Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.
Lu 14:1-24. Healing of a Dropsical Man, and Manifold Teachings at a Sabbath Feast.
And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.
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].
And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?
3-6. (See on Mt 12:11, 12).
And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;
And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?
And they could not answer him again to these things.
And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,
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 (Lu 14:11).
chief rooms—principal seats, in the middle part of the couch on which they reclined at meals, esteemed the most honorable.
When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;
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].
And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.
9. the lowest—not a lower merely [Bengel].
with shame—"To be lowest is only ignominious to him who affects the highest" [Bengel].
But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.
10. Friend—said to the modest guest only, not the proud one (Lu 14:9) [Bengel].
worship—honor. The whole of this is but a reproduction of Pr 25:6, 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 Lu 14:11.
For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
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." (See on Lu 18:14).
Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.
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 (Mt 5:46, 47).
But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
13. call the poor—"Such God Himself calls" (Lu 14:21) [Bengel].
And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.
14. blessed—acting from disinterested, god-like compassion for the wretched.
And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.
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" (Nu 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.
Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:
16. a great supper—(Compare Isa 25:6).
bade many—historically, the Jews (see on Mt 22:3); generally, those within the pale of professed discipleship.
And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
17. supper-time … all now ready—pointing undoubtedly to the now ripening preparations for the great Gospel call. (See on Mt 22:4.)
And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
18. all began to make excuse—(Compare Mt 22:5). Three excuses, given as specimens of the rest, answer to "the care of this world" (Lu 14:18), "the deceitfulness of riches" (Lu 14:19), and "the pleasures of this life" (Lu 14:20), which "choke the word" (Mt 13:22 and Lu 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.
And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
So that servant came, and shewed 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 hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.
21. came, and showed, &c.—saying as in Isa 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 (Eze 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.
And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
22. yet there is room—implying that these classes had embraced the invitation (Mt 21:32; Mr 12:37, last clause; Joh 7:48, 49); and beautifully expressing the longing that should fill the hearts of ministers to see their Master's table filled.
And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be 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" (Eph 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].
For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
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 Pr 1:24-33; The Marriage Supper, Mt 22:2-14).
And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them,
Lu 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 (Lu 2:44), and who on this occasion falling in with our Lord had formed themselves into one mass about Him.
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
26, 27. If any man, &c.—(See on Mt 10:34-36, and Mr 8:34, 35).
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
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," Lu 14:32), two things are taught: (1) Better not begin (Re 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" (1Jo 5:4), and nerved by power from above, which "out of weakness makes it strong" (Heb 11:34; 1Pe 1:5), becomes heroical and will come off "more than conqueror." But without absolute surrender of self the contest is hopeless (Lu 14:33).
Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.
So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.
Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?
34, 35. Salt, &c.—(See on Mt 5:13-16; and Mr 9:50).
It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.