Luke Chapter 14

Luke Chapter 14

 

Luke 14:1-35 NLTse One Sabbath day Jesus went to eat dinner in the home of a leader of the Pharisees, and the people were watching him closely. (2) There was a man there whose arms and legs were swollen. (3) Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in religious law, “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?” (4) When they refused to answer, Jesus touched the sick man and healed him and sent him away. (5) Then he turned to them and said, “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? If your son or your cow falls into a pit, don’t you rush to get him out?” (6) Again they could not answer. (7) When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: (8) “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? (9) The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table! (10) “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. (11) For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (12) Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. (13) Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. (14) Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” (15) Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!” (16) Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. (17) When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ (18) But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ (19) Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ (20) Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’ (21) “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ (22) After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ (23) So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. (24) For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.'” (25) A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, (26) “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison–your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. (27) And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. (28) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? (29) Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. (30) They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ (31) “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? (32) And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. (33) So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own. (34) “Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? (35) Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”

 

Once Again Jesus Healed on the Sabbath

 

Luke 14:1-6 NLTse One Sabbath day Jesus went to eat dinner in the home of a leader of the Pharisees, and the people were watching him closely. (2) There was a man there whose arms and legs were swollen. (3) Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in religious law, “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?” (4) When they refused to answer, Jesus touched the sick man and healed him and sent him away. (5) Then he turned to them and said, “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? If your son or your cow falls into a pit, don’t you rush to get him out?” (6) Again they could not answer.

 

Once again, Jesus is healing on the Sabbath. Last time, in chapter 13, He leaded a woman bent over in pain for eighteen years. This time, Jesus was having dinner with a leader of the Pharisees and saw a man there whose arms and legs were swollen. This time, Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in religious law, “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?” But they didn’t want to answer. Jesus didn’t see any reason to wait, so He touched the sick man and healed him and sent him away.

Can you see Jesus looking around the room reading the faces on those Pharisees at the dinner table? This time we know they couldn’t complain about healing in the synagogue. So we can see, they’re real complaint was with the Sabbath.

Jesus repeated this lesson for a reason. He knew, somewhere along the line, someone would look at the first lesson and claim, the religious leaders had a good reason to complain, because Jesus healed in a synagogue. We can see Jesus knocking down excuses.

Some religions claim the power to heal is gone. God’s Spirit is void in their church for one reason or another. They can’t heal. They don’t have the faith to heal. They see other churches healing in a sanctuary, so they make the same accusation the Pharisees laid in Jesus. They claim those other churches heal with Satan’s power. To back up their accusations, they claim God doesn’t heal in sanctuaries as if the building is holier than God’s power and Spirit.

Jesus cleared up that accusation when He healed that man at a Pharisees’ house on the Sabbath. This showed, no matter where or how Jesus healed, they were going to complain. Their minds were made up. Their hearts were hardened. As we’ve seen before, this didn’t stop Jesus from trying to reach them.

This time Jesus asked them if it was, “permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?” They didn’t answer this time. That didn’t stop Jesus from giving them the answer God’s Spirit told them they needed. Last time, Jesus used an ox and donkey as examples. Both of those are working animals. Jesus also repeated the word work. This time Jesus used examples of a son and cow. A son represents a personal connection. A connection to family and fellow men. He also used a cow as an example. Cows don’t work. They can provide a profit. But the first milk, fresh milk is for the family. This also established a link to the offering of the first crops.

The Pharisees didn’t answer Jesus’ question. They also didn’t bother to comment on His parable. It was a time to reflect. They had something to think about now. They saw Jesus heal before. Why couldn’t they accept those miracles performed in front of them? Those were people they knew. Sick people constantly came to the priests and Pharisees asking for prayer. What could they do but pray for them? But they weren’t healed. Why? Did they put too much of themselves at the center of the answer?

It seemed God was silent for nearly four hundred years. But that wasn’t true. Anna was a prophet visiting the temple everyday. Simeon was a prophet who preferred to stay away from the city. Look at those prophets God sent to warn Jerusalem. The religious leaders of that time decided to ignore God’s prophets. Like those prophets God sent to all the regions in Babylon, religious leaders there decided to ignore them.

Jesus told those religious leaders, they built monuments to those prophets in scripture, but ignore the prophets in front of them. They also choose to ignore Jesus and the miracles He performed. They didn’t understand how God’s Spirit works.

People think they can command a miracle. They think they have control over God’s Spirit. They think decisions are theirs to make. They have no need of learning how God’s Spirit works. God’s Spirit works ahead in every situation. He guides people into situations and prepares them for events about to happen. God’s Spirit does a lot of work in the back ground to get people in the right place at the right time. God’s Spirit had to prepare that woman to be healed in the synagogue, otherwise tradition would have given her a guilty conscience when she was healed inside a synagogue. God was able to show her the difference between tradition and truth. The same with the man. The religious leaders remained silent for a reason. God’s Spirit prepared the man, and to receive the full blessing of the healing, he had to be allowed to rejoice and praise God unimpeded.

The Exalted Will Be Humbled

Luke 14:7-11 NLTse When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, he gave them this advice: (8) “When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? (9) The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table! (10) “Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. (11) For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Jesus not only repeated the act of healing on the Sabbath, he also repeated the explanation. When we look back at chapter 13, the KJV is a better translation. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last. (Luke 13:30 KJV). Now we can see, the first time Jesus taught this lesson, He used the terms first and last. The second time, He explained the same lesson using the terms exalt and humble.

Why did Jesus explain the same lesson with different terms? We have to remember Jesus was working to achieve two goals, reach those religious leaders and prepare His disciples for their own ministries. If the first explanation didn’t work, God’s Spirit provided another way to explain the lesson. So Jesus tried to reach those religious leaders by repeating the same series of lessons to show how we need to pay attention to the message God’s Spirit gives us. We have to be just like those prophets God spoke to. Those prophets Jesus pointed out after teaching these lessons in chapter 13.

In chapter 13, a man asked Jesus, “only a few be saved?” Jesus explained the gate is narrow, but still, many will be saved. Just before Jesus pointed out the least will be the greatest, and the greatest will be the least in Heaven, He pointed to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets. Jesus told us, we are all on he same level when we serve God. We shouldn’t honor those prophets like the Pharisees did, but we should look for, ask, and expect the same communication and relationship with God those prophets experienced.

Obviously those Pharisees did not understand or accept what Jesus taught. So this time Jesus used a new example. He saw how those Pharisees maneuvered for seats. This showed how honor out weight love for their brothers. Honor out weighted love for the woman healed in the synagogue and the man healed at that dinner. This was unacceptable. Their attitude was not only effecting themselves, but people around them.

Invitation to a Banquet

Luke 14:12-24 NLTse Then he turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. (13) Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. (14) Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.” (15) Hearing this, a man sitting at the table with Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!” (16) Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. (17) When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ (18) But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ (19) Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ (20) Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’ (21) “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ (22) After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ (23) So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. (24) For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.'”

Jesus was very clear when He used a pair of contrasting rewards. One provided by people, which happen to be friends, the other is a reward from God. That’s not a difficult lesson to see or understand. But Jesus got into a much deeper lesson with a parable.

At first glance we see Jesus moving away from the sequence of repeating previous lessons, stories, and parables. But He isn’t moving away from them. Jesus repeated those stories like authors repeat key words to draw attention to what is being emphasized. This time we are looking at entire stories instead of only words.

Jesus repeated a series of key words in this parable. One of the lessons is hidden in the reactions those people displayed to the invitation they received. Notice how the word invite and invitation are repeated? They tie in the real life lesson Jesus used in the parable that followed this story. What happened to those invitations? Before any of the invitations were accepted, they were rejected. Why? One person used the excuse he had to go out to look at a field. Another guest used the excuse he had to try out a set of oxen he just purchased. What do those two excuses have in common? They both involve working. Now we have a connection with another lesson, and another excuse. Remember the introduction established the theme for the entire chapter. This chapter began with Jesus healing on the Sabbath, which is directly connected to the story about Jesus healing on the Sabbath in a synagogue. Jesus used the example of helping working animals. Now we see people using work as an excuse not to attend a banquet. What connection do they have here?

Religious leaders created their own rules for the Sabbath. Then they created excuses to work on the Sabbath. If they approved of those excuses, everything was alright. But if it wasn’t on their list, there was a problem. Jesus used the parable about the banquet to show some of their excuses. To some there is little difference between pulling an ox out of a ditch, or trying them out in a field. Would that take the man all day? Would trying a team of oxen out on a short path be an excuse to miss an entire banquet? What about looking over a piece of land? Would that take all day? Would it be okay to do on the Sabbath? It’s not really working. Did you see the other connection?

I almost missed this one. Both excuses involved a field. Just before Jesus was arrested, He told a series of parables about working in the spiritual field. Here we have two men turning down an invitation to a wedding. On the spiritual side, we can see those men relied on themselves and their own expertise to look over a field and plow it. What does what tell you about those religious leaders Jesus was trying to reach? What made them rely on themselves?

Using the symbol of a banquet, Jesus showed how those rules and regulations on the Sabbath drew people away from its true intent. The Sabbath was to spend time with God. But the list of what not to do on the Sabbath was only half the story. There was also a corporate list of what had to be done on the Sabbath. All of those rules took minds off God by keeping them busy on the rules.

A banquet is a symbol of spending time with God. Every symbol of a dinner points to spending time with Jesus. Those Pharisees physically spend time at dinner with Jesus, but didn’t really know Him. Some people spend time observing the Sabbath, but never sped time with God.

Jesus exclaimed, “What a blessing it will be to attend a banquet in the Kingdom of God!” This banquet is often referred to as the wedding feast in Heaven. It is a celebration people will attend when Jesus calls His people away from this world and raised the dead from their graves. God’s Spirit is constantly sending out invitations. But are people listening? Are they paying attention?

I happened to own a print shop for a while. Wedding invitations were a big part of business. We had huge catalogs of wedding invitations for people to view. That was only one step in the process to plan a wedding. But people would spend days choosing the right invitation and insert the right words. Then there were a thousand other details to arrange. Those people making excuses insulted the king and his son when they didn’t attend. They didn’t give a thought to the hours, days, and weeks they put into planning the wedding.

People put little thought into the life time God’s Spirit puts into planning an invitation for them. They shrug it off like it’s nothing. Some people use excuses like those people in the parable Jesus told. Business is just too good to take time off. Or their investments are too important. No what about the man who just got married? We didn’t look at the spiritual side of that one.

The man using the excuse he just got married represents people who turn down invitations to Jesus’ wedding feast because they’ve already married and committed to another. That’s right. They are spiritually married, but not to Christ. For one, they really don’t know Him.

Although the Bible clearly points out in Revelation 21, Jesus’ bride in the New City Jerusalem, they claim the bride represents a church. Of course those people always go one step further. They claim Jesus’ bride is their church.

I don’t spend a lot of time online in Christian chat rooms. I’ve found they are run by people who know everything and all they want to do is use the format to spread their doctrines, rules, regulations, interpretations, and traditions. I have yet to run into more than a few people who actually know how to teach people how to study and find answers on their own with God’s Spirit.

Most people don’t want to turn people over to the Infinite Teacher. Most people want to be the ultimate teacher. They detest it whenever someone questions them or introduces a new concept. They never want to be put in a spot where they don’t have all the right answers. They’re convinced that would tarnish their image. They are exactly like those Pharisees.

If I go online and try to introduce a few simple techniques so people can learn to study scripture on their own, those modern day Pharisees do exactly what those Pharisees did to Jesus. They claim everything that doesn’t come directly through them comes from the devil. That’s right. They claim these simple rules of context come from the devil. It’s a good thing Jesus included an example showing how God’s Word is supposed to be used and interpreted and how the devil segregates a verse or two, because that’s what modern day Pharisees do. They segregate a verse or two, jump to another book to pull out proof texts, then make up their own stories as examples of what they want to teach. I see this all the time. If people don’t agree, they pull out four to six texts they’ve memorized to attack. They segregate and attack. That’s their religion. That’s the bride they married.

Why didn’t the man in the parable want to take his new bride to the banquet? Was he embarrassed? Didn’t he love his new bride enough to show her off? Was it a marriage of convenience? What was the problem? The man married his bride out of selfishness. He looked at the marriage as an investment. That is what links the marriage to the other two investments Jesus used the oxen and field to represent.

Jesus also repeated another important term, “invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.” Why? This ties in with the beginning of the story when Jesus explained, “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”

This explained the motives of the man using his new bride as an excuse. The man married the woman as an investment. He was looking for his reward, he was not looking at her needs or how to make her happy. That’s how people look at church and religion when they claim they are Christ’s bride. They look at it as a marriage of convenience. They look at the rewards they get and not at the needs of the spouse, or in their case the church.

Jesus summed this up when He told those Pharisees to plan a meal, serve a meal, but don’t expect anything in return. Don’t plan a meal expecting to get seven in return. And don’t plan a marriage expecting to get seven times more in return than what you put in. Don’t plan a physical or spiritual marriage that way.

Christianity should be no more than leading people to Jesus. Show people your vision of Heaven. Share miracles in your life. But don’t look at people as your reward. Preachers, don’t put dollar signs on new members. If your expected to burn the midnight oil writing up income projections and budgets, your in the wrong religion. Your like those Pharisees planning a dinner like an investment.

Luke 14:25-35 NLTse A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, (26) “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison–your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters–yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. (27) And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. (28) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? (29) Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. (30) They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ (31) “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? (32) And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. (33) So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own. (34) “Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? (35) Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”

Once we get to the summation, we have to look back to see how it explains previous verses in the chapter, especially the introduction. What does Jesus healing on the Sabbath have to do with counting the cost? The lesson is easy to see in Jesus’ ministry. He paid with His life. But look at the reward. As mentioned before, New Jerusalem is Jesus’ bride. That is a symbol pointing to Jesus’ reward. Physically, Jerusalem is a capital city representing the entire country of Israel. New Jerusalem represents Jesus’ reward, all of God’s Kingdom, the entire, limitless universe.

People who place the interpretation of Jesus’ bride as an individual church place a great restriction on Jesus’ reward. Such a great restriction, they distort the entire message of the Good News. The image of Heaven they conjure up is a kingdom with them in charge keeping everyone in line. They create an image of Heaven not much better then real life in this world. They’ve failed.

Jesus repeated the same lessons taught earlier, but in a different way. Jesus looked at the odds and discussed peace terms. He didn’t go to war against those Pharisees. Jesus knew, they were going to physically win one battle, but not the spiritual war. It was those Pharisees who couldn’t see they were outnumbered two to one.

Jesus wants everything – in this world. But He offers so much more in the world to come. No wonder Jesus told those seventy disciples to teach people about God’s Kingdom. Can you compare the cost? What about that salt? What does salt have to do with previous lessons, all the lessons in this chapter?

In the introduction, Jesus sent dinner at a Pharisee’s house where He healed a man with swollen legs and arms. Then He asked those Pharisees if it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. Where is the salt? Was in on the dinner table? What about in the Sabbath? What good is the Sabbath when it’s weight down with a never ending list of laws and doctrines?

Jesus talked about working on the Sabbath. We know Jesus taught about doing good, helping people, and healing on the Sabbath. But those Pharisees created a list of ways to get around the Sabbath so they could do certain work which had nothing to do with honoring, praising, or communicating with God. Too much work ruined the Sabbath.

Jesus told a story about how those Pharisees jousted for the best seats at banquets and dinners. Too much pride ruins everything. Too much selfishness and showing off will ruin any event. In the parable about the man who planned a banquet and invited his friends, too many excuses almost ruined the banquet he planned. But that man went to another plan. One that worked.

What is salt? It’s anything in excess, everything people do to avoid spending time with God. That’s why Jesus told them to give up everything. All the excuses, pride, and selfishness. Jesus told them they had to give it all up before they could take up their cross. We can’t help but make mistakes in this life. Jesus proved in His ministry, He expects us to make mistakes. He is willing to accept us as we are, and forgive us. But what happens when forgiveness is taken to excess? Can forgiveness be taken to excess? Jesus will never run out of the ability to forgive. But what happens when Jesus’ need to forgive is treated like salt with no flavor? What happens when it tossed out on the street?

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