For the text of Luke 14, click here.
The first story mentions Jesus having a meal with “a ruler of the Pharisees”, who was probably just the leader of the group in that area or something. It’s the Sabbath and they have a man there who has “dropsy”. I had to look up what that meant because the study section of my Bible just said “probably excessive bodily fluid”. Probably? I found a medical dictionary that led me to this:
Definition of edema
1: an abnormal infiltration and excess accumulation of serous fluid in connective tissue or in a serous cavity
— called also dropsy 2a: watery swelling of plant organs or partsb: any of various plant diseases characterized by such swellingshttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/edema
So, yes excessive bodily fluid, but also something that still happens today, has a name, and is in the dictionary. No probably required. When I looked at some other translations, they used “dropsy” as well or some other term that involved swelling. So, the man would have had an ailment immediately recognizable by anyone seeing him. This is also coming after the story in the last chapter were Jesus gave them grief about doing good for people on the Sabbath. It doesn’t seem like a leap to figure that this man is planted in this dinner party to set Jesus up for this very questions.
Rather than wait for one of them to pounce, He sees the man and asks the Pharisees the question:
“Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?”Luke 14:3 ESV
No one responds to that question. I picture them staring at Him like a classroom full of kids when a teacher asks for a volunteer. He heals the man and then gives it to them again when He asks whether they would save their son if he got hurt on the Sabbath. He knows they will. They know they will. But they don’t admit it, they just stay there silently.
This is followed by some parables.
First is the parable of the Wedding Feast. This one explains that we should begin with humility to be brought up rather than begin with pride and be moved down. It’s an interesting concept for both work and social situations. My initial reaction is to make excuses for work environments because of all we learn about being heard and forcing our way into things, but it shouldn’t be that way. We should be able to be invited to sit at a higher station just because we’ve earned it. It should make those of us in leadership wary of who we let sit back without inviting them further up the table rather than treating it as if people aren’t hungry enough for advancement when they don’t try to usurp each other.
The second parable is told after an interaction at the same meal when Jesus tells them to invite people to dinner who can’t repay them. Giving shouldn’t be based on reciprocity. Jesus then tells them the parable of the great banquet when the master of the house invites his friends who all make excuses to not come. He gets irritated with his friends and then sends his servants out to “bring in” and “compel” people to come to the banquet. Most people feel bad when they can’t recipricate such generosity, but is it generosity if it’s based on reciprocity? It looks like the point is that it isn’t and Jesus would rather they be generous than comfortable staying in their little circle.
The next thing Jesus says is a little strange. It feels like we’re missing something. This is what He says to the crowd:
26“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my discipleLuke 14:26 ESV
His use of “hate” is where I get tripped up. The New Living Translation throws in “by comparison” and that does make a little more sense. That said, keep reading and it gets a little better. The point is to renounce what you have and your life as you know it. Also, bear your own cross, which is an interesting phrase to use at this point in the story of Jesus too. He says something similar to just the disciples in Matthew 10 with a wording that makes a comparison with these relationships. One must love Him above all else.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”Luke 14:35 ESV
Matthew just moves on to the lamp under a light comparison during the Sermon on the Mount and Mark implores peace with each other when Jesus is talking to just the disciples. Here He is talking to a crowd and ends with that. He wants people to pay attention to the point and it effectively ends the interaction with the crowd.