Luke 14#Lu 14:1| XC. DINING WITH A PHARISEE. SABBATH HEALING AND THREE LESSONS SUGGESTED BY THE EVENT. (Probably Peraea.) #Lu 14:1-24| And it came to pass, when he went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees on a sabbath to eat bread, that they were watching him. The Pharisees were an unorganized party, hence their rulers were such not by "office," but by influence. Those who were members of the Sanhedrin, or who were distinguished among the rabbis, might fitly be spoken of as rulers among them. The context favors the idea that Jesus was invited for the purpose of being watched--a carrying out of the Pharisaic purpose declared at #Lu 11:53,54|. Bountiful feasts on the Sabbath day were common among the Jews; the food, however, was cooked the previous day in obedience to the precept at #Ex 16:23|. (TFG 492) #Lu 14:2| There was before him a certain man that had the dropsy. The phrase "let him go" of #Lu 14:4| shows that the man was not a guest, but rather one who seems to have taken advantage of the freedom of an Oriental house to stand among the lookers-on. He may have been there purely from his own choice, but the evil intention with which Jesus was invited makes it highly probable that the man's presence was no accident, but part of a deep-laid plot to entrap Jesus. (TFG 492-493) #Lu 14:3| And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees. Replying to their unspoken thoughts, in which they were assuming that he would heal the sick man. Saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath, or not? They evidently expected Jesus to act on the impulse, and were confused by his calm, deliberate question. (TFG 493) #Lu 14:4| But they held their peace. If they declared it lawful, they defeated their plot, and if they said otherwise, they involved themselves in an argument with him in which, as experience taught them, they would be humiliated before the people. Hence, they kept silence, but their silence only justified him, since it was the duty of every lawyer to pronounce this act unlawful if it had been so. (TFG 493) #Lu 14:5| Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a well, and will not straightway draw him up on a sabbath day? Here Jesus again asserts that the Sabbath law did not forbid acts of mercy. See notes at #Mt 12:7,12 Mr 2:28 3:4|. (TFG 493) #Lu 14:6| And they could not answer again unto these things. Though silenced, the Pharisees relented not, either as to their bigotry or their hatred. (TFG 493) #Lu 14:7| 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 letter 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. (TFG 493) #Lu 14:8| When thou art bidden of any man to a marriage feast, sit not down in the chief seat. Jesus mentions another kind of feast than the one in progress, that he may not be needlessly personal. Lest haply a more honorable man than thou be bidden of him. #Php 2:3|. (TFG 494) #Lu 14:9| And then thou shalt begin with shame to take the lowest place. Because when ousted from the top he would find every place full except the bottom. (TFG 494) #Lu 14:10| But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest place. The words here used by our Lord teach how to avoid earthly shame and to obtain worldly honor. But they form a parable which is intended to teach the great spiritual truth that true humility leads to exaltation. (TFG 394) #Lu 14:11| For everyone that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. This is one of our Lord's favorite maxims (#Lu 18:14 Mt 23:12|). Both man and God look upon humiliation as the just punishment of pride; but it is a pleasure to every right-minded spirit to give joy to the humble by showing him respect and honor. (TFG 494) #Lu 14:12,13| When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, nor thy kinsmen, nor rich neighbors; lest haply they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. According to the Oriental mode of speech Jesus here emphatically commands one course of action by prohibiting a contrary course. But his prohibition is not to be construed strictly. He does not forbid the exercise of social hospitality, but discountenances that interested form of it which seeks a return. (TFG 494-495) #Lu 14:13| But when thou makest a feast, bid the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. His teaching is positive rather than negative, and should constrain us to live more for charity and less for sociability. (TFG 495) #Lu 14:14| For thou shalt be recompensed in the resurrection of the just. Some think that this verse teaches that there shall be two resurrections, but the contrast is not between two times, but rather between two parties or divisions of one resurrection. If one has part in the resurrection of the just, he may expect recompense for his most trivial act. But if he be resurrected among the unjust, he need expect no reward, even for the most meritorious deeds of his whole life. (TFG 495) #Lu 14:15| Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. The language of Christ implied that God himself would feast those who feasted the poor, and this implication accorded with the Jewish notion that the kingdom of God would be ushered in with a great festival. Inspired by this thought, and feeling confident that he should have been part of the festivities, this guest exclaimed upon the anticipated blessedness. (TFG 495) #Lu 14:17| And he sent forth his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. The custom of sending a second invitation at the supper hour is a very old one (#Es 5:8 6:14|), and is still observed. (TFG 495) #Lu 14:18-20| They all with one consent began to make excuse. These three excuses show: 1. That the guests had made their engagements, either for business or pleasure, without the least regard for the hour of the banquet; 2. That they set little value upon either the friendship or the feast of the one who had invited them. Moreover, the excuses progress in disrespect, for the first excuse is on the ground of necessity, the second simply offers a reason, and the third is almost impudent in its bluntness. Viewing the excuses spiritually, we note that each one contains an element of newness--new field, new oxen, new wife. Thus the things of the earth seem new and sweet in comparison with the gospel invitation. Again, all the excuses are trifling, for the parable is intended to teach that men forego their rights to heaven for trifles. Again, the "sacred hate" of #Lu 14:25,26| would have eliminated all these excuses. Possibly Paul had this parable in mind when he wrote #1Co 7:29-33|. The three excuses warn us not to be hindered by 1. The love of possessions; 2. The affairs of business; 3. Our social ties. (TFG 495-496) #Lu 14:21-23| Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor and maimed and blind and lame. We have a preliminary or general invitation followed by three special invitations. We may regard the general invitation as given by Moses, and the prophets in the ages before the feast was prepared. Then the first special one would be given by John the Baptist and Christ to the Jewish nation in the first stages of Christ's ministry. The second special invitation was given by Christ, the twelve and the seventy, and came more especially to the poor and outcast, the publicans and sinners, because the leading men of the nation spurned the invitation. The third invitation was begun by the apostles after the Lord's ascension and is still borne forward by those who have come after them and includes all nations. The three conditions of Jew, outcast and Gentiles are indicated by the three orders of guests: 1. The honorable citizens of the city (#Lu 14:17|); 2. Those who frequent the streets and lanes, but are still in and out of the city (#Lu 14:21|); 3. Those who live without the city and are found upon the highways and in the hedgepaths of the vineyards and gardens (#Lu 14:23|). (TFG 496-497) #Lu 14:23| Go out into the highways and hedges, and constrain them to come in, that my house may be filled. The second and third classes are depicted as needing to be constrained. This would be so, because they would hold themselves unworthy of the invitation. But they were to be constrained by moral and not by physical means (#Mt 14:22 2Co 12:11 Ga 2:14|). Physical constraint would have been contrary to all custom, as well as impossible to one servant. Incidentally the parable shows the roominess of heaven and the largeness of divine hospitality, so that Bengel aptly observes, "Grace, no less than nature, abhors a vacuum." (TFG 497) #Lu 14:25| XCI. COST OF DISCIPLESHIP MUST BE COUNTED. (Probably Peraea.) #Lu 14:25-35| Now there went with him great multitudes. He had hitherto spent but little time in Peraea, and the people were availing themselves of this opportunity to see and hear him. (TFG 495) #Lu 14:26| If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. "Hateth," as used here, is an example of phenomenal speech, or speaking from appearances. In the cases supposed, the person would appear to hate those whom he abandoned for Christ. It is like repent, anger, etc., when spoken of God. To construe the passage literally as enjoining hatred would be contrary to the fifth commandment as re-enacted at #Eph 6:1-3| and #Col 3:20|; and also contrary to our Lord's own example (#Joh 19:25-27|). Seeing the number of those adherents which now surrounded him, Jesus made use of this striking statement that he might startle each hearer, and impress upon him the wide difference between a mere outward appearance upon him and a real, disciple-like adhesion to him. The latter requires that we be ready to sacrifice all, even our animal life, in so far as it tends to separate from Christ (#Ro 12:11 Ac 20:24|). (TFG 397-498) #Lu 14:27| Whosoever doth not bear his own cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. Christ must be followed and imitated even to the extremity of suffering. The costliness of discipleship is illustrated in the two brief parables which follow. (TFG 498) #Lu 14:28-30| For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doth not first sit down and count the cost, whether he have wherewith to complete it? Discipleship is character-building, and shame awaits him who attempts to be a Christian and fails to live up to his profession. Unless his tower rises to the heavenly heights to which it aspired, it is but a Babel at last. The parable is not intended to discourage anyone from attempting to be a disciple. It is meant to warn us against attempting so great an undertaking with the frivolity of spirit and want of determination which insure failure. (TFG 498) #Lu 14:31,32| Or what king, as he goeth to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel, etc. Is the adversary here God or the devil? As warring against God is no part of discipleship, it might seem that the conflict was with Satan. But the case supposed is that of a man who, after counting the cost, is about to decline taking up his cross--about to rebel against the claims of God. But while in this rebellious state he sees a superior force coming against him. This superior force can not be the devil's, for Jesus could not counsel any to make peace with him, as the parable advises. The superior force, then, is God's, and the lesson here is that however fearful the task of being a disciple may be, it is not so dreadful as to fight against God. As soon as the hesitating man takes in his thought, he will immediately take up the cross which he was about to refuse. (TFG 498-499) #Lu 14:33| So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. The tower can not be built by him who spends his time or squanders his money on other enterprises, nor can the peace be maintained by one who does not fully renounce his rebellion. (TFG 499) #Lu 14:34| Salt therefore is good: but if even the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned? Our Lord twice before used such language. See TFG "#Mt 5:13|" and see TFG "Mr 9:50". Salt is here used as a symbol of perseverance. (TFG 499) #Lu 14:35| It is fit neither for the land nor for the dunghill: men cast it out. The condition of those who begin the Christian life and fail to persevere is dangerous in the extreme (#Heb 6:4-12 10:26-39|). He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. See TFG "#Mr 4:9|". (TFG 499)
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