According to Luke 14:1-35

14  On another occasion he went to eat a meal in the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees+ on the Sabbath, and they were closely watching him.  And look! a man who had dropsy was in front of him.  So in response Jesus asked those versed in the Law and the Pharisees: “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not?”+  But they kept silent. With that he took hold of the man, healed him, and sent him away.  Then he said to them: “Who of you, if his son or bull falls into a well,+ will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?”+  And they were not able to reply to this.  He then told the invited men an illustration when he noticed how they were choosing the most prominent places for themselves.+ He said to them:  “When you are invited by someone to a marriage feast, do not recline in the most prominent place.+ Perhaps someone more distinguished than you may also have been invited.  Then the one who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Let this man have your place.’ Then you will proceed with shame to take the lowest place. 10  But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, so that when the man who invited you comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, go on up higher.’ Then you will have honor in front of all your fellow guests.*+ 11  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”+ 12  Next he said also to the man who had invited him: “When you spread a dinner or an evening meal, do not call your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your rich neighbors. Otherwise, they might also invite you in return, and it would become a repayment to you.+ 13  But when you spread a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;+ 14  and you will be happy, because they have nothing with which to repay you.+ For you will be repaid in the resurrection+ of the righteous ones.” 15  On hearing these things, one of the fellow guests said to him: “Happy is the one who dines in the Kingdom of God.” 16  Jesus said to him: “A man was spreading a grand evening meal,+ and he invited many. 17  He sent his slave out at the hour of the evening meal to say to the invited ones, ‘Come, because everything is now ready.’ 18  But they all alike began to make excuses.+ The first said to him, ‘I bought a field and need to go out and see it; I ask you, have me excused.’* 19  And another said, ‘I bought five yoke* of cattle and am going to examine them; I ask you, have me excused.’+ 20  Still another said, ‘I just got married, and for this reason I cannot come.’ 21  So the slave came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out quickly to the main streets and the alleys of the city, and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22  In time the slave said, ‘Master, what you ordered has been done, and still there is room.’ 23  So the master said to the slave, ‘Go out to the roads and the lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.+ 24  For I say to you, none of those men who were invited will taste my evening meal.’”+ 25  Now large crowds were traveling with him, and he turned and said to them: 26  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life,+ he cannot be my disciple.+ 27  Whoever does not carry his torture stake and come after me cannot be my disciple.+ 28  For example, who of you wanting to build a tower does not first sit down and calculate the expense to see if he has enough to complete it? 29  Otherwise, he might lay its foundation but not be able to finish it, and all the onlookers would start to ridicule him, 30  saying: ‘This man started to build but was not able to finish.’ 31  Or what king marching out against another king in war does not first sit down and take counsel whether he is able with 10,000 troops to stand up to the one who comes against him with 20,000?+ 32  If, in fact, he cannot do so, then while that one is yet far away, he sends out a body of ambassadors and sues for peace. 33  In the same way, you may be sure that not one of you who does not say good-bye to* all his belongings can be my disciple.+ 34  “Salt, to be sure, is fine. But if the salt loses its strength, with what will it be seasoned?+ 35  It is not suitable for soil or for manure. People throw it away. Let the one who has ears to listen, listen.”+


Or “all those reclining at the table with you.”
Or “please let me be excused.”
Or “pairs.”
Or “give up.”

Study Notes

dropsy: Or “edema,” an excess buildup of fluid in the body, evidenced by swelling. The term was used by ancient physicians from Hippocrates, a Greek physician of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.E., onward. Dropsy, which may have been a symptom of advanced deterioration of the body’s vital organs, was dreaded because it often indicated that the person would suffer a sudden death. Some believe that the man was brought to Jesus on the Sabbath as a trap by the Pharisees, for verse 1 says: “They were closely watching him.” This is one of at least six miracles that are mentioned only in Luke’s Gospel.​—See “Introduction to Luke.”

illustrations: Or “parables.” The Greek word pa·ra·bo·leʹ, which literally means “a placing beside (together),” may be in the form of a parable, a proverb, or an illustration. Jesus often explains a thing by ‘placing it beside,’ or comparing it with, another similar thing. (Mr 4:30) His illustrations were short and usually fictitious narratives from which a moral or spiritual truth could be drawn.

an illustration: Or “a parable.”​—See study note on Mt 13:3.

most prominent places: At feasts or banquets in Jesus’ day, guests reclined on couches placed along three sides of a table. Servers had access to the fourth side. The number of couches may have varied, depending on the size of the table. Four or five people could occupy one couch, but usually the number was three. Each person would recline with his head near the table, resting his left elbow on a cushion, and taking food with his right hand. The customary three places on the couch indicated the high, middle, and low location of the guests.

dines: Or “is at the feast.” Lit., “eats bread.” In Bible times, bread was such an important part of the diet that in both Hebrew and Greek, the expression “to eat bread” means “to eat (a meal); to dine.” The Hebrew term for “eat bread” has often been rendered “eat” (Ge 37:25; 2Ki 4:8), “dine” (2Sa 9:7), or “eat . . . food” (Ec 9:7). Similarly, at Lu 14:1, the Greek expression rendered “eat a meal” is literally “eat bread.”

hate: In the Bible, the term “hate” has several shades of meaning. It may denote a feeling of hostility that is motivated by malice, prompting someone to harm others. Or it may refer to an intense feeling of dislike for or strong aversion to someone or something, thus causing a person to avoid having anything to do with that person or thing. Or the term may simply mean to love to a lesser degree. For example, when Jacob is said to have “hated” Leah and loved Rachel, the meaning is that he loved Leah less than he loved Rachel (Ge 29:31, ftn.; De 21:15, ftn.), and the term is used in this sense in other ancient Jewish literature. Therefore, Jesus did not mean that his followers were to feel hostility or loathing toward their families and toward themselves, as this would contradict the rest of the Scriptures. (Compare Mr 12:29-31; Eph 5:28, 29, 33.) In this context, the term “hate” could be rendered “love to a lesser degree.”

life: Or “soul.” The meaning of the Greek word psy·kheʹ, traditionally rendered “soul,” has to be determined by the context. Here it refers to a person’s life. Thus, Jesus’ words mean that a true disciple must love Jesus more than he loves his own life, even being willing to lose his life if necessary.​—See Glossary, “Soul.”

torture stake: Or “execution stake.” In classical Greek, the word stau·rosʹ primarily referred to an upright stake or pole. Used figuratively in the Scriptures, this term often stands for the suffering, shame, torture, and even death that a person experienced because of being a follower of Jesus. This is the third time that Jesus said that his disciples would have to carry a torture stake; the two earlier occasions are recorded at (1) Mt 10:38; (2) Mt 16:24; Mr 8:34; Lu 9:23.​—See Glossary.

salt: A mineral used for preserving and flavoring food. In this context, Jesus likely focused on the preserving quality of salt; his disciples could help others to avoid spiritual and moral decay.

Salt: A mineral used for preserving and flavoring food.​—See study note on Mt 5:13.

loses its strength: See study note on Mt 5:13.

loses its strength: In Jesus’ day, salt was often obtained from the Dead Sea area and was contaminated by other minerals. If the salty portion was removed from this mixture, only a tasteless, useless residue remained.


Prominent Places at Evening Meals
Prominent Places at Evening Meals

In the first century, a common way of dining was to recline at the table. Each person would rest his left elbow on a cushion and eat using his right hand. According to the Greco-Roman custom, a typical dining room had three couches set around a low dining table. The Romans called this kind of dining room a triclinium (Latin from a Greek word meaning “room with three couches”). Although this arrangement traditionally accommodated nine people, three to a couch, it became common to use longer couches to accommodate even more people. Each position in the dining room was traditionally viewed as having a different degree of honor. One couch was the lowest place of honor (A), one was the middle (B), and one was the highest (C). The positions on the couch differed in importance. The person dining was considered to be above the one to his right and below the one to his left. At a formal banquet, the host typically sat at the first position (1) on the lowest couch. The place of honor was the third position (2) on the middle couch. Although it is not clear to what extent the Jews adopted this custom, it appears that Jesus alluded to it when teaching his followers the need for humility.

Salt on the Shore of the Dead Sea
Salt on the Shore of the Dead Sea

Today, the water in the Dead Sea (Salt Sea) is about nine times as salty as the water in the world’s oceans. (Ge 14:3) Evaporation of the Dead Sea waters produced an ample supply of salt for the Israelites, although this salt was of poor quality because it was contaminated with other minerals. The Israelites may also have acquired salt from the Phoenicians, who, it is said, obtained it from the Mediterranean by means of evaporation. The Bible mentions salt as a seasoning for food. (Job 6:6) Jesus was a master at using illustrations based on things related to the everyday lives of the people, so he used salt to illustrate important spiritual lessons. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, he told his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth,” having a preserving influence on others, preventing spiritual corruption and moral decay.