Bible Study: Luke, Chapter Fourteen
Transcript: Today we are going to continue our Bible study and we are going to cover Luke Chapter 14. After the meeting today, or sometime this week, please take the matching Quiz that I have prepared for you on the website. For those that are having problems with the quiz, we are going to include the questions at the bottom of the teaching. Thanks to everyone that has participated. Let’s get started:
Luke Chapter 14 beginning in verse 1 reading from the World English Bible: When he went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees on a Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching him.
Though Jesus had some of His greatest disputes with the Pharisees, He did not write them off and still continued to dine at their houses when they invited Him in. The Jews had two principal meals a day, one near noon, and one near dark. This is thought to have been the evening meal. Luke records a lot of Jesus’ table talk here, and it spans the next 24 verses.
The Pharisees watched Jesus closely and He was under constant observation. People wanted to know what He would do in different situations, and they formed their opinions about Jesus (and the God He talked about) based on what they saw. The word “watched” here means espionage, critical observation or examination.
2 Behold, a certain man who had dropsy was in front of him.
Dropsy is fluid retention and swelling, usually the symptoms of a disease in the vital organs where excess fluid collects in various parts of the body. The word for dropsy here comes from the Greek words for “water” and “face” or “countenance” because the disease often made a person look bloated in their face.
Having a dinner on the Sabbath required preparing the meal the day before, because you could not cook on the Sabbath day, so this was a planned event with guests. It is quite possible that the man was with dropsy was a trap set by Jesus’ enemies who hoped that He would break their Sabbath law.
3 Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” 4 But they were silent. He took him, and healed him, and let him go.
Jesus “answered” their thoughts here, for they had not said anything - they were watching to see what He would do, ready to pounce on Him for violating their Sabbath law. Jesus asked them “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”, but they were silent. To the Pharisees, this was an awkward question because there was nothing in the law of Moses that prevented healing on the Sabbath day.
The law of Moses had not given a specific definition of work, so the Jewish rabbis developed a set of rules for the people about what was considered work, and healing had been included in the things which were now prohibited on the Sabbath. When you think about it, they added extra strictness to the word of God, and then expected everyone to follow it, even God. That is the danger of religion without relationship.
5 He answered them, “Which of you, if your son or an ox fell into a well, wouldn’t immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?”
Jesus appealed to the inner good inside of them. He knew that they were not brutal, cruel men; they were leaders in the community. They would even help animals that were in need. So while He rebuked their wrong attitude and temper, He also appealed to the best within them and asked them to show needy people the same kindness. Jesus’ purpose was not shaming men, but of saving them and making them better men.
6 They couldn’t answer him regarding these things.
If the Pharisees approved the healing, it would show them soft on the law, but if they disapproved, it would show them indifferent to suffering, so they remained silent. Jesus healed the man. The law of Moses permitted healing the Sabbath, but the tradition of man did not. It is always man that tries to put God into a box shaped by rules, but they only succeed in putting themselves in there. When we go beyond the word of God, we fall into legalism, and it is easier to do than you think.
Regardless of their made-up religious laws, Jesus had compassion on the hurting whenever He found them, and whatever day it was. He put people first. Luke records Jesus healing on the Sabbath day at least four times:
1. In Luke 4:31 Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath and there was a man there with an unclean spirit, Jesus cast it out.
2. In Luke 4:38 Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law on the Sabbath.
3. In Luke 6:6 Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath and there was a man there with a withered right hand. Jesus healed him.
4. In Luke 13:10 Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath and there was a woman who was bent over and could not straighten up. She had been that way for eighteen years. Jesus healed her.
The religious leaders tried to accuse Jesus of working on the Sabbath, and that violated God’s command, but it simply wasn’t true. Each time that Jesus asked the Pharisees and the experts in religious law directly: “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” they refused to answer so that the foolish nature of their position would not become evident to all the people there. By asking them this question, Jesus reminded them that there was no command against healing on the Sabbath, but they had added one. They could not defend against this simple question, but it did make them furiously angry with Him.
7 He spoke a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the best seats, and said to them, 8 “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the best seat, since perhaps someone more honorable than you might be invited by him, 9 and he who invited both of you would come and tell you, ‘Make room for this person.’ Then you would begin, with shame, to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes, he may tell you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jesus tells a parable. A parable is a real-life illustration that is set along side a Biblical truth in order to give an example. Parables are not fables; Jesus didn’t tell fairy tales about a pot of gold, but with morals. He took real-life situations that were familiar to all, and He used them to bring forth God’s truth.
In Jesus’ day, a wedding party was the most important social occasion in Jewish life and the seating arrangement at a dinner showed the order of prestige or honor, like sitting at the head of a conference table would. The most honored person sat in a particular seat, the next most honored person in another seat, and so on down the line. At the home of the Pharisee, Jesus noticed how people took the best places, they honored themselves. Jesus taught us to have a spirit of humble service (Mark 10:35–45), and modeled it Himself, instead of aggressive self-promotion like they were doing.
Scripture teaches us that we should not play the self-promotion game. We should work hard, as unto the Lord, and let God raise us up in His time. Psalm 75:6–7 reads: “For neither from the east, nor from the west, nor yet from the south, comes exaltation. 7 But God is the judge. He puts down one, and lifts up another.” It would be better to choose the lowest place first because the only way that he can go is up. If you choose the top, the only place that you can go is down. So if we follow the advice of Jesus, we can only be promoted.
Especially in Christian service, there is something wonderful about knowing that God has raised you up, instead of you raising yourself up. Yet, you can hardly throw a rock out there without hitting an “apostle” these days.
12 He also said to the one who had invited him, “When you make a dinner or a supper, don’t call your friends, nor your brothers, nor your kinsmen, nor rich neighbors, or perhaps they might also return the favor, and pay you back. 13 But when you make a feast, ask the poor, the maimed, the lame, or the blind; 14 and you will be blessed, because they don’t have the resources to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous.”
Jesus told the host that his guest list should not only include friends, as there was no reward in that. Jesus encouraged him to invite those that could not pay him back, who could not afford the meal, and that God would pay him back. “Do not ask” is better understood as: “do not habitually, or only ask”. It is wrong to only associate with people who can advance us, or give something to us. Jesus told us here to not associate with people only on the basis of what they could do for us, as that is self-centered living. The pharisees were very exclusive in who they invited.
15 When one of those who sat at the table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is he who will feast in God’s Kingdom!”
Jesus had just spoke some strong words, warning them against traditionalism, pride, and excluding the needy. Maybe one of the guests thought he would break the tension and said: “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” He was speaking of the great banquet with the Messiah that was spoken of many times in the Old Testament, and is known in the New Testament as the marriage supper of the Lamb in Revelation 19:9: “Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!”
16 But he said to him, “A certain man made a great supper, and he invited many people. 17 He sent out his servant at supper time to tell those who were invited, ‘Come, for everything is ready now.’
Being the man had just spoke about the feast in God’s kingdom, I believe Jesus elaborated on that day, the day of the Great Feast, the marriage supper of the Lamb. Jesus tells a story about a man that made a great supper and invited many people. I believe the “certain man” that gave the feast was God.
In the age before the clock, the date of a banquet was announced long before and the people were invited, but the exact time was announced during that day when everything was ready. This means that many people had accepted the invitation when it was first given, but when the time came, they had changed their mind. To accept the invitation and then refuse to come, after the food had been prepared for you was a serious insult.
18 They all as one began to make excuses. “The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 “Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I must go try them out. Please have me excused.’
One of the main points of this parable is the excuses that were offered. All those invited to the feast began to make excuses as if they had one accord. The excuses are all different, but really all the same.
The first two excuses had to do with material things, and they were not very good excuses either. One bought a piece of land, and then needed to go see it. Who would buy land without having seen it? Likewise the next man bought ten oxen and is only interested in testing them after they have already made the purchase.
So what do we gather from that? In a word: preoccupation. When we buy something new, we are almost always preoccupied by it for a while. In the world today, preoccupation with material things and experiences is a common excuse for not having time for Jesus.
20 “Another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I can’t come.’
The third excuse had to do with a man who put his family first, instead of God. So the first two excuses were economical, involving work and business, while the third domestic, pertaining to family. The excuses were just covering the simple fact that they did not want to come. The real point of any excuse is a lack of desire.
21 “That servant came, and told 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 the poor, maimed, blind, and lame.’
All the people that were invited, refused to come, and the Master of the banquet had gone through a lot of trouble to prepare it all. So He sent His servant out to invite the poor, maimed, blind and lame. The ones that Jesus told us the pharisee to invite earlier. Remember, Jesus is responding to the man that said: “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” (Luke 14:15). These are the ones that ended up going. Those originally invited, refused to come.
22 “The servant said, ‘Lord, it is done as you commanded, and there is still room.’ 23 “The lord said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you that none of those men who were invited will taste of my supper.’ ”
This parable is a reference to the church. Jesus was sent to the Jews first, but overall, they refused Him. Therefore God would bring in others, both those inside the city (Jews) and those outside of the city (Gentiles). Also when the parable ended, the servant had not completed inviting the highways and the hedges (Gentiles) as this happened after Jesus ascended. Bringing in the gentiles was still a future event when Jesus spoke the parable. God invites us, man can choose to attend or not. A day is coming when the door will be shut and it will be too late to change your mind. Those originally invited would not come, but God will fill His heaven with others that will.
Sadly, Augustine and others in the early church used the phrase “compel them to come in” as a justification to force people to convert to Christianity, sometimes using persecution and torture. It was used as a defense for the inquisition, the thumb-screw, the rack, the threat of death and imprisonment, the campaigns against heretics, all those things which are now the shame of Christianity. Today there is a lot of talk about Muslim’s beheading Christians, but at one time the Catholic church had its own army, and it waged war against those who would not convert.
25 Now great multitudes were going with him. He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me, and doesn’t disregard his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he can’t be my disciple. 27 Whoever doesn’t bear his own cross, and come after me, can’t be my disciple.
Jesus continued making His way from His home base of Capernaum to Jerusalem, and great crowds were now following Him. He turned around spoke to them about discipleship, and who could be His disciple for it involved more than just following Him and watching Him perform miracles. The word disciple simply means “learner.” So a disciple is someone who is a student, a learner of Jesus.
Being a true disciple of Jesus means giving your first loyalty to God, even over your own family. The Christian faith divides many anti-Christian families in this way. For example, say a son in a Jewish family converts to Christianity - his family may disown him. Jesus said that is ok, we have to put our faith first, and not the will of our family.
Jesus never taught hate, for we are to even love our enemies (6:27) and to pray for them. To me this part simply means: “Love your family less than Jesus.” He is to be first and foremost in our life. We love our families but our first loyalty is to God and His word. If we are forced to make a choice between them, then we choose God.
The “carry your own cross” phrase probably horrified His listeners. Not long before in 4 BC, the Roman general Varus had broken the revolt of Judas in Galilee and crucified 2,000 Jews along the roads to Galilee. The people knew that the cross was an instrument of torture, death and humiliation. If Romans hung a cross on you, it was a one way journey to your death.
28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 Or perhaps, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, everyone who sees begins to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build, and wasn’t able to finish.’
Jesus wants disciples who have counted the cost beforehand and willingly pay the price, not just an emotional reaction that fades the following day. He said clearly that whoever will not bear their own cross and come after Him, cannot be His disciple (Luke 14:27). He will not allow them to. They can call Him “Lord Lord” but He does not know them. There is no half-hearted effort allowed.
31 Or what king, as he goes to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an envoy, and asks for conditions of peace. 33 So therefore whoever of you who doesn’t renounce all that he has, he can’t be my disciple.
Counting the cost: We can never give people the impression that they have to clean up their lives before they come to Jesus. That would be like washing up before you take a bath. Yet we can never give people the impression that Jesus will not want to clean up their lives, with their cooperation, after they come to Him. for He certainly will bring change.
34 Salt is good, but if the salt becomes flat and tasteless, with what do you season it? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Jesus said that salt is good, but salt that has lost its flavor is worthless and thrown out. He told this parable while speaking about counting the cost of being His disciple. A disciple of Jesus that has lost their saltiness, is useless as a disciple and will be thrown out. There is no room for being lukewarm in the Kingdom of God.
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Quiz Questions on Luke 14: