SUMMARY.--Healing on the Sabbath. The Chief Seats at a Wedding Feast. The Rule for Inviting Guests. The Parable of the Great Supper and the Excuses. Bearing the Cross Essential to Discipleship. Counting the Cost.
1. One of the rulers of the Pharisees on a sabbath to eat bread. In despite of the rigid ideas of the Pharisees concerning work on the Sabbath, it was made a day of feasting. "Meet the Sabbath with a lively hunger; let thy table be covered with fish, flesh, and generous wine," is a rabbinical precept. They were watching. Though pretending hospitality, on the watch for grounds of accusation.
2-6. A certain man who had the dropsy. Either a guest or one who came to be healed. Is it lawful? Conscious that they were watching him, he asked them a question which they declined to answer. The "tradition" said it was unlawful. Which of you shall have an ass? See notes on Matt. 12:11.
7-11. Put forth a parable. In this case a spiritual meaning lies under the social instruction. Chose out the chief seats. The places of honor at the table. Certain seats were considered the most honorable. The Savior's instruction insists upon humility. The spiritual lesson is that one must not, like Diotrephes, seek the pre-eminence, but be content to work in lowly places, from whence he can be invited higher if his merits so demand. He that exalteth himself, etc. The Lord states a general law, but the final adjustment is often left to another state of being. Many a preacher has failed because he sought a place that was beyond his ability.
12-14. When thou makest a feast. To give dinners for the sake of earthly reward is worldly; to feed the needy is heavenly, and will be rewarded in heaven.
15-24. A certain man gave a great supper. This parable was spoken in reply to the remark in verse 15, and shows that the world is not ready to "eat bread in the kingdom of God." Compare Matt. 22:1-14. Come; for all things are now ready. The second invitation, which it is the usual course to give in the East. John bade all get ready; and the Gospel of Christ bade all to come. Such is still the Gospel message. Began to make excuse. The excuses show that they did not wish to be guests. The first said. The first pleads landed property; the second, business; the third, social considerations; none of them good excuses. Go out quickly. To another class of persons. The first, who despised the invitation, are now rejected. The Jews are primarily meant. The poor, the maimed, etc. An abundant class in the East, a country destitute of alms-houses and hospitals. These probably represent the publicans and sinners. Go out into the highways and hedges. Far away--to the Gentiles. Compel them to come in. Use the constraining power of the love of the gospel. None of those men which were bidden. They were excluded by their own act. They had refused to come. The stubborn Jews missed the slightest taste; so do all like them.
26, 27. If any man come to me. See notes on Matt. 10:37, 38. Hateth not his own father. In just the same sense that he hates his own life also. That is, these must all be given up, turned away from, if we have to choose between them and Christ.
28-33. Doth not sit down first and count the cost? This calculation of what any enterprise or step will require before entering upon it is the part of wisdom. So, too, a disciple of Christ should count the cost. It is well to understand that every obstacle to the service of Christ must be given up.