Luke 14:1
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.
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(1) Into the house of one of the chief Pharisees.—Better, of the rulers of the Pharisees. The meaning of the phrase is probably more definite than that suggested by the English. The man was either a “ruler” in the same sense as Nicodemus (John 3:1), or the rich young man in Luke 18:18 - i.e., a member of the Sanhedrin (which seems most likely)—or else occupied a high position in the lay-hierarchy (if the phrase may be allowed) which had developed itself in the organisation of Pharisaism.

To eat bread on the Sabbath day.—Sabbath feasts were then, as at a later time, part of the social life of the Jews, and were often—subject, of course, to the condition that the food was cold—occasions of great luxury and display. Augustine speaks of them as including dancing and song, and the “Sabbath luxury” of the Jews became a proverb. On the motives of the Pharisee—probably half respect and half curiosity—see Notes on Luke 7:36.



Luke 14:1 - Luke 14:14

Jesus never refused an invitation, whether the inviter were a Pharisee or a publican, a friend or a foe. He never mistook the disposition of His host. He accepted ‘greetings where no kindness is,’ and on this occasion there was none. The entertainer was a spy, and the feast was a trap. What a contrast between the malicious watchers at the table, ready to note and to interpret in the worst sense every action of His, and Him loving and wishing to bless even them! The chill atmosphere of suspicion did not freeze the flow of His gentle beneficence and wise teaching. His meek goodness remained itself in the face of hostile observers. The miracle and the two parables are aimed straight at their errors.

I. How came the dropsical man there?

Possibly he had simply strayed in to look on at the feast, as the freedom of manners then would permit him to do. The absence of any hint that he came hoping for a cure, and of any trace of faith on his part, or of speech to him on Christ’s, joined with his immediate dismissal after his cure, rather favours the supposition that he had been put as the bait of the trap, on the calculation that the sight of him would move Jesus to heal him. The setters of the snare were ‘watching’ whether it would work, and Jesus ‘answered’ their thoughts, which were, doubtless, visible in their eyes. His answer has three stages-a question which is an assertion, the cure, and another affirming question. All three are met with sulky silence, which speaks more than words would have done. The first question takes the ‘lawyers’ on their own ground, and in effect asserts that to heal did not break the Sabbath. Jesus challenges denial of the lawfulness of it, and the silence of the Pharisees confesses that they dare not deny. ‘The bare fact of healing is not prohibited,’ they might have said, ‘but the acts necessary for healing are.’ But no acts were necessary for this Healer’s power to operate. The outgoing of His will had power. Their finespun distinctions of deeds lawful and unlawful were spiders’ webs, and His act of mercy flew high above the webs, like some fair winged creature glancing in the sunshine, while the spider sits in his crevice balked. The broad principle involved in Jesus’ first question is that no Sabbath law, no so-called religious restriction, can ever forbid helping the miserable. The repose of the Sabbath is deepened, not disturbed, by activity for man’s good.

The cure is told without detail, probably because there were no details to tell. There is no sign of request or of faith on the sufferer’s part; there seems to have been no outward act on Christ’s beyond ‘taking’ him, which appears simply to mean that He called him nearer, and then, by a simple exercise of His will, healed him. There is no trace of thanks or of wonder in the heart of the sufferer, who probably never had anything more to do with his benefactor. Silently he comes on the stage, silently he gets his blessing, silently he disappears. A strange, sad instance of how possible it is to have a momentary connection with Jesus, and even to receive gifts from His hand, and yet to have no real, permanent relation to Him!

The second question turns from the legal to a broader consideration. The spontaneous workings of the heart are not to be dammed back by ceremonial laws. Need calls for immediate succour. You do not wait for the Sabbath’s sun to set when your ox or your ass is in a pit. {The reading ‘son’ instead of ‘ox,’ as in the Revised Version margin, is incongruous.} Jesus is appealing to the instinctive wish to give immediate help even to a beast in trouble, and implies that much more should the same instinct be allowed immediate play when its object is a man. The listeners were self-condemned, and their obstinate silence proves that the arrow had struck deep.

II. The cure seems to have taken place before the guests seated themselves.

Then came a scramble for the most honourable places, on which He looked with perhaps a sad smile. Again the silence of the guests is noticeable, as well as the calm assumption of authority by Jesus, even among such hostile company. Where He comes a guest, He becomes teacher, and by divine right He rebukes. The lesson is given, says Luke, as ‘a parable,’ by which we are to understand that our Lord is not here giving, as might appear if His words are superficially interpreted, a mere lesson of proper behaviour at a feast, but is taking that behaviour as an illustration of a far deeper thing. Possibly some too ambitious guest had contrived to seat himself in the place of honour, and had had to turn out, and, with an embarrassed mien, had to go down to the very lowest place, as all the intermediate ones were full. His eagerness to be at the top had ended in his being at the bottom. That is a ‘parable,’ says Jesus, an illustration in the region of daily life, of large truths in morals and religion. It is a poor motive for outward humility and self-abasement that it may end in higher honour. And if Jesus was here only giving directions for conduct in regard to men, He was inculcating a doubtful kind of morality. The devil’s

‘darling sin

Is the pride that apes humility.’

Jesus was not recommending that, but what is crafty ambition, veiling itself in lowliness for its own purposes, when exercised in outward life, becomes a noble, pure, and altogether worthy, thing in the spiritual sphere. For to desire to be exalted in the kingdom is wholly right, and to humble one’s self with a direct view to that exaltation is to tread the path which He has hallowed by His own footsteps. The true aim for ambition is the honour that cometh from God only, and the true path to it is through the valley; for ‘God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.’

III. Unbroken silence still prevailed among the guests, but again Jesus speaks as teacher, and now to the host.

A guest does not usually make remarks on the composition of the company, Jesus could make no ‘recompense’ to His entertainer, but to give him this counsel. Again, He inculcated a wide general lesson under the guise of a particular exhortation appropriate to the occasion. Probably the bulk of the guests were well-to-do people of the host’s own social rank, and, as probably, there were onlookers of a lower degree, like the dropsical man. The prohibition is not directed against the natural custom of inviting one’s associates and equals, but against inviting them only, and against doing so with a sharp eye to the advantages to be derived from it. That weary round of giving a self-regarding hospitality, and then getting a return dinner or evening entertainment from each guest, which makes up so much of the social life among us, is a pitiful affair, hollow and selfish. What would Jesus say-what does Jesus say-about it all? The sacred name of hospitality is profaned, and the very springs of it dried up by much of our social customs, and the most literal application of our Lord’s teaching here is sorely needed.

But the words are meant as a ‘parable,’ and are to be widened out to include all sorts of kindnesses and helps given in the sacred name of charity to those whose only claim is their need. ‘They cannot recompense thee’-so much the better, for, if an eye to their doing so could have influenced thee, thy beneficence would have lost its grace and savour, and would have been simple selfishness, and, as such, incapable of future reward. It is only love that is lavished on those who can make no return which is so free from the taint of secret regard to self that it is fit to be recognised as love in the revealing light of that great day, and therefore is fit to be ‘recompensed in the resurrection of the just.’

Luke 14:1-4. And it came to pass — About this time, probably just as our Lord was finishing his journey through Herod’s dominions; he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees Τινος των αρχοντων Φαρισαιων, of a certain one of the ruling Pharisees, that is, of a magistrate, or a member of the great council, called the sanhedrim. This person probably resided generally in Jerusalem, but had a country-seat in Peræa; and happening to meet with Jesus while he abode there, he carried him home to dinner. The invitation, however, it appears was insidious; for we are told they watched him — That is, the chief Pharisee and others of his sect, who were gathered together for this very end, watched all his words and actions, in order that they might find something to blame in them, whereby they hoped to blast his reputation as a prophet. And behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy — Who, having heard that Jesus was to dine there, had got himself conveyed thither, in hopes of receiving a cure. And Jesus — Answering the thoughts which he saw arising in their hearts; spake unto the lawyers — The doctors of the law; and other Pharisees who were then present. Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day — Can there be any thing in so benevolent an action, as healing a distempered person, inconsistent with the sacred rest required on that day? And they held their peace — Not being able, with any face, to deny the lawfulness of the action, and yet being unwilling to say any thing which might seem to authorize or countenance those cures which Christ performed on sabbath days, as well as at other times, and which in general they had been well known to censure. And he took him Επιλαβομενος, taking him by the hand, or laying his hand on him, he healed him and let him go Απελυσε, sent him away. The moment that Jesus laid his hand on the man, his complexion returned, and his body was reduced to its ordinary size; becoming, at the same time, vigorous and fit for action, as appeared by the manner in which he went out of the room. Doubtless our Lord could have accomplished this cure as well by a secret volition, and so might have cut off all matter of cavilling. But he chose rather to produce it by an action, in which there was the very least degree of bodily labour that could be, because that thus he had an opportunity of reproving the reigning superstition of the times.

14:1-6 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.It came to pass - It so happened or occurred.

As he went ... - It is probable that he was invited to go, being in the neighborhood Luke 14:12; and it is also probable that the Pharisee invited him for the purpose of getting him to say something that would involve him in difficulty.

One of the chief Pharisees - One of the Pharisees who were "rulers," or members of the great council or the Sanhedrin. See the notes at Matthew 5:22. It does not mean that he was the head of the "sect" of the Pharisees, but one of those who happened to be a member of the Sanhedrin. He was, therefore, a man of influence and reputation.

To eat bread - To dine. To partake of the hospitalities of his house.

On the sabbath-day - It may seem strange that our Saviour should have gone to dine with a man who was a stranger on the Sabbath; but we are to remember:

1. That he was traveling, having no home of his own, and that it was no more improper to go there than to any other place.

2. That he did not go there for the purpose of feasting and amusement, but to do good.

3. That as several of that class of persons were together, it gave him an opportunity to address them on the subject of religion, and to reprove their vices.

If, therefore, the example of Jesus should be pled to authorize accepting an invitation to dine on the Sabbath, it should be pled just as it was. If we can go "just as he did," it is right. If when away from home; if we go to do good; if we make it an occasion to discourse on the subject of religion and to persuade people to repent, then it is not improper. Farther than this we cannot plead the example of Christ. And surely this should be the last instance in the world to be adduced to justify dinner-parties, and scenes of riot and gluttony on the Sabbath.

They watched him - They malignantly fixed their eyes on him, to see if he did anything on which they could lay hold to accuse him.


Lu 14:1-24. Healing of a Dropsical Man, and Manifold Teachings at a Sabbath Feast.Luke 14:1-6 Christ healeth the dropsy on the sabbath, and

justifieth his doing so.

Luke 14:7-11 He recommends humility,

Luke 14:12-14 and hospitality toward the poor.

Luke 14:15-24 The parable of the marriage supper, and of the

guests, who making excuses were excluded, and their

rooms filled by others.

Luke 14:25-33 He advises those who are willing to be his disciples to

examine beforehand their resolution in case of persecutions.

Luke 14:34-35 The unprofitableness of salt, when it hath lost its savour.

Ver. 1-6. We have before observed the freedom of our Saviour’s converse; sometimes he will dine with publicans, sometimes with Pharisees, becoming all things to all men that he might gain some. Christians certainly have the same liberty; the matter is not in whose houses we are, but what we do or say, how we behave ourselves there. In his going to a Pharisee’s house, he gives us a great precedent of humanity and self-denial, for the Pharisees were his great enemies, and we shall observe no great kindness showed to him in the invitation of him. Whether this Pharisee be called

one of the chief of the Pharisees because he was a member of the sanhedrim, or a ruler of a synagogue, or because he was one of the eldest and greatest repute, is not worth the inquiry. Thither Christ went

to eat bread, that is, to take a meal with him. It is a phrase often used to signify dining, or supping, for they ordinarily under the notion of bread understood all manner of victuals.

It was

on the sabbath day. In the mean time, the evangelist tells us,

they watched him, to wit, whether they might hear any thing from him, or see any thing in him, whereof they might accuse him.

It happened

there was a man which had the dropsy, whether casually, or brought thither on purpose by the Pharisees, the Scripture saith not; he was not there without a Divine direction, to give Christ an occasion of a miracle, and further to instruct people in the true doctrine of the sabbath.

Christ upon the sabbath begins us a discourse proper for the day, asking the Pharisees if it were

lawful to heal on the sabbath day. They make him no reply. Christ healeth him, then preacheth a doctrine to them, which he had twice before inculcated, in the case of a man who had a withered hand, Matthew 12:10, and of the woman whom Satan had bound, of which we heard, Luke 13:11, viz. That works of mercy are lawful on the sabbath day. Then he justifieth his fact by the confession of their own practice, in lifting up beasts fallen into pits on the sabbath day. His argument is this: If it be lawful on the sabbath day to relieve a beast, it is much more lawful to relieve a man: but you do the former. The evangelist reports them put to silence, but saith nothing of their conviction. It is an easier thing to stop malicious persons’ mouths than to remove their prejudices. Malice will ordinarily hold the conclusion, when the reason of the soul infected with it is not able to justify the premises.

And it came to pass,.... The Persic version adds, "on a certain day"; and it is afterwards said to be the sabbath day. This seems to have been somewhere or other in Galilee; see Luke 17:11.

As he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees; or rather, one of the rulers, and of the sect of the Pharisees: and he might be either a ruler of a synagogue, or a member of one of the lesser or greater sanhedrim; such another as Nicodemus, who was of the Pharisees, and a ruler of the Jews, John 3:1 for that there was any distinction among the Pharisees as a sect, does not appear: to this man's house Christ went, after he came out of the synagogue, being invited by him;

to eat bread on the sabbath day. The sabbath day was a feasting day with the Jews, in which they made very large and magnificent entertainments, for the honour of the sabbath; and he was reckoned the most praiseworthy, that exceeded this way; and no doubt, since this man was a Pharisee, one that was tenacious of the traditions of the elders, and was also a ruler, his table was well spread: the rules concerning this part of keeping the sabbath, are these (g);

"what is this delight? the wise men say, a man ought to prepare abundance of food and spiced liquids, for the sabbath, all according to a man's substance; and whoever multiplies in the expenses of the sabbath, and in preparing food, much and good, lo, he is praiseworthy; and if he is not able, though he only prepares boiled food, and such like, on account of the glory of the sabbath, lo, this is the delight of the sabbath: and he is not obliged to straiten himself, nor to ask of others, to increase the food of the sabbath: the ancient wise men said, make thy sabbath a common day, and do not make thyself necessitous to men; he who is delicate and rich, and lo, all his days are as a sabbath day, ought to have food on a sabbath day, different from that on a weekday; and if it is not possible to change, let him alter the time of eating; if he had been used to have it soon, let him have it late; and if late, let him have it sooner: a man is obliged to eat three meals, or feasts, on a sabbath day; one in the evening, and one in the morning, and one at the time of the meat offering; and he ought to take heed to those three feasts, that he does not diminish them at all; and even a poor man that is maintained by alms, must keep the three feasts.''

And this last canon, or rule, is of the utmost importance with them; for they (h) say,

"whoever keeps the three feasts on the sabbath day, shall be delivered from three punishments, from the sorrows of the Messiah, from the judgment of hell, and from the war of Gog and Magog.''

That they watched him; that is, those that sat down to meat with him, the lawyers and Pharisees: and it is very probable, that it was not out of pure respect to him, that he was asked to eat meat at this ruler's house; but with a design to observe whatever might be said, or done by him, they could take any advantage from, against him.

(g) Maimon. Hilchot Sabbat, c. 30. sect. 7, 8, 9. (h) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 118. 1. Kimchi in Isaiah 58.13.

And {1} it came to pass, as he went into the house of {a} one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.

(1) The law of the very sabbath ought not to hinder the offices of charity.

(a) Either one of the elders, whom they called the sanhedrin, or one of the chiefs of the synagogue: for all the Pharisees were not chief men of the synagogue Joh 7:48; for this word Pharisee was the name of a sect, though it appears by viewing the whole history of the matter that the Pharisees had much authority.

Luke 14:1-6 peculiar to Luke from his source of the narrative of the journey.

Ἐν τῷ ἐλθεῖν κ.τ.λ.] when He came, to wit, in the progress of the journey, Luke 13:33.

τῶν ἀρχόντων τ. Φαρισαίων] not: of the members of the Sanhedrim belonging to the Pharisees (Grotius, Kuinoel, and many others), such as Nicodemus therefore, John 3:1; for the incident is in Galilee (not Jerusalem, as Grotius; not Judea, as Schenkel will have it), and, literally, it means nothing more than: of the Pharisee leaders, i.e. of the chiefs of the Pharisees. It is not to be defined more precisely; but men such as Hillel, Schammai, Gamaliel, and others belong to this category.

σαββάτῳ] the holiness of which (the preparation occurred previously) was not opposed to it, nay, “lautiores erant isto die illis mensae … idque ipsis judicantibus ex pietate et religione,” Lightfoot. Comp. Nehemiah 8:10; Tob 2:1; also John 12:2; Wetstein in loc.; Spencer, de leg. rit. p. 87 ff.

φαγεῖν ἄρτον] comp. Matthew 15:2. Jesus was invited, Luke 14:12.

καὶ αὑτοί] This is the common use of καί after ἐγένετο; αὐτοί, they on their part, the Pharisees.

παρατηρούμ.] generally, whether He would give them occasion for charge or complaint. Otherwise, Luke 6:7.

Luke 14:2. And behold a dropsical man was there in His presence. This denotes the unexpected sight of the presence (not as a guest, see Luke 14:4) of the sick man, who ἦν ἱστάμενος, καὶ μὴ τολμῶν μὲν ζητῆσαι θεραπείαν διὰ τὸ σάββατον καὶ τοὺς Φαρισαίους· φαινόμενος δὲ μόνον, ἵνα ἰδὼν οἰκτειρήσῃ τοῦτον ἀφʼ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ ἀπαλλάξῃ τοῦ ὕδρωπος, Euthymius Zigabenus. The view of many (see also Wetstein, Kuinoel, Glöckler, Lange), that the sick man was intentionally brought in by the Pharisees, is the more arbitrary, as Luke 14:2 is not linked on by γάρ. Moreover, the cure occurred before the dinner, Luke 14:7.

Luke 14:3. ἀποκριθ.] at this appearance of the sick man.

Luke 14:4. ἑπιλαβόμενος] a taking hold which brought about the miraculous cure, stronger than ἁψάμενος.[172] Otherwise Mark 8:23. The accusative αὐτόν is not dependent on ἐπιλ. See Buttmann, Neut. Gr. p. 140 [E. T. 160].

Luke 14:5. Comp. on Matthew 12:11. The construction is such that the nominative of τίνος ὑμῶν is the subject in the second half of the sentence. Comp. generally, Bernhardy, p. 468; Stallbaum, ad Plat. Phaed. p. 72 B.

In respect of the reading υἱός (see the critical remarks; Mill, Bornemann, and Lachmann, Praef. II. p. vii., unjustifiably conjecture ὄϊς), which is not inappropriate (de Wette), the conclusion of Jesus is not drawn, as Luke 13:15 f., a minori ad majus,[173] but from the ethical principle that the helpful compassion which we show in reference to that which is our own (be it son or beast) on the Sabbath, we are also bound to show to others (love thy neighbour as thyself).

[172] Paulus after his fashion makes use of the word for the naturalizing of the miracle: “Probably Jesus took him aside, and looked after the operation of the means previously employed.”

[173] This reading, moreover, sets aside the opinion of Schleiermacher, p. 196, that in respect of the quotation of this expression there is no reference back to Luke 13:10.

Luke 14:1-24 contain a digest of sayings of Jesus at the table of a Pharisee, this being the third instance in this Gospel of such friendly intercourse between Him and members of the Pharisaic party. The remaining part of the chapter consists of solemn words on self-sacrifice and on counting the cost represented as addressed to the people.

1-6. Sabbath healing of a Man with the Dropsy.

1. of one of the chief Pharisees] Rather, of the Rulers of the Pharisees. The rendering of our version gives the general sense but is inadmissible. It is perhaps due to the translators being aware that the Pharisees had (strictly speaking) no Rulers. There were no grades of distinction between-Pharisees as such. But obviously the expression would be popularly used of a Pharisee who was an eminent Rabbi like Hillel or Shammai, or of one who was also a Sanhedrist.

to eat bread on the sabbath day] Sabbath entertainments of a luxurious and joyous character were the rule among the Jews, and were even regarded as a religious duty (Nehemiah 8:9-12). All the food was however cooked on the previous day (Exodus 16:23). That our Lord accepted the invitation, though He was well aware of the implacable hostility of the Pharisaic party towards Him, was due to His gracious spirit of forgiving friendliness; and to this we owe the beautiful picture of His discourse and bearing throughout the feast which this chapter preserves for us. Every incident and remark of the banquet was turned to good. We have first the scene in the house (Luke 14:1-6); then the manoeuvres to secure precedence at the meal (Luke 14:7-11); then the lesson to the host about the choice of guests (Luke 14:12-14); then the Parable of the King’s Feast suggested by the vapid exclamation of one of the company (Luke 14:15-24).

that they watched him] More emphatically in the original ‘and they themselves were carefully watching Him,’ comp. Luke 6:7. The invitation in fact even more than those in Luke 7:36, Luke 11:37 was a mere plot;—part of that elaborate espionage, and malignant heresy-hunting (Luke 11:53-54, Luke 20:20; Mark 12:13), which is the mark of a decadent religion, and which the Pharisees performed with exemplary diligence. The Pharisees regarded it as their great object in life to exalt their sacred books; had they never read so much as this? “the wicked watcheth the righteous and seeketh occasion to slay him,” Psalm 37:32; “all that watch for iniquity are cut off, that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate,” Isaiah 29:20-21.

Luke 14:1. Ἐν τῷ ἐλθεῖν, when He was coming) by invitation. See Luke 14:12.—ἀρχόντων, of the chiefs) The Pharisees had their own chiefs, and these also numerous, possessing pre-eminent authority; which, however, Jesus did not regard with fear. See Luke 14:12, at the beginning. [—ἦσαν παρατηρούμενοι αὐτὸν, they were craftily watching Him) The spiritual Sabbath is grossly profaned by crafty and wicked thoughts.—V. g.]

Verses 1-6. - The Pharisee's feast on a sabbath day. The healing of the sick with dropsy. Verse 1. - And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day. Still on the same journey; the Lord was approaching gradually nearer Jerusalem. The house into which he entered this sabbath belonged to one who was a leading member of the Pharisee party, probably an influential rabbi, a man of great wealth, or a member of the Sanhedrim "To eat bread on the sabbath day," as a guest, was a usual practice; such entertainments on the sabbath day were very usual; they were often luxurious and costly. The only rule observed was that all the viands provided were cold,, everything having been cooked on a previous day. Augustine alludes to these sabbath feasts as including at times singing and dancing. They watched him. This explains the reason of the invitation to the great Teacher, on the part of a leading Pharisee, after the Master's bitter denunciation of the party (see Luke 11:39-52). The feast and its attendant circumstances were all arranged, and Jesus' watchful enemies waited to see what he would do. Luke 14:1Watched (ἧσαν παρατηρούμενοι)

The participle and finite verb, were engaged in watching. Closely (παρά). See on Mark 3:2.

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