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The Lord Jesus dineth with a Pharisee. He healeth a Man of the Dropsy. He puts forth a Parable. Describes his Gospel under the Similitude of a great Supper; and adds a blessed Discourse.
And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? And they could not answer him again to these things.
Our Lord, we find, frequently visiting the Pharisees, though from the complexion of that sect, none of them had the least regard to his person or doctrine. Here we find, in the midst of this seeming kindness to Jesus, they watched him; that is, they waited to reproach him. It is not said how this man with the dropsy came to the house of the Pharisee; but it afforded a blessed occasion for the display of the Lord's grace and power, and their resentment. That the cure Jesus wrought made them angry, is evident, from the Lord's answer. We find a similar instance in the preceding chapter, Luke 13:15 : See also Matthew 12:9-40.12.14 .
And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Reader! what a lovely quality is grace, which truly makes men great, in making them humble; and induceth the very reverse of nature, which, by the fall, hath made all mankind proud, when, by reason of sin, it ought to have made all humble. In the unequal pattern of the Lord Jesus, we are made to see what true humbleness is. He who was Lord of all, became servant to all; and in the same hour, when he knew that the Father had given all things into his hands, actually stooped down, and did wash the feet of poor fishermen. See John 13:3-43.13.5 . Reader! do not, if possible, ever lose sight of this. Was there ever an instance of the kind known among the great ones of the earth? And let me ask, was there ever an instance of real greatness like this, of unequalled humility? Did ever the Son of God in our nature look more lovely, more blessed, and call forth the affections of his people in a more awakened manner than upon this occasion? Oh! for grace to copy what none can ever equal! Precious Jesus! let me never forget this scene, but gladly take the lowest room in recollection of thee! And, Reader! let such a precept, backed by such an example, have its due weight with both our hearts: and let us be comforted with this assurance, Jesus, who thus stooped then, will be gracious now. Lord! the lower thou wilt come down to our wants, the higher thou wilt be exalted to our love and praise. See Philippians 2:5-50.2.11 .
Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
Our Lord's directions are here specially given to his people. It is true, Jesus addressed the man at whose house he then was; but as the Lord speaks of the resurrection of the just, the justified soul in Christ must be meant by the expression; and therefore it was such the Lord had in view. And with respect to the recompense spoken of, it will be indeed an ample recompense in that great day of God, to be noticed by Christ, in having so loved his members, when upon earth, as his members. Who shall calculate the joy? Our Lord hath more particularly explained it, Matthew 25:34-40.25.40 . All other recompense, and which the self-righteous are seeking after, will be an awful retribution. 1 Corinthians 4:7 .
Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
Our Lord took occasion, from the observation of one that sat at the Pharisee's table with him, to deliver this precious discourse. It is much to the same purport as that sermon delivered, Matthew 22:2 , etc. The prophet Isaiah was taught by the Holy Ghost to represent the Gospel under the figure of a royal feast, Isaiah 25:6 . The only difference in the representation is, that in one place it is called a dinner, and here the Lord calls it a supper. Perhaps, the former was in allusion to the early manifestations of grace; and the latter to intimate the final revelations in the person of Christ himself. Hebrews 1:1 , and Hebrews 9:26 .
By the certain man, no doubt the Lord Jesus meant God the Father; for Christ is God's salvation to the ends of the earth, Isaiah 49:6 . And by the servant sent to call them that were bidden, must mean Christ; for so God speaks of him, Isaiah 42:0 :l, etc. And in the great work of redemption, for the recovery of his Church from the ruin into which, by her Adam-nature, she was fallen, Christ came as Jehovah's servant, Philippians 2:6-50.2.7 . This being bidden can mean nothing more than the outward ministry of God's word to the Jewish nation. With them were committed the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises. But all are not Israel which are of Israel, Romans 9:6; Romans 9:6 . For when Christ came to his own; that is, his own nation, his own received him not. John 1:11 . So that the special distinguishing grace, which distinguished the people, differed widely from this outward call; that being accompanied with an inward work upon the heart, inclining them to come. Psalms 110:0 .
The different excuses form a most apt representation of the several causes, which prevent, according to the view of natural causes, all the unawakened and unregenerated world from coming to Christ. The piece of ground, and the yoke of oxen, and the married state, are strikingly expressive of the three great causes John describes: namely, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. 1 John 2:16 . Under one or other of these all of the unrenewed of mankind may be found. And what an awful state the whole is!
The dismission of the servant to the highways, and lanes, and streets of the city, to call in the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind, is, in the language of the Gospel, to shew that God hath given the heathen to Christ for an inheritance, and the uttermost part of the earth for his possession, Psalms 2:8 . And the characters here described are to be considered spiritually. It is the poor in spirit, it is the maimed by sin, it is the halt in the faculties of soul, and the blind, who by nature are strangers to Christ, and all whose minds, by the gracious call of God, are brought into a sense of their lost and utterly helpless state in themselves, which are here set forth. And what a beautiful view doth the representation afford of the infinite tallness of God's provision, that when multitudes are brought, and are feasted with grace and salvation, the Lord sends again to use an holy violence, and to compel every poor, needy, self-condemned, and sensible sinner to come, that Christ's house may be filled.
Reader! pause over this delightful view! Behold and observe what the language of grace saith, Yet there is room. Yes, there is room as there was then, so now, in the fullness of covenant settlements formed among the whole persons of the Godhead before the world was made. The thousands that were then unborn when Jesus spake this parable, and which have since been born in nature, and new born in grace, have found the blessed truth to their soul's everlasting joy: and still room for the thousands yet to be born until the consummation of all things, equally interested in the covenant of promise. Room in the everlasting love of all the persons in the Godhead, chosen by God the Father, preserved in Jesus Christ, and called by the gracious and regenerating mercy of God the Holy Ghost. And as there hath always been, and is, and always will be, room for all whom the Father hath given to the Son, both Jew and Gentile, for all the purposes of manifesting grace here; so is there, and everlastingly must be, room in the upper and brighter world of glory hereafter, for all the blessings prepared for the Church of God, in that eternal kingdom of God and the Lamb. John 14:2-43.14.3 .
There is no difficulty of apprehension, concerning those who were first bidden to the feast, but by their contempt of it forever rejected, if we keep in view that the chief scope from the parable, is to shew the difference of outward means to inward grace. The Gospel hath been, and from the very necessity of the case must be, openly published and proclaimed, like the public bell, which causeth to assemble, in the hearing of all. But herein is the wisdom and equity of God manifested. The enemies of God and his Christ reject the counsel of God against their own souls. Christ is the one ordinance of heaven, and the only one for the recovery of our Adam-nature from the ruins of the fall. If this be slighted and despised, there is no other, Acts 4:12 . The Scribes and Pharisees fell under this condemnation; and those Scriptures in them were fulfilled. Many are called, but few chosen. Go to this people, and say, Hear ye indeed, but understand not: and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Isaiah 6:9 ; Matthew 13:14 , etc. And thus the sovereignty of Jehovah is manifested, and their rejection of his appointed means becomes an everlasting testimony to his justice.
And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, 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.
As my view of this Scripture, in those two verses, differs altogether from every Commentator which I have read upon it, I beg the Reader's indulgence to be somewhat more particular in his attention to my remarks. I shall very freely state the sense which I have of the passage; and if I err, I pray the Lord to forgive the unintentional error, and guard the Reader from adopting it.
It is plain, from the occasion in which Jesus delivered himself on this subject of hatred to our nearest relations, in the bonds of nature, that he meant to inculcate the higher claims of grace; and, as great multitudes were then following him, the Lord gave them to understand, that the life of a real disciple of his, was attended with greater sacrifices than they at first, might suppose. But few have considered the term of hatred to mean anything more, than, in a comparative way, and similar to that passage in Matthew, not to love any person or thing more than Christ, or equal with Christ. Matthew 10:37 . But first I would observe, that the word in the original, which in our Testament is translated hate, will admit of no softer expression. It is one of the plainest words in the Greek language, as everyone conversant with the original cannot but allow. And secondly, it should be further observed, that the doctrine is not the language of the New Testament only, but of the Old. Israel was enjoined to have no pity upon the friend, which was as a man's own soul, if that friend enticed him to leave the Lord: Thine hand (saith the law) shall be first upon him, to put him to death, and then the hand of all the people. See Deuteronomy 1:13 , throughout. And the hatred which the Lord Jesus is here speaking of, is wholly commanded upon this principle: namely, that any of those tender affinities of nature rise up to the injury of the more important claims of grace. And they must be indeed really and truly objects of hatred to the soul, if they have a tendency, or make use of their influence to thwart the soul in pursuits of the divine life.
And what, in my view, tends most clearly to prove this, and to throw a light upon the whole doctrine, is the concluding sentence in the passage, in which Jesus, having declared the necessity of hating the nearest ties in nature, if opposing the pursuits of grace, hath added, Yea, and his own life also. Here the point, according to my apprehension, is at once shown. For if a man is to hate his own life, namely, his corrupt, unregenerate, unrenewed part, because he feels daily an opposition in this body of sin and death, to the holy desires of the renewed soul, nothing can be more plain than that Jesus meant exactly what the words express: and in following Christ in the regeneration, there will be daily cause of hatred arising in the soul, to the remains of indwelling and corrupt affections, which oppose the stuff, and too often bring the soul into leanness, and distress, and sorrow.
And I would ask every real believer, every truly regenerated soul of the Lord's people, whether, on this very account, he doth not groan daily, being burthened? Let him determine the question with his own conscience! let him study the subject, as it relates to holy men of old gone before. What were the woes of Isaiah, the self-reproaches of Job, of David, of Paul, but on this account? See Isaiah 6:5 ; Job 42:6 ; Psalms 51:2-19.51.3 ; Romans 7:23-45.7.24 . Men who have taken up, with a flimsy view of godliness, and not learnt, from divine teaching, the plague of their own heart, may, in the pride of their heart, be content with a Pharisaical righteousness, and talk of what they never truly enjoyed in themselves, a progressive holiness; but he who is learning in the school of God the Holy Ghost, to be more and more in love with Jesus, will learn from the same lesson, practically, to be more and more out of love with himself, and while he hates the world, and sin, and Satan, he will hate his own life also from the same cause; namely, the opposition he meets with from that quarter; and as Job expresses it, will abhor himself, and repent in dust and ashes.
And, Reader! suffer me to add, (however largely I have already trespassed,) is it not this self-hatred, by reason of a body of sin and death, which makes, in part, a cause for the true believer to be reconciled to the prospect of death? Yea, doth not Jesus sweetly and graciously over-rule even this malady of nature, to the higher prospects of grace, and cause his faithful ones to feel as Paul did, and rejoice in the hope as he rejoiced, in the desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better? Philippians 1:23 . But I proceed no further. I am free to confess that the language of our Lord, in this memorable passage, strikes me in the sense in which I have represented it. Here, therefore, I leave it with the Lord, and to the Reader's reflection, under the divine teaching.
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 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.
All these are so many beautiful illustrations of one and the same thing; namely, of the wisdom and safety of counting the cost, in every undertaking, before we enter upon any. The builder and the warrior are strong figures to explain: and what builder, like the
Christian, who is building for eternity? What warrior like him that contends for everlasting life? And unless the Lord Jesus Christ be the Founder of the one, and the General of the other, what success can follow? And in application to what went before, they both are beautiful. See on Luke 14:34 ; Mark 9:49-41.9.50 .
Reader! let us not turn away too hastily from this beautiful chapter, and those soul-teaching, and soul-refreshing discourses of Christ, While the Pharisees watched Jesus, to find somewhat offensive, as according to their corrupt hearts they would have made it, let you and I listen to his heavenly doctrine, and behold, with delight and joy, his mercies to the body in healing the man with the dropsy, while mingling sweet words for consolation to the soul, and oh! for grace in contemplating Christ thus discoursing at the Pharisee's table! to be earnest to discourse of Jesus at our own! What can be more suited, more grateful, more blessed than, while partaking of the Lord's bounties, to speak or the Lord's love? and while sitting with our family at our supper, to mingle with our food gracious conversation of the Lord's?
Reader! do not overlook the very wonderful condescension of Jesus in the various methods the Lord was pleased to adopt in setting forth the plentiful provisions of his Gospel. What a feast indeed of fat things it is! What bowels of mercy and grace in the Great Provider'! And what company are the guests invited? such as the great ones of the earth would not look at, much less consort with. Oh! how utterly lost, how utterly inexcusable must those be who refuse such great salvation! Hasten, my soul! hasten, Reader! for it is the poor and the maimed, the most sensibly wretched and miserable, that are most welcome.
And doth my Lord say that his followers must be self-haters, must bear a cross, must hate all which would stop the way? Oh! for grace to be of that happy number! Lord! help me to pluck out an eye, cut off an arm, leave all for Jesus and his great salvation, so that I may be found the true disciple of the Lord! Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Luke 14". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany