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The Fourfold Gospel

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14:1  And it came to pass, when he went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees1 on a sabbath to eat bread2, that they were watching him3.

    DINING WITH A PHARISEE. SABBATH HEALING AND THREE LESSONS SUGGESTED BY THE EVENT. (Probably Perea.) Luke 14:1-24

  1. And it came to pass, when he went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were an unorganized party, hence their rulers were such not by "office", but by influence. Those who were members of the Sanhedrin, or who were distinguished among the rabbis, might fitly be spoken of as rulers among them.

  2. On a sabbath to eat bread. Bountiful feasts on the Sabbath day were common among the Jews; the food, however, was cooked the previous day in obedience to the precept at Exodus 16:23.

  3. That they were watching him. The context favors the idea that Jesus was invited for the purpose of being watched--a carrying out of the Pharisaic purpose declared at Luke 11:53,54.

14:2  And behold, there was before him a certain man that had the dropsy1.

  1. There was before him a certain man that had the dropsy. The phrase "let him go" of Luke 14:4 shows that the man was not a guest, but rather one who seems to have taken advantage of the freedom of an Oriental house to stand among the lookers-on. He may have been there purely from his own choice, but the evil intention with which Jesus was invited makes it highly probable that the man's presence was no accident, but part of a deep-laid plot to entrap Jesus.

14:3  And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees1, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath, or not2?

  1. And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees. Replying to their unspoken thoughts, in which they were assuming that he would heal the sick man.

  2. Saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath, or not? They evidently expected Jesus to act on the impulse, and were confused by his calm, deliberate question.

14:4  But they held their peace1. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go.

  1. But they held their peace. If the lawyers and Pharisees declared it lawful, they defeated their plot, and if they said otherwise, they involved themselves in an argument with Jesus in which, as experience taught them, they would be humiliated before the people. Hence, they kept silence, but their silence only justified him, since it was the duty of every lawyer to pronounce this act unlawful if it had been so.

14:5  And he said unto them, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a well, and will not straightway draw him up on a sabbath day1?

  1. Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a well, and will not straightway draw him up on a sabbath day? Here Jesus again asserts that the Sabbath law did not forbid acts of mercy. See the notes at Matthew 12:7,12; Mark 2:27,28; Mark 3:4.

14:6  And they could not answer again unto these things1.

  1. And they could not answer again unto these things. Though silenced, the Pharisees relented not, either as to their bigotry or their hatred.

14:7  And he spake a parable unto those that were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief seats1; saying unto them,

  1. And he spake a parable unto those that were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief seats. The "triclinia", or Grecian table, then in use had three sections which were placed together so as to form a flat-bottomed U. The space enclosed by the table was not occupied. It was left vacant that the servants might enter it and attend to the wants of the guests who reclined around the outer margin of the table. The central seat of each of these three sections were deemed a place of honor. This struggle for precedence was a small ambition, but many of the ambitions of our day are equally small.

14:8  When thou art bidden of any man to a marriage feast, sit not down in the chief seat1; lest haply a more honorable man than thou be bidden of him2,

  1. When thou art bidden of any man to a marriage feast, sit not down in the chief seat. Jesus mentions another kind of feast than the one in progress, that he may not be needlessly personal.

  2. Lest haply a more honorable man than thou be bidden of him. See Philippians 2:3.

14:9  and he that bade thee and him shall come and say to thee, Give this man place; and then thou shalt begin with shame to take the lowest place1.

  1. And then thou shalt begin with shame to take the lowest place. Because when ousted from the top he would find every place full except the bottom.

14:10  But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest place1; that when he that hath bidden thee cometh, he may say to thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have glory in the presence of all that sit at meat with thee.

  1. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest place. The words here used by our Lord teach how to avoid earthly shame and to obtain worldly honor. But they form a parable which is intended to teach the great spiritual truth that true humility leads to exaltation.

14:11  For everyone that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted1.

  1. For everyone that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. This is one of our Lord's favorite maxims (Luke 18:14; Matthew 23:12). Both man and God look upon humiliation as the just punishment of pride; but it is a pleasure to every right- minded spirit to give joy to the humble by showing him respect and honor.

14:12  And he said to him also that had bidden him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, nor thy kinsmen, nor rich neighbors1; lest haply they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee2.

    Luke 14:12,13

  1. When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, nor thy kinsmen, nor rich neighbors. According to the Oriental mode of speech Jesus here emphatically commands one course of action by prohibiting a contrary course.

  2. Lest haply they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But his prohibition is not to be construed strictly. He does not forbid the exercise of social hospitality, but discountenances that interested form of it which seeks a return.

14:13  But when thou makest a feast, bid the poor, the maimed, the lame1, the blind:

  1. But when thou makest a feast, bid the poor, the maimed, the lame,
  2. the blind. Jesus' teaching is positive rather than negative, and should constrain us to live more for charity and less for sociability.

14:14  and thou shalt be blessed; because they have not [wherewith] to recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed in the resurrection of the just1.

  1. For thou shalt be recompensed in the resurrection of the just. Some think that this verse teaches that there shall be two resurrections, but the contrast is not between two "times", but rather between two "parties" or divisions of one resurrection. If one has part in the resurrection of the just, he may expect recompense for his most trivial act. But if he be resurrected among the unjust, he need expect no reward, even for the most meritorious deeds of his whole life.

14:15  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 God1.

  1. Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. The language of Christ implied that God himself would feast those who feasted the poor, and this implication accorded with the Jewish notion that the kingdom of God would be ushered in with a great festival. Inspired by this thought, and feeling confident that he should have been part of the festivities, this guest exclaimed upon the anticipated blessedness.

14:17  and he sent forth his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for [all] things are now ready1.

  1. And he sent forth his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for [all] things are now ready. The custom of sending a second invitation at the supper hour is a very old one (Esther 5:8; Esther 6:14) and is still observed.

14:18  And they all with one [consent] began to make excuse1. The first said unto him, I have bought a field, and I must needs go out and see it; I pray thee have me excused.

    Luke 14:18-20

  1. They all with one [consent] began to make excuse. These three excuses show: (1) That the guests had made their engagements, either for business or pleasure, without the least regard for the honor of the banquet; (2) that they set little value upon either the friendship or the feast of the one who had invited them. Moreover, the excuses progress in disrespect, for the first excuse is on the ground of necessity, the second simply offers a reason, and the third is almost impudent in its bluntness. Viewing the excuses spiritually, we note that each one contains an element of "newness"--new field, new oxen, new wife. Thus the things of the earth seem new and sweet in comparison with the gospel invitation. Again, all the excuses are trifling, for the parable is intended to teach that men forego their rights to heaven for trifles. Again, the "sacred hate" of Luke 14:25,26 would have eliminated all these excuses. Possibly Paul had this parable in mind when he wrote (1 Corinthians 7:29-33). The three excuses warn us not to be hindered by (1) the love of possessions; (2) the affairs of business; (3) our social ties.

14:21  And the 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 hither the poor and maimed and blind and lame1.

    Luke 14:21-23

  1. Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor and maimed and blind and lame. We have a preliminary or general invitation followed by three special invitations. We may regard the general invitation as given by Moses, and the prophets in the ages before the feast was prepared. (1) Then the first special one would be given by John the Baptist and Christ to the Jewish nation in the first stages of Christ's ministry. (2) The second special invitation was given by Christ, the twelve and the seventy, and came more especially to the poor and outcast, the publicans and sinners, because the leading men of the nation spurned the invitation. (3) The third invitation was begun by the apostles after the Lord's ascension and is still borne forward by those who have come after them and includes all nations. The three conditions of Jew, outcast, and Gentiles are indicated by the three orders of guests: (1) The honorable citizens of the city (Luke 14:17); (2) those who frequent the streets and lanes, but are still in and out of the city (Luke 14:21); (3) those who live without the city and are found upon the highway and in the hedgepaths of the vineyards and gardens (Luke 14:23).

14:23  And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and constrain [them] to come in1, that my house may be filled2.

  1. Go out into the highways and hedges, and constrain [them] to come in. The second and third classes are depicted as needing to be constrained. This would be so, because they would hold themselves unworthy of the invitation. But they were to be constrained by moral and not by physical means (Matthew 14:22; 2 Corinthians 12:11; Galatians 2:14). Physical constraint would have been contrary to all custom, as well as impossible to one servant.

  2. That my house may be filled. Incidentally the parable shows the roominess of heaven and the largeness of divine hospitality, so that Bengel aptly observes,

    "Grace, no less than nature, abhors a vacuum."

14:25  Now there went with him great multitudes1: and he turned, and said unto them,

    COST OF DISCIPLESHIP MUST BE COUNTED. (Probably Perea.) Luke 14:25-35

  1. Now there went with him great multitudes. He had hitherto spent but little time in Perea, and the people were availing themselves of this opportunity to see and hear him.

14:26  If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters1, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple2.

  1. If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters. "Hateth", as used here, is an example of phenomenal speech, or speaking from appearances. In the cases supposed, the person would "appear" to hate those whom he abandoned for Christ. It is like repent, anger, etc., when spoken of God. To construe the passage literally as enjoining hatred would be contrary to the fifth commandment as re-enacted at Ephesians 6:1-3; Colossians 3:20 and also contrary to our Lord's own example (John 19:25-27). Seeing the number of those adherents which now surrounded him, Jesus made use of this striking statement that he might startle each hearer, and impress upon him the wide difference between a mere outward appearance upon him and a real, disciple-like adhesion to him.

  2. Yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. The latter requires that we be ready to sacrifice all, even our animal life, in so far as it tends to separate from Christ (Acts 20:24; Romans 12:11).

14:27  Whosoever doth not bear his own cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple1.

  1. Whosoever doth not bear his own cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. Christ must be followed and imitated even to the extremity of suffering. The costliness of discipleship is illustrated in the two brief parables which follow.

14:28  For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doth not first sit down and count the cost, whether he have [wherewith] to complete it1?

    Luke 14:28-30

  1. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doth not first sit down and count the cost, whether he have [wherewith] to complete it? Discipleship is character-building, and shame awaits him who attempts to be a Christian and fails to live up to his profession. Unless his tower rises to the heavenly heights to which it aspired, it is but a Babel at last. The parable is not intended to discourage anyone from attempting to be a disciple. It is meant to warn us against attempting so great an undertaking with the frivolity of spirit and want of determination which insure failure.

14:31  Or what king, as he goeth to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel1 whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?

    Luke 14:31,32

  1. Or what king, as he goeth to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel, etc. Is the adversary here God or the devil? As warring against God is no part of discipleship, it might seem that the conflict was with Satan. But the case supposed is that of a man who, after counting the cost, is about to decline taking up his cross--about to rebel against the claims of God. But while in this rebellious state he sees a superior force coming against him. This superior force cannot be the devil's, for Jesus could not counsel any to make peace with him, as the parable advises. The superior force, then, is God's, and the lesson here is that however fearful the task of being a disciple may be, it is not so dreadful as to fight against God. As soon as the hesitating man takes in his thought, he will immediately take up the cross which he was about to refuse.

14:33  So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple1.

  1. So therefore whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. The tower cannot be built by him who spends his time or squanders his money on other enterprises, nor can the peace be maintained by one who does not fully renounce his rebellion.

14:34  Salt therefore is good: but if even the salt have lost its savor1, wherewith shall it be seasoned?

  1. Salt therefore is good: but if even the salt have lost its savor,
  2. wherewith shall it be seasoned? Our Lord twice before used such language. See Matthew 5:13 and see Mark 9:50. Salt is here used as a symbol of perseverance.

14:35  It is fit neither for the land nor for the dunghill: [men] cast it out1. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear2.

  1. It is fit neither for the land nor for the dunghill: [men] cast it out. The condition of those who begin the Christian life and fail to persevere is dangerous in the extreme (Hebrews 6:4-12; Hebrews 10:26-39).

  2. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. See Mark 4:9.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.

Bibliography Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on Luke 14". "The Fourfold Gospel". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/tfg/view.cgi?book=lu&chapter=014>. Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.  

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