Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 14:7

And 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,
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Guest;   Jesus, the Christ;   Presumption;   Self-Exaltation;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Entertainments;   Parables;   Presumption;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Feasts;   Parable;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Honor;   Humility;   Wealth;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Hospitality;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Banquet;   Parable;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Banquets;   Room;   Scribes;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Banquet;   Luke, Gospel of;   Proverbs, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Matthew, Gospel According to;   Room;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Ambition;   Banquet;   Choice;   Discourse;   Guest-Chamber;   Logia;   Marriage;   Meals;   Mental Characteristics;   Perfection (of Jesus);   Pride (2);   Retribution (2);   Unity (2);   Smith Bible Dictionary - Phar'isees,;   Room;   Scribes;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Parable;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Banquet;   Choose;   Jesus Christ (Part 2 of 2);   Mark;   Meals;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Banquets;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

They chose out the chief rooms - When custom and law have regulated and settled places in public assemblies, a man who is obliged to attend may take the place which belongs to him, without injury to himself or to others: when nothing of this nature is settled, the law of humility, and the love of order, are the only judges of what is proper. To take the highest place when it is not our due is public vanity: obstinately to refuse it when offered is another instance of the same vice; though private and concealed. Humility takes as much care to avoid the ostentation of an affected refusal, as the open seeking of a superior place. See Quesnel. In this parable our Lord only repeats advices which the rabbins had given to their pupils, but were too proud to conform to themselves. Rabbi Akiba said, Go two or three seats lower than the place that belongs to thee, and sit there till they say unto thee, Go up higher; but do not take the uppermost seat, lest they say unto thee, Come down: for it is better that they should say unto thee, Go up, go up; than that they should say, Come down, come down. See Schoettgen.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/luke-14.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

A parable - The word parable, here, means rather a “precept, an injunction.” He gave a “rule or precept” about the proper manner of attending a feast, or about the humility which ought to be manifested on such occasions.

That were bidden - That were invited by the Pharisee. It seems that he had invited his friends to dine with him on that day.

When he marked - When he observed or saw.

Chief rooms - The word “rooms” here does not express the meaning of the original. It does not mean “apartments,” but “the higher places” at the table; those which were nearest the head of the table and to him who had invited them. See the notes at Matthew 23:6. That this was the common character of the Pharisees appears from Matthew 23:6.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/luke-14.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And he spake a parable unto those that were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief seats; saying unto them.

JESUS' LESSON FOR THE GUESTS

A parable ... "This word PARABLE is an elastic word. Here it means a piece of advice, inculcating humility."[13] This is not therefore the usual type of parable with clear analogies.

The chief seats ... As Plummer said, "In the mixture of Jewish, Roman, Greek and Persian cultures at that time, we cannot be sure which were the `chief seats'"[14] The Talmud ranked three seats on a couch by making the center chief, the one on the right second, and the one on the left third! Whatever were accounted the most honorable seats, there was a vulgar scramble among the guests on that occasion, each man jockeying with others for the better places.

[13] J. R. Dummelow, op. cit., p. 757.

[14] Alfred Plummer, The Gospel according to St. Luke (New York: T and T Clark, 1922), in loco.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/luke-14.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden,.... To the dinner at the Pharisee's house, particularly the lawyers, or Scribes and Pharisees:

when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; the uppermost places at the table, which these men loved, coveted, and sought after; See Gill on Matthew 23:6.

saying unto them; as follows.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/luke-14.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(2) The reward of pride is dishonour, and the reward of true modesty is glory.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/luke-14.html. 1599-1645.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

A parable for those which were bidden (προς τους κεκλημενους παραβοληνpros tous keklēmenous parabolēn). Perfect passive participle of καλεωkaleō to call, to invite. This parable is for the guests who were there and who had been watching Jesus.

When he marked (επεχωνepechōn). Present active participle of επεχωepechō with τον νουνton noun understood, holding the mind upon them, old verb and common.

They chose out (εχελεγοντοexelegonto). Imperfect middle, were picking out for themselves.

The chief seats (τας πρωτοκλισιαςtas prōtoklisias). The first reclining places at the table. Jesus condemned the Pharisees later for this very thing (Matthew 23:6; Mark 12:39; Luke 20:46). On a couch holding three the middle place was the chief one. At banquets today the name of the guests are usually placed at the plates. The place next to the host on the right was then, as now, the post of honour.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/luke-14.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

They chose

Imperfect: were choosing. Something going on before his eyes.

The chief seats

Or couches. The Greek writers refer to the absurd contentions which sometimes arose for the chief seats at table. Theophrastus designates one who thrusts himself into the place next the host as μικροφιλότιμος one who seeks petty distinctions.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/luke-14.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

He spake a parable — The ensuing discourse is so termed, because several parts are not to be understood literally. The general scope of it is, Not only at a marriage feast, but on every occasion, he that exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that abaseth himself shall be exalted.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/luke-14.html. 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

And he spake a parable unto those that were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief seats1; saying unto them,

  1. And he spake a parable unto those that were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief seats. The "triclinia", or Grecian table, then in use had three sections which were placed together so as to form a flat-bottomed U. The space enclosed by the table was not occupied. It was left vacant that the servants might enter it and attend to the wants of the guests who reclined around the outer margin of the table. The central seat of each of these three sections were deemed a place of honor. This struggle for precedence was a small ambition, but many of the ambitions of our day are equally small.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
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J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "The Fourfold Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tfg/luke-14.html. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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,

Ver. 7. When he marked] Ministers, though they may not be time servers, yet they must be time observers, and sharply reprove what they meet with amiss in their people.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/luke-14.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Luke 14:7. Chief rooms; Chief places:πρωτοκλισιας, chief seats, and so where the word room occurs: from this circumstance, and from what is said Luke 14:12 it appears that this was a great entertainment, to which many were invited. Very probably therefore the meeting was concerted, and the company chosen, with a view to ensnare Jesus,—as we observed on Luke 14:1. So that his being invited was a matter, not of accident, but of design.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/luke-14.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

It was observed before, that our blessed Saviour dined publicly on the sabbath day with several Pharisees and lawyers: that which is here worthy of our notice is this; how holy and suitable our Lord's discourse was to the solemnity of that day; may it be the matter of our imitation! It is not unlawful for friends to dine together on the Lord's day, provided their discourse be suitable to the day, such as our Lord's here; for observing how the company then at the table did affect precedency, and taking place one of another; he that before their eyes had cured a man of a bodily dropsy, attempts to cure the person that dined with him of the tympany of pride.

Where note, that it is not the taking, but the affecting of the highest places and uppermost rooms, that our Saviour condemns. There may and ought to be a precedency amongst persons; it is according to the will of God, that honor be given to whom honor is due; and that the most honorable person should sit in the most honorable places: for grace gives a man no exteriour preference: it makes a man glorious indeed, but it is glorious within.

Note farther, the way our Saviour directs persons to, in order to their attaning real honor, both from God and men, namely, by being little in our own eyes, and in lowliness of mind, esteeming others better than ourselves; as God will abase, and men will despise, the proud and haughty, so God will exalt, and men will honor, the humble person: Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

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Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/luke-14.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

7.] πρωτοκλ., see Matthew 23:6, the middle place in the triclinium, which was the most honourable. At a large feast there would be many of these.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/luke-14.html. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Luke 14:7. παραβολὴν, a parable) Taken from external manners, but having regard to internal principles.— ἐπέχων [when He marked] directing His attention to the fact(142)) Attention in conversation and social intercourse is a most wholesome (profitable) habit.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/luke-14.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

A parable here hath somewhat a different signification from what it more ordinarily hath in the evangelists: it usually signifies a similitude; here it signifies either a wise saying, or a dark saying, by which he intended something further than in the parable he expressed, which he expounds, Luke 14:11. We may observe from hence, that the dining of friends together on the Lord’s day is not unlawful, only they ought to look to their discourses, that they be suitable to the day.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 14:7". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/luke-14.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

первые места Т.е. лучшие места за столом. Ср. 11:43; Мф. 23:6.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/luke-14.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

He put forth a parable; showing the importance of humility.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/luke-14.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘And he spoke a parable to those who were invited, when he marked how they chose out the chief seats, saying to them,’

Jesus noted how the Scribes and Pharisees who had come for the meal at the leading Pharisee’s house carefully chose the chief seats so that their superiority would be recognised. The couches would be placed at small tables and set in a U shaped formation with the host at the bottom of the U, reclining on his left elbow at table with his feet spread outwards on the couch, which would usually hold three diners. The most honoured guest would be to his left, and the next most honoured to the right (compare Peter and John at the last supper - John 13:23-24). The least honoured would be on a couch furthest away from the host. This gives Jesus the opportunity to teach a lesson in humility. But behind it there is also a warning about their attitude towards God, and what their attitude should be in His service, and what in their hearts they should be seeking. Note His indirect approach. He knows that direct reference to their status seeking will only cause offence.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/luke-14.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

7.A parable—Truly a parable; for though at first it seems a series of precepts upon good manners, yet it contains as the concluding verse, 11, a doctrine of wisdom belonging to the divine administration.

Be humble before God, if thou wouldst attain a high place at his right hand. To those which were hidden—Lesson first, Luke 14:7-11, is for the guests; lesson second, 12-14, is for the host. Like a good provider, the Lord dispenses the proper share for each.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/luke-14.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Customarily people reclined on low couches for important meals, such as this one, resting on their left sides. Where a person lay around the table indicated his status. In the typical U-shape arrangement, the closer one was to the host, who reclined at the center or bottom of the U, the higher was his status. Jesus" fellow guests had tried to get the places closest to their host that implied their own importance.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/luke-14.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Luke 14:7. A parable, in the widest sense, since the language is to be taken literally, though made the basis of a general moral lesson (Luke 14:11).

Them that were hidden. The invited guests, evidently numerous, were now arriving.

The chief places. We supply ‘at table’ to avoid ambiguity. The coveted places (comp. Matthew 23:6,) were at the middle table, joining the two side tables. At a large feast this table would be long, and the places numerous.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/luke-14.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Luke 14:7. , observing. Euthy. renders: , blaming, in itself a legitimate meaning but not compatible with . The practice observed—choosing the chief places—was characteristic of Pharisees (Matthew 23:6), but it is a vice to which all are prone.

 

 

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/luke-14.html. 1897-1910.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

A parable. What parable? In the text there is no parable, but only instruction. Maldonatus thinks that our Saviour spoke a parable on this occasion, which St. Luke has omitted, giving us only the moral and the substance of the instruction conveyed by it. (Calmet) --- To take the lowest place at a feast, according to our Saviour's injunctions, is certainly very becoming; but imperiously to insist upon it, is far from acting according to our Saviour's wishes, particularly when it is destructive of regularity, and productive of discord and contention. (St. Basil)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/luke-14.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

to. Greek. pros. App-104. Not the same word as in Luke 14:8.

bidden = invited or called. Greek. kaleo

chose out = were picking out. Going on before His eyes.

chief rooms = first couches. Greek protoklisia. Same as "highest room", Luke 14:8. Compare Luke 20:46. Matthew 23:6.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/luke-14.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/luke-14.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(7) And he put forth a parable.—The passage has the interest of being, in conjunction with Luke 11:43, the germ of the great invective of Matthew 23:6, and the verses that follow. (See Notes there.)

Chief rooms.—Better, chief places, or chief couches; literally, the chief places to recline in after the Eastern fashion. This, again, implies the semi-public character of the feast. The host did not at first place his guests according to his own notions of fitness. They were left to struggle for precedence. What follows is hardly a parable in our modern sense of the term, but is so called as being something more than a mere precept, and as illustrated by a half-dramatic dialogue.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/luke-14.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,
put
Judges 14:12; Proverbs 8:1; Ezekiel 17:2; Matthew 13:34
they
11:43; 20:46; Matthew 23:6; Mark 12:38,39; Acts 8:18,19; Philippians 2:3; 3 John 1:9
Reciprocal: Matthew 20:26 - it;  Luke 9:46 - General

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/luke-14.html.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

Chapter4

Christ"s Texts As a Preacher

Christ"s way of getting texts—Christ"s private expositions—who was their preacher?—an appeal to all.

Text: "When he marked."Luke 14:7

Where did Jesus Christ get his texts? We have what we call our textbook, and we go to it in order that we may find passages for the purposes of exposition and application. Where did Jesus Christ, pre-eminently the preacher, get his texts? His sermons were always new, always bright with a light above the brightness of the sun, often tender with a pathos which made his hearers" hearts burn within them. He got some of his texts from the Old Testament, we know. Those texts are given. He was familiar with Moses, with the Psalm, and with the prophets, with the whole ancient Scriptures, and in every line of those venerable writings he found some trace and token of himself. Was there any other book which he read? If Song of Solomon, I should like to know its name, and to have it in my keeping. There was one great book which he read every day; out of that open volume he brought many texts, most startling and most suggestive. That book is not in the British Museum, nor is it in the Bodleian, nor was it burnt in some of the ancient libraries. It is all men"s book, to be had without money and without price. It is written in the largest capitals; the wayfaring Prayer of Manasseh, though a fool, need not err therein; and my purpose in the discourse of this morning is to accompany you in listening to Jesus Christ as he takes some of his texts out of that voluminous and ever-open book.

Let us begin with Luke, chapter14, Luke 14:7 : "And he put forth a parable to them which were bidden, when he marked how they...." The book of daily life was Christ"s great textbook. What every man did gave him a subject; every word he heard started a novel theme. We poor preachers of this nineteenth century often cannot find a text, and say to one another, "What have you been preaching about? I wish I could get hold of another subject or two." Poor professional dunderheads! and the great book of life, joy, sorrow, tragedy, comedy, is open night and day. Jesus Christ put forth a parable, not after he had been shutting himself up for a fortnight, and reading the classic literature of immemorial time, but when he marked how they.... Keep your eyes open if you would preach well—keep your eyes open upon the moving panorama immediately in front of you, omit nothing, see every line and every hue, and hold your ear open to catch every tone, loud and sweet, low and full of sighing, and all the meaning of the masonry of God. Jesus Christ was, in this sense of the term, pre-eminently an extemporaneous speaker, not an extemporaneous thinker. There is no occasion for all your elaborate preparation of words if you have had an elaborate preparation of—yourself. Herein the preacher would do well, not so much to prepare his sermon as to prepare himself, his life, his manhood, his soul. As for the words, let him rule over them, call them like servants to do his behest, and order them to express his regal will.

What sermons our Saviour would have if he stood here now! He would mark how that man came in and tried to occupy two seats all to himself—a cunning fellow, a man who has great skill in spreading his coat out and looking big, so as to deceive a whole staff of stewards. What a sermon he would have evoked on selfishness, on want of nobleness and dignity of temper, how the Lord would have shown him how to make himself half the size, so as to accommodate some poor weak person who has struggled miles to be here, and is obliged to stand. I have been enabled to count the number of pews from the front of the pulpit where the man is. I paused there. My Lord—keener, truer—would have founded a sermon on the ill-behaviour. He would have spoken about us all. He would have known who came here through mere curiosity, who was thinking about finery and amusement, who was shop-keeping even in the church, buying and selling tomorrow in advance; and upon every one of us, preacher and hearers, he would have founded a discourse. Do you wonder now at his graphic, vivid talk? Do you wonder now whence he got his accent? Can you marvel any longer to what he was indebted for his emphasis, his clearness, his directness of speech, his practical exhortation? He put forth a parable when he marked how they—did the marketing, dressed themselves, trained or mistrained their families, went to church for evil purposes, spake hard words about one another, took the disennobling, instead of the elevating, view of their neighbours" work and conversation. The hearers gave that preacher his text, and what they gave he took and sent back again in flame or in blessing. Observe, "when he marked"—when he marked how Beaconsfield went into the Berlin Congress with the island of Cyprus in his pocket; when he marked how ecclesiastical livings are bought and sold in the auction-room; when he marked how his church is broken up into a hundred contending sections; when he marked how envious one preacher is of another, and how anxious to pluck at least one feather out of his cap; when he marked how eloquent men are in gossip and how dumb in prayer—then he opened his mouth in parables which were judgments, and in allegories which filled their guilty hearers with fear.

Now let us listen to him again. In Matthew, chapter13, Matthew 13:2 and Matthew 13:3 : "When great multitudes came to him" what did he do? Mark the divinity of the Man. See where his mastery lay. "He"—I would that every ear might catch this—"He spake many things." It is in such little out-of-the-way touches as these that I see what he was. How to handle a multitude? With one string, with one idea, with one little mean method of attack? No, no. Seeing the multitudinous spectacle, he delivered a multitudinous address. A multitude cannot all be like one man—trained, cultured, critical, right up to the highest point of intellectual perception and moral sympathy. Where you have an almost infinite number of persons, you have a corresponding number of conditions, circumstances, tastes. That speaker is the Divine one who speaks many things, who has not one little drop of dew to let fall upon a host, but a great shower of rich rain, so that every soul may have its own baptism and go home with its own blessing.

A marvellous chapter is that13th of Matthew. What parables are in it—the sower, the woman with the leaven, the tares sown among the wheat, the pearl of great price, and many others. Why so many parables? That everybody might have something. You are sitting there, a well-trained scholar, and you want a continuous, concatenated discourse, culminating in some dazzling and convincing climax. The man next you has hardly put off his shop apron, and his hands still have the shop dust on them, and he wants something to be going on with. And the little child to whom life is a dream, a wonder, a mystery, a dance, half begun yet nearly ended—wants an anecdote, a story, and you say, "Pooh, pooh, nothing but anecdotes; just a string of anecdotes from beginning to end;" and you don"t like anecdotes, and you like logic—strong, persistent, inexorable, relentless logic. The man next you cannot spell logic, and if he could spell it he could hardly pronounce it, and if he could pronounce it he could not define it, and he wants a figure of speech, a little story, a bright parable, truth in a blossom, a gospel in a flower; he could understand that. So when Jesus saw great multitudes come to him, he spake many things; the scholar had a portion of meat, and so had the illiterate, and the little child had its cut of living bread, and the poor creature who was too feeble to lift the water to her lips has it lifted by the hand that gave it. When shall we understand this, and honour this kind of ministry, and when shall we believe that every man had his ministry in the church; the great thinker, and the great parabolist, the man who can tell an anecdote before you have time to object to it, and apply the moral so that you waken up to find that he has been meaning you all the time? I believe that a multitudinous humanity requires a multitudinous tuition, and into the church I welcome every man who can speak one word for his Master; somebody, somewhere, wants that particular word. God bless us, every one.

Now let us be present upon another occasion. You will find the circumstance in the5th chapter of the gospel by Matthew: "When his disciples came unto him, he opened his mouth and taught them." How different from every other discourse. He was then speaking to the church. A poor rude church it was just then; still, it was the nucleus of the visible kingdom of God upon the earth, and the only church which Jesus Christ could then have addressed. "When his disciples came to him, he opened his mouth and taught them, saying"—then came the beatitudes, the exposition of eternal laws, the application of great moral truths, calls to luminousness of character, diligence of service, nobility of temper, non-resistance of evil—to the perfectness of God"s purity. No parable, no story, no anecdote, criticism, doctrine, history, dogma, great principle, solid law, exposition of righteousness, talk that went to the church"s soul; and that is the basis of all doctrine and ethics in the church to this day, and shall be to the end of time.

There ought to be seasons when the church only comes together. Then we should have the richer talk; then we might be led into the inner places, where the mysteries are most sacred and most tender; then we should drink the old, old wine of God. When can this be arranged? There be many charmers that address the ear and call us otherwhere; alas! there ought to be found time when Christians should come together as Christians to read the. small print, to read between the lines, to read the richer, deeper mysteries of the Divine kingdom.

When the disciples came to him he opened his mouth and taught them. It was shepherdly talk, and that leads me to offer this suggestion to you. There is pastoral preaching as well as pastoral visitation. There are some persons who are never content unless the pastor is always visiting them. Personally, I should allow them to enjoy their discontentment; they like it, they would be unhappy if they had nothing to grumble about. There is pastoral preaching, rich revelation of Divine truth, high, elevating treatment of Christian mysteries, and he is the pastor to me who does not come to drink, and smoke, and gossip, and show his littleness, but who, out of a rich experience, meets me with God"s word at every turn and twist and phase of my life, and speaks the something to me that I just then want. See him when he is largest and noblest, catch him in the moods of his inspiration, and do not drag him down to make a hassock of him in the drawing-room. Know you that there is pastoral preaching, talk to the disciples alone, quiet, beauteous, sympathetic, luminous talk, that makes the brain rejoice in a new light, and the heart glow with a more ardent love. May we have more and more such preaching.

Let us be present upon another occasion to find how Jesus got his texts. You will find the incident in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, Matthew 13:3 : "They came unto him privately"—and how he changed his tone. I can see it was the same speaker, but the tone was dropped to the occasion. It is in these modulations of voice that I see what my Lord really was. He comes to me where I am; if I am standing outside alone, when he is passing out of the church, and I say to him, "There was one thing I did not quite understand about the sower and the seed," he will take me to the house and talk to me as earnestly as if I were a thousand men, and as quietly as if I were a bruised reed. Christ is not God to me because of some cunning application of Greek syntax: I do not outwit the Unitarian by some knowledge of Greek punctuation of which he is ignorant: it is not a question of Greek conjugation, and declension, and parsing—it is in these things, his out-of-the-way traits, these secret characteristics, these personal kindnesses, these marvellous reaches over my whole life, that I find what he Isaiah, venerable as eternity, new as the young morning, the ancient of days and the child of Bethlehem.

There are many things that are to be spoken privately about the kingdom of heaven. Herein is the great delicacy and the great difficulty of Christian teaching. You cannot proclaim everything on the house-top. How misunderstood we are when we venture in the pulpit to relate our deepest experience. I dare hardly pray in public. Some earnest and, no doubt, in his own sphere, which I never penetrated, intelligent soul wrote to me from the West of England on a post-card, to know if I really was the bad man I depicted myself in my prayers, for it had quite grieved him. Do I pray here in secret? Am I speaking about one man? Do I not try to be, as it were, your priest and intercessor, gathering up into one broad public address our inmost desires, and confessing our inmost sin? When the minister speaks in public prayer do not ten thousand hearts speak in his voice? Ah me! it is so sad that there are persons who will belittle every occasion, and will not rise to the grandeur and the dignity of the circumstances. Some things must be spoken privately, to the confidential ear, to the one listening heart: we have much of sorrow to tell, and difficulty and doubt, and secret encounter, and it is good to be enabled now and then in private to tell the story, the inner tale, to show what the heart is in its solitude, in its secret realisations of the mystery of life, the mystery of sin, and the mystery of grace. Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written of that private household talk. I would there were more of it—then the household fire would never go out, the household table would never be barren of a feast, Let us be present upon one more occasion. "Then drew near to him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him," we read in the15th chapter of Luke. What was the discourse? In the5th of Matthew we had the disciples coming to him, and he said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the meek, blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness;" and now the congregation changes, and the sermon changes. What spake he when the publicans and sinners came for to hear him? Three parables that shall be read and spoken with tears wherever this gospel is preached. About the one lost sheep, about the one lost piece of money, about the one lost prodigal. The chapter that holds the tale of the prodigal son is a chapter the ink of which shall never be dry, the music of which shall never fade. But my object is now not to analyse these parables, but to direct attention to the method of this man"s ministry to show you where and how he got his subjects. Methinks he would sit on the sea-shore or on the mountain-side or in the synagogue, and not know what he was going to preach till he saw the congregation he had to deal with. His disciples came to him and he said, "Blessed." Then drew near to him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him, and he spake three parables about loss and gain, and these parables set forth his gospel and the spirit of its ministry.

What say you to this Man? Give him his due: I like every man to have the palm who honestly wins it. What think you about him? He was but a peasant, he had never been to school, he had no certificate and no prizes and no rabbinical endorsement. He was but carpenter and carpenter"s son: you would not expect much from him. His disciples came unto him, and he delivered a great doctrinal discourse which doctors might have heard and wondered at. When great multitudes came unto him, he spake unto them many things, so that every one in the mass might have something. When the disciples could not quite understand what he said, they came unto him privately, and he sat down in the house and went over all the truth with them, and drove it into their thick heads. When the publicans and sinners came, what did he? He spoke three parables, which he might at the moment have plucked from heaven itself, so beauteous, so musical, so pathetic, so infinitely vivid and true to the life. A few days ago I tried to show you this in particular about that young prodigal. We said: "Now we shall find out what. Jesus Christ really is: he may be able to describe a virtuous Prayer of Manasseh, for he knew nothing about the ways of vice, but how will he describe a rake? We shall have the laugh over him there when he comes to describe a roue, a rake, a spendthrift, a prodigal, a villain. He will make a poor villain, a knock-kneed villain. He will never be able to find the colours that suit a villain." I charge you to tell me, after reading the parable of the prodigal Song of Solomon, if he has not drawn him to the life. Whence hath this Man this wisdom! He who was without sin, on whose fair brow there was no wrinkle wrought by remorse, in whose voice there was no tone or sob of personal penitence, a Man whose feet had never been in the ways of evil for his own purpose, how came he to give you line by line in neutral distance, in blood tints at the front, with eyes that had prodigality in every look—how came he to draw that picture? Give him the credit that is due to him, do not begrudge him; he needed not that any should testify of Prayer of Manasseh, for he knew what was in man.

Now the great practical application of this Isaiah, that you will find in Jesus Christ"s talk, whoever you are, just what you want, just what you most need. What are you? A cunning, long-headed old thinker? Go to Jesus Christ. I have seen such go to him: I have seen how they marvelled as he spoke unto them. Once a deputation of that sort went to wait upon him. They got up a nice little case about a woman and seven husbands—"And the seven husbands died, and last of all the woman died also"—and the Sadducees wanted to know whose wife she would be in the resurrection. The disciples would have shown their folly over that question. Jesus heard their tale out, and he was a, magnificent listener, and when they were done, he said: "Ye do err: you are wrong fundamentally. You do not know your own Scriptures, for in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God." And so these long-headed, cunning thinkers came back with their heads a long way down in their necks. They went in, tolerably young men, under fifty: they came out about five hundred years of age. He was a wonderful talker!

What are you? "I am a poor woman who has got all wrong somehow." Go and see him: he knows all the sins, and if you behave aright he will say, "Thy sins which are many"—he does not conceal them—"are all forgiven thee. Begin again, and summer will dawn in thy poor winterbound soul."

What are you? "A thief half-damned." What, just going into hell? "Yes." Say, "Lord, remember me," and though the affairs of eternity are on his brain, he will not forget thee.

What are you? Just a poor little lad, just a wee little lassie, only a little child? Toddle up to him. Go, thread your way through the big folks as they are standing there, and put out a finger, and he will see it and you will be in his arms next moment, and that lift will bring you nearer heaven than ever you will be again on earth.

What are you? "A poor suffering creature, a poor woman with a secret sorrow, with a heavy affliction: my very heart oozing out of me, and nobody to speak to. I live in one of these lanes off Holborn. I just came in here to spend an hour: I did not know much what else to do. My very heart is leaking away, I have no joy in life, I have tried all physicians and curatives and restoratives, and here I am just as bad as ever, perhaps worse." Go to him. I saw a dear old mother go to him in just such a plight as you. She said—I heard her say it just under her breath as women sometimes speak—"If I may but touch the hem of his garment I shall be made whole." I saw the poor creature wriggling her way through the crowd, and when she thought nobody was looking, she just touched the hem of his garment and she stood upright like a tree of the Lord"s right hand planting.

Go. I will go too. I need him, as you do, every day. Sometimes as a Judges, often as a Comforter, always as a Teacher, and the more I need him, the more he is.

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Bibliographical Information
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/luke-14.html. 1885-95.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

7.And he spoke a parable to those who were invited. We know to what an extent ambition prevailed among the Pharisees and all the scribes. While they desired to exercise a haughty dominion over all other men, the superiority among themselves was likewise an object of emulation. It is constantly the case with men who are desirous of empty applause, that they cherish envy towards each other, every one endeavoring to draw to himself what others imagine to be due to them. Thus the Pharisees and scribes, while they were all equally disposed, in presence of the people, to glory in the title of holy order, are now disputing among themselves about the degree of honor, because every one claims for himself the highest place.

This ambition of theirs Christ exposes to ridicule by an appropriate parable. If any one sitting at another man’s table were to occupy the highest place, and were afterwards compelled to give way to a more honorable person, it would not be without shame and dishonor that he was ordered by the master of the feast to take a different place. But the same thing must happen to all who proudly give themselves out as superior to others; for God will bring upon them disgrace and contempt. It must be observed, that Christ is not now speaking of outward and civil modesty; for we often see that the haughtiest men excel in this respect, and civilly, as the phrase is, profess great modesty. But by a comparison taken from men, he describes what we ought to be inwardly before God. “Were it to happen that a guest should foolishly take possession of the highest place, and should, on that account, be put down to the lowest, he would be so completely overpowered with shame as to wish that he had never gone higher. Lest the same thing should happen to you, that God would punish your arrogance with the deepest disgrace, resolve, of your own accord, to be humble and modest.”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Luke 14:7". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/luke-14.html. 1840-57.