Luke 14:20

ESV And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’
NIV "Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
NASB And another one said, ‘I took a woman as my wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’
CSB "And another said, ‘I just got married, and therefore I’m unable to come.’
NLT Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
KJV And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
NKJV Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’

What does Luke 14:20 mean?

Jesus is telling a parable about distractions which keep people from the kingdom of God. The first example is a man who had bought a field and is worried about it. The second, a man who bought five yoke of oxen—ten expensive animals—which shows his riches. Those are good things. They are the results of God blessing farmers so they can expand their harvest (Luke 14:18–19).

Here, the distraction is a new wife: the "pleasures of life" of the parable of the sower (Luke 8:14). Marrying is good. Proverbs 18:22 says, "He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD." Often, the bride and groom didn't know each other well because their marriage was arranged by their fathers. The Old Testament Law stated, "When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken" (Deuteronomy 24:5). But this doesn't excuse someone from a social obligation he has already agreed to.

Nor should even our closest, most intimate relationships distract us when God is calling. Jesus has told the disciples that if they follow Him, they need to be willing to give up the assurance that they'll always be fed and clothed, their possessions, and even their lives (Luke 12:4–5, 22–34). Now, Jesus reiterates that His followers must be willing to be separated from their families. Earlier, He explained that family members who follow Jesus will be divided from those who don't (Luke 12:49–53). Later, He will say that compared to the love and devotion we have for Him, our love for our family must look like hate (Luke 14:26).

This does not justify the "workaholic" mindset that ignores rest and self-care. Jesus does not demand anyone—even pastors and ministers—to neglect their families. Sometimes long hours are necessary. But it requires a lot of prayer and discernment to be sure that God is calling you, and your family, to make such sacrifices.

Note that at the banquets Jesus is attending and referring to, culture dictated that only men were invited. Sometimes women could stand against the wall with other passersby and listen, but they were not invited to eat.
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