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Bible Commentaries
Luke 14

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

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Luke 14:0


The Healing of the Man with DropsyA Man with Dropsy Healed on the SabbathHealing a Man with DropsyJesus Heals a Sick ManHealing of a Dropsical Man on the Sabbath
Luke 14:1-6Luke 14:1-6Luke 14:1-6Luke 14:1-3Luke 14:1-6
Luke 14:4-5
Luke 14:6
A Lesson to Guests and a HostTake the Lowly PlaceOn HumilityHumility and HospitalityOn Choosing Places at Table
Luke 14:7-14Luke 14:7-14Luke 14:7-11Luke 14:7-11Luke 14:7-11
On Choosing Guests to be Invited
Luke 14:12-14Luke 14:12-14Luke 14:12-14
The Parable of the Great BanquetThe Parable of the Great SupperThe Great DinnerThe Parable of the Great FeastThe Invited Guests Who Make Excuses
Luke 14:15-24Luke 14:15-24Luke 14:15-24Luke 14:15Luke 14:15-20
Luke 14:16-24
Luke 14:21-24
The Cost of DiscipleshipLeaving All to Follow ChristConditions of DiscipleshipThe Cost of Being a DiscipleRenouncing All that One Holds Dear
Luke 14:25-33Luke 14:25-33Luke 14:25-33Luke 14:25-33Luke 14:25-27
Renouncing Possessions
Luke 14:28-33
The Tasteless SaltTasteless Salt is Worthless Worthless SaltOn Loss of Enthusiasm in a Disciple
Luke 14:34-35Luke 14:34-35Luke 14:34-35Luke 14:34-35Luke 14:34-35

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

PRINCIPLES FOR INTERPRETING PARABLES (See full notes at the Introduction to Chapter 8)

A. Look to the context that precedes and follows to determine

1. the recipients of Jesus' words

2. the purpose of the parable

B. Determine the major theme (themes are usually linked to the number of main characters).

C. Do not press minor details into theological interpretations (parables are fictitious stories).

D. Avoid allegorizing and spiritualizing unless something in the text demands it.

E. Do not build doctrine solely on parables; they serve best as illustrations.


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why did Jesus continue to confront the religious leaders about their Oral Traditions?

2. Explain the metaphor and purpose of the Messianic Banquet.

3. Does Jesus want us to be poor and without family ties to be true disciples?

4. How are Christians "salt"?

Why are they "salt"?

What is their purpose in the lost world?

Verses 1-6

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 14:1-6 1It happened that when He went into the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching Him closely. 2And there in front of Him was a man suffering from dropsy. 3And Jesus answered and spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?" 4But they kept silent. And He took hold of him and healed him, and sent him away. 5And He said to them, "Which one of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?" 6And they could make no reply to this.

Luke 14:1

NASB"one of the leaders of the Pharisees" NKJV"one of the rulers of the Pharisees" NRSV"of a leader of the Pharisees" TEV, NJB"of one of the leading Pharisees"

The NASB seems a bit interpretative; he was a local religious leader, who was a Pharisee.

"on the Sabbath" This was a continuing controversy between the written Law of Moses and the rabbinical interpretations of it known as the Oral Law, which was later codified in the Talmud. Jesus had continually confronted the Phraisees on their nit-picking rules that superceded and depreciated people (cf. Luke 4:31ff; Luke 6:6ff; Luke 13:10ff). This paragraph looks like a purposeful confrontation either on the part of Jesus or on the part of the Pharisees. See Special Topic at Luke 6:1.

"to eat" Notice Jesus continues to try to engage the Pharisees in dialog. He eats with them (cf. Luke 7:36; Luke 11:37). He worships with them. He performs miracles before them. In many ways Christianity is an extension of Phariseeism, as is rabbinical Judaism. Pharisees were lifestyle practitioners of their faith. They were serious about God's word and will. The missing elements were

1. personal faith in Jesus

2. salvation as a gift of God's grace (to all)

3. not trusting in human performance as a means of being right with God

Luke uses meals and the dialogue which accompanies them as a literary way for Jesus to present truth (cf. Luke 5:29; Luke 7:36; Luke 9:13; Luke 10:39; Luke 11:37; Luke 14:1; Luke 22:14; Luke 24:30, much in the same way John uses dialogues). Eating was an intimate and important social event for family, friends, and community in the first century Mediterranean world.

"they were watching Him closely" This is a periphrastic imperfect middle. They continued to watch Jesus for the purpose of finding something He said or did by which to condemn Him, both to the Jewish population and to the Romans.

Luke 14:2 "dropsy" Notice that Jesus does not heal this man based on his faith, but as a sign to religious leaders (just like the women in Luke 13:10-17) with whom He was still trying to work (cf. Luke 14:3). Dropsy was a retention of fluid that resulted in swelling (the term is from the root for "water"). It usually was the result of other physical problems. It is only mentioned here in the NT, which is appropriate for a physician (cf. Colossians 4:14), although it is used by non-physicians in Greek literature. The rabbis said this disease was caused by serious sin, which may add to the drama of the moment. Some commentators think this man was planted there by the Pharisees to trick Jesus into doing something disallowed by the Oral Traditions on the Sabbath.

Luke 14:3-4 Jesus is asking these experts in the Mosaic Law a practical question. These were not cold hearted men, but they were committed to worshiping YHWH through a system of rabbinical discussions (Shammai and Hillel), which interpreted OT texts. In the long history of these religious debates, the priority of human beings was lost. Jesus tries to restore the central place of mankind, made in the image of God. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (cf. Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5) and the Sabbath is made for mankind, not mankind for the Sabbath (cf. Mark 2:27). Legalism and self-righteousness are still alive and well among very sincere and committed religious people.

Luke 14:3 "the lawyers" See special Topic at Luke 5:21.

Luke 14:5 "He said to them, 'Which one of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day’" There is a manuscript problem here:

1. the term "son" (uios) is found in the ancient Greek manuscripts P45,75, A, B, and W

2. the term "donkey" (onos) is found in MSS א and L

The two words have a very similar ending. The manuscript evidence supports "son" (UBS4 gives it a "B" rating, meaning "almost certain"), while the context supports "donkey." If one follows the principle of the most unusual being the most ancient attestation, then "son" is to be preferred, but the major thrust of Jesus' statement is that the Jews had greater compassion for animals than for humans (cf. Luke 13:15).

Luke 14:6 Jesus' questions (Luke 14:4) and examples (Luke 14:6) were so devastating that these religious leaders could not respond. Their rules had become more important than people!

Verses 7-11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 14:7-11 7And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, 8"When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, 9and he who invited you both will come and say to you, 'Give your place to this man,' and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. 10But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher'; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. 11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Luke 14:7 This account is unique to Luke's Gospel. Jesus was not the only guest at this meal. In the first century Palestinian setting, weddings and meals were a community event. Some were invited to eat (cf. Luke 14:12-14), but many others came to stand around and listen, even participate in the dinner conversation.

"they had been picking out the places of honor" One would have to be acquainted with the Orient to understand the confusion in the seating arrangement at all their social events. The right people had to be in the right place (i.e., social and religious elite) before the meal could begin. Verses Luke 14:7-14 deal with a lesson, not in proper etiquette or procedures, but in humility (cf. Luke 14:11; Luke 18:14; Matthew 23:12; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5; Job 22:29; Proverbs 29:23). The opposite of humility is addressed in Luke 11:43; Luke 20:46; Matthew 23:1-12; Mark 12:38-40.

Luke 14:9 "and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place" The only place to recline that was left by this time was at the end of the table. This role reversal (common in Jesus' teachings) is also emphasized in Luke 13:30.

Luke 14:11 The NASB Study Bible (p. 1491) makes a good comment here, "a basic principle repeated often in the Bible (see Luke 11:43; Luke 18:14; Luke 20:46; 2 Chronicles 7:14-15; Proverbs 3:34; Proverbs 25:6-7; Matthew 18:4; Matthew 23:12; James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6)."

Verses 12-14

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 14:12-14 12And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. 13But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Luke 14:12 "do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors" This account is found only in Luke. This is a present active imperative with the negative particle, which usually means "stop an act already in process." Jesus often gives truth that is diametrically opposed to what is normal, cultural, or expected (cf. Isaiah 55:8-9).

Luke 14:13 Jesus reflects His own ministry by denoting the people whom the OT prophecies predict will be ministered to by the Messiah (cf. Deuteronomy 14:28-29; Deuteronomy 16:11-14; Deuteronomy 26:11-13; Isaiah 29:18-19; Isaiah 35:5-6; Isaiah 42:7, Isaiah 42:16; Jeremiah 31:8). Kingdom people care about the needy, ostracized, sick, and poor. Fellowship with God is evidenced by care, concern, and ministry to these kinds of people. This type of ministry characterized Jesus' life and should characterize the life of all Kingdom people.

Luke 14:14 Throughout Luke's Gospel Jesus "blesses" (makarios, cf. Luke 6:20-22; Luke 7:23; Luke 10:23; Luke 11:27-28; Luke 12:37-38; Luke 14:14; Luke 23:29) as well as warns (i.e., "woes," cf. Luke 6:24-26; Luke 10:13; Luke 11:42-52; Luke 17:1; Luke 21:23; Luke 22:22) His hearers.

This blessing is reserved for the eschatological judgment. It is based on selfless actions now which reflect a new attitude toward God (cf. Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus is using the term "righteous" in the sense of Matthew 6:1, which involved almsgiving (see Special Topic at Luke 11:41), prayer, and fasting (see Special Topic at Luke 5:33). Judaism saw these as meritorious acts to be rewarded by God. The motive for religious actions is crucial. God looks at the heart first!

The NASB Study Bible (p. 1491) has a helpful summary of the Scriptures related to the resurrection of all vs. the resurrection of some. "All will be resurrected (Daniel 12:2; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15). Some hold that the resurrection of the righteous (1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Revelation 20:4-6) is distinct from the 'general' resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12, 1 Corinthians 15:21; Hebrews 6:2; Revelation 20:11-15)."

Verses 15-24

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 14:15-24 15When one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, "Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!" 16But He said to him, "A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; 17and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, 'Come; for everything is ready now.' 18But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, 'I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.' 19Another one said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.' 20Another one said, 'I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.' 21And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, 'Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.' 22And the slave said, 'Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.' 23And the master said to the slave, 'Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. 24'For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.'"

Luke 14:15 "Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God" This was obviously a heartfelt outburst, but Jesusrecognizes in it the Jewish self-righteous attitude that expected to be blessed. This entire context involves the Jews' expectation of God's love (Israel's chosenness, cf. John 8:31-59).

"eat bread in the kingdom of God" It is obvious that this was a Pharisee speaking because they expected a physical after-life (see Special Topic at Luke 5:17). The Messianic banquet is a very common metaphor in Scripture to describe personal, joyful fellowship with God in heaven (cf. Luke 13:29; Psalms 23:5; Isaiah 25:6-9; Matthew 8:11-12; Matthew 26:29; Revelation 19:9). One must realize the social bond and intimate fellowship involved in eating together in the Mediterranean world.

Luke 14:16-24 This is a parallel to Matthew 22:2-14, although the details differ (in Matthew it is a wedding feast).

Luke 14:17 It seems to have been the custom in Palestine of Jesus' day for formal invitations to a banquet to be sent early, and on the day of the dinner (or feast) the servants were sent to tell the guests that all was ready (table set, food hot), to come now.

Luke 14:18 "'But they all alike began to make excuses" The excuses were:

1. bought a piece of land

2. bought oxen

3. just got married

Although these things are not improper actions, they show an attitude of false priorities, lack of commitment, and a sense of personal rejection or belittling of the host.

Luke 14:21 These social meals were very expensive. Preparations were made based on those invited, who were expected to be there. There was also the loss of respect to the host who had graciously invited them.

The host's first thought was to invite the needy of the community (cf. Luke 14:21). This list has OT Messianic implications. When this was still not enough, even the travelers and aliens who were passing by were invited (cf. Luke 14:23). This second category may be a way to refer to "Gentiles" (see Kenneth Bailey, Through Peasant Eyes, pp. 100-103).

Luke 14:23 Maybe this is an answer to the question of how many will be saved in Luke 13:23. God's house will be filled (i.e., Gentiles and foreigners will be invited and will rush to Jesus for salvation).

Luke 14:24 "none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner" This is a summary word by Jesus. It obviously refers to national Israel (cf. Luke 14:15; Romans 9-11). The Gentiles had been included; Israel had failed to fulfill her missionary mandate of Genesis 12:3 (cf. Exodus 19:5-6; Ephesians 2:11-13). Now the host (God) closes the door!!

Throughout her history Israel had rebelled against YHWH (cf. Acts 7:0); only a faith remnant was truly right with God. Salvation has always been an act of grace and mercy from God. However, God wanted a righteous, separate people to be witnesses of His character to a fallen world (cf. Ezekiel 36:22). It is this desire for personal righteousness that confused Israel (and still confuses legalists). The righteousness was the result, the evidence of a personal faith relationship with God, not the basis of that relationship!

Oh, the tragedy in time and eternity of legalism and self-righteousness!

Verses 25-33

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 14:25-33 25Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' 31Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions."

Luke 14:25 "Now large crowds were going along with Him" This is an imperfect tense. These large crowds characterize Luke's Gospel's structure of Jesus' ministry since Luke 9:51 as He travels to Jerusalem to die.

Luke 14:26 "If" This is a first class conditional sentence, which is assumed to be true from the author's perspective or for his literary purposes.

"anyone" What a wonderful word! Thank God for the Bible's invitations to "anyone," "everyone," "as many as," and "whosoever"! However, there are also demands and requirements. Notice it comes contextually after Luke 14:21! All are welcome!

"comes to me" This is the personal requirement for salvation (much like John's Gospel). Faith (see Special Topic at Luke 1:45) in Jesus is key to forgiveness and a personal relationship with God. We were created (cf. Genesis 1:26-27) to know Him and fellowship with Him (cf. Genesis 3:8). Life without Him is futile and empty (i.e., Mark 8:36). As Augustine said, there is a God-shaped hole in every human being, and we will never be happy until we find peace with Him.

"hate his own father" This is a Hebrew idiom of comparison (cf. Genesis 29:31, Genesis 29:33; Deuteronomy 21:15; Malachi 1:2-3 [Romans 9:13]; John 12:25). It is obvious that this cannot be taken literally because of Jesus' statement of honoring your father and mother in Matthew 15:4, which reflects the Ten Commandments. This section speaks of death to self (cf. Galatians 2:20) and earthly priorities. In the Near East commitment to family superceded every other commitment, but Jesus must become believers' first priority (cf. Luke 12:49-53; Matthew 10:34-39).

"even his own life" Jesus sets the pattern of ministry (cf. Luke 9:23; Luke 17:33; 1 John 3:16).

"he cannot be My disciple" This point is emphasized in Luke 14:27 and 33. It is difficult to balance the grace of God so clearly demonstrated in the parable of the Great Banquet (Luke 14:15-24) with the radical call to a complete sacrifice of self in Luke 14:25-33. Both are true. Grace initiates and provides, but receivers must make a life-altering, priority choice! Followship (Luke 14:25) is not the same as discipleship. Just as in the parable of the soils, germination is not the same as fruit bearing!

Luke 14:27 "Whoever does not carry his own cross" This refers not to problems believers face, but to death itself (cf. Luke 9:23-26; Matthew 10:34-39; Matthew 16:24; Galatians 2:20). It was the custom in Palestine of the first century for condemned prisoners who were to be crucified to carry the cross beam to the place of crucifixion.

Luke 14:28-32 This speaks of the need to recognize the cost of followship! No quick decisions! The gospel is absolutely free, but it costs everything that we are and have (cf. Matthew 13:44-46). In light of this, western modern Christianity is a weak manifestation of "what's in it for me" cultural religion! Modern western Christians have turned biblical faith into a weekly event, a place we park our car for a few hours instead of a 24 hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week relationship of service to Christ. We only give the leftovers of our busy lives and plans to Him. We worship and praise Him with peripherals and non-essentials. This is why we have such large, beautiful church buildings and elaborate organizations and programs and NO SPIRITUAL POWER, NO CHANGED LIVES, NO WHATEVER-IT-TAKES ATTITUDES!! God forgive us for cultural, peripheral, easy believism!

Just one additional thought, this emphasis on counting the cost of discipleship must also relate to the age one receives Christ. One must be old enough to

1. know the Scriptures

2. know that they violated them

3. understand the gospel

4. be able to access the "cost of discipleship"

If "decisions" are made too early they result in confused Christians or perpetual "pre-Christians"!

Luke 14:31 "will not first sit down and consider where he is strong enough" This does not mean estimating our own resources, but our deliberate conscious choice of the cost of followship.

Luke 14:33 Before we dismiss this as hyperbole, reread the context and parallels (cf. Luke 9:23-26, Luke 9:61-62; Luke 12:33; Luke 15:22). Biblical faith is a serious priority commitment. Nothing, nothing, nothing must be above Him (family, nation, livelihood, one's own life). If anything precedes Him, give it away. Whatever is left, use it for Him! See F. F. Bruce, answers to Questions, p. 54.

Verses 34-35

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Luke 14:34-35 34"Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? 35It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

Luke 14:34 "salt is good" Because of the extreme value of salt in the ancient world

1. for healing and cleansing

2. for preserving food

3. for flavoring food

4. for sustaining moisture in humans in very dry climates

Salt was a prized possession. It was often used to pay soldiers' wages. Christians are called the "salt of the earth" because of their penetrating and preserving power in a lost world. Believers are salt. It is not an option. The only choice is what kind of salt will they be. Salt can become adulterated and useless. Lost people are watching.

Luke 14:35 "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" This referred to the fact that unless the Holy Spirit aids believers' insight they cannot understand spiritual truth (cf. Matthew 13:9, Matthew 13:43; Mark 4:9, Mark 4:23; Luke 8:8; Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:11, Revelation 2:17, Revelation 2:29; Revelation 3:6, Revelation 3:13, Revelation 3:22; Revelation 13:9). However, it also implies a willingness of the individual to hear and respond.

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Luke 14". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/luke-14.html. 2021.
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