The Financing is Solid, Will You Build?

Biblical Text: Luke 14: 25-35

The place where Jesus gets the roughest, at least to modern ears, especially modern protestant ears, is anytime the idea of discipleship or faithfulness or sanctification comes up. When Jesus turns the crowd and says something offensive or obnoxious or just strange, you can bet he’s talking about walking the Christian way. And that is what today’s text is about.

As this sermon lays out, following Jesus’ pictures, the financing of the tower is secure. Jesus has already paid it. Likewise Jesus has already won the victory over the enemy. We need not fear. But the tower needs to be built. The war needs to be fought. And we are called to do that. Yet many will turn away from it. And they will make peace with the world simply because they wish to avoid the cross.

The disciple of Jesus can’t avoid the cross.

Table 23 Now Seating

Biblical Text: Luke 14:1-14

The text as I read it has two clear parts. There is the introductory part which is the crucible around the man with dropsy. This part to me carries the full gospel – Jesus embraces sinners, heals us and releases us in peace. The second part is the parable or the parables. But these stories are not the cute little tales of fathers and sons or sheep and shepherds. These parables are less invitations to understand the goodness of the Father and are more warnings or wisdom sayings. (Hence the OT reading being from Proverbs.) They invite us not to ponder who God is, because Jesus has already demonstrated that clearly and completely in his action. Instead they invite us to consider how do we live having seen the revelation?

The world seat people, chooses honors and awards, in a certain order by its rules. Jesus knows this and gives that order the side eye. The warning is that we should know this as well. How the Father honors is different. How eternity with order itself is different. And if we are made for eternity, we should be acting that way today. As another parable puts it we should be using today’s mammon to be welcomed into eternal dwellings. If we eat up all our providence today, claiming the great seats now, when that day comes the shame will be known to all.

The Cost of Discipleship


Text: Luke 14:25-35
Full Sermon Draft

Luke 12 to 14 is tough to preach on in the current context. Even the “easy” text of Luke 12:22-34 if you are preaching it in context is not so easy. I think most of us here those words and immediately think – “ok, this Jesus thing isn’t going to mess up my life, don’t worry, I can still have my stuff.” And that is almost exactly the opposite of the intention. A disciple is to be a fearless witness (Luke 12:4-12), and the assumed context of witness is persecution. Jesus is heading to Jerusalem and the cross. In the midst of that, don’t worry, your Father takes care of the sparrow, right? So keep walking. All these things that might be taken away here, will be added in abundance in the Kingdom. (Luke 12:31-34)

Then you careen through “not peace, but division (Luke 12:49ff)”, “the barren fig tree”, “the narrow door”, “Jerusalem’s hardness of heart”, “the great banquet – where the invitation are cast off for meaningless excuses”, and it culminates in this text.

Sometimes Jesus sees a crowd and his gut is churned because the are like sheep without a shepherd. But just as often Jesus gathers a crowd, he turns and says something that causes most to flee or go home. I’m importing that more full account from John 6:52-71, but you can take Luke and observe the lessons Jesus teaches when he turns toward the crowds. This would seem to be one of those second crowds. We are on the way to Jerusalem, to the cross, he thinks we should know.

Why it is tough, it because of the quote from Dr. Beck at the start of the sermon. The church today operates on a different model than the early church. The church today gathers crowds and tries to keep them no matter what. Oh it tries to encourage them to places and things where spiritual growth can occur, but what it never does intentionally is what Jesus does – spell out our spiritual state. That is left for you to intuit. The church at different times would force a counting of the cost first. Are your priorities Kingdom priorities? If you don’t hate the best things in your life (wife, husband, family, job) when they get in the way of your walk with Jesus, you can’t be a disciple.

In that counting is also the grace. Like Peter realized when others turned away – “Where shall we go, you have the words of eternal life.” This is Jesus at his most Protestant. You have a choice to make – the hard narrow path to life or the easy path to destruction. And once you choose, don’t turn back – because what good is salt that has lost its saltiness? Where can it be re-salted?

The means of grace are for those who need it.


Luke 14:1-14
Full Sermon Draft

There is one big difference between the world say pre-1750 and post-1750. Now that date is rough and the change not uniformly distributed, but what I’m really pointing out is a change with the Enlightenment. A pre-enlightenment mindset could look at events in the world or things right in front of you and see a larger sign. Another way you might describe this is that the universe as enchanted. You could swing to extremes, like the purchase of amulets and other charms to ward off all the things that go bump in the night. And all that stuff is actually what the bible comes down harshly on – see Paul in Ephesus (Acts 19:17-20) or see the story of Saul (1 Samuel 28:3ff) or look at the law (Lev 20:27, Deu 18:1-12) where the practice of such things is placed alongside child sacrifice. But there is a different form of enchantment that was thrown out with that superstition. The bible would just call it having ears to hear, or eyes to see. Jesus would complain that his contemporaries could read the signs of upcoming weather, but they couldn’t read the important signs right in front of their noses (Luke 13:54-56).

That is what is happening in the text of Luke across these chapters and our text is another example. The man’s illness, dropsy, is a sign. The Pharisees are intending it as one sign, but Jesus is reading it rightly. This is a great example of the prophetic office. The prophet could tell the future but what the prophets of Israel really did was read the signs for the people. Jesus tells then parables that illuminate the real purpose of the sign.

What the reading of the sign, the observation of an enchanted universe, is really about is a call to examination of personal conscience. Where have I fallen short? How is God calling me back to the path? Because the grace and mercy of God, the invitation to he feast, goes out to the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. Jesus eats with sinners. The means of grace are for those who need it. If you don’t need the healing (or more truthfully don’t think you need healing) they are not for you. What this sermon attempts to do is read some signs…and then issue an invitation.