Hospitality is one of the basic principles of creating real and lasting community. It was a cultural expectation and considered a virtue in the Holy Land, but even in this era heartfelt hospitality means much more than most any other gift or prayer that could be offered. It could be said that its even integral to being human by satisfying our physiological needs for love, belonging, respect, self-actualization and safety. As we study in today’s passage there is much that works against it, beginning with our biases and egocentric priorities.

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Section 114 | Healing of a Man with Dropsy while Eating with a Prominent Pharisee

Luke 14:1-24
1 When he went1 into the house2 of one of the rulers of the Pharisees3 on a Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching him.4 2 Behold, a certain man who had dropsy5 was in front of him.6  3 Jesus, answering,7 spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal8 on the Sabbath?” 4 But they were silent.9 He took him, and healed him, and let him go.10 5 He answered them, “Which of you, if your son11 or an ox fell into a well,12 wouldn’t immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?”13  6 They couldn’t answer14 him regarding these things. 7 He spoke a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the best seats,15 and said to them, 8 “When you are invited by anyone to a marriage feast, don’t sit in the best seat, since perhaps someone more honorable16 than you might be invited by him, 9 and he who invited both of you would come and tell you, ‘Make room for this person.’ Then you would begin, with shame, to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes, he may tell you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” 12 He also said to the one who had invited him, “When you make a dinner or a supper, don’t call your friends, nor your brothers, nor your kinsmen, nor rich neighbors, or perhaps they might also return the favor, and pay you back.17 13 But when you make a feast, ask the poor, the maimed, the lame, or the blind; 14 and you will be blessed,18 because they don’t have the resources to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous.”19 15 When one of those20 who sat at the table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is he who will feast in God’s Kingdom!”21 16 But he said to him, “A certain man made a great supper,22 and he invited many people. 17 He sent out his servant at supper time to tell those who were invited, ‘Come, for everything is ready now.’ 18 They all as one began to make excuses.23 “The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 “Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I must go try them out. Please have me excused.’ 20 “Another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I can’t come.’ 21 “That servant came, and told 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 the poor, maimed, blind, and lame.’ 22 “The servant said, ‘Lord, it is done as you commanded, and there is still room.’ 23 “The lord said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.24 24 For I tell you that none of those men who were invited will taste of my supper.’”25


Group Dialog:

  1. How adept are you at being hospitable at home, in the community, and in social media?
  2. How do you practice the virtue of hospitality?
  3. Why must humility be manifest for the virtue of hospitality to be at its best?
  4. How has the virtue of Hospitality blessed you? …surprised you? …benefited you?
  5. How has your hospitality improved the lives of those whom you have welcomed?
  6. On a scale of 0-100, with 0 representing the worst listener imaginable, and 100 meaning that you listen better than anybody else, How well do you think you listen to people? (friends, spouse, family, coworkers, boss, God) How would they rate you?
  7. Who does God want at His banquet table? How many people does he want to join Him? Who is invited and  who is excluded?

Study notes:

  1. Its most certain that Jesus was invited to come dine with the Pharisee, which given the chronology was probably in some un-named town within the region of Perea, called “land beyond the Jordan“. It was a territory is bigger than Galilee with a large Jewish population, albeit less numerous because of the terrain. For the most part the people of Perea lived in small cities within valleys more suitable to agriculture. Josephus’ description (in Bk 3, Chpt 3 of  The Jewish War of Flavius Josephus: A New Translation) and this map depicts about 12 cities in Perea in Jesus’ time plus Machaerus the fortress where Herod had John beheaded (sec 71b).
  2. Some may think it strange that one of the prominent Pharisees would have asked Jesus to eat at his home, but as we explain further in the notes below (vs 14) it was customary to share meals with others and if possible even make arrangements for magnificent feasts, and not just during Sukot but every Sabbath
  3. We don’t know if this ruler was a member of one of the Great Sanhedrim, as it might be that he was a ruler of the Synagogue. It was probably not Nicodemus as he was called by name John 3:1.
  4. The word watched, paratēreō / παρατηρέω (G3906) is to to to watch assiduously at ones side. They were watching Jesus in order to ensnare him by some action or word, which is probably what prompted his initial question (vs 3).
  5. While the Greek word here hydrōpikos (G5203) ὑδρωπικός certainly refers to a true medical case of Dropsy, ironically it is also a paradoxical metaphor, as the person suffering from dropsy (what might be the same as congestive heart failure) has an unquenchable craving for more fluids – even though their body is inflated and filled to the brim with fluid.
  6. As indicated by the word “answer (vs 3) it appears that the pharisees invited this man with the express hope of ensnaring Jesus (or hinted so much to him) so that in healing the man by another on the Sabbath as he had done four times before (see Jesus the Healer and His Miracles, sections 49a, 51, 101a, 110) they might catch him breaking their interpretation of the law. But instead of falling prey to their scheme Jesus asked them for their interpretation of of the law (see: answering vs 3).
  7. The Greek word here is apokrinomai, ἀποκρίνομαι (G611) which is used “one begins to speak, but always where something has preceded (either said or done) to which the remarks refer.”
  8. The Greek word here is therapeuō / θεραπεύω (G2323) meaning “to serve, do service, heal, restore health”.
  9. They were caught, dumb, without a suitable reply (Greek here is G2270 ἡσυχάζω hēsychazō) CR: Luke 20:40, Acts 6:10, Lk 21:15, Lk 20:26, Lk 13:17, Mt 22:46.
  10. Two things of note here, first is that there is no little to no reaction to Jesus’ healing this man on the Sabbath. That’s probably because he gave them the opportunity to explain the law instructing him not to; and second – Jesus dismissed the man – Greek apolyō / ἀπολύω (G630) as though he was not truly a guest for the meal but an onlooker invited there by the Pharisees. This give reason then for his final edification/instruction to his host (vs 12-14).
  11. Almost humorously rather than “son” most manuscripts use the word for donkey or “ass” onos (G3688) ὄνος (used 6 times: Mt 21:2, 5,7; Lk 13:15, 14:5, Jn 12:15). Hebrew the two words are similar (תחת=Ass) (הבן=son). I prefer the use of “ass” as the volume of manuscripts point this way and there is then a play in Jesus words for the best and burden is on them – just as”the onos is on you” – a mid-17th century term which originated from from Latin, literally ‘load or burden’. It appears to be a choice use of words turning the table in a formal tone that exacts responsibility or obligation.
  12. As the man was drowning from dropsy (hydrōpikos).
  13. We addressed this in the previous instance, Section 110, Freedom from Infirmity in note #5.
  14. Again, CR: Acts 6:10; Lk 13:17, 20:26,40, 21:15; and Mt 22:46
  15. Their prepotent pride has been an ongoing pattern in the lives of the Pharisees CR Lk 11:43, 20:46; Mt 23:6; Mk 12:38-39 and the apostles impressed the importance of humility to their disciples Phil 2:3; Rm 12:10; Eph 4:2, 5:21; 1Cor 3:3; 2Cor 12:20; Gal 5:15, 20-21, 26; 1Pt 2:1-2, 5:5; 1Tim 3:3-5; Jms 3:14-16; Col 3:8.
  16. Be it by age, office, dignity, wisdom, learning, or riches
  17. This was common among the upper class and Pharisees as a means to secure and tout their place in society, knowing all the while that their guests would reciprocate the invitations forming a “who’s who list”. You may recall that when Jesus commissioned the 12 disciples he told them to go first to the “Lost sheep of Israel” Mt 10:5-6/Sec 70b).  Jesus challenges the caste system of Israel and the Pharisee’s focus for an immediate, earthly reward urging him (and all of them) to value the eternal rewards such motives and behavior would yield them in heaven. This was not new (prov 3:35, 11:2, 15:33; 16:8, 25:6-7) but overlooked aspect of the wisdom of the prophets (see note in vs 14). There were three caste systems active in Israel: Cohanim, Leviim, and Israelites (See also: Priests in the 1st Century CE) 1) Cohanim (pl) for kohen (Hebrew for “priest”) was for those descendants of Zadok, founder of the priesthood of Jerusalem when the First Temple was built by Solomon (10th century bc). God designated Aaron the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) and for all time his descendants would be the Cohanim/Kohanim who were the priests who performed the actual service in the Mishkan/tabernacle and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. 2) Leviim – was, yes, for the Tribe of Levi, those priests who served in the sanctuary (Numbers 3:11-12) whose responsibilities included: erecting, dismantling, carrying, singing, and assisting the Cohanim. The Levites were not given lands as were the other ancient tribes of Israel (Num 35:1–3) – it was portioned the tribe by the others in perpetuity (Lev 25:34). When they served within the tabernacle or temple they received a portion of the tithes (Dt 18:6–8), but the rest of the time they were expected to work for their livelihood like any other person of Israel. When not working in the Tabernacle/Temple they were among the professionals – Some were teachers (Dt 24:8; 33:10; 2 Chr 35:3; Neh 8:7); in the time of Ezra others served judges and they were the sole members of the Sanhedrin (Dt 17:8–9; 21:5; 1 Chr 23:4; 2 Chr 19:8; Eze 44:15, 24); others were trained to provide medical services (Lev 13:2, 14:2; Lk 17:14). But some were professional singers and musicians (1 Chr 25:1–31; 2 Chr 5:12; 34:12); and others produced books and managed libraries (2 Chr 34:13); law enforcement (1 Chr 23:4); architects and builders (2 Chr 34:8–13).  and finally we have the third caste group 3) Israelites – which is the “melting pot” of the other ten tribes of Israel who were exiled after the Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel in 722 BCE. Those who can not trace their lineage to the Kohanim and Levites are have the general designation of being Israelites. More history about the Tribes of Israel.
  18. For the Jews, hospitality (hachnasat orachim is one of the basic principles of creating real and lasting community, and it was chief among virtues and an essential practice taught by the Talmud. The Hebrew phrase is an active transitive verb—one causes one to come in. There is nothing passive nor singular about it. Hospitality in this Jewish context challenges us to that we: Greet our guests (known, unknown, expected and unexpected) at the door, escort them inside, maintain a cheerful attitude during their visit, offer food and drink, ask our guests about their interests and activities, bless and escort them to the door when they leave. It is understood that hospitality offers fruits in this world and principal reward in the world to come. According to R. Johanan hospitality is even more important than prayer or. According to R. Judah it is more important than receiving the divine presence (Gen 18:3). In their tradition, a person who offers hospitality to a rabbinic student has done such a great thing that it is as if he had already offered a daily sacrifice (Ber. 10bBer. 63b)
  19. This resurrection and reward (Ps 49:15, 37:11; 1Sam 2:6; Job 13:10-14; Isa 26:19) would be provided by the Messiah the mashiach meaning “anointed to serve as king” to which point both Luke and Matthew asserted Jesus’ relationship to the line of David (Mt 1:1-7; Lk 3:23b-38, Sec 3week 3 ) who was from the Tribe of Judah – legally, through Joseph and biologically, via Mary. These genealogical records existed until September 7, A.D. 70 when according to Josephus, a Jewish historian,  the Romans broke through the walls of the sacred city after a five-month siege, and burned it to the ground, killing 1,100,000 Hebrews, capturing and carrying away into  slavery another 97,000 (see Wars 5.3.1 fn; 6.9.2-4).
  20. One of the Scribes, lawyers, or Pharisees
  21. Using a common saying among the Rabbin which echoes their teaching and hope for the coming Messiah who would be the literal “king of a Jewish state” – thus ending the occupation of the Roman rule. The Messiah would most certainly bring about religious reforms, uniting the nation under God, and ushering in a season of blessing, restoration, universal peace, and prosperity. His reign would be known throughout the whole world and His people Israel, not to mention that such a sovereign a king would most likely appoint various nobles and learned men such as themselves to positions of authority, and nobility. However these Pharisees, Scribes and lawyers had not benefited from Jesus’ early teaching to his disciples (nine parables about the Kingdom Sections 64a-b, 64c-e, 64f-g64h-k) in which he taught that the Kingdom of Heaven would not be a Jewish state, but a heavenly government, interior allegiance to the Christ, transformative and restorative justice, and a life of humble and heartfelt service (CR Heb. 13:17) and ministry to all others – even to the sick, like the man with dropsy, and those with the lowest means in society who would be unable to repay or reciprocate any favor granted them.
  22. We must keep straight in our minds that different uses, contexts and meanings of the different feasts and suppers told of and by Jesus. There is 1)this instance takes place about three months before Christ’s death, and refers to the “Gospel Feast”; 2) the Parable of the “Marriage Feast” (Matt. 22:1-14, Section 132b); 3) Lord’s supper (Section 148, Mt 26:26-29; Mk 14:22-25; Lk 22:17-20 and also 1 Cor 11:20); and 4) the “Marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9, 17, 19). Jesus who is the Messiah the Bread of Life, the Bread of Heaven (Jn 6:48-58, 1Cor 10:1-33) invites all to come, to feast, and receive the benefit of His atonement (Jn 19:14, Section 161; 1Cor 5:7, 15:3-4; Rev 5:12). See also: 10 feasts and holy times among the Jews in Jesus day.
  23. Not outright rejecting or refusing the invitation (of the Messiah as they were doing) but making excuses so to be excused from having to align themselves, submit themselves and put an end to their own accommodations and privileges even in the current state of Roman occupation. The parable confronted those who would use little and legal loop holes (Dt. 24:5) to be excused of having to accept the invitation. As in their required participation of the Passover – no excuse would be adequate and any excuse would result in no atonement and excommunication (Num 9:13).
  24. The free grace and mercy of God knows no boundary and no limit as prophesied (Isa. 25:6) it would be a feast for all people (Isa. 49:5). CR: 1Cor 10:16-17; Acts 3:19-21. “There won’t be important people and unimportant people, but we are all one in Christ Jesus.”–Pastor Chuck Smith
  25. Like the parable of the Ten Virgins (Mt 25:1-13) warns those who profess to be following Christ to remain ready and watchful.