Today we will take a look at two parables, found in Luke 14:25-35. The parable of the man who set out to build a tower and the parable of the king about to go to war. Both parables are set in the context of one of Jesus most demanding teachings. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, on His way to the cross, and there were large crowds following Him. Let’s read our Scripture together.

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. 34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Luke 14:25-35 NIVO)

As I mentioned earlier, large crowds were following Jesus. It’s pretty obvious that Jesus was not captivated by large crowds. If He were, He would have never said the things He said. You can’t continue to build momentum, expand the crowd, if you say things like,

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26-27 NIVO)

No church growth expert today would ever suggest that we preach this kind of message. No church that wants to enter into a building campaign so they can build a new and bigger sanctuary would ever repeat Jesus’ words. Yet, time after time Jesus made statements like this to the massive crowds who were following Him. Jesus did everything in His power to turn away the large crowds, to raise the bar in order to let the masses know that they must count the cost if they wanted to follow Him. Just five chapters earlier, Jesus had said,

23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:23-26 NIVO)

Within the massive crowds that followed Jesus were those who were following Him because of what Jesus could do for them. There is no doubt that Jesus has much to offer each and every one of us. The forgiveness of sin, the assurance of salvation and the promise of heaven, peace that transcends all understanding, purpose that no job can ever deliver, power to break sin’s stranglehold on our lives, and a view of life, troubles and heartache, and other people that no philosophy or government mandate could ever provide. This, and so much more, Jesus provides for His own, for those who will surrender their lives to Him.

At the same time, although grace is free, though salvation is the free gift of God to all of those who will believe in Jesus, God’s grace and salvation will cost you and me everything. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer came to the United States from Germany to study at Union Theological Seminary in 1930-1931. He went back to Germany and began to teach Christology, the study of Jesus’ person, role, and nature at the University of Berlin. In 1933, he published, Creation and Fall, a study of Genesis 1-3. It was the same year that Adolf Hitler came to power. Professor Bonhoeffer’s books were banned. He had his license to teach at the University taken away. Hitler was turning up the heat on those pastors who would not join the National Church.

Six years later, in 1939, things were getting more difficult for Bonhoeffer in Germany so he left for the United States. Bonhoeffer said as soon as he stepped foot off the ship he knew he didn’t belong, he had to go back to Germany. How could he lead God’s people if he were not with them in their darkest hour?

Dr. Bonhoeffer went back to Germany and was arrested by Hitler’s men. On February 7, 1945, the day after he turned 39, Bonhoeffer was transferred from Berlin to Buchenwald and then, on April 8, to Flossenburg. Everywhere they took him, Dietrich preached God’s Word to the other prisoners. He preached in the back of military trucks while chained, he preached in the barracks as the men lay on their cots, and he preached God’s truth throughout the day. On April 9, 1945, as they prepared to hang Dr. Bonhoeffer, he continued to teach God’s Word. In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer writes,

The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. (Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, The Cost of Discipleship. page 99)

“The cross meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ.” This, my friends, is the truth that Jesus shared with the crowds in His day and the message of those early followers of Jesus who went out to share the Gospel. When Jesus calls us to follow Him, He calls us to come and die.

This is not the clarion call of the Church in America in our day. In the early 90s a new movement swept across American churches. The “seeker sensitive” movement sought to clear out as many obstacles as possible so as to make it as easy as possible for people to come to church. All kinds of gimmicks were used to draw people in. Elaborate lighting and theatrics, watered down “felt need” sermons were preached, the core of the Gospel and the demands of Jesus were largely put on a shelf. It was a failed experiment. Oh, large crowds came, churches grew, and campuses expanded, but very few disciples were made. Even though we don’t hear the phrase “seeker sensitive” as much as we use to, I’m afraid we are still functioning with the same mindset. We may have lowered the bar, but Jesus never has, nor will He. Let’s take a look at what Jesus said.

26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26-27 NIVO)

If you are going to come to Jesus, surrender your life to Jesus, and follow Jesus then you must “hate” your father, mother, wife, husband, children, brothers, sisters, even your own life? I can still remember the first time I read this Scripture. I said, “I can’t do that.” Hate my mom, dad, and every other person who is important to me? No way! Then I learned that Jesus was using what is called a “hebraism.” A hebraism is a particular way the Jewish people used expressions or idioms. In this case, the way they used “love” and “hate.” Let me give you an example. Turn with me to Genesis 29. Jacob had two wives, Rachel and Leah. In verses 30-31 we read,

30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years. 31 When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. (Genesis 29:30-31 ESV)

Now, some of the translations try to tone it down and say that Leah was “unloved” or “not loved,” but the Hebrew word is “hated.” Jacob didn’t hate Leah, not in the way that we define “hate” in the English language, but he certainly did love Rachel more. Matthew records Jesus making the same statement that we read earlier in Luke, except for one change. Read it with me in Matthew 10:37-38.

37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37-38 ESV)

This is so helpful. Because of the differences in language and culture some folks have taken Jesus’ command to hate those closest to us literally, when in actuality Jesus was saying no person can be more important to us than Him.

We were talking about this in our Promise Keepers Men’s Bible study a few weeks ago. Why is it so important that Jesus be our first priority in life? I shared my own story with the guys. I don’t come from a family of preachers. When I told my family that I had decided to go to seminary my grandfather, who was a very important part of my life, who lived just one mile from my house, took me out to eat breakfast one Saturday. He told me that he had heard what I planned to do and then he said, “Don’t do it. Don’t ever go into a profession where you are dependant on other people to pay your salary.” He was firm, convinced I was making a big mistake, and he urged me not to do it. I disappointed my grandfather. Now, you need to know I loved my grandfather, but if my love for him would have been greater than my love for Jesus, I would be doing something different today.

My situation was easy to compared to a man I greatly admire, Nabeel Qureshi. Most of you have probably never heard the name, but you may have heard the name Ravi Zacharias. Ravi is a great author and a powerful defender of the Christian faith. Nabeel worked alongside of Ravi for several years traveling the globe and speaking about the Christian faith until Nabeel died at the age of 34 last year of a rare form of stomach cancer.

Nabeel grew up in a devout Muslim home. Nabeel’s mom taught him to read by reading the Koran. Every day he would sit next to her and they would read the Koran together. Nabeel finished the Koran when he was five years old. He memorized the last seven chapters so he could recite the five daily prayers. He did this when he was five.

When Nabeel was a freshman in college he became friends with a young guy who was passionate about Jesus and knew God’s Word thoroughly. They argued back and forth about Islam and Christianity for a long time. One day, Nabeel’s friend said, “Nabeel, if Christianity were true and you had to give up everything to follow God, would you want to know the truth?” Nabeel later became a follower of Jesus. He says the hardest thing he has ever had to do in life was tell his parents. Nabeel’s father said, “Nabeel, this day, I feel as if my backbone has been ripped out from inside me.” Nabeel said he felt like he had killed his father. Nabeel’s mother, the one who had taught him to read the Koran and worship Allah, looked at her son and said,

You are my only son. You came from my womb. Since you were born, I have called you my jaan kay tuqray, a physical piece of my life and heart. I cradled you, sang to you, taught you the ways of God. Every day since you came into this world, I have loved you with all of me in a way I have loved no one else. Why have you betrayed me, Billoo? (Qureshi, Nabeel. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.)

Jesus set the bar. If you want to follow Jesus, if you want to be His disciple, then you must surrender all to Him. Nothing or no one can be as important or even remotely as important as living for Jesus and seeking to live for Him.

For some, Jesus calls them to literally give up everything. Charles Thomas Studd, his friends called him C.T., was born in England and was a great cricket player at Eton and later Cambridge University where the was the captain of the team. Dwight Moody was in town preaching God’s Word and C.T. Studd’s life was forever changed. C.T. and six other young men, when they graduated from Cambridge, decided God was calling them to join Hudson Taylor as missionaries in China. C.T. knew that when he was 25 he would receive a huge inheritance from his wealthy father. An inheritance that has been valued at 25 million dollars in today’s money. C.T. prayed, searched God’s Word, and decided that God was calling him to give it all away and to live simply trusting in God for his daily provisions. It was the story of the rich young ruler that convinced C.T. to give away his wealth. The first check he wrote was to Dwight L. Moody and the money was used to start the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. The Moody Bible Institute is still training young men and women to teach and preach and minister all around the world. He wrote several checks to George Muller to help care for the many orphan homes Muller had set up.

C.T. Studd spent ten years ministering in China. He then spent seven years as a missionary in India. He had suffered physically, his health was poor, but he felt called to go to Africa, even though his doctors told him not to. He spent the last twenty-one years of his life ministering to the people in the Belgian Congo. This is what he wrote to those thinking about becoming a missionary.

The ‘romance’ of a missionary is often made up of monotony and drudgery; there often is no glamour in it; it doesn’t stir a man’s spirit or blood. So don’t come out to be a missionary as an experiment; it is useless and dangerous. Only come if you feel you would rather die than not come. Don’t come if you want to make a great name or want to live long. Come if you feel there is no greater honor, after living for Christ, than to die for Him. (C.T. Studd)

For some like C.T. Studd and the rich young ruler Jesus calls them to give up everything. For others Jesus allows us to keep what He has given us, but to always know that we are stewards and not owners. All that He has given us is His to use at any time and in any way He desires. Is that too much to ask? I don’t know. That’s a question that each of us must ask of ourselves and answer before we decide if we are going to become a follower of Jesus. Jesus calls us to count the cost. This is the theme of the two parables Jesus shared.

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:28-33 NIVO)

The parables are really easy to understand aren’t they? In Jesus’ day farmers would often build towers to keep watch over their fields or vineyards. Nobody in their right mind would begin building if they didn’t have the money to complete the project. The farmer would first sit down and count the cost before he began building. And so it is with the king who has an army of 10,000 and knows his adversary has 20,000 men at the ready. Before he advances the troops he must first consider if he can win the war. If not, then he better try to negotiate a peace treaty.

Like the farmer and the king we must count the cost. What does Jesus require of me if I choose to follow Him? I have to honest with you. Jesus has no desire to do a makeover of your life. He doesn’t want to make you a better you. He wants to takeover your life. He wants you and me to walk in His steps. What does that look like? Well, let me just give you one example. Jesus said we are to love one another, even our enemies, and forgive those who sin against us. This is totally counter to what our society practices today. Our society sets out to destroy their enemies by any means necessary. And those who sin against us? We are to never allow them to forget what they have done to us. Yet, Jesus says we are to forgive others in the same way He has forgiven us.

Jesus call to forgive haunted Mary Johnson for the longest time. In February of 1993, Oshea Israel shot and killed Mary’s only son, Laramium. He was only 16. Mary wanted Oshea to rot in prison. He was convicted and sentenced to 25 years. Mary was so bitter, so angry, but she loved Jesus with all of her heart and He would not leave her alone. Ten years after Oshea went to prison Mary went to visit Oshea. She didn’t want to go, but she had to go. At the end of the meeting Mary and Oshea hugged one another and Mary was crying uncontrollably. She was crying for her son, for her loss, and for Oshea’s loss as well.

Mary continued to visit Oshea as long as he was in prison. When word came that Oshea was going to be released, Mary joined with some nuns from the neighborhood to throw him a “welcome home” party. There was a vacant apartment next to Mary’s and Oshea moved in. Was she crazy? No, Mary had surrendered her life to Jesus, all of her life: Her will, her hatred, her brokenness, her desires. She was not doing what she wanted to do, but she was doing what Jesus called her to do. What difference did it make? Well, I’ll let Oshea tell you.

…She’s like another mother. So it’s like coming home and being able to speak to your mother about how your day is going and finding out about how her day is going, and then proceeding with the rest of your day. So it’s a blessing. Sometimes whenever I’m feeling down and out, or I feel like things aren’t working, I get discouraged or whatever, I can look at her face and say, ‘Hey, she gave me a chance, I need to give myself a chance.’ (Oshea Israel)

No person would ever push Mary to forgive Oshea, but then again Mary and Oshea would never know what they know today if they had listened to people instead of to Jesus. Jesus calls us to count the cost. Will you follow Him? Will you surrender your life to Him this very morning?

Mike Hays

Britton Christian Church

922 NW 91st

OKC, OK. 73114

May 5, 2019

All In!
Luke 14:25-35
Tagged on: