Luke 14

In the closing verses of the previous chapter the Lord accepted His
rejection and foretold its results for Jerusalem; yet He did not cease
His activities in grace nor His teachings of grace, as the opening part
of this chapter shows. The Pharisees wished to use their law of the
sabbath as a cord wherewith to tie up His hands of mercy and restrain
them from action. He broke their rope and showed that He would at least
have as much mercy on the afflicted man as they were accustomed to show
to their domestic animals. His grace abounded above all their legal

From verse 7 Luke resumes the account of His teachings, and we do
not find any further record of His works until we come to Luke 17: 11.
In the first place, the Lord emphasized the behaviour which should
characterize those who are the recipients of grace. Fallen human nature
is pushful and self-assertive, but grace can only be received as
humility is manifested. The guest invited to a wedding enters the feast
as a matter of bounty and not as of right or of merit, and should
behave accordingly. It may be remarked that in worldly society today
bold self-assertiveness would not be considered good form. We admit
that, and it is a witness to the way in which Christian ideals still
prevail. In pagan circles such pushfulness would be applauded, and we
shall see it increasingly manifested as pagan ideals prevail.

The abasement of the self-exalted and the exaltation of the humbled
is sometimes seen in this life, but it will be fully seen when the One,
who in supreme measure humbled Himself, even unto the death of the
cross, is highly exalted in public, and every knee bows before Him. In
verse 11 we can discern the two Adams. The first attempted to exalt
himself and fell: the Last humbled Himself, and sits at the right hand
of the Majesty on high.

In the three verses which follow we find the Lord instructing not
the guest but the host. He too is to act in the spirit which befits
grace. Human nature is selfish even in its benefactions, and will issue
its invitations with a view to future profit. If, under the influence
of grace, we think of those who have nothing to offer us, we aim at no
earthly recompense. There is recompense however even for the actions of
grace, but that is found in the resurrection world which lies ahead of

Teachings such as these moved someone to ejaculate, "Blessed is he
that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God." This was said very
probably under the impression that entrance into the kingdom was a
matter of great difficulty, and the one to eat bread there must be a
particularly fortunate person. This remark led the Lord to give the
parable of the "great supper," in which He showed that the door into
the kingdom is to be opened to all, and that if any do not enter it is
their own fault. In this parable there is a prophetic element; that is,
the Lord looked forward and spoke of things which have their fulfilment
in the day in which we live. It is pre-eminently the parable of the

"A certain man made a great supper and bade many." The cost and
labour was his; the benefit was to be conferred upon many. Those first
invited were people who were already possessed of something-a piece of
ground, oxen, a wife. These represent the Jews with their religious
leaders in the land, who first heard the message. Taken as a whole they
refused the invitation, and it was the religious privileges they
already possessed that blinded them to the value of the Gospel offer.

When their refusal was reported by the servant, the master is
represented as "being angry." In Hebrews 10: 28, 29, the doing of
"despite unto the Spirit of grace" is said to be worthy of "sorer
punishment" than the despising of Moses' law. What we have here is in
keeping with that. The anger of the master did indeed mean that none of
those who thus despised his invitation should taste of his supper, as
verse 24 states, yet it did not shut up his bowels of kindness. The
servant was the rather bidden to go out quickly and gather in the poor
and needy-those most disqualified from a human standpoint.

But these were to be gathered from "the streets and lanes of the
city;" so they represent, we judge, the poor and afflicted and
undeserving of Israel-the publicans and sinners, as contrasted with the
scribes and Pharisees. The Lord Himself was now turning to these, and
amongst such the work continued into the days recorded in the earlier
chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. Then the moment arrived when the
invitation had been fully declared amongst them, and though many
responded, the happy announcement was made by the servant, "Yet there
is room."

This led to an extension of the kindly invitation. Still the word is
"Go out," and now the poor derelicts of the highways and hedges,
outside the bounds of the city, are to be brought in, to fill the
house. This pictures the going forth of the Gospel to the Gentiles. It
carries us to the end of Acts, where we have Paul saying, "The
salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and . . . they will hear

The parable definitely sets forth the matter from God's side rather
than man's. He makes the supper, He sends the Servant, He has His own
way, and fills His house in spite of man's perversity. The Servant He
sends is the Holy Spirit, for no one less than He can wield a power
which is absolutely compelling. The under-servants, even so great an
one as the Apostle Paul, cannot go beyond the persuading of men (see 2
Cor. 5: 11); only the Spirit of the living God can so effectually work
in the hearts of men as to "compel them to come in." But this, blessed
be God, is what He does, and has done for each of us.

Hearing things such as these, great multitudes went with Him. Many
there are who like to hear of something which is to be had for nothing.
The Lord turned, and set before these the conditions of discipleship.
The grace of God imposes no conditions, but the Gospel which announces
that grace does conduct our feet into the path of discipleship, which
can only be trodden rightly as we submit to very stringent conditions.
Four are mentioned here. (1) The Master must be supreme in the
affections of the disciple; so much so that all other loves must be as
hatred compared with it. (2) There must be the bearing of the cross in
our following of Him; that is, a readiness to accept a death sentence
as from the world. (3) There must be a counting of the cost as regards
our resources; a correct appraisal of all that is ours in the Christ
whom we follow. (4) There must equally be a correct appraisal of the
powers arrayed against us.

If we do not reckon rightly in either of these directions we shall
very likely go beyond our measure, on the one hand, or be filled with
fear, and compromise with the adversary, on the other. If, as verse 33
says, we do indeed forsake all that we have, we shall be wholly cast
upon the resource" of the great Master whom we follow, and then the
path of discipleship becomes gloriously possible for us.

Now the true disciple is salt; and salt is good. In Matthew 5, we
find Jesus saying, "Ye are the salt of the earth" (ver. 13), but He
said that to "disciples" (ver. 1). If the disciple compromises he
becomes like salt that has lost its savour, and he is fit for nothing.
What a word for us! Grace has called us, and our feet have been placed
in the path of discipleship. Are we complying with its solemn
conditions, so that we become disciples indeed? May we indeed have ears
to hear!