dropsy: Or “edema,” an excess buildup of fluid in the body, evidenced by swelling. The term was used by ancient physicians from Hippocrates 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.