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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Luke 14

 

 

Verse 1

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 it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees , [ tinos (Greek #5100) toon (Greek #3588) archontoon (Greek #758) toon (Greek #3588) Farisaioon (Greek #5330)] - rather, 'of one of the rulers of the Pharisees,' that is, one of the rulers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees. The place and time, as usual in this portion of the present Gospel, are not indicated. See remarks prefixed to Luke 9:51.

To eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.


Verse 2

And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.

And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy - not one of the invited guests probably, but one who presented himself in hope of a cure, though not expressly soliciting it; and it may be that this was all the more readily allowed, to see, what He would do. This is confirmed by our Lord "letting Him go" immediately after curing him (Luke 14:4). The company, it will be observed, had not yet sat down.


Verses 3-6

And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?

And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? ... For the exposition of these verses, see the notes at Matthew 12:10-13, and Remarks 1, 2, at the close of that section.


Verse 7

And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,

And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms , [ tas (Greek #3588) prootoklisias (Greek #4411)] - that is, the couches or seats at the table reserved for the most honoured guests, or the middle parts of the couches which were esteemed the most honourable. His mode of conveying the instruction intended is called a "parable," as teaching something deeper than the outward form of it expressed-because His design was not so much to inculcate mere politeness, or good manners, but, underneath this, universal humility, as appears by Luke 14:11.


Verse 8

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;

When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding - `and,' as is implied, 'art taking thy place at the wedding-feast.' Our Lord, as Bengel remarks, avoids the appearance of personality by this delicate allusion to a different kind of entertainment from this of His present host.

Sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;


Verse 9

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. 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. To be lowest, says Bengel, is only ignominious to him who affects to be highest.


Verse 10

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.

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 - said to the modest guest only, says the same critic, not the proud one (Luke 14:9).

Then shall thou have worship , [ doxa (Greek #1391)] - or 'honour.' The whole of this is but a reproduction of Proverbs 25:6-7. But it was reserved for the matchless Teacher to utter articulately, and apply to the regulation of the minutest features of social life, such great laws of the Kingdom of God as the following:


Verse 11

For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. The chaste simplicity and proverbial terseness of this great maxim impart to it a charm only inferior to that of the maxim itself. But see further at Luke 18:14.


Verse 12

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.

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 recompense be made thee - a fear the world is not afflicted with. Jesus certainly did not mean us to dispense with the duties of ordinary fellowship. But since there was no exercise of principle involved in it, except of reciprocity, and selfishness itself would suffice to prompt it, His object was to inculcate, over and above everything of this kind, such attentions to the helpless and provision for them as, from their inability to make any return, would manifest their own disinterestedness, and, like every other exercise of high religious principle, meet with a corresponding gracious recompense.


Verse 13

But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:

But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. Compare this with the classes God himself invites to the great Gospel Feast, Luke 14:21.


Verse 14

And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just - as acting from disinterested, God-like compassion for the wretched.


Verse 15

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.

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. Since our Lord's words seemed to hold forth the future "recompense" under the idea of a great Feast, the thought passes through this man's mind, how blessed they would be who should be honoured to sit down to it. A pious exclamation it seemed to be; but, from our Lord's reply, it would appear to have sounded in His ears more like Balaam's wish, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his" (Numbers 23:10) - a wish only to be safe and happy at last, while rejecting all present invitations to turn to God and live. 'The Great Feast of which you sigh to partake,' says our Lord, 'is prepared already: the invitations are issued, but declined: the Feast, notwithstanding, shall have guests enough, and the table shall be filled: but when its present contemners come to sue for admission to it-as they will yet do-not one of them shall taste of it.


Verse 16

Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:

Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper. The blessings of Salvation are in Scripture familiarly set forth as a Feast, to signify not merely the rich abundance and variety of them, but their suitableness to our spiritual wants, and the high satisfaction and enjoyment which they yield. Thus, Isaiah 25:6, "And in this mountain (mount Zion, Hebrews 12:22) shall the Lord of hosts make unto all peoples [ w


Verse 17

And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready - pointing undoubtedly to the lengthened, but now ripening preparations for the great Gospel call. See the note at Matthew 22:4.


Verse 18

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 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.


Verse 19

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 bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.


Verse 20

And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. None give a naked refusal. Each has some reason of his own why he ought to be held excused. Three excuses are given as specimens of all the rest; and it will be observed that they answer to the three things which are said to "choke the word" in the parable of the Sower (Luke 8:14), - "the care of this world," Luke 14:18; "the deceitfulness of riches," Luke 14:19; and "the pleasures of this life," Luke 14:20. Each differs from the other, and each has its own, plausibility; but all arrive at the same result-`We have other things to attend to, more pressing just now.' So far from saying, I decline to come, each represents himself as only hindered by something in the way just now: when these are removed, they will be ready. But, notwithstanding these plausibilities, they are held as refusers; and when at length they call, the Master in turn will refuse them.


Verse 21

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.

So that servant came, and showed his lord these things. It is the part of ministers, says Bengel, to report to the Lord in their prayers the compliance or refusal of their hearers; and certainly, of those first bidden, it could only be said, "Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" (Isaiah 53:1.)

Then the master of the house, being angry - at the slight put upon him. At the same time there is grace in this anger, showing how sincere he was in issuing his invitation (Ezekiel 33:11).

Said to his servant, Go out quickly (all, now being ready, and waiting), into the streets and lanes of the city. Historically, this must mean those within the limits of the city of God (Psalms 87:3), but the despised and outcast classes of it-the "publicans and sinners," as Trench rightly conceives it; but generally it comprehends all similar classes, usually overlooked in the first provision for supplying the means of grace to a community-half pagan in the midst of revealed light, and in every sense miserable.

And bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.


Verse 22

And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.

And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room - implying, first, that these classes had embraced the invitation (sees Matthew 21:32; Mark 12:37, last clause; John 7:48-49); but further, beautifully expressing the longing that should fill the hearts of ministers to see their Master's table filled.


Verse 23

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.

And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges - outside the city altogether. Historically, this denotes the pagan, sunk in the lowest depths of spiritual wretchedness, as being beyond the pale of all that is revealed and saving - "without Christ, strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12): generally, it comprehends all similar classes. Thus, this parable prophetically contemplates the extension of the kingdom of God to the whole world; and spiritually, directs the Gospel invitations to be carried to the lowest strata, and be brought in contact with the outermost circles, of human society.

And compel them to come in. This is not meant to intimate unwillingness, as in the first class, but that it would be hard to get them over two difficulties. First, 'We, homeless wretches, that are fain to creep under a "hedge" for shelter, what company are we for such a feast?' Next, 'We who are on the dusty, weary "highway," have no proper dress for such a feast, and are ill in order for such a presence.' How fitly does this represent the difficulties and fears of the sincere! Well, and how is this met? 'Take no excuse; beat them out of all their difficulties; dispel all their fears: Tell them you have orders to bring them just as they are; make them come without preparation, and without delay.'

That my house may be filled - for, as Bengel quaintly says, grace as well as nature abhors a vacuum.


Verse 24

For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

For I say unto you, That none of those men which wore bidden shall taste of my supper. Our Lord here appears to throw off the veil of the parable, and proclaim the Supper His Own, intimating that when transferred and transformed into its final glorious form, and the refusers themselves would give all for another opportunity, He will not allow one of them to taste of it.

Remarks:

(1) Some of the richest of our Lord's teachings were quite incidental-drawn forth by casual circumstances occurring in His daily course, Thus, having accepted the invitation of this Pharisee to dine on the Sabbath day, the presence of a dropsical person, whom He resolves to cure, gives occasion to some important teaching on the right observance of that holy day. Then, observing the eagerness of the guests to occupy the places of honour at the table, He instructs them on the subject of Humility. Further, from the quality of the guests-apparently "brethren, kinsmen, rich neighbours" - He takes occasion to inculcate hospitality of a diviner sort, compassionate provision for the wants of those who could make no return, looking to the time when a return of another kind would be made them-when "the merciful should obtain mercy." 'Blessed lot that will be'-exclaims one of the guests, fired for the moment, at the thought of a Feast in the kingdom above-`Happy they who shall have the honour of sitting down to it!' Happy indeed, replies the Great Teacher and loving Redeemer; but the present despisers of it shall not be the future partakers of it.

Thus did His heavenly wisdom stream forth at every opening, however incidental. "Grace was poured into His lips," and was ready to pour out again whenever it would not be as pearls cast before swine. And should not His disciples strive to copy Him in this? "The lips of the righteous feed many" (Proverbs 10:21). There is a certain advantage in set discourses, to which the hearers set themselves to listen, expecting something lengthened, formal, solid. But the wisdom that comes out unexpectedly and casually has a freshness and charm special to itself. And it impresses the hearer, far more than all set discoursing, with the conviction that it is the genuine and spontaneous expression of the speakers present judgment and feeling. And when it comes as "line upon line, line upon line; precept upon precept, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little" (Isaiah 28:10), its weight is all the greater. (Compare Deuteronomy 6:7.)

(2) The punishment attached to pride, and the reward promised to humility, make themselves good even in the ordinary workings of human society. When a man insists on thrusting himself, as Lord Bacon somewhere expresses it, into the center of things, there is a kind of social instinct that leads others to resist and take him down; but when one gives place to others, he not only disarms every disposition to take advantage of it, but is usually made to go before his neighbours. Thus, in the ordinary working of the social system, the great principles of the divine administration are revealed; on a small scale, indeed, and often without the smallest reference, on the part of men, to the divine will, but just on that account all the more strikingly manifesting and illustrating a moral government.

(3) It is a mistake in religion, alike common and fatal, to regard heaven as a state of simple happiness-mere bliss; higher and more refined than anything conceivable now, but not essentially dependent upon present character. If one thing is clearer than another in the Scripture view of the future state, it is that, in point of moral and religious character, it will be but the perfection and development of the present state, both in the righteous and the wicked; and all the conclusions, even of Natural Theology, confirm that view of it. In vain, therefore, do worldlings, living without God and minding only earthly things, exclaim, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God! Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his! The best of heaven's bliss is but getting face to face with Him whom not having seen we love, in whom, though now we see him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

But if we have never felt any of this love to Him and joy in Him, are we capable of heaven? To be "forever with the Lord," is transport, even in prospect, to such as have tasted that He is gracious, experienced the blessedness of reconciliation, learned to cry, Abba, Father, walk daily in the light of His countenance, and live to please Him. In such as these, it is but a change of sphere, and the new life perfected; it is but the bursting of the flower, the ripening of the fruit. Amidst all its novelties, the children of God will find themselves at home in heaven-its company congenial, its services familiar, its bliss not strange. But if so, how is it possible that those who disrelished its language, its exercises, its fellowship here, should have any capacity for it, and, wanting this, be admitted to it? No, "none of those men who were bidden" - but only insulted Him who prepared the feast by slighting His invitation - "shall taste of His Supper." "Be not deceived: God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

(4) How often is it found that while the Gospel is slighted by the classes who enjoy the greatest advantages, who might be expected the most to appreciate it, and whom one would most gladly see brought under its power, it is embraced by those to whom it has last of all been presented, and-judging as we are apt to do-the least likely to value it. Thus it ever is, that there are last which come to be first, and first last.

(5) The call addressed to those in the highways and hedges is a glorious directory to the preachers of the Gospel. If such are invited and expected to come straight to the feast, all preparation is out of the question; and all misgivings on their own part, or obstructions on the part of others, on the ground of want of preparation, must be met with one answer-`The invitation found us in that condition, and required immediate compliance.' If this great Gospel truth is not clearly apprehended, and by the preacher himself felt as the sole ground of his own standing in Christ, he cannot urge it upon others, and still less so deal with them as to "compel them to come in." But having gotten over all his own scruples on that one principle, that the invitations of the Gospel are to sinners as such-to sinners just as they are-he can and will then effectually meet all difficulties and scruples of earnest, anxious souls; and as he cries to them --

`Come, ye sinners, poor and needy, Weak and wounded, sick and sore, Jesus ready stands to save you,

Full of pity, love, and power: He is able, He is willing, ask no more' -

He shall hear of one and another falling down before the cross, and saying:

`Just as I am-without one plea, But that Thy blood was shed for me,' And that Thou bidd'st me come to Thee - O Lamb of God! I come. `Just as I am-and waiting not To rid my soul of one dark blot, To Thee, whose blood can cleanse each spot

- O Lamb of God! I come.'


Verse 25

And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, And there went great multitudes with him - on His final journey to Jerusalem. If they were going up to the Passover, moving along, as they were wont to do, in clusters (see the note at Luke 2:44), and forming themselves into one mass about the Lord Jesus, this must have occurred after the Feast of Tabernacles and the winter Feast of Dedication, at both of which our Lord was present, after His final departure from Galilee. But the precise time cannot be determined. See remarks prefixed to the portion of this Gospel beginning with Luke 9:51.


Verse 26-27

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.

If any man come to me, and hate not his father ... he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. See the notes at Matthew 10:37-38.


Verse 28-29

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 30

Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Common sense teaches men not to begin any costly work without first seeing that they have the wherewithal to finish it. And he who does otherwise exposes himself to general ridicule.


Verse 31

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 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? No wise potentate will enter on a war with any hostile power without first seeing to it that, despite formidable odds-of "twenty" to "ten thousand," or two to one-he be able to stand his ground.


Verse 32

Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.

Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. If he see that he has no hope of bearing up against such odds, he will feel that nothing remains for him but to make the best terms he can.


Verse 33

So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. 'In the warfare you will each have to wage as My disciples, despise not your enemy's strength, for the odds are all against you; and you had better see to it that, despite every disadvantage, you still have wherewithal to hold out and win the day, or else not begin at all, but make the best you can in such awful circumstances.' In place of this simple and natural sense of the latter parable, Stier, Alford, etc., go wide of the mark, making the enemy here meant to be God, because of the "conditions of peace" which the parable speaks of. It is the spirit of such a case, rather than the mere phraseology, that is to be seized.


Verse 34-35

Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?

Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour ... He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. See the note at Matthew 5:13; and at Mark 4:9.

Remarks:

(1) Better not begin the Christian course, than begin and not finish it. Inconsistency is offensive even to men, and, in the matter of religion, is apt to draw down ridicule and contempt; as is so admirably portrayed in " Pliable" by Bunyan in the "Pilgrim's Progress." But to Him whose eyes are as a flame of fire, it is abhorrent. "I would thou weft cold or hot. So then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:15-16).

(2) Though the contest for salvation be on our part an awfully unequal one, the human will, in the exercise of that "faith which overcometh the world" (1 John 5:4), and nerved by power from above, which "out of weakness makes it strong" (Hebrews 11:34; 1 Peter 1:5), becomes heroical, and will come off "more than conqueror." But without absolute surrender of self, the contest is hopeless.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 14:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/luke-14.html. 1871-8.

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Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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