Some hard sayings of Jesus appeared in Luke Chapter 14. Why did Jesus say these? Why did he make discipleship seem so tough?
The two verses seem to place conditions on becoming Jesus’ disciples. Do I need to renounce my family? Is it really what Jesus is saying? What is Luke Chapter 14 really about?
What if we study Luke 14 and Luke 15 together?
Jesus interacted with a lot of people in these two chapters.
When we compare his reactions and words towards the different groups of people appearing in these two chapters, an interesting pattern emerges.
Let us see who these people are in order of appearance:
- The ruler of the Pharisees and His party guests (Luke 14:1-24)
- The multitudes (Luke 14:25-35)
- The sinners and tax collectors (Luke 15:1-32)
1. Ruler of the Pharisees and His Party Guests
In Luke 14:1-24, Jesus was at a party thrown by a ruler of the Pharisees. It happened to be a Sabbath day.
Verse 1 already hinted that he wasn’t genuinely welcomed for they were scrutinizing Him.
And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.Luke 14:1
Do you like every step of yours to be watched? Who would be? Jesus knew their intention and responded to a couple of things at the party.
Jesus chided the Pharisees for their legalism and lack of sympathy (Luke chapter 14:1-6)
And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. 3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?
4And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; 5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? And they could not answer him again to these things.Luke 1: 2-6
Jesus healed a man with dropsy and he knew that the Pharisees were unhappy that he broke the Sabbath law for they kept silent when he asked them whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath.
Why keep silent? They could have either say yes, it is lawful or no, it isn’t lawful. The problem is because healing is such a tricky thing. If they say no, it is not lawful, they appear unkind and heartless, but in their hearts, they disapprove because they are legalistic.
He chided them by comparing the healing to the rescuing of a donkey or ox in a pit. They have no problem doing the latter during Sabbath.
2. Jesus spoke out against the party guests’ behaviour of vying for the best seats (Luke chapter 14:7-11)
7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them. 8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.
10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. 11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.Luke 14:7-11
Jesus saw the way the party guests vy for the best seats in the house for themselves. He saw their pride.
3. Jesus told his host to be truly generous (Luke chapter 14:12-15)
12 Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. 13 But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: 14 And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just. 15 And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.Luke 14:12-15
Jesus saw through the ruler’s motive for throwing the party. It isn’t out of generosity but out of political motivation. He has a hidden agenda.
4. He taught the Parable of the Great Supper (Luke chapter 14:17-24)
When Jesus had finished speaking to the host, a man responded by saying “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!”
It seems to imply a strict and stingy God and Jesus told the Parable of the Great Supper to refute him and illustrate man’s rejection of God’s generous banquet.
17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse.
The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.
20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.
24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.Luke 14: 17-24
Look at the excuses of the invited. So lame.
- Who buy land before seeing the land first?
- Who buy oxen without testing them first?
- Who marry without seeing the bride first?
In the end, God have to compel people to come to the feast. He went out into the streets and the lanes, the highways and the hedges to force people to come and fill His house. He didn’t just invite, He compelled. What is it about man that they need compelling to receive the blessings of God? Why should God bother with man to compel him?
2. Hard Sayings of Jesus to the Multitudes (Luke chapter 14:25-35)
The next 10 verses recorded the encounter he had with the multitudes (Luke 14: 25-35). He said some of the hardest stuff here to the multitudes.
26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. 27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.Luke 14:26-27
33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.Luke 14:33
34 Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.Luke 14:34-35
Why did he unleash such difficult demands on the people?
It seemed that He was deliberately dissuading them from following Him.
“Who doesn’t sit down first and count the cost?”
He is literally telling them to think carefully.
Of the builder, he spoke of mockery. Of the king, he spoke of surrender.
Why? Because amongst the multitudes are people who didn’t see Him as Messiah. They thronged him but are they really there to listen to Him or follow Him?
No, they came to see what the commotion is about. They came to see if He can be a banner for their own causes. As an example or teacher to follow. A novelty.
He turned them away with His demands and this thinned the multitudes. He was not what they expected him to be, so they left.
3. Tax collectors and sinners (Luke chapter 15 verse 1-32)
Then, in Luke 15, we see the last group of people. They only came after everyone else have left. They are the outcasts, shunned by the others.
Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.Luke 15:1
The tax collectors and sinners drew near…to hear Him.
Not that the Pharisees, party guests or multitudes have no sin but these people knew that they were sinful and was looking for salvation. They have nothing to offer Him. They didn’t come to Him looking for a teacher or a king or an example to follow. They came looking for a saviour. They have ears to hear.
The Pharisees and scribes started to complain:
2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.Luke 15:2
We can tell that the Pharisees did not like the tax collectors and sinners. They see these as undesirable characters that respectable people do not associate with.
What was Jesus’ reaction to their complaints? He told them three parables: The Parable of the Lost Sheep, The Parable of the Lost Coin and The Parable of the Prodigal Son.
The Joy of the Lord When He Encounter Sinners
The essence of the 3 parables is the same. All 3 parables speak of the Lord’s joy when He encounters sinners. In the parables, He did not demand any renouncement of sins or counting of costs. He did not recommend humility and generosity. The lost was found, and that was sufficient.
This was a big difference from Luke Chapter 14.
What about repentance? Surely the lost or the sinners repented and that is why God accepted them.
“How did the sheep who was lost repent?” Let’s look at the parable (Luke 15:4-7)
4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.Luke 15:4-7
We read the parable and then define repentance in terms that we understand. Is that right? How DID the sheep repent? Did it do it the way we are taught to?
Read carefully. The man went looking for the lost sheep. He found it. He carried it back. He rejoices. He threw a party. What did the sheep do? Nothing. Except to lay quietly on the man’s shoulder. It didn’t writhe and struggle to get off.
The same spirit of the Lord can be found in the other 2 parables. He was happy when He found sinners. He went all out to find them. As long as the Lost did not object.
We saw Jesus’ reactions to 4 different groups of people – Pharisees, Party Guests, Multitudes, and Sinners. From chiding to teaching to demanding, and rejoicing, can we not notice what delight His heart?
He wants people to rely on Him.
Isn’t He concerned with holiness?
Of course, He is. But holiness is a result of knowing that we are forgiven unconditionally and not a condition for salvation.
I want to be in that group that Jesus eat and party with.
This short personal study on the hard sayings of Jesus in Luke chapter 14 is inspired by a sermon entitled “Enjoy Jesus’ Supply and Delight His Heart” by Pastor Joseph Prince of New Creation Church, Singapore.
Watch an excerpt:
Find the full audio sermon at:
Find the full videostream sermon at https://www.josephprince.com/sermons/enjoy-jesus-supply-and-delight-his-heart/video?sku=20120729VJ