PART IV: THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIPLarge Crowds were traveling with
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:
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).
"Suppose one of you wants to build aThe Story
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
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
"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
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
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?
GOD REQUIRES THAT WE LOVE HIM MORE THAN ANYONE.
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.