Luke 14:1-24

And the Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; a banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine.

And on this mountain He will swallow up all the covering which is over all peoples, even the veil which is stretched over all nations.

He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken.

And it will be said in that day, "Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation." (Isaiah 25:6-9).

The words of Isaiah call to mind the promise of a wonderful dinner invitation. This was not a new concept to the Jews. The birth of their nation had been instituted with a dinner.

The Passover was more than just a ritual of putting blood on doorposts. It also involved the eating of a meal. Those who were delivered were delivered through blood but they were also identified through the eating of a meal. Luke 14 opens, not with a Passover, but with a Sabbath meal.



"Guess who’s coming to dinner?" It was the name of a Broadway play that was made into a 1960’s movie. It follows a series of dialogues surrounding a dinner event. This chapter does the same thing.

1. Setting for the Supper.

And it came about when He went into the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread, that they were watching Him closely. (Luke 14:1).

The events of this chapter take place in the home of one of the leaders of the Pharisees. This was not the first time Jesus had been invited to the home of a Pharisee.

In Luke 7:36 He been at the table of a Pharisee named Simon when an immoral woman had come in and had washed His feet with perfume. She had been forgiven her sins and then compared favorably to Simon.

In Luke 11:37 He had accepted a lunch invitation and had shocked His host by not going through a ceremonial rite of purification before eating.

Jesus had accused the Pharisees of cleaning the outside of the cup while leaving the inside "full or robbery and wickedness." He had then proceeded to preach a sermon of woe against the Pharisees and experts in the law. The Pharisees were already openly hostile to Jesus (Luke 11:53-54).

Now Jesus is being invited into the home of a Pharisee. And he is not just any old Pharisee - he is one of the LEADERS of the Pharisees.

This invitation was to the Sabbath Meal. The most important meal of the week was the Sabbath Meal. It would have been carefully prepared the day before so that there would be no work involved on the Sabbath.

Nearly every time that Jesus collided with the Pharisees, it was over the issue of the keeping of the Sabbath. They were rigid in their Sabbath-keeping and they wanted everyone else to be equally rigid. Jesus relaxed on the Sabbath, but He did not relax from doing good.

This is the fourth instance in which Luke has related a controversy between Jesus and the Sabbath-keepers.



Sabbath Situation

What Jesus said

Luke 6:1

Disciples eating grain on the Sabbath

The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath

Luke 6:6-11

Jesus healed man with withered hand

Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath?

Luke 13:10-17

Jesus healed woman bent double

Don’t you take care of your animals on the Sabbath?

Luke 14:1

Jesus healed a man of dropsy

Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?

Luke mentions a total of four different Sabbath controversies. This is twice as many as are mentioned in the other three gospel accounts.

2. The Diagnosed Disease.

And there, in front of Him was a certain man suffering from dropsy. (Luke 14:2).

The guest list for this meal had been carefully prepared to include a man who suffered from a physical disease. He is described as suffering from dropsy. The Greek word is hudropikos.

(a) Hudop is the Greek word for "water."

(b) Pikros means "bitter."

Dropsy is an abnormal accumulation of fluids in the body due to a faulty heart or kidneys. It manifests itself in the bloating of the face and can also cause swelling in the arms and legs. Discomfort can be only temporarily relieved by puncturing the patient with a hollow needle and syphoning off the excess fluid.

Every time the man did this, he would become ceremonially unclean. It was the teaching of the rabbis that a man who had this kind of disease had committed a grievous sin.

3. Jesus Questions the Pharisees.

And Jesus answered and spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?" 4 But they kept silent. (Luke 14:3-4a).

Before healing the man, Jesus puts the question to the Pharisees. They are in a dilemma. Their teaching is that a physician is not permitted to practice his profession on the Sabbath unless the life of the patient is in danger.

But Jesus is no doctor. He is going to perform a miracle. It will be the power of God at work. And they have no rules that can dictate when a miracle can take place.

Their problem is that Jesus does not fit into their nice, pre-packaged theological system.

They have no answer. They see it for a trick question. After all, what right do they have to dictate when the power of God is allowed to be manifested?

4. A Miraculous Healing.

But they kept silent. And He took hold of him, and healed him, and sent him away. (Luke 14:4).

The fact of the healing is almost incidental to the narrative. We have no elaborate description. There is only a simple statement that Jesus healed the man.

5. Double Standards.

And He said to them, "Which one of you shall have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?" 6 And they could make no reply to this. (Luke 14:5-6).

Some manuscripts read "donkey" instead of "son" (onos instead of huios). This might be due to the similarity of this passage to Luke 13:15 where Jesus accuses Sabbath-keepers of taking care of their donkeys and oxen on the Sabbath.

The Essenes of the Qumran Community said that a man was NOT permitted to help an animal which had fallen into a pit (Damascus Document 13). But the Pharisees were not so extreme. They allowed for such a case.

Here is the principle. They were more concerned with helping animals than with helping people. They were more concerned with pits than with the power of God.



And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table; saying to them, 8 "When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, let someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both shall come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place.

"But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted." (Luke 14:7-11).

At first glance, Jesus seems to be giving instructions on guest protocols for seating arrangements at a wedding feast. But verse 7 tells us that this is a parable. A parable is a story given to illustrate a spiritual truth. The story is not an end unto itself. It has a point that goes beyond the story. That is the case here.

The story is taken from the actual situation of the meal to which Jesus had been invited. Was He the guest of honor? I do not know. But there were those who were jostling for the better seats in the house. Jesus urged them to instead be satisfied with the lower seats. That way, they would not be embarrassed if asked to move to a lesser seat by the host.

The guests had played a social game of musical chairs. There were a little more dignified than grade school children. But the immaturity level was the same.

Remember that this is a parable. It is more than merely a lecture on good manners and proper table etiquette. It is designed to teach us a spiritual truth. That truth involves pride and humility.

What does this parable illustrate? It illustrates a general truth of God’s kingdom. The way in which to enter the kingdom of God is through humility. It is through recognizing that you are unworthy to enter God’s kingdom. It is by confessing that you are a guilty sinner and that you cannot be good enough to merit any good thing from the hand of God.

The point of the parable is given in verse 11: "Everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted." This is not a new concept. The teachings of the Scripture are that God give grace to the humble.

Thus says the Lord, "Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. Where then is a house you could build for Me? And where is a place that I may rest? 2 For My hand made all these things, thus all things came into beings," declares the Lord. "But to this one I will look, to him who is HUMBLE and CONTRITE OF SPIRIT, and who trembles at My word." (Isaiah 66:1-2).

God glorifies the humble. Why? Because the humble man does not try to take God’s place. The humble man is willing for God to be God.

Pride is an easy trap into which to fall. The more you grow as a Christian, the more apt you are to do something right and then say, "Hey, I did a good thing!" And that is when pride comes.



And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment come to you. 13 But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14:12-14).

Jesus has just given a living parable. I think that this section is another parable that grows out of the one given in the previous verses. This one is directed to the host who had invited Jesus to the table. He was a leader of the Pharisees. He had prestige. The people who had been invited to the meal were evidently also prestigious. The guest list was a "Who’s Who" of the religious circle of the day.

The lesson is one of giving. The point is that when we give to those who are able to reward or repay us in some way, we are not really giving. We are only making a self-centered investment. Real giving involves giving to one who is unable to ever repay in any way.

Do you see how this has tied in with the first part of this chapter? We saw Jesus healing a man who was crippled with the dropsy. We do not know whether or not he had been invited, but he had been the only one present who was afflicted in such a way. Everyone else who had been invited was hale and hardy and respected.

Here is the point. Repayment in this life negates repayment in the next. When you do something to be rewarded in this life, it does not translate into a reward for the future. But when you give to the Lord with no expectation of any other compensation in this life, then your heavenly reward is secure.

This is a pressing question: What are your motives in doing good? Is it to have good returned to you? It is easy to do good to good people. It is easy to invite cultured people to cultured events. It is easy to accept religious people into the church.

But Jesus reached out to the outcasts and the misfits. He invited the unchurched. And He shook things up when they came.

When the Son of God was made flesh and visited planet earth, He was accused of not being religious enough. He did not conform to religious standards. He went around talking to prostitutes and hugging lepers. He not only mingled with sinners, but He seemed to enjoy their company.

Jesus didn't die between two cathedrals. He died...

Why? Because that is what He is all about. He came as the only One who was totally clean and perfect and He came into a dirty world to make us clean again. Jesus was holy. But He was also approachable.

Tony Campolla tells the story of a trip which he took to Hawaii. Jet lag kept him awake late into night and he went for a walk on the streets of Honolulu. At 2 in the morning, he found himself in a doughnut shop. Sitting at the counter, he overheard several prostitutes who were sharing a booth. One of the girls whose name was Agnes mentioned that it was her birthday.

After she had left, Tony turned to the cook and the other prostitutes and said, "Let’s throw a party for Agnes." The other girls agreed to bring decorations and the cook said that he would bake a cake.

The next night, they all gathered at the shop and when Agnes walked in, they brought out the cake and began to sing, "Happy Birthday." Tears streamed down Agnes's face and, when it came time to cut the cake, she just stood there. Finally, she said, "Could I buy another cake and we eat that one? I want to take this one home and show it to my mother."

With that, she took the cake and left. In the sudden silence that filled the shop after she left, Tony bowed his head and began to pray. "Lord, we thank you for Agnes and for Your love for her. You loved her enough to send Your Son to die for her on the cross. We thank you for the best present of all - the present of Your own Son. Amen." When he raised his head, he saw that all of the prostitutes had their heads bowed and had been praying with him.

The cook looked at him and said, "You're a preacher!" When Tony admitted that he was, the cook asked, "What kind of church do you have?" In a sudden flash of insight, Tony replied, "The kind that throws parties for prostitutes and gives invitations to sinners."



And when one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, "Blessed is everyone who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!"

But He said to him, "A certain man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; 17 and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’

"But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ 19 And another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ 20 And another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’

"And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’

"And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’

"And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For it tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’" (Luke 14:15-24).

As Jesus sits at the banquet table, He is going to tell a story of another banquet table. This is the third parable that He has told concerning a banquet.




Invitational Parables

A parable of humility

A parable about excuses

To Guests: Don’t take the first place

To Hosts: Don’t invite the rich

Those from afar come in place of those who rejected

The people who have gathered around this table have accepted an invitation. They have come for different reasons. Some have come because they heard that Jesus would be there. For others it may have been a social obligation. Some wanted to hob-nob with people of a high social status. They only had one thing in common. They all came.

Everyone who was present that day had received a dinner invitation and everyone who was present had responded in the affirmative. They had all come to partake of a meal. The question before the house is whether they shall respond to the Lord’s invitation to partake of His heavenly meal.

1. An Exclamation of Pious Presumption.

Jesus has just finished making everyone present feel uncomfortable. First, he spoke to the guests and their pride in seeking the best chairs. Then he spoke to the host about his guest-list.

Then, there is a moment of uncomfortable silence. It is finally broken by one of the guests. He is a Pharisee. He does not want to be confronting, so he makes what he considers to be a "safe" statement.

And when one of those who were reclining at the table with Him heard this, he said to Him, "Blessed is everyone who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!" (Luke 14:15).

The Jews assumed that they were on the inside. Before we look down our noses at them, we need to ask ourselves if we are guilty of the same kind of presumption.

This man makes a statement about his destiny. Jesus does not disagree with the statement. Rather, he challenges the attitude behind the statement.

2. Invitations to a Banquet: "A certain man was giving a big dinner " (14:16).

This man was throwing a "mega-dinner" (that is literal from the Greek). It was not merely a fancy luncheon. It was a feast that would last for several days. It demanded a commitment of time.

The man giving the dinner in the parable represents the Lord (14:16). Tony Campollo wrote a book entitled, "The Kingdom of God is a Party." I like that title. It reflects the truth that is presented here. When we were invited to come to Christ, we were invited to something joyous and wonderful. We Christians have no right to be sour and dour. We have been invited to a party and we have opportunity to invite others, too. The Kingdom is a joyous occasion. We ought to express that joy.

3. Many have been invited: "He invited many" (14:16).

In the previous chapter, the question was asked whether there are just a few who are being saved (13:23). The answer was that there are going to be a lot more who are saved than anyone ever dreamed.

4. A Response was Expected: "He sent his slave to say to those who had been invited" (4:17).

The invitation having gone out earlier, there came a time when the guests were expected to respond with their presence. The Old Testament is the invitation. It was issued repeatedly by all of the prophets. They proclaimed the coming of the Messiah. And then the day came when He arrived. He was now in their midst and He was calling them to come.

5. The Excuses of the Invited.

The invitation was met with empty excuses (14:18-20). There were all sorts of reasons given and none of them was a good reason. The details of life had taken priority. This brings us to a question. What are the details in your own life that are preventing you from answering God’s invitation? It might not be an evil thing: The purchase of some property; business dealings; even family obligations. But if these things get in the way of your response to the Lord’s invitation, then you have a misplaced sense of priorities.

This is a parable of Israel’s rejection of the kingdom. The invitation to enter the kingdom had been given for a thousand years. They Jews had replied that they would come. Now at the appointed time, they are called to the feast. They respond with excuses. And they aren’t even good excuses.

These were invalid excuses. They were cardboard excuses. You’ve used that kind of excuse before. You have been invited somewhere that you really didn’t want to go and so you used an excuse.

A lot of people use excuses why they don't attend church. Are you making excuses to God? It is a dangerous thing. It is one thing to say "no" to a banquet feast. It is another thing to say "no" to God.

6. Invitation Redirected to Others: "The poor and crippled and blind and lame" (14:21).

Notice the recipients of this redirected invitation: The poor and crippled and blind and lame. Does it sound like a familiar list? It should. It is the same list that Jesus gave back in verse 13 when He told his host who should be invited. Do you see the point? The invitation to the Pharisees and to the experts in the Law and to the high and the mighty had already been given and the excuses were already registered. The parable reflects what had already taken place. And now, Jesus was reaching out to the poor and crippled and blind and lame. That is what He had just done by healing the man with dropsy.

The Pharisees would not come. The learned would not come. The wealthy would not come. The religious would not come. And so, God called the...

The call goes out to the homeless and the street people and the down and outers.

Jesus is sitting in a wealthy home as He tells this parable. He is surrounded by the cream of the social strata. These people had it all. And they have accepted an invitation to attend this feast. But they have not accepted the invitation that Jesus has extended. Why? Because they have not recognized that the future feast is HIS feast.

7. Commission to the Gentiles: " Compel them to come in, that my house may be filled’" (14:23).

The words "Compel them to come it" were used by the Crusaders and by the Inquisitors. But the compulsion that we use is the one found in 2 Corinthians 5:14 - "the LOVE of Christ compels me."

The servants are first sent into the streets and lanes of the city. They are then sent outside the city to the highways and hedges.

This pictures the Great Commission. It is that every effort be made to bring in every person. We have been charged with filling the house of God.

Notice that the kind of people that God invites have nothing to commend themselves. They have nothing to give to God. This is what Jesus taught in verses 12-15. It is what God has first done to us. God does exactly what He calls us to do!

8. The Point of the Parable: "None of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner’" (14:24).

Jesus came to offer a feast. Indeed, He IS the feast. He is the Bread of Life. There is coming a day when God will gather His people to eat of His feast.

Do you remember what Jesus said to His disciples at the Last Supper? "I will not again drink of the fruit of the vine until I sit in the kingdom." When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we not only look back, be we also look forward.

What is the point of the parable? It is that it is not enough to be invited. You must respond to the invitation. And many of those who took the invitation for granted will be as though they were never invited at all.

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