision about him. We are saved by grace and invited into the Kingdom through the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus yet that grace is not cheap. Jesus will explain why.

Luke 14:26-27 - Jesus uses the language of hyperbole to make his point. No one, including one’s family can be placed before Jesus as Lord and Messiah. One’s wife, husband, father, mother, children, siblings and even one’s own life cannot be higher than Jesus. This must have been difficult for the people to hear. It is hard enough in our day but in Jesus’ day family, and especially the authority of one’s father was paramount. One’s family gave one an identity. Jesus is saying his new family; the family of the people of God in the Kingdom of God will be higher than one’s earthly family. Jesus’ disciples will take their identity from him and from their relationship with their new brothers and sisters. Jesus will be first of all or he will not be first at all!

Jesus uses the word "hate" here in a figurative way. It is clear from other passages that Jesus does not hate his mother or siblings. He loves them. He uses hate here to describe not putting anyone in a higher position than Jesus in one’s life. We are not to value anyone else above Jesus. One could see it as no other gods before Jesus. In this case it is no other relationship before Jesus.

He intensifies the cost of following him by saying we must die to ourselves, carry our cross and follow Jesus. A convicted criminal carried their cross to the place of crucifixion, just as Jesus did to Golgotha. In order to follow Jesus he says we will have to carry our cross and die to ourselves, to our agendas, dreams, wishes, desires and goals. They must all be submitted to Jesus or one cannot follow him and be his disciple. Jesus is defining the fundamental relationship with him if someone is to be his disciple. Jesus is Lord!

Luke 14:28-33 - Jesus then gives two parables about counting the cost before deciding to follow him. In the first he describes a landowner who wants to build a tower, probably to guard a vineyard. Jesus says he will first try and estimate the cost and whether he can afford to build otherwise he will start but cannot finish. Then everyone who sees it will ridicule the builder because he started something he couldn’t finish. He will lose face and be publicly shamed for his failure to count the cost!

In the second parable Jesus uses the example of the king who is about to go to war with another king. The king must first determine if he has enough troops to win against his enemy otherwise he must sue for peace because he cannot win. Jesus then adds in v.22, in the same way whoever does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. The king gave up his desire to go to war with his enemy because the enemy was greater. Jesus is pressing the crowds to give up all to follow him. He is saying you can’t just proclaim me as Messiah and not follow me. Salvation comes through a relationship with Jesus as Lord and me as his disciple. Jesus doesn’t even have another category of people in relationship with him. You are either his disciple or you are not. If you are, he is first above every thing and every one else, including yourself!

The whole series of sayings is designed to get the crowds to confront what they are going to do with Jesus. Are they going to follow him as his disciples or are they along for the ride and the show?

Luke 14:34-35 - This is a difficult saying at any time, but in this context it is doubly difficult. What is Jesus trying to say? Jesus has said in other places that his disciples are the salt of the earth. In the context here of counting the cost and starting but not finishing I think Jesus is saying that a disciple that starts strong but then loses his effectiveness is fit for nothing and needs to be thrown out. I don’t think Jesus is talking about losing one’s salvation here but about discipleship. He even raises the question how can it be made salty again. To what is he referring? Is he saying that repentance is impossible for a disciple who has turned away from following Jesus and is no longer effective? I don’t think he would say that based on other passages. What does he mean? Once again I think Jesus is using hyperbole to press the crowd into making a decision once for all concerning him. Are they in or out, with him or against him? Do they want to follow him and if they do are they in it for the long haul or will they fall away when difficulties arise? Given the fact that Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and the cross this was a very important question for would-be disciples to answer. For us today it is also important especially as we see the culture going further and further away from the Scriptures and opposition to following Jesus getting more blatant and vocal.

Questions by E.M. Zerr For Luke Chapter Fourteen

1. Into whose house did Jesus go?

2. Why did they watch him ?

3. Tell what patient was there.

4. What question did Jesus ask the lawyers?

5. Repeat their answer.

6. What did Jesus then do?

7. To what practice did he refer?

8. And what did they say to this?

9. What called forth his next lesson?

10. Give his advice about choosing seats.

11. Lest what?

12. How might honor be obtained?

13. Who will be exalted or abased ?

14. Who should be invited to a dinner?

15. Why not the rich?

16. At what time will the favor be returned ?

17. What remark did this lesson bring forth ?

18. State the subject of his next parable.

19. To whom were servants next sent?

20. Which guest came first?

21. Which made the first excuse?

22. State the second excuse.

23. And the third.

24. What effect did this have on the host?

25. Tell what he directed to be done.

26. Did this take up the room?

27. State the further directions.

28. When were the first guests to be reinvited ?

29. State who went with Jesus as he journeyed?

30. Whom should we love less than Jesus?

31. If not, what can we not be ?

32. What also must be borne for Him?

33. Before building what should be done?

34. Otherwise what might be said?

35. What other man is used for illustration?

36. What was he about to do?

37. Tell what he first considers.

38. If doubtful what move does he make?

39. To what subject does he liken this ?

40. How much must be forsaken for Christ?

41. Can salt become useless?

42. What is done with it then?

43. Who are required to hear?

44. Which parable in this chapter teaches consistency?

45. And which teaches humility?

46. Which teaches unselfishness?

47. What nation made these excuses ?

48. How may people be compelled to come?

49. Show weakness of the excuse about land.

50. And about the oxen.

51. Why was the new wife no valid excuse?

Luke Chapter Fourteen

By Ralph L. Starling

On a Sabbath he was eating with a Pharisee.

There was a man with dropsy needing to be healed.

Jesus asked, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to heal?”

The remained silent and kept their peace.

Jesus took the opportunity for another parable.

Observing them taking chief rooms as they were able.

He said, “He that exalteth himself shall be abased.

He that is humble will be given their space.”

He then said to the host who had invited him,

“When you make a supper, don’t invite only your friends.

But remember the maimed, the poor and the blind.

You will never be sorry for being so kind.

Jesus tells the story about one preparing a feast.

Many were invited when it was to be served.

Word was sent to all, the supper is “yummy.”

With every excuse, “Forget us, we’re not coming.”

He that will not forsake all that he hath,

He cannot be my disciple and walk in my path.

He that cannot follow me for any excuse or reason,

Let him reconsider before it’s “out of season.”

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Luke 14". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/luke-14.html.
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