March 2, 2024

Counting the Cost

Luke 14:1-33

David enjoyed much favor from God, for he was a man after God’s own heart. In 2 Samuel 24 we catch up to David near the end of his life. David numbered the children of Israel, something the kings were told not to do—their victory was to be found in the Lord. Upon doing it, David realized his error, but he was punished anyway, and when he was given the chance to put an end and make a sacrifice he went to the threshing floor of Araunah. Araunah offered to give him the floor and the items for the offering, but David would have none of it. He would not offer an offering to God that cost him nothing.

In Luke 14, we find ourselves in the house of a ruler of the Pharisees. During the meal, Jesus turns the established thinking patterns on their head with an object lesson, some parables and a call to discipleship. As we go through this passage, think about what it would have been like to be sitting there at the table with Jesus, and see what the Word of God has for you today.

The Object Lesson

The Pharisees were all about testing Jesus, and there’s no reason to think that this was otherwise. You see, the Pharisees had created a set of rules for the Sabbath. To them, the Sabbath was a day of rest focused on prayer—no big meals!

A man who had dropsy is placed before Jesus at the table, so He asks those present whether it was lawful to heal on the Sabbath. Dropsy is only mentioned in this passage in the entire Bible. Miriam-Webster states that dropsy, or edema, is an excess of fluid in connective tissue or a serous cavity. It would have been visibly obvious with painful swelling

We do not see the man ask for healing, but we do see the Pharisees watching Him carefully. When the leaders do not answer, Jesus heals him. He asks them to place a value on this man.

Since it was lawful to rescue an ox if it had fallen, Jesus wants to know if it is permitted to heal as well. The point of this was not to debate the Sabbath, but to challenge the religious leader’s views.

The religious leaders valued their piety. They created rules. They prayed before an audience. They made sure everyone knew how much they were giving.

To them, catching Jesus violating their laws was more important than seeing the man healed. They were not generally looking after the man’s welfare as much as they were wanting to see Jesus sin.

Which launches Jesus off into the parables to drive the point home.

The Parables

Banquet Table by Steve Snodgrass

The Wedding Feast

Jesus looks around and sees how the people are seated at the table. The position that you had at the table indicated the rank of the person. Even today, there are guidelines about where people are to sit—the more formal the dinner, the more thought goes into where people sit.

He tells those assembled that the best thing for them to do is to seek the lowest seat. If you seek a higher seat and someone of higher rank comes in, you will have to move down. If you seek a low seat, you may get to move up.

The point, however, is not about the seats, but about humility.

It is better to be exalted by others than to be proud about yourself. Many people think too highly of themselves, a direct link back to the religious leaders’ beliefs about their piety.

Colorful Capitals Bar Mitzvah/Bat Mitzvah Invitation by Melissa Dinwiddie

Be Our Guest

Jesus turns His attention from the seating order to the man that invited Him. Having seen all the leaders and rich people there, Jesus tells the host that he should have invited the poor instead of the rich!

There is blessing in inviting the poor, crippled, lame and blind in that they are unable to repay you—you will be repaid by God later.

It hearkens back to the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus tells us not to do things to be seen by men. “Our Father which sees in secret will reward openly.

Jesus is not telling him never to invite His neighbors, but to instead focus on being a servant instead of what he can get out of it. Inviting people from higher station may mean that gifts are received or reciprocal events. It could raise the person’s station to be included with the rich people.

Jesus is saying that seeking to exalt oneself is less important than seeking to serve. He is telling us to let God exalt us, rather than man.

This refers to the first parable—humility over pride. Jesus is always preaching humility in our interaction with others. Jesus wants us to not look down on our place.

The Great Banquet

A man at the table draws attention to the Kingdom of God and eating there, and Jesus draws them in one step further…

A man had a banquet and invited many. Those invited came up with excuses not to attend:

  • I have purchased a land and need to go see it
  • I have purchased a team of oxen and need to go see them
  • I have married a wife, and cannot come

Each excuse seems better than the last, but…

All of the excuses are laughable. They could have eaten and still completed the tasks—just delayed. What they were really saying is that they didn’t want to, that their things were more important than the great banquet.

Therefore, the master becomes angry!

The master commands that the poor, blind and lame of the city be brought to the banquet. Having not been able to bring the honorable of the city, the master requests the dishonorable.

This also hearkens back to the instructions to the host, about bringing in those that could not afford to pay you back. Which in turn ties back to seeking to be humble, not proud.

Even after this, there is still more room at the banquet. So, the master commands that the servant go to the highways and hedges to tell them to come in. The master seeks to fill his house and is willing to get foreigners to do it. The master is making sure that none that were invited get a chance to change their mind.

Each of these parables grow on the next, all tying back to the original parable, and each one making those at the table more uncomfortable.

It is in this context that Jesus then throws down the…

Call To Discipleship

Jesus emphatically states that following after Him must come first in your life.

To underscore this point, Jesus takes the people in the parable and works His way backward:

In order to follow Him a disciple must hate their father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters—up to their very own life. At the end of the call, He states that a disciple must renounce all that he has.

Jesus says that a disciple must bear their own cross and come after Him. They must bear their cross as if they were headed to be crucified. They must crucify the flesh.

Jesus then gives two examples to drive home the point.

  • Who starts to build a tower without sitting down to count the cost of how much it will take to finish it?
  • Who goes out to war without knowing whether he can win?

Just as a person would not want to risk the embarrassment of starting something they could not finish, or fighting a war they could not win, the person that wants to be a disciple must be willing to face the cost.

The cost is everything!

Jesus closes by talking about salt. Salt in necessary for preserving things, but only works when it is strongest, and most pure. If salt is weakened, it’s only good for road salt.


Jesus has a word for the American Christian. At no time in history has the world seen the wealth of the United States.

I went into church and sat on the velvet pew. I watched as the sun came shining through the stained glass windows. The minister dressed in a velvet robe opened the golden gilded Bible, marked it with a silk bookmark and said, “If any man will be my disciple, said Jesus, let him deny himself, take up his cross, sell what he has, give it to the poor, and follow me.”

Soren Kierkagaard, in “And I looked Around and Nobody was Laughing.”

Most people that you see in your church come from good backgrounds, and we have jobs that make a good living. In this world today there is a lot of jockeying for position in the body of Christ. Big names of the faith are seeking to outdo themselves in terms of promoting the latest thing

  • Do we care about the immigrant enough?
  • Do we care about minorities enough?
  • Have we promoted women to enough leadership roles?

“Pastors” are monetizing the faith in ways to line their own pockets and seeking out others of status to make their own star shine brighter.

But you say, “MInTheGap, that’s not me, I’m just a lowly guy in Small Town, Minnesota!”

So Jesus turns to you, and says, who are you bringing to dinner?

When we reach out evangelistically, who are we looking to reach? We have a desire to see souls saved, but we want “good people”

Jesus told the host that he should be inviting the poor, blind, lame, etc to come. Whom do we share the gospel with?

When we have people into our homes or are seeking to minister, whom do we bring? Are there people we would not bring?

The master in the parable didn’t stop at the low people in the city but went to the foreigners and outcasts. Do you have people in your life that you feel are too bad, to low to hear the good news of Christ, to be ministered to, to be loved by God?

You say, “MInTheGap, I care for everyone and hold no grudges, and I share the Gospel, tracts, and everything to everyone I can.”

So Jesus turns to you and asks, have you counted the cost and forsaken everything?

Is fulfilling the Great Commission the number one thing in your life?

The world desires that we focus on temporal things: our work, our families, our hobbies and our leisure.  Jesus tells us that unless we forsake all, we cannot be His disciple.

Let that sink in for a moment.

The devil loves it when we say we believe then prioritize everything in our lives ahead of God.

A.W. Tozer

Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.

Francis Chan

Take inventory of your life right now.

  • Can you say that you are prioritizing God above everything?
  • Can you say that you’re succeeding at something that really matters?

During his reign, King Frederick William III of Prussia found himself in trouble. Wars had been costly, and in trying to build the nation, he was seriously short of finances. He couldn’t disappoint his people, and to capitulate to the enemy was unthinkable. After careful reflection, he decided to ask the women of Prussia to bring their jewelry of gold and silver to be melted down for their country. For each ornament received, he determined to exchange a decoration of bronze or iron as a symbol of his gratitude. Each decoration would be inscribed, “I gave gold for iron, 18l3.” The response was overwhelming. Even more important, these women prized their gifts from the king more highly than their former jewelry. The reason, of course, is clear. The decorations were proof that they had sacrificed for their king. Indeed, it became unfashionable to wear jewelry, and thus was established the Order of the Iron Cross. Members wore no ornaments except a cross of iron for all to see. When Christians come to their King, they too exchange the flourishes of their former life for a cross.

Lynn Jost
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