Christ heals a man on the sabbath. (1-6) He teaches humility. (7-14) Parable of the great supper. (15-24) The necessity of consideration and self-denial. (25-35)
Verses 1-6 This Pharisee, as well as others, seems to have had an ill design in entertaining Jesus at his house. But our Lord would not be hindered from healing a man, though he knew a clamour would be raised at his doing it on the sabbath. It requires care to understand the proper connexion between piety and charity in observing the sabbath, and the distinction between works of real necessity and habits of self-indulgence. Wisdom from above, teaches patient perseverance in well-doing.
Verses 7-14 Even in the common actions of life, Christ marks what we do, not only in our religious assemblies, but at our tables. We see in many cases, that a man's pride will bring him low, and before honour is humility. Our Saviour here teaches, that works of charity are better than works of show. But our Lord did not mean that a proud and unbelieving liberality should be rewarded, but that his precept of doing good to the poor and afflicted should be observed from love to him.
Verses 15-24 In this parable observe the free grace and mercy of God shining in the gospel of Christ, which will be food and a feast for the soul of a man that knows its own wants and miseries. All found some pretence to put off their attendance. This reproves the Jewish nation for their neglect of the offers of Christ's grace. It shows also the backwardness there is to close with the gospel call. The want of gratitude in those who slight gospel offers, and the contempt put upon the God of heaven thereby, justly provoke him. The apostles were to turn to the Gentiles, when the Jews refused the offer; and with them the church was filled. The provision made for precious souls in the gospel of Christ, has not been made in vain; for if some reject, others will thankfully accept the offer. The very poor and low in the world, shall be as welcome to Christ as the rich and great; and many times the gospel has the greatest success among those that labour under worldly disadvantages and bodily infirmities. Christ's house shall at last be filled; it will be so when the number of the elect is completed.
Verses 25-35 Though the disciples of Christ are not all crucified, yet they all bear their cross, and must bear it in the way of duty. Jesus bids them count upon it, and then consider of it. Our Saviour explains this by two similitudes; the former showing that we must consider the expenses of our religion; the latter, that we must consider the perils of it. Sit down and count the cost; consider it will cost the mortifying of sin, even the most beloved lusts. The proudest and most daring sinner cannot stand against God, for who knows the power of his anger? It is our interest to seek peace with him, and we need not send to ask conditions of peace, they are offered to us, and are highly to our advantage. In some way a disciple of Christ will be put to the trial. May we seek to be disciples indeed, and be careful not to grow slack in our profession, or afraid of the cross; that we may be the good salt of the earth, to season those around us with the savour of Christ.
Luke 14:1-24 . HEALING OF A DROPSICAL MAN, AND MANIFOLD TEACHINGS AT A SABBATH FEAST.
2. man before him--not one of the company, since this was apparently before the guests sat down, and probably the man came in hope of a cure, though not expressly soliciting it [DE WETTE].
7-11. a parable--showing that His design was not so much to inculcate mere politeness or good manners, as underneath this to teach something deeper ( Luke 14:11 ).
chief rooms--principal seats, in the middle part of the couch on which they reclined at meals, esteemed the most honorable.
8. wedding--and seating thyself at the wedding feast. Our Lord avoids the appearance of personality by this delicate allusion to a different kind of entertainment than this of his host [BENGEL].
9. the lowest--not a lower merely [BENGEL].
with shame--"To be lowest is only ignominious to him who affects the highest" [BENGEL].
10. Friend--said to the modest guest only, not the proud one ( Luke 14:9 ) [BENGEL].
worship--honor. The whole of this is but a reproduction of Proverbs 25:6 Proverbs 25:7 . 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 that of Luke 14:11 .
11. whosoever, &c.--couching them in a chaste simplicity and proverbial terseness of style which makes them "apples of gold in a setting of silver."
12-14. call not thy friends--Jesus certainly did not mean us to dispense with the duties of ordinary fellowship, but, remitting these to their proper place, inculcates what is better [BENGEL].
lest . . . a recompense be given thee--a fear the world is not afflicted with [BENGEL]. The meaning, however, is that no exercise of principle is involved in it, as selfishness itself will suffice to prompt to it ( Matthew 5:46 Matthew 5:47 ).
13. call the poor--"Such God Himself calls" ( Luke 14:21 ) [BENGEL].
14. blessed--acting from disinterested, god-like compassion for the wretched.
15-24. when one . . . heard . . . he said, Blessed, &c.--As 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 honored to sit down to it. Our Lord's reply is in substance this: "The great Feast is prepared already; the invitations are issued, but declined; the feast, notwithstanding, shall not want abundance of guests; but not one of its present contemners--who shall yet come to sue for admission--shall be allowed to taste of it." This shows what was lacking in the seemingly pious exclamation of this man. It was Balaam's, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his" ( Numbers 23:10 ), without any anxiety about living his life; fondly wishing that all were right with him at last, while all heedless of the precious present.
16. a great supper--(Compare Isaiah 25:6 ).
bade many--historically, the Jews generally, those within the pale of professed discipleship.
17. supper-time . . . all now ready--pointing undoubtedly to the now ripening preparations for the great Gospel call.
18. all began to make excuse--(Compare Matthew 22:5 ). Three excuses, given as specimens of the rest, answer to "the care of this world" ( Luke 14:18 ), "the deceitfulness of riches" ( Luke 14:19 ), and "the pleasures of this life" ( Luke 14:20 ), which "choke the word" ( Matthew 13:22 and Luke 8:14 ). Each differs from the other, and each has its own plausibility, but all come to the same result: "We have other things to attend to, more pressing just now." Nobody is represented as saying, I will not come; nay, all the answers imply that but for certain things they would come, and when these are out of the way they will come. So it certainly is in the case intended, for the last words clearly imply that the refusers will one day become petitioners.
21. came, and showed, &c.--saying as in Isaiah 53:1 . "It is the part of ministers to report to the Lord in their prayers the compliance or refusal of their hearers" [BENGEL].
angry--in one sense a gracious word, showing how sincere he was in issuing his invitations ( Ezekiel 33:11 ). But it is the slight put upon him, the sense of which is intended to be marked by this word.
streets and lanes--historically, those within the same pale of "the city" of God as the former class, but the despised and outcasts of the nation, the "publicans and sinners" [TRENCH]; generally, all similar classes, usually overlooked in the first provision for supplying the means of grace to a community, half heathen in the midst of revealed light, and in every sense miserable.
22. yet there is room--implying that these classes had embraced the invitation ( Matthew 21:32 , 12:37 , last clause; John 7:48 John 7:49 ); and beautifully expressing the longing that should fill the hearts of ministers to see their Master's table filled.
23. highways and hedges--outside the city altogether; historically, the heathen, 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, all such still. 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.
compel them to come in--not as if they would make the "excuses" of the first class, but because it would be hard to get them over two difficulties: (1) "We are not fit company for such a feast." (2) "We have no proper dress, and are ill in order for such a presence." How fitly does this represent the difficulties and fears of the sincere! How is this met? "Take no excuse--make them come as they are--bring them along with you." What a directory for ministers of Christ!
that my house may be filled--"Grace no more than nature will endure a vacuum" [BENGEL].
24. I say unto you, That none--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 it. (Note. This parable must not be confounded with that of Proverbs 1:24-33 ; The Marriage Supper, Matthew 22:2-14 ).
Luke 14:25-35 . ADDRESS TO GREAT MULTITUDES TRAVELLING WITH HIM.
25. great multitudes with him--on His final journey to Jerusalem. The "great multitudes" were doubtless people going to the passover, who moved along in clusters ( Luke 2:44 ), and who on this occasion falling in with our Lord had formed themselves into one mass about Him.
26, 27. If any man, mark 8:34 mark 8:35 ).
28-33. which of you, &c.--Common sense teaches men not to begin any costly work without first seeing that they have wherewithal to finish. And he who does otherwise exposes himself to general ridicule. Nor will any wise potentate enter on a war with any hostile power without first seeing to it that, despite formidable odds (two to one), he be able to stand his ground; and if he has no hope of this, he will feel that nothing remains for him but to make the best terms he can. Even so, says our Lord, "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, and make the best you can in such awful circumstances." In this simple sense of the parable (STIER, ALFORD, &c., go wide of the mark here in making the enemy to be God, because of the "conditions of peace," Luke 14:32 ), two things are taught: (1) Better not begin ( Revelation 3:15 ), than begin and not finish. (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 ( Luke 14:33 ).
34, 35. Salt, and Mark 9:50 ).