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LUKE CHAPTER 4
Luke 14:1-6 Christ healeth the dropsy on the sabbath, and justifieth his doing so.
Luke 14:7-11 He recommends humility,
Luke 14:12-14 and hospitality toward the poor.
Luke 14:15-24 The parable of the marriage supper, and of the guests, who making excuses were excluded, and their rooms filled by others.
Luke 14:25-33 He advises those who are willing to be his disciples to examine beforehand their resolution in case of persecutions.
Luke 14:34-35 The unprofitableness of salt, when it hath lost its savour.
We have before observed the freedom of our Saviour’s converse; sometimes he will dine with publicans, sometimes with Pharisees, becoming all things to all men that he might gain some. Christians certainly have the same liberty; the matter is not in whose houses we are, but what we do or say, how we behave ourselves there. In his going to a Pharisee’s house, he gives us a great precedent of humanity and self-denial, for the Pharisees were his great enemies, and we shall observe no great kindness showed to him in the invitation of him. Whether this Pharisee be called
one of the chief of the Pharisees because he was a member of the sanhedrim, or a ruler of a synagogue, or because he was one of the eldest and greatest repute, is not worth the inquiry. Thither Christ went
to eat bread, that is, to take a meal with him. It is a phrase often used to signify dining, or supping, for they ordinarily under the notion of bread understood all manner of victuals.
on the sabbath day. In the mean time, the evangelist tells us,
they watched him, to wit, whether they might hear any thing from him, or see any thing in him, whereof they might accuse him.
there was a man which had the dropsy, whether casually, or brought thither on purpose by the Pharisees, the Scripture saith not; he was not there without a Divine direction, to give Christ an occasion of a miracle, and further to instruct people in the true doctrine of the sabbath.
Christ upon the sabbath begins us a discourse proper for the day, asking the Pharisees if it were
lawful to heal on the sabbath day. They make him no reply. Christ healeth him, then preacheth a doctrine to them, which he had twice before inculcated, in the case of a man who had a withered hand, Matthew 12:10, and of the woman whom Satan had bound, of which we heard, Luke 13:11, viz. That works of mercy are lawful on the sabbath day. Then he justifieth his fact by the confession of their own practice, in lifting up beasts fallen into pits on the sabbath day. His argument is this: If it be lawful on the sabbath day to relieve a beast, it is much more lawful to relieve a man: but you do the former. The evangelist reports them put to silence, but saith nothing of their conviction. It is an easier thing to stop malicious persons’ mouths than to remove their prejudices. Malice will ordinarily hold the conclusion, when the reason of the soul infected with it is not able to justify the premises.
A parable here hath somewhat a different signification from what it more ordinarily hath in the evangelists: it usually signifies a similitude; here it signifies either a wise saying, or a dark saying, by which he intended something further than in the parable he expressed, which he expounds, Luke 14:11. We may observe from hence, that the dining of friends together on the Lord’s day is not unlawful, only they ought to look to their discourses, that they be suitable to the day.
Two or three moral instructions we have in this parable.
1. That the law of Christ justifieth none in any rudeness and incivility.
2. That the disciples of Christ ought to have a regard to their reputation, to do nothing they may be ashamed of.
3. That it is according to the will of God, that honour should be given to those to whom honour belongeth; that the more honourable persons should sit in the more honourable places.
Grace gives men no exterior preference; though it makes men all glorious, yet it is within. But the more spiritual instruction (for which our Saviour put forth this parable) is in Luke 14:11. Our Saviour had but now, in the sight of these Pharisees, cured a man of a bodily dropsy; he is now attempting a cure of the spiritual dropsy of pride in their souls. He had before denounced a woe against the Pharisees for loving the uppermost seats in the synagogues, Luke 11:43, and told us, Matthew 23:6, that they loved the uppermost rooms at feasts, and possibly he might at this feast see something of it. He therefore applies his discourse by pressing upon them humility, and showing them the danger of pride, which though it be a vice seated in the heart, yet by such little things discovereth itself in the outward conversation. He tells them, that God is such an enemy to pride, that he ordinarily so ordereth it in the government of the world, that usually self-exalting people are by one means or other abused, and brought to shame and contempt, and those that are low in their own eyes are exalted; and if it doth not so fall out here, yet this will be what will at the last day befall them, in the day of God’s righteous judgment.
See Poole on "Matthew 23:12". We shall meet with the same again, Luke 18:14.
Many things are delivered in Scripture in the form of an absolute and universal prohibition, which must not be so understood, amongst which this is one instance. None must think that our Saviour doth here absolutely or universally forbid our invitations of our brethren, or kinsmen, or rich neighbours, or friends, to dinners or suppers with us; there was nothing more ordinarily practised amongst the Jews; Christ himself was at divers meals: but Christ by this teacheth us,
1. That this is no act of charity; it is indeed a lawful act of humanity and civility, and of a good tendency sometimes to procure amity and friendship amongst neighbours and friends, but no such act of charity as they could expect a heavenly reward for.
2. That such feastings ought not to be upheld in prejudice to our duty in relieving the poor, that is, they ought not to be maintained in such excesses and immoderate degrees, as by them we shall disable ourselves from that relief of the poor, which God requireth of us, as our duty, with respect to the estate with which he hath blessed us.
3. That we may most reasonably expect a recompence from heaven for such good works as we do, for which we are not recompensed on earth.
4. That God’s recompences of us, for doing our duty in obedience to his commands, are often deferred until the resurrection of the just, but then they will not fail obedient souls.
Whether this person had any gross conceptions of the kingdom of God, as a state of external happiness, and sensible satisfactions, I cannot say (though it be the opinion of some valuable interpreters): he might mean no more than, Blessed is he that shall come to heaven, and enjoy the celestial pleasures and satisfactions there; for that blessed state is called the marriage supper of the Lamb; and Christ spake to his disciples in this dialect, when he spake of drinking wine with them in his kingdom. But this passage both lets us know the good influence of spiritual discourse, to set the tongues of others on work, and also it lets us see what good meditations may be founded almost upon any subjects, if we have any heart thereunto. This gives our Saviour an occasion to put forth the following parable.
We met with the same parable Matthew 22:1-10, where we had the most of what is here, and really other considerable circumstances: See Poole on "Matthew 22:1" and following verses to Matthew 2:10. Christ’s primary intention by this parable was certainly to foretell the rejection of the Jews for their contempt of his gospel, and the reception of the Gentiles. They were those who were first bidden, that is, called and invited by the preaching of John the Baptist, Christ himself, and the apostles, to the receiving of Christ, that so they might be prepared for the marriage supper of the Lamb, mentioned Revelation 19:9. The Gentiles, as a more rustic people, are set out under the notion of such as were in lanes, streets, and highways. It also informs us of some great causes of men’s rejection of the grace of God offered them in the ministry of the gospel:
1. Their worldly cares and businesses.
2. Their sensible enjoyments and pleasures:
which did not hinder the Jews only, but one or other of which hinders the most of people still from receiving the grace of Christ tendered in the gospel. They are either not at leisure to attend to their souls, or they must enjoy things sensible and sensual in a degree in which the enjoyment of them is inconsistent with that duty which God requireth of them who would be saved. Perimus licitis, most men perish by their sinful use (or abuse rather) of things in themselves lawful. It may be observed also, that the two first sorts made a kind of mannerly excuse, saying,
I pray thee have me excused; but the last peremptorily said,
I cannot come. Though secular employments be great diversions of us, and so hinderances of our minding things of highest concernment, yet sensual satisfactions and pleasures do most drown and swallow up the soul of man, and keep it from minding heaven and heavenly things. There have been a great many words spent about those words,
compel them to come in, Luke 14:23. It appeareth to be almost the unanimous sense of the ancients, That no man ought by temporal punishments to be compelled to the profession of the true faith. Some of them have a little differed about such as, having once embraced the doctrine of the true faith, afterwards swerved from it; though the truth of it is, they can be no more compelled than the other, for the will admits of no violence. Be the truth what it will in those points, certain it is that external compulsion hath no colour of foundation in this text. They are the ministers of the gospel that are thus spoken to, who we know by Christ’s commission had no civil power committed to them. Nor do we ever read that they exercised any in order to the bringing of the Gentiles to the embracing of the faith; nor do servants sent out to invite men to feasts (as these were) use to pull them in by head and shoulders, or to drive them in by whips and cudgels, only to use the best arguments they can to persuade them. Christ never prescribed any Spanish conversions of people. Man is presumed to be a rational creature, and taught even by nature to choose things which he sees are or may be of highest importance and concern. So that the very opening to men the riches of Divine grace, fitted to their lost and undone state, (which must also be showed them), is a compulsion of them, or would at least be so if men by the fall were not corrupted as to their wills, so as they will not follow the dictate of their understanding. But notwithstanding the depravation and averseness of the carnal will, yet as many as the Lord will please to show mercy to, by joining the efficacious operations of his Spirit with the exterior call in the ministry of the word, shall come in. The words are αναγκσον εισελθειν, make it necessary for them to come in, which no cudgels, no bodily punishments, can do, for they have their choice whether they will die or do it. It is used Matthew 14:22; Christ compelled his disciples to go into a ship, ηναγκασεν, yet it is certain he used no swords, or staves, or whips, or pecuniary mulcts to enforce them. A word of as high an import is used Luke 24:29, of the two disciples compelling Christ to stay with them, παρεβιασαντο. So Galatians 2:14, αναγκαζεις, why dost thou force the Gentiles to Judaize? Yet it is certain Peter neither exercised nor called in the power of the magistrate to force the Gentiles. But when men began to spare their pains as to their tongues, to overpower and prevail upon men’s hearts, then they began to compel them, by civil coercions, and to call in the civil magistrate, to the effecting of what they would have, while they themselves would do nothing; and thus, contrary to all sense and reason, they expounded these words,
compel them to come in.
We met with much the same Matthew 10:37,Matthew 10:38. The sum of the words is, That no man can be a true disciple of Christ, that giveth any friend, or any thing, a preference to Christ in the affections of his heart. Christ must be loved above all. It appeareth that the words must not be interpreted rigidly, for then they would oblige us to a thing,
1. Impossible in nature: for no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, Ephesians 5:29. Yet life is one of the things mentioned which we ought to hate.
2. It is morally impossible: for the law of God commands us to honour our father and mother.
For the nonobservance of, or teaching contrary to, which law, teaching the people to say, Corban, It is a gift by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me, Christ so severely reflected on the Pharisees. Himself therefore doth not here teach others to hate their fathers or mothers, taking hatred in a strict and absolute sense:
If any man hate not signifieth here no more than, If any man doth love his father, wife, children, brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life, more than me,
he cannot be my disciple. Nor is this any sense put upon the term hate, different from what must be the sense of it in other scriptures: Genesis 29:31,
When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, that is, less loved, as is expressed, Luke 14:30; so it must be interpreted in Luke 14:33. It also signified less loved, Deuteronomy 21:15,Deuteronomy 21:17; Matthew 6:24; John 12:25. We met with the substance of what is here, Luke 14:27, in Matthew 10:38, and Mark 8:34.
Our Lord had in the parable of the supper showed what those things are which keep men from embracing the call of the gospel, to wit, their hearts’ too much adherence to and embracing of sensible and sensual things. For the meeting of which temptation he had told them, Luke 14:25-27, that if they loved any thing in the world more than him, they could have no portion in him, they could not be his disciples, for (as Matthew saith) they are not worthy of him; nay, more than this, they must take up and bear their cross, and come after him. Here he directs them the best expedient in order to the performance of these duties, so hard to flesh and blood; that is, to sit down beforehand, and think what it will cost them to go through with the profession of religion. This, he tells them, ordinary prudence directeth men to, when they go about to build, or fight. As to the first, they make as good an estimate as they can of the charge. As to the latter, they consider both the charge, and the strength that they are able to produce to make opposition. So, saith he, must they do who will be his disciples:
1. Sit down and consider what it will cost them to become the Lord’s building, what old foundations of nature must be digged up, what new foundation must be laid, how many stones must be laid before they can come up to a wall level to the promise wherein salvation is insured.
2. Then they must consider what oppositions they are like to meet with, from the world, the flesh, and the devil.
And they must be ready to forsake all for Christ, though, it may be, they shall not be actually called out to it. Only we must remember, that in parables every branch is not to be applied.
1. We must desire no conditions of peace from our spiritual adversaries.
2. In our counting up of our strength to maintain the spiritual fight we must do as princes use to do, who use to count the forces of their allies and confederates, as well as their own: so we must not count what opposition we, alone can maintain against the world, the flesh, and the devil; but what Christ (who is in covenant with us as to these fights) and we can do together.
So as consideration and pre-deliberation here are not required of as upon any account to deter us from the fight, (for fight we must, or die eternally), but to prepare us for the fight, by a firm and steady resolution, and to help us how to manage the fight, looking up to Christ for his strength and assistance in the management of it.
See Poole on "Matthew 5:13". See Poole on "Mark 9:50", where we met with the most of what we have in these verses. By salt in this place our Saviour seemeth to mean a Christian life and profession. It is a good, a noble, a great thing to be a Christian: but one that is so in an outward profession may lose his savour. Though a man cannot fall away from truth, and reality of grace, yet he may fall away from his profession; he may be given up to believe lies, and embrace damnable errors; he may shake off that dread of God which he seemed to have upon him; and then what is he good for? Wherewith shall he be seasoned? He is neither fit for the land nor the dunghill: as some things will spoil dunghills, so debauched professors do but make wicked men worse, by prejudicing and hardening them against the ways and truths of God.
He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. It is a usual epiphonema, or sentence, by which Christ often shuts up grave and weighty discourses: the sense is; You had therefore need to look about you, and to undertake the profession of my religion upon such weighty grounds and principles as will carry you through the practice of it to the end, against all the oppositions you shall meet with; for if you apostatize from your profession, you will be the worst of men, neither fit for the church nor for the world (for you will make that the worse;) indeed fit for nothing but for the fire of hell.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 14". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany