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The Tower Builder


   PART IV: THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
 
           CHAPTER 19

                                    Introduction

             The Tower Builder is found only in Luke 14:28-30. The
         Tower Builder  and  The  Warring  King  (Luke  14:31-33)  are
         parabolic  illustrations   of  the  cost of discipleship that
         Jesus outlined in Luke 14:25-27:                
 

                        Large Crowds  were  traveling   with
                   Jesus,  and turning to them, he said: "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.  And
                   anyone who does not carry  his cross  and
                   follow  me  cannot be my disciple.  (Luke
                   14:25-27, New International Version).
 
The Story
                     "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?  For if he lays the
                   foundation and is not able to finish  it,
                   everyone  who  sees it will ridicule him,
                   saying, `This fellow began to  build  and
                   was   not   able   to  finish.'"    (Luke
                   14:28-30, New International Version).

              The  tower  mentioned  was  probably  a  common sight in
         Jesus'  day.    Vineyard  owners would build a tower and post
         guards  to  prevent  thieves  from  stealing   the   harvest.
         [William    Barclay,   DAILY   STUDY   BIBLE   SERIES,   LUKE
         (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), p. ?].

              The story is that of planning.    A  primary    step  in
         planning to build a tower is figuring material and labor. One
         should  have  enough  money  before   beginning   to   build.
         Otherwise,  one  could  become  a laughing stock because of a
         partly-finished tower.
 

                                           
 

                              The Interpretation

             Before  interpreting  the  parable,  Luke 14:25-27  must
         be addressed, since the  parable  illustrates  this  passage.
         Jesus was on his way to the cross, whereas the crowds thought
         that he was on his way  to establish  the  messianic  empire.
         (Barclay,  Ibid.).    Since  Jesus  was  going  to pay such a
         terrible price for our salvation  in  the  near  future,  and
         since he knew that his followers would also be persecuted, he
         had to prepare them.

              The idea of Jesus saying that his disciple must hate his
         (or  her)  father, mother, wife  (or husband),  brothers  and
         sisters, even his (or her)  own  life  sounds  wrong  to  our
         western  ears.   Didn't Jesus command us to love one another?
         Isn't hate condemned by God?  Didn't God institute the family
         and   didn't  Jesus  command  us  to  love  God,  others  and
         ourselves?  Here are two passages in Jesus' own words:
 
                      One of the teachers of the law  came
                   and  heard  them debating.  Noticing that
                   Jesus had given them a  good  answer,  he
                   asked  him,  "Of  all  the  commandments,
                   which is the most important ?"

                      "The  most  important  one,"  answered
                   Jesus,  "is  this:  `Hear,  O Israel, the
                   Lord  our God, the Lord is one.  Love the
                   Lord your God  with all  your  heart  and
                   with all your soul and with all your mind
                   and with all your strength.'  The  second
                   is this: `Love your neighbor as yourself.'
                   There  is  no   commandment  greater than
                   these." (Mark 12:28-31, New International
                   Version).
 
                      "A new command I give you: love one
                   another. As I have loved you, so you must
                   love  one  another.  By this all men will
                   know that you are my  disciples,  if  you
                   love  one  another."  (John 13:34-35, New
                   International Version).
 
              How is  Jesus'  command  to  hate  reconciled  with  his
         command to love everyone?  If Jesus' command to hate everyone
         were  taken  literally,  it  would destroy the family and the
         church,  both  of which God himself instituted.  It would  in
         fact  destroy   all   human   relationships,  and precipitate
         murder and wars. A literal interpretation is obviously wrong.
         The answer lies in the Bible itself.

              Jesus'  use of the word "hate" here is a Hebraism, which
         the crowd he was addressing understood.  Adam Clarke comments
         on Jesus' use of the word hate in Luke 14:26,
 
                 Matthew,   chap.  x.  37,  expresses  the  true
              meaning  of this  word,  when  he  says,  "He  that
              loveth  father  or  mother more than me."  In chap.
              vi. 24 he uses the word   HATE in the  same  sense.
              When we read, Rom. ix. 13, "Jacob have I loved, but
              Esau have I hated," the meaning is simply,  I  have
              loved  Jacob,  the Israelites,  more than Esau, the
              Edomites.  That this is no arbitrary interpretation
              of  the  word HATE, but one agreeable to the Hebrew
              idiom, appears from what  is  said  on  Gen.  xxix.
              30-31,  where  Leah's  being  HATED is explained by
              Rachel's being loved  more  than  Leah.    (Clarke,
              COMMENTARY ON THE HOLY BIBLE, p. 878).

              What Jesus meant was that God must be placed first.   We
         must  love him as Jesus did.  Jesus loved his Heavenly Father
         more than material   things,  more  than  worldly  power  and
         prestige,  more  than his earthly mother and father, brothers
         and sisters, more than anyone.  He loved his Heavenly  Father
         more  than  his  own  life, which he was about to demonstrate
         when he would give his life for us.  He also  loved  us  more
         than his own life.  This is the cost of discipleship.

              Here is a paradox: you can't love  your  family  without
         "hating"  them.    God's love seeks the best for the beloved.
         If we love with a  mere  selfish  human  love,  we  hurt  our
         family.   If we love them with the love of God, we help them.
         We must place God first.  He loves our family  more  than  we
         possibly could.

              To pick up our cross and  follow  him  means  to  be  in
         compete and continuous submission to the will  of  God--as  a
         way of life.  [WESLEYAN BIBLE COMMENTARY (Kansas City: Beacon
         Hill Press), LUKE,  by Ralph Earle, p. 290].   Jesus  is  our
         role model.  If we truly love God, we will do this.
              "Now," Jesus says, "count  the  cost.  Are you  able  to
         build that tower?  Are you able to be my disciple?
 

                             Central Truth

             GOD REQUIRES THAT WE LOVE HIM MORE THAN ANYONE.
 

                              Conclusion

            You may be thinking, "I don't think that I can be Jesus'
         disciple under the conditions that he lays down."  Actually,
         we cannot love God first without his help.  He  gives us
         the ability by placing his love within our hearts.

             It  all comes down to a decision for each of us.   Decide
         for God--his way is the only way.  END.