Luke Jewish New Testament and comment David H. Stern

chapter 14
1. One Shabbat Yeshua went to eat in the home of one of the leading P’rushim, and they were watching him closely.
2. In front of him was a man whose body was swollen with fluid.
3. Yeshua spoke up and asked the Torah experts and P’rushim, “Does the Torah allow healing on Shabbat or not?”
4. But they said nothing. So, taking hold of him, he healed him and sent him away.
5. To them he said, “Which of you, if a son or an ox falls into a well, will hesitate to haul him out on Shabbat?”
6. And to these things they could give no answer.
See 6:9N.

7. When Yeshua noticed how the guests were choosing for themselves the best seats at the table, he told them this parable:
8. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, don’t sit down in the best seat; because if there is someone more important than you who has been invited,
9. the person who invited both of you might come and say to you, ‘Give this man your place.’ Then you will be humiliated as you go to take the least important place.
10. Instead, when you are invited, go and sit in the least important place; so that when the one who invited you comes, he will say to you, ‘Go on up to a better seat.’ Then you will be honored in front of everyone sitting with you.
Proverbs 25:6-7 gives the same advice, some of it in the same language.

11. Because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.”
12. Yeshua also said to the one who had invited him, “When you give a lunch or a dinner, don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives or rich neighbors; for they may well invite you in return, and that will be your repayment.
13. Instead, when you have a party, invite poor people, disfigured people, the crippled, the blind!
14. How blessed you will be that they have nothing with which to repay you! For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
The resurrection of the righteous is clearly distinguished from that of the unrighteous, both in the Tanakh (Daniel 12:2) and in the New Testament (16:26&N; Rv 20:4-6, 12, 15).

15. On hearing this, one of the people at the table with Yeshua said to him, “How blessed are those who eat bread in the Kingdom of God!”
16. But he replied, “Once a man gave a banquet and invited many people.
17. When the time came for the banquet, he sent his slave to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come! Everything is ready!’
18. But they responded with a chorus of excuses. The first said to him, ‘I’ve just bought a field, and I have to go out and see it. Please accept my apologies.’
19. Another said, ‘I’ve just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to test them out. Please accept my apologies.’
20. Still another said, ‘I have just gotten married, so I can’t come.’
21. The slave came and reported these things to his master. “Then the owner of the house, in a rage, told his slave, ‘Quick, go out into the streets and alleys of the city; and bring in the poor, the disfigured, the blind and the crippled!’
22. The slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’
23. The master said to the slave, ‘Go out to the country roads and boundary walls, and insistently persuade people to come in, so that my house will be full.
Insistently persuade people to come in. KJV reads, "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in." The Greek word translated "compel" or "insistently persuade" is "anangkason," which has a range of meanings from physically forcing to verbally convincing; throughout this spectrum of significations is a tone of intensity and urgency.

In times past this verse was used to justify forcing Jews to be baptized against their will. Yet nowhere in the Bible does God say or suggest that he wants people to be forced to accept his love and kindness. From the outset, in the Garden of Eden, where Adam could freely choose whether or not to obey God, there has been only one message, and it is a message of persuasion: "Turn from sin to God and trust in the Good News" (Mk 1:15). In fact, it is impossible to force people to repent or believe, for these things are matters of the heart. Thus "forced conversion" is a contradiction in terms, since true "conversion" means inwardly turning from sin to God through Yeshua, not outwardly transferring from one religious institution to another. Likewise, attempting to force "conversion" is not obeying God; quite the contrary, the coercion and cruelty involved constitute gross disobedience. But "insistent persuasion" that respects the hearer's dignity is commanded and can produce good results.

24. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet!’”
God invites sinners to his salvation banquet (vv. 16-17) and receives a chorus of ridiculously transparent and insulting excuses (vv. 18-20). See 9:57-62N for a comment on flabby excuses; however, these, unlike those, reflect not weak commitment but intentionally ignoring the invitation and despising the host, coupled with hypocritically refusing to say so forthrightly. The host is angry but invites others (vv. 21-24); similarly God is angry with Jews and Gentiles who are so busy being self-sufficient or fulfilling their life programs that they spurn salvation. Nevertheless God's offer continues going out to all who will hear, notably those less well-fixed, who can realize how needy they are.

25. Large crowds were traveling along with Yeshua. Turning, he said to them,
26. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father, his mother, his wife, his children, his brothers and his sisters, yes, and his own life besides, he cannot be my talmid.
27. Whoever does not carry his own execution-stake and come after me cannot be my talmid.
28. “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Don’t you sit down and estimate the cost, to see if you have enough capital to complete it?
Estimate the cost. Spiritual cost-benefit analysis is taught in the Mishna also: "Be thinking about the loss of a mitzvah against its reward, and the reward of a transgression against its loss." (Avot 2:1) The sense is: Compare the relatively small cost of observing the mitzvah with the great and eternal benefit obtained by fulfilling it; likewise, compare the fleeting reward gained by transgressing a command with its great and eternal cost.

A famous Christian application of this principle was formulated in the seventeenth century by Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), a founder of mathematical probability theory; it is known as Pascal's Wager. His idea is that, rationally, whether or not to believe in Yeshua's Messiahship, Lordship and atonement should depend on two factors: the value of what you stand to gain or lose by believing or not, and the probability that it is true — which determines the probabilities of your receiving those gains or losses.

The Bible states that if you believe in Yeshua you will have some finite costs (forgoing "the passing pleasures of sin" (MJ 11:24). the effort of striving to do good); but you will have eternal life with God, a benefit of infinite value. On the other hand, if you reject Yeshua you will have some finite benefits (enjoying whatever happiness the world and the Devil offer); but you will go to hell and be separated forever from God and all goodness, an infinite cost.

Suppose there is only one chance in a billion that Yeshua is who the Bible says he is. Then it is still absolutely worthwhile to believe in Yeshua; because, although you have a very high chance of paying some finite cost, nevertheless a tiny chance at an infinite reward still has infinite value — one-billionth of plus-infinity is still plus-infinity. And it is equally un-worthwhile to disbelieve, because, although you have a very high chance of gaining some finite amount of benefits, even a one-billionth chance of minus-infinity has a value of minus-infinity, which outweighs all finite benefits. Only those who are absolutely certain that the Bible is false, who can give absolute zero probability to its truth, can rationally choose to disbelieve. For others faced with Pascal's Wager (and everyone is), the rational way of counting the cost always leads to trusting in Yeshua.

Why are so few rabbis (or functionaries in other religions) believers? One reason is that most have never heard the Gospel presented in a Jewish way. The Jewish New Testament and the Jewish New Testament Commentary, attempt to do so. But even if the Gospel is understood as the Good News it is, and not as a Gentile religion or a pagan reworking of Judaism, another reason is that rabbis (and functionaries in other religions) are usually unwilling to pay the cost — which in their case would be exchanging the honor and privileges given them in the Jewish (or other religious) community for dishonor and shame, for the status of outcast and meshummad ("apostate"; literally, "one who has been destroyed"). A third reason is that they do not accurately perceive the benefits. Even apart from the heaven-hell question, few can imagine the rewards of helping shape a new and true Judaism faithful to God, the Jewish Messiah, the Jewish people and the rest of humanity. It is hard for them to envision the excitement of devoting their rabbinical training to uniting the two great streams of world history that for two thousand years have grown apart (see Ml 9:16-17&NN, 13:52&N).

One who did catch this vision, and accordingly reevaluated the costs and benefits, was Sha'ul of Tarsus. He wrote,
"But the things that used to be advantages [benefits) for me, I have, because of the Messiah, come to consider a disadvantage [a cost, or at most a finite benefitj. Not only that, but I consider everything a disadvantage [cost, finite benefit] in comparison with the supreme value [infinite benefit] of knowing the Messiah Yeshua as my Lord. It was because of him that I gave up everything and regard it all as garbage fat most a finite benefit, worthless by comparison], in order to gain the Messiah [infinite benefit|." (Pp 3:7-8)

He counted the cost rationally and correctly. He understood Pascal's Wager a millennium-and-a-half before Pascal formulated it and drew the appropriate conclusion.

In fact there have been rabbis throughout history who have followed in Sha'ul's footsteps, and their stories make fascinating reading; see, for example, John During, ed., Good News: Special Rabbis' Edition (P.O. Box 7847, Johannesburg, RSA), which describes the lives of fourteen 19th- and 20th-century rabbis who became Messianic Jews. Also see the story of Daniel Zion, Chief Rabbi of Bulgaria, in Ac 4:13N.

29. If you don’t, then when you have laid the foundation but can’t finish, all the onlookers start making fun of you
30. and say, ‘This is the man who began to build, but couldn’t finish!’
31. “Or again, suppose one king is going out to wage war with another king. Doesn’t he first sit down and consider whether he, with his ten thousand troops, has enough strength to meet the other one, who is coming against him with twenty thousand?
32. If he hasn’t, then while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation to inquire about terms for peace.
33. “So every one of you who doesn’t renounce all that he has cannot be my talmid.
If anyone... does not hate his father [and] ... mother... he cannot be my talmid. One hears v. 26 selectively misquoted in exactly this way, and on this basis a case is made that Yeshua is a cruel madman. But the key to his warning is, of course, the phrase, "and his own life besides." The theme of these verses is not alienation from one's family but the cost of discipleship: nothing, not love for father or mother or even one's own life, is to take precedence over loyalty to God and his Messiah (see Mt 16:24&N). He must renounce all that he has (v. 33), acknowledging that if God is to be primary in his life, possessions and even social relationships, in and of themselves, must be secondary. Being Messianic is more than merely acknowledging facts about Yeshua.

34. Salt is excellent. But if even the salt becomes tasteless, what can be used to season it?
35. It is fit for neither soil nor manure — people throw it out. Those who have ears that can hear, let them hear!”
Several interpretations have been offered; the one that appeals to me is that salt represents a person's willingness to do what Yeshua demands of his lalmidim (vv. 26-33). But if his willingness turns into unwillingness, if a talmid returns to worldly ways after experiencing the truth and joy of following God's way. what else is left to restore him? Nothing. Compare MJ 6:4-6&N.

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