Luke chapter 14

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What does Luke chapter 14 mean?

Luke 12:1—19:27 is a curious passage within the larger so-called "travelogue" of Jesus (Luke 9:51—19:27). It can be broken into six sections:

  • Luke 12:1—13:9: instructions on living in God's kingdom.
  • Luke 13:10—13:35: a Sabbath healing and instructions on the kingdom and salvation.
  • Luke 14:1—15:32: a Sabbath healing and instructions on the kingdom and salvation.
  • Luke 16:1—17:10: warnings against rejecting God's kingdom.
  • Luke 17:11—18:34: a healing and instructions on the kingdom and salvation.
  • Luke 18:35—19:27: a healing and instructions on the kingdom and salvation.

In this section, Luke 14:1—15:32, Jesus talks about who will enter the kingdom of God: the needy, the humble, the generous, those who come when God invites them, those who endure, and those Jesus seeks. Salvation is, obviously, part of the kingdom of God, and certainly the most important. Yet it is not the whole. The kingdom of God is any time God's power and sovereignty are displayed, including in discipline and blessings.

In the first story, Jesus visits the kingdom of God upon a man with a debilitating illness. This time, it is in the home of a Pharisee on the Sabbath. As with the woman who was bent over (Luke 13:10–17), Jesus heals boldly and then shames the legalists for their hard-heartedness. The belief that traditional rules about the Sabbath should supersede God's compassion is close to blasphemy (Luke 14:1–6).

In the second story, Jesus explains the necessity of humility for entering the kingdom of God. While watching the banquet guests jockey for their seats, He warns them. If they take a seat higher than their social standing warrants and someone more important arrives, they may be escorted to a lower place. But if they take the lowest place, the host may honor them by leading them to a more respectable position. Humility is always more genuinely honoring than pride (Luke 14:7–11).

In the third story, Jesus turns to the host, telling him it is more godly to invite people who are disadvantaged and could never repay the favor. Trust God to pay the debts of those who can't pay for themselves (Luke 14:12–14).

The fourth story begins with a spontaneous comment from another guest about God's great banquet at the resurrection. Jesus uses the opportunity to make a point about those who will attend this banquet. This is reserved only for those willing to abandon the satisfaction they receive from worldly pleasures and come when God calls (Luke 14:15–24).

Finally, Luke transitions to a lesson on what those who wish to enter God's kingdom must consider giving up. They need to "count the cost:" to seriously consider whether they are willing to make long-term sacrifices to remain faithful to Him. If they don't, their present attempt to identify as His disciple will not benefit God's kingdom (Luke 14:25–35).

In chapter 15, Luke completes the section with three parables about "lost-ness:" the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and the parable of the prodigal son. Jesus wants people to enter God's kingdom, and He is willing to search for those who need help getting there.
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