The Lord is invited to feast with one of the chief Luke xiv. 1-6. Pharisees on the Sabbath day, and there heals a man who had the dropsy, and defends the lawfulness of the act. He addresses the guests, reproving them for " xiv. *7-14. choosing the highest seats, and reminds His host of his duty to the poor, and speaks the parable of the great " xiv. 15-24. supper. As He journeyed on, great multitudes went " xiv. 25-35. with Him, and He addresses them upon the self-denial required in disciples. Publicans and sinners coming in " xv. 1-32.
large numbers to hear Him, the scribes and Pharisees Luke Xv. 1-32.
murmur that He should receive them, and eat with them.
He, therefore, utters several parables, that of the lost
sheep, of the lost piece of silver, and of the prodigal
son; and to His disciples that of the wasteful steward, " xvi. 1-13.
adding admonitions against covetousnes3. The Phari- " xvi. 14-31.
sees deriding Him, He rebukes them, and utters the
parable of the rich man and Lazarus. He addresses the " xvii. 1-10.
disciples upon offences, and forgiveness, and faith.
The Pharisee by whom the Lord was invited to eat bread, is described as " one of the chief Pharisees." This may denote that he was of high social position, but probably includes some official distinction, as that he was chief of a synagogue, or member of the Sanhedrim. His motive in thus seeking the Lord's society, does not clearly appear; and it is possible that, unlike most of his sect, he wished to show him some mark of respect, perhaps as a prophet, perhaps as the Messiah. Still the Lord's words (v. 12) imply that he made the feast in a self-seeking, ostentatious spirit, and under the pretence of hospitality he may have hidden an evil design. It appears that there were many invited, and that they were of the richer and better class. It was customary for the Jews to entertain their friends upon the Sabbath, although they cooked no food. " The Jews' tables were generally better spread on that day than on any other.1"
The appearance of the dropsical man at such a feast, it is not easy to explain. He could hardly, if severely ill, have been invited as a guest; and it is said that after the Lord had " healed him He let him go," as if he were only accidentally present. 'Nor is it probable that he came merely as a spectator, although eastern customs permit strangers to enter houses at all hours with great freedom, and they are. often present at feasts merely to look on.
1 Lightfoot; see Trench, Mir. 263.
Some have therefore supposed that he was intentionally brought in by the Pharisees, to see if the Lord would heal him on that day.1 But it is more probable that he came in faith to be healed, and unable, perhaps, to approach the Lord before He entered into the house, now forced himself into the room where He was. Had he been a mere tool in the hands of the Pharisees, it may well be doubted whether the Lord would have healed him.
McKnight supposes the parable of the great supper to be the same as that mentioned by Matt. xxii. 2-14, and to have been spoken a second time in the temple. But the parables are wholly distinct, as a comparison of the details plainly shows.
As the end of His ministry drew nigh, and the hostility of His enemies became more open, the Lord's words became more and more plain in showing how much of self-denial was involved in becoming one of His disciples. The same remarks in substance He had before made, (Matt. x. 37 ;) but He here adds new illustrations. He compares Himself to a man who wishes to build a tower, His Church ; and to a king who goes to make war with another king, with the prince of this world ; and they who would aid Him in this building, or in this warfare, must be ready to sacrifice all.
The great concourse of publicans and sinners to Him cannot be explained from any thing in His language (xiv. 25-35) as especially applicable to them, nor as springing from their exclusion from the feast. It rather marks the fact that, now that His words had become more sharp against the Pharisees, and the breach between them and Him more apparent, this class rallied around Him and thronged to hear Him. Much to the disgust of the Pharisees, He did not disdain even to eat with them. Such an act they deemed in the highest degree unbecoming in one who claimed to be the Messiah ; and it was also a keen reproof to themselves, who so scrupulously excluded all publicans and sinners from their society.
* McKnight, Oosterzee, Stier.
It is disputed whether the parable of the lost sheep, as here given by Luke, is the same as that given by Matt, xviii. 12, 13. From the relation in which it stands to the other parables which Luke has recorded, we cannot well doubt that it was spoken at the same time. But such an illustration, so natural and apt, may have been used more than once, and been spoken earlier in Galilee, as Matthew relates. Perhaps, both in form and in meaning, some distinction may be drawn between them.
The parables of the lost sheep, of the lost piece of silver, and of the prodigal son, seem to have been all uttered at once to the Pharisees and scribes, who murmured at His reception of publicans and sinners. That which immediately follows, of the unjust steward, was spoken to the disciples ; but whether immediately or after a little interval, we have no data to decide.
It is not easy to see how the words addressed to the Pharisees in v. 18, respecting divorce and adultery, are to be connected with the verses immediately preceding; but the parable that follows, of the rich man and Lazarus, has plain reference to that sect. Whether the words to the disciples (xvii. 1-10) followed at once upon the parable, we cannot determine.