What does Luke 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.
Luke 14:1–6 begins a section discussing who can enter the kingdom of God, and how they must do so. God's kingdom isn't just about salvation. It's also about the blessings of God's sovereignty and character. While arriving at the home of a Pharisee for a formal banquet on the Sabbath, Jesus heals a man. The other guests remain silent while Jesus indirectly explains that the kingdom of God is about kindness for all God's creatures. It is not a matter of blindly following man-made laws. Jesus follows with three parables about humility, generosity, and the importance of accepting God's invitation to His kingdom (Luke 14:7—15:24).
Luke 14:7–11 occurs at a feast given by a Pharisee and is the first of three parables about how people enter God's kingdom. Jesus advises that when attending a banquet, not to assume a place of honor. If someone more important arrives, the host will make you shamefully walk to a seat at the foot of the table. Assume humility and you may be honored by another. Living in God's kingdom requires humility: knowing you don't deserve His blessing but accepting it when He offers. Next, Jesus teaches the Pharisees to bless those who cannot repay. These parables are unique to Luke's gospel.
Luke 14:12–14 continues Jesus' comparison of the kingdom of God to social events on earth. He has already explained the proper humble demeanor appropriate both in a human wedding feast and the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (Luke 14:7–11). Now, He challenges His audience to invite the marginalized to their feasts instead of their relatives and rich friends. Not only will God bless them for doing so, they will also emulate God's kingdom which will be filled with the poor, the sick and injured, and the sojourner (Luke 14:15–24).
Luke 14:15–24 is the last of three lessons Jesus gives about how humble and marginalized people can be more qualified to be honored in the kingdom of God than some religious leaders. A good life can distract anyone from their need for salvation. Those who suffer or have no homes are more likely to look forward to eternity in paradise with the Father. Luke will go on to present the cost of accepting an invitation to God's kingdom as well as its ultimate value (Luke 14:25–35). This parable resembles the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22:1–14.
Luke 14:25–33 continues Jesus' lessons on who will experience the kingdom of God. Humble, generous, and responsive people will receive God's blessings (Luke 14:1–24). Those who would be Jesus' disciples must count the cost of dedicating their lives to Him and make sure they're willing to pay it. Entering God's kingdom is free, but being a useful citizen takes sacrifice. This section on the cost of discipleship resembles Matthew 10:37–38.
Luke 14:34–35 finishes Jesus' teaching on the serious consequences of following Him. His followers need to be willing to sacrifice their families, their lives, and all the possessions they own (Luke 14:25–33). Here, Jesus explains that it does no good to jump into the Christian life and then slowly drift away. Citizens of the kingdom of God need to remain "salty"—be strong in the faith. If they don't, at best they are useless; at worst they prove they aren't really Christians. Next, Jesus presents three parables about how God actively seeks the lost. This metaphor of salt is also in Matthew 5:13.
A Pharisee invites Jesus to a formal dinner. There, Jesus teaches lessons using invitations and feasts as a theme. These emphasize humility and the importance of not making excuses. After the dinner, Jesus warns that those who seek to follow Him will experience hardship. Believers should "count the cost" and understand what aspects of this world they may have to give up.
Luke 14 continues Jesus' doctrinal march to Jerusalem and the cross. Luke 14 and 15 contain the second grouping of one miracle and a series of discussions about the kingdom of God and salvation; Luke 13:10–35 is the first. Next will be a collection of warnings about rejecting God's kingdom (Luke 16:1—17:10) and two more sets of lessons about the kingdom and salvation, each beginning with a single miracle (Luke 17:11—18:34; 18:35—19:27). After this comes Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
Accessed 3/1/2024 10:30:56 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.