Harmony of the Gospels

(21) Meal with a Pharisee Ruler Occasions Healing a Man with Dropsy; Parables of Ox, Best Places, and Great Supper
Luke 14:1-24


Jesus Goes to Dinner at Home of Pharisee

(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.

Jesus wasn’t in the dark about why He was invited to this dinner.  But I have to admit that if a Pharisee had asked me to come to dinner for the purpose of spying on me, I would have refused.  The Pharisee and perhaps others who were there were watching Jesus, and looking for something to use to damage the reputation of our Lord.  This verse provides us with the atmosphere of the situation that Jesus was in.  It was this prelude before the dinner that produced the tenseness.

(Luke 14:2) And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.

Luke the physician is the only gospel writer to record this healing. Dropsy was literally internalized or excessive water in the tissues, and this is the only mention of it in the New Testament. This Sabbath situation sounds as if it was a trap set up by Jesus’ enemies. No man with this terrible dropsy disease would be invited to supper at the house of a chief Pharisee, let alone sitting right in front of Jesus.  Besides the Pharisees invited to their feasts only people who would return the favor, and therefore this handicapped man was the bait in a trap.  I believe this man was deliberately planted to motivate our Lord to break the Sabbath by healing him.  Notice what He did.  The Lord asked the question first, and they were afraid to answer Him.

(Luke 14:3-5) And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?  And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the Sabbath day?

The Pharisees refused to answer Jesus’ question, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?”   If they had answered “yes,” they could not condemn Jesus for healing.  But if they answered “no,” they would have condemned themselves as indifferent to human suffering.  If their ox or donkey fell into something, they would rescue it.  In other words, if any of those rascals had had a flat tire on the Sabbath, they would have fixed it, and the Lord knew it.

(Luke 14:6) And they could not answer him again to these things.

Their silence was Christ’s justification.  If it was illegal, they should have said so.  Thereafter, Christ healed the man.  Christ’s final question placed this Sabbath healing in its proper perspective as doing good or rendering help whenever necessary.  This incident created a rather tense situation for dinner.


Parable of the Impolite Guests

(Luke 14:7) And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,

At the table in that day there were four chief places.  Couches rather than chairs were so that the guests reclined at the table.  There were three places to recline on each side; the center place was the seat of honor which made four chief places.  At the head table there would be seats one, two and three on one side; seat number two, the center seat, would be the seat of honor.  Around the other side would be seats four, five and six, with number five as the seat of honor.  Around on the other side were seats seven, eight and nine; with seat number eight the seat of honor.  On the forth side of the table, seat number eleven would be the seat of honor.  They didn’t use place cards back then, so there was probably a rush for the best seats at the table and that is what Jesus noticed and He will comment about it.

(Luke 14:8-10) When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.  But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.

The lord Jesus said, “When you are invited to dinner, don’t rush to get the seat of honor.  The host may have someone else in mind for that seat.  He would have to come to you and say, ‘Move over to the lowest seat so my guest of honor can set here.’”  To get to the lowest seat, all you have to do is move over one seat, but it is embarrassing.

“When you are invited to a dinner, always go to the lowest seat.  You will not have any trouble getting it, because no one else will be trying for it.  Then when the host comes in and sees where you are setting, he will say, ‘You are to be my guest of honor.  Please set in the seat of honor.’  Then someone else will have to move.”  This is good manners and just the opposite of the demonstration this group had just put on.

Our Lord draws a great principle from this incident.

(Luke 14:11) For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Our ways are not His ways.  We want the best for ourselves.  But Jesus would have humility before self-importance.  We must be little in our own eyes before we can be large in His eyes.

(Luke 14:12-14) Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.  But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.

Those counted among the poor were the needy, the weak, and those who were dependent—the orphans and the widows who were usually in the lower social classes and in need of protection from abuse and neglect.  Virtually every prophet of the Old Testament prophesied against those who wrongfully oppressed the poor (Jer. 22:13–16).

God provided for the poor through His principle of gleaning.  Landowners were instructed to leave the remaining grain around the outer perimeters of the fields for the poor to gather (Lev. 19:10; Ruth 2:2, 15, 16).  The courts, too, were admonished to deal justly with the poor (Ex. 23:6, 7).

Jesus Himself was born into a poor family and called the poor His brethren (Matt. 25:40). The early church recognized the importance of caring for widows (Acts 6:1–6) and took up offerings to meet their needs (Rom. 15:26).  We are admonished to be mindful of the poor (Gal. 2:10).

Every believer will be held accountable for how he or she has responded to those in need. One of the ways to judge our relationship to Christ is to observe how we respond to the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, and the prisoner (Matt. 25:31–46). Compassion is regarded as evidence of the presence of Christ inside the heart (1 Pet. 3:8; 1 John 3:16, 17).

God often chooses to reveal Himself to the world through the poor (James 2:5); rarely do the rich, great, and noble hear His call or choose His path (Matt. 19:16–24).  Paul concluded that if the Lord used only the wealthy to extend His cause, critics would credit those people and their resources instead of God with the good that was done through them (1 Cor. 1:26).

The first step to having your physical needs met is to become “poor in spirit,” recognizing that every heart separated from God is in spiritual poverty, which is far more tragic than physical poverty (Matt. 5:3).  The Lord has promised to provide freely for His children (Rom. 8:32).

To give a feast for the poor would be an act of generosity, since these people could not repay the host.  Jesus implied that when the host only invited his desirable friends, his giving came from selfish ambition, not love.  The repayment for this good deed would take place at the “resurrection of the just.”


Parable of the Great Supper

Can you imagine the tenseness at this dinner?  It started with our Lord healing the man with the dropsy—in the face of their disapproval.  Then He looked the guests straight in the eyes and corrected their manners.  Then He corrected the host.  Believe me, the atmosphere was tense.  Nobody was saying a word.

(Luke 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 God.

This is, without a doubt, one of the pious clichés that this man is used to giving.  In that awkward moment of silence, when no one was saying anything, one old rascal speaks out and says, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.”  You hear a lot of pious cliché’s used by Christians today.  I think we should steer clear of using clichés like “Praise the Lord” unless it comes from the heart.  But that’s just my opinion.

The Lord didn’t let this fellow get by with his cliché.  He turned to him, and I think His eyes flashed with anger as He spoke to him. 

(Luke 13:16-17)  Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

It was the custom to send out invitations to such a dinner a long time in advance, but as the actual day for the dinner arrived, a personal invitation was extended.  God has issued an invitation.  What is man going to do with it?  God’s invitation is for salvation.  You cannot buy your way into this feast.  You can’t elbow your way in.  You come to this dinner by the grace of God.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: It is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9).  You get into this dinner by receiving a gift.  The only thing that will exclude anyone from heaven is refusing to accept the invitation.

The Lord Jesus said, “You say, ‘Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God’; that is pious nonsense.  Here is what men are doing with God’s invitation.”

(Luke 14:18) And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.

This is not an excuse, it’s an alibi.  Someone has said, “An alibi is a lie stuffed in the skin of an excuse.”  No one who was invited said, “I will not come to the dinner.”  They were simply making excuses to cover up the fact that they didn’t want to come. 

The first man to give an excuse was either a liar or a fool.  Can you imagine buying property without looking at it?

(Luke 14:19) And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.

The first man let possessions keep him away.  The second man let business keep him away.  Again I have to say this second man was either a liar or a fool.  How could this man plow at night?  In those days they didn’t have flood lights.  This man was making excuses.  “I must make a living,” is a phrase I often hear.  People are so busy with their business they have no time for God.  One day they are going to die and they will discover that business will go on without them.

(Luke 14:20) And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

There was a law in Israel that excused a man from going to war if he was just recently married.  This man may have had the weakest excuse of all.  Why not bring his wife with him when he goes to the dinner.  His natural affection kept him from coming to dinner.  How many times have you heard a man say, “I don’t come to church because Sunday is the only time I can spend with my wife?”

These things keep more people from God than anything else; possessions, business, and natural affection.  How many people today are kept from God because of these things” 

(Luke 14:21-24) So that servant came, and shewed 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 the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.  And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.  And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.  For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

All classes of previously uninvited guests were asked to come, and they did come.  This most likely represents the Great Commission to take the gospel to the Gentiles given after the rejection, crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Christ (Mt 28:18–20; Mk 16:15).

“Compel them to come in” must be considered as a moral persuasion, not the use of physical force. We are to make every effort to bring the lost to Him. His Word must be used to overcome the sinner’s excuses, as well as their self-righteousness. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost (Lk 19:10) and we are sent on the same task.  God desires that all legitimate means be used to obtain the acceptance of His gracious invitation. Many a soul has been led to Christ by the earnest, tearful, sincere pleading of a dedicated Christian worker yielded to the control of the Holy Spirit.


Please give us your questions and comments

 There are 5 websites by this author:

http://harmonyofthegospels.yolasite.com (Life of Christ)

http://teachingsermonsforpastorsandlaymen.yolasite.com (sermons)

http://theepistlesofpaul.yolasite.com (Titus and Jude)

http://paulsepistletotheromans.yolasite.com (Romans)

http://theperiodofthejudges.yolasite.com (Judges)

Please review them and use them as the Lord leads you.

May God bless His precious word!!

Make a Free Website with Yola.