The Word Made Fresh

1Jesus went for a meal with one of the Pharisee leaders on a Sabbath, and they watched him closely.

2Suddenly a man approached him who suffered from edema. 3Jesus asked the Pharisees and lawyers, “Is it legal to heal on the Sabbath?” 4But they didn’t respond, so Jesus took the man, healed him, and sent him on his way. 5Then he said to them, “If you have a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit on the Sabbath, don’t you try to pull it out right away?” 6But they didn’t answer him.

7Jesus saw how the guests chose the places of honor at the table, and he told them this parable. 8“When you are invited to a wedding dinner, don’t sit at the place of honor. Someone more distinguished than you may have been invited, 9and the host, the one who invited both of you, might come to you and tell you to give up your place to someone else and you will be disgraced. 10Instead, when you are invited, sit at the lowest place, and when the host comes he might say to you, ‘Move up higher, friend.’ Then you will be honored before everyone at the table with you. 11Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, but those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

12He also said to the one who had invited him, “When you host a meal, don’t invite only friends or brothers or other relatives and neighbors. They would just invite you in return and you would be repaid. 13Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. 14You will be blessed because they cannot repay you, but you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

15One of the dinner guests responded, “Blessed are those who will dine in the kingdom of God.”

16Jesus said to him, “A man hosted a huge dinner and invited a lot of people. 17When the time arrived he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come now, everything is prepared!’

18“But all of them made excuses. One said, ‘I just purchased some land, and I must go look it over. Please accept my regrets.’ 19Another replied, ‘I purchased five yoke of oxen and I’m on my way to look over them. Please accept my regrets.’ 20And still another said, ‘I just got married. I can’t come.’

21“So, the servant reported back to the homeowner, and the homeowner was furious. He said, ‘Go out into the streets and alleys of the town and bring the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 22The servant did so, then came to the man and said, ‘I did as you told me, but there are still empty places.’ 23The man said, ‘Then go into the roads and alleyways and bring enough people in to fill my house. 24I tell you, not even one of those who were invited will enjoy my dinner.’”

25Huge crowds were following Jesus. He turned and said to them, 26“Whoever comes to me and is not willing to leave father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even life itself, can’t be my disciple. 27Anyone who doesn’t carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28Would any of you plan to build a tower without first estimating the cost to see if he can afford it? 29If he doesn’t, he might lay the foundation and then can’t finish it, and everyone who sees it will make fun of him. 30They’ll say, ‘This fellow started to build but couldn’t finish it.’ 31Or, what king would go out to make war on another king without first sitting down and considering whether he can oppose an enemy of twenty thousand with his army of ten thousand? 32If he can’t, when the enemy is still far off he’ll send a delegation to them to negotiate terms of peace. 33So none of you can be my disciple unless you give up everything you own.

34“Salt is good, but if salt loses its taste, what good is it? It isn’t good for anything anymore but to be scattered on the soil or thrown onto the waste pile. So, they throw it away. Let anyone with ears, listen!”


1-6: This miracle story is very similar to the one that involved a man with a withered hand (6:6-11). Both take place on a Sabbath and in both cases the Pharisees are watching him. I suspect both victims were planted by them to see if Jesus would heal on the Sabbath so they could bring accusations against him. In both stories, Jesus challenges them with a question before he heals the sufferer. One major difference, though, is that this event takes place in the home of a Pharisee, not in a synagogue. Edema, also called “dropsy,” is a swelling caused by poor circulation that allows fluid to collect around joints and organs. Jesus heals the man and then challenges the Pharisees, but they do not respond.

7-14: Jesus uses the occasion to make a point. If you want to determine who deserves to be honored, find those who do not seek to be honored. That’s the way things work in the kingdom of God. By the way, the phrase, “the resurrection of the righteous” does not occur anywhere else in the Bible.

15-24: This is an interesting parable. It makes me wonder what the reaction of fair-weather church members would be if they arrived one Sunday morning to find the pews filled with strangers. Not just strangers, but unsavory strangers, people who literally stink up the place. They would probably turn around in disgust and never again set their soles (or seat their souls) in the church. I would guess the Pharisee and his guests were deeply offended. But don’t spend too much time pondering this. The main character in the parable is actually the servant whose only job is to invite people to the banquet. The host commands the servant to keep on inviting until the house is full. The servant makes three trips into the community, each time coming back to report that invitations have been given and the banquet hall still has empty seats, and each time the order is the same: go invite others. Get the point, servants?

25-33: The word “cross” occurs only three times in Luke — at 9:23, here, and at 23:26. In all three, the cross is being carried by someone. In Luke the cross is not so much an instrument of torture as it is an instrument of submission. It’s hard to escape the impression that Jesus is trying to discourage any more followers. The requirements he gives here are so strict that he may as well have simply announced that he wasn’t going to take on any more disciples.

34-35: Many make the mistake of thinking these verses stand alone. There is a similar saying recorded in Matthew 5:13 where Jesus tells the crowd, “You are the salt of the earth.” But here the salt does not represent his listeners. Instead, in this case salt represents their possessions. Count the cost, like a builder comparing his resources to the cost of a tower, or like a general comparing his army to his enemy’s army. Compare the value of your earthly attachments — family, power, possessions — to the benefits of following Christ. You will discover that your earthly attachments are not nearly worth enough. They are like salt that is tasteless. If you don’t let go of them you will be like the builder who can’t finish the tower. If you do let go of them you will be like the king who wisely asks for peace. We read these verses and think the cost of following Jesus requires too great a sacrifice, but it does not, for it is not a sacrifice to relinquish those things which have no eternal value.


Do the right thing, even when it hurts.