Today Jesus teaches us how loving actions should trump religious rules. He goes on tell us how to have humility and how to help those who can not pay us back. Jesus then tells the story of the Great Feast which represents God’s invitation to the whole world who mostly responds to his invitation with excuses. Lastly he concludes by sharing the cost of discipleship. Great reading!
Jesus Heals a Man with Swollen Limbs / 14:1-6
In the face of repeated miracles, the Pharisees stood stone-faced. They did not rejoice with the healed man; instead, they accused and condemned Jesus, for having compassion and doing good.
14:1-3 A leader of the Pharisees invited Jesus to his home, but the people were watching Jesus closely. It may be surprising to see Jesus on the Pharisees’ turf after he had denounced them so many times. Perhaps this Pharisee actually wanted to learn from Jesus or was interested in a discussion with him. But the fact that Jesus was being watched seems to reveal that the religious leaders were hoping to trip up Jesus. Because it was another Sabbath, perhaps they again hoped to find Jesus violating their Sabbath rules, for it seems quite suspicious that a man was there in front of Jesus whose arms and legs were swollen. This certainly makes one wonder if this man were not there on purpose—as if planted by the religious leaders so they could again catch Jesus in the act of healing on the Sabbath. It is also possible that the man was an outsider who came in near Jesus, as had the woman who had anointed Jesus’ feet at another Pharisee’s house (7:37-38). Also called “dropsy,” this disease had an abnormal accumulation of fluid in bodily tissues and cavities causing swelling.
Jesus knew what his “watchers” were thinking, so he asked them the question that had caused friction between him and them before, “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?” (For more on Sabbath healings, see commentary on 6:1-9; 13:10-17.)
14:4-6 The religious leaders refused to answer Jesus’ question. Why didn’t they explain that it was not lawful and then patiently tell him why? Because they knew Jesus would heal the man and because they were hoping to use it against him. The men had no more concern for their rules at this moment than Jesus did. The rules did not serve the purpose, so they refused to answer. So Jesus touched the sick man and healed him and sent him away. Jesus explained that when it served their purposes, these religious leaders did work on the Sabbath. They could go pull a son or a cow out of a pit if need be, but they were ready to condemn Jesus for touching a man and healing him from a disease. Jesus pointed this out to them, but they had no answer.
- LIFE APPLICATION – SORTING RIGHT FROM WRONG
- Sometimes matters of right and wrong can get appear complicated, as they had become concerning the Sabbath rules the Pharisees had made. Jesus cut through all the complications with a simple appeal to love.
- Is your faith in gridlock (like the Pharisees) because of overlapping and conflicting regulations that hardly seem to make sense? With each action ask yourself—what does love require?
- Love will always respect God’s rules (the Ten Commandments, for example) and will always serve people’s best interests. Often a simple appeal to love will cut through the fog and clarify a plan of action.
Jesus Teaches about Seeking Honor / 14:7-14
Jesus wasn’t one to mince words; he didn’t wait for a discreet time to teach and preach. In the midst of his enemies (the Pharisees were carefully watching him to see if they could trap him in any way), Jesus warns them of their arrogance.
- LIFE APPLICATION – SEEKING HONOR
- Here’s practical advice on avoiding embarrassment and practicing the love that serves others: Direct your ambition for honor toward someone else’s gain. Then if honor comes to you, it will not be due to self-promotion.
14:7-9 In Jesus’ day, Jewish custom at a dinner was to arrange couches in a U shape with a low table in front of them. Guests reclined on the left elbow, and they would be seated according to status, with the place of honor being the seat at the center of the U. The seats would decline in status the farther away from that seat of honor. If arrivals had placed themselves in the best seat and then someone more respected arrived, they would be asked to move to lower seats. By then, the only seat that would still be open would be at the foot of the table.
This may seem like an odd bit of social manners given by Jesus, but his meaning went much deeper. This wedding feast pictures the Messiah’s Kingdom. Those who seek honor for themselves will be disgraced. Jesus explains that honor cannot be taken, it must be given by God. He will not honor those who seek to honor themselves.
- LIFE APPLICATION – TRULY HUMBLE
- Who are those who exalt themselves? They are the arrogant people. They’re the ones who, in any group of people, would rather talk than listen, dominating the conversation with their own thoughts and ideas. They consistently think everyone else is far less intelligent than they are. They treat people in service occupations as inferior and meant to serve only them.
Who, then, are the humble people? Unfortunately, some people try to give the appearance of humility in order to manipulate others. Still others think that humility means putting themselves down. Truly humble people compare themselves only with Christ, realize their sinfulness, and understand their limitations. They also recognize their gifts and strengths and are willing to use them as Christ directs. Humility is not self-degradation; it is realistic assessment and commitment to serve.
14:10-11 Jesus explained that people should sit at the foot of the table. This would show that the person had not overestimated his or her own importance. Then, the host may ask that person to move to a better place. Then, instead of being disgraced, the person would be honored. The principle would be true in that situation, and in the Kingdom of God—the proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored. The host, God himself, will make the final seating arrangements in his Kingdom. People dare not presume upon their own importance; how much better to be honored by God.
14:12-14 While guests ought not presume upon their importance in the eyes of their host (14:7-11), hosts should not be exclusive about whom they invite. Jesus explained that they shouldn’t invite only people who can pay them back. Instead, they should invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. When God’s people can do good, without expecting reward or repayment, they will have truly served him unselfishly. God will reward those who so willingly serve him.
Jesus Tells the Parable of the Great Feast / 14:15-24
The tie between this parable and the previous one is the resurrection. The host who invites the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind will be rewarded at the resurrection. Jesus went on to explain that God himself, the heavenly host of the messianic banquet, would offer the same invitation.
14:15 Jesus’ words about the resurrection sparked a comment from a man sitting at the table (apparently a Pharisee or teacher, 14:1-3). This Pharisee assumed that he and his fellow Pharisees and other leaders would have the privilege to share in the Kingdom of God. They counted on their ancestry and their law-keeping to have reserved places for them. Jesus would shatter this preconception.
14:16-17 It was customary to send two invitations to a party—the first to announce the event. Thus, this man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. It does not appear that anyone had declined, so the man made final preparations in order to have enough for everyone. The second invitation told the guests that everything was ready. In this case, the man’s servant personally notified all the guests that it was time for them to come.
- LIFE APPLICATION-JOIN THE FEAST
- Jesus is calling all people to join him in a feast—the wedding supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-9), when God and his beloved church will be joined forever. Have you accepted the invitation? Will you be there?
Are you inviting others? Do you support the outreach efforts of your church?
14:18-20 The guests in Jesus’ story insulted the host by making excuses when he issued the second invitation. The guests decided that other matters were more important at the time. The point is that nothing should become an excuse to put off joining God’s Kingdom. All pursuits, no matter how valid they seem, can rob people of the great celebration with Jesus. Let nothing stand in the way of following Christ.
14:21-23 Upon learning how his invitations had been snubbed, the master of the house was angry. But his banquet was ready, the food had been prepared. Instead of abandoning the whole prospect, he sent his servant to bring into the banquet hall the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind (see also 14:13). This done, the servant reported back that there was still room for more. So the master again dispatched the servant to go throughout the country lanes and behind the hedges and fill the house. This story would seem scandalous to Jesus’ audience. No ancient wealthy person would ever invite the poor. This startling statement told Jesus’ hearers that God’s Kingdom is especially for the poor. Not a morsel of food was to go to waste. If the previously invited guests would not accept the hospitality of the master, then he would invite those who would.
- LIFE APPLICATION – TOO LATE
- In Jesus’ story, many people turned down the invitation to the banquet because the timing was inconvenient. People today can also resist or delay responding to God’s invitation, and their excuses may sound reasonable—work duties, family responsibilities, financial needs, and so forth. Nevertheless, God’s invitation is the most important event in life, no matter how inconveniently it may be timed. Are you making excuses to avoid God’s kind and generous invitation? Jesus said that the time will come when God will withdraw his invitation and offer it to others—then it will be too late to get into the banquet.
14:24 In Israel’s history, God’s first invitation came from Moses and the prophets; the second came from his Son. Jesus’ listeners, the religious leaders, accepted the first invitation. They believed that God had called them to be his people. But they insulted God by refusing to accept his Son. They would miss the banquet completely because they refused to accept the Son’s invitation—they would not get even the smallest taste of what had been prepared for them. Thus, just as the master in the story sent his servant into the streets to invite the needy to his banquet, so God was sending his Son to the whole world of needy people (Jews and Gentiles) to tell them that his Kingdom had arrived and was ready for them.
Jesus Teaches about the Cost of Being a Disciple / 14:25-35
This collection of Jesus’ teachings about discipleship suggests a turning point in Luke’s narrative. From this point to the end of this “Jerusalem section” around chapter 18, the Gospel contains materials that focus on discipleship.
14:25-26 Great crowds were still following Jesus. Perhaps all these casual followers considered themselves “disciples” of this popular teacher. Jesus explained what it meant to truly be his disciple. His disciples had to love him more than their own family members. Certainly this caused a stir among the people. Who would possibly ask his followers to love him that way?
Jesus was not going against the fifth commandment to honor father and mother (Exodus 20:12). Nor was he attempting to subvert the natural love that exists among family members. Instead, he was saying that his followers’ love for him should be so complete and wholehearted that their love for family members and for life itself would pale in comparison. In first-century Jewish family settings, deciding for Jesus could mean alienation from the family. Jesus warned the would-be disciples that they must be clear about their true allegiance. Those who cannot make that kind of commitment cannot be his disciple.
- LIFE APPLICATION- CASUAL DISCIPLESHIP
- Is your interest in living for Christ halfhearted? The time may come for you to make hard choices because God doesn’t care to be second. If you make career your idol, or sports or wealth, perhaps you should reevaluate. You will have to decide: to what are you really devoted? To whom are you really loyal? Following Jesus must be your first priority.
14:27 Besides being willing to love Jesus more than any others and more than life itself, the true disciple must be ready to carry his own cross and follow Jesus (see also 9:23 and commentary there). Jesus gave this teaching to get the crowds to think through their enthusiasm for him. He encouraged those who were superficial either to go deeper or to turn back. Following Christ means total submission to him—perhaps even to the point of death.
14:28-30 Jesus promised his followers a Kingdom, but he also said that they would face difficulty and suffering because of their faith. Those on the fence needed to count the cost. When a builder doesn’t count the cost or estimates it inaccurately, his building may be left half-completed. What are those “costs” to believers? Believers may face loss of social status or wealth. They may have to give up control over their money, time, or career. They may be hated, separated from their family, and even put to death. All people must carefully count the cost of becoming Christ’s disciple so that they will know what they are getting into and won’t be tempted to turn back when the going gets tough.
14:31-32 In this second example, Jesus described a wise king’s decision to consider whether his ten thousand soldiers could defeat twice that number coming against him. He has to act, but should he fight or ask for peace? To rush out with his soldiers, without first discussing the options, would invite disaster for his nation. Far better to think it through beforehand. So those who want to follow Jesus should carefully consider their decision.
- LIFE APPLICATION – EASY DECISION?
- If you made a decision sometime in the past to trust Christ for salvation but since then you haven’t paid much attention to your devotion and discipleship, you may be one of those followers who hasn’t counted the cost.
- A decision to trust Christ means that God Almighty is now your Lord and Savior. You had better listen to him, read his Word, follow his teaching. To “commit” and then drift along is no decision at all. If you have trusted Christ, show you mean it by doing what God commands.
14:33 The cost to be counted is giving up everything for Jesus. To be preoccupied with money or possessions is to miss the demands and joys of true discipleship, as with the people who refused the host’s invitation to the Kingdom (14:18-20). Again Jesus painted no rosy picture of a high-paying job with all the benefits. He said that the way would be rough and would be a way of self-sacrifice. Oddly enough, however, this is the only way to true fulfillment and satisfaction.
14:34-35 In the ancient world, salt was used as a seasoning and as a preservative. The salt came mostly from salt marshes in the area southwest of the Dead Sea. This impure salt was susceptible to deterioration and could lose its flavor, leaving only useless crystals. Such salt was simply thrown away. Jesus’ question, “How do you make it salty again?” did not require an answer—for once salt has deteriorated, nothing is left but worthless residue.
Many Believers blend into the world and avoid the cost of standing up for Christ. But Jesus says if Believers lose their distinctive “saltiness,” they become worthless. Just as salt flavors and preserves food, Christ’s disciples are to preserve the good in the world, help keep it from spoiling, and bring new flavor to life. This requires careful planning, willing sacrifice, and unswerving commitment to Christ’s Kingdom. Being “salty” is not easy, but if Believers fail in this function, they fail to represent Christ in the world. The person who is willing to hear should be able to understand these words and apply them.
Sources: Life Application Bible Commentary, Life Application Concise New Testament Commentary, Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible – Commentary, Preaching the Word
For more information about The Ridge Fellowship or Darrell Koop go to www.ridgefellowship.com