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Parables Bible Study 21: The Tower Builder and the King Who Would Go to War

Title: Parables Bible Study 21: The Tower Builder and the King Who Would Go to War

Subject: The Kingdom of Heaven

Age: 13+ years

Location: Luke 14:28-32

Handout for note taking: Bible Study Worksheet

Begin the Bible Study with a prayer. Read the passage, and then allow time for quiet reflection. Share the following notes on the parable.

The Context of these parables is important. There are many who do not consider these two short stories to be parables. They follow the parable of the Great Supper and arguably make up an important part of Luke's chapters 13 and 14 in which Jesus describes membership in the kingdom. Chapter 14 presents five elements of what it means to be a disciple:

  • A lesson on the true meaning of the Sabbath;
  • An example of Christian humility;
  • Parable of the Great Supper;
  • Tower builder & King; and
  • The disciple is the salt of the earth

The set-up is also important: Luke 14:25-27, "Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.'" Is it possible that Jesus knew that many who followed Him were drawn to Him and wanted to be counted as His followers, but they did not realize that this was enough? Yes. These verses offer a sober warning, and it is that discipleship and membership require total commitment.

Christ used the words hate and cross within those verses before the parable. Christ is making a statement that shows us how far we are to take our commitment to Him. Paired with the word "cross" we come to understand just how much is to be expected of those who commit to Him. Christ obviously preached love and was love, so this choice of words rings difficult in our ears. Yet there is something useful in the words He chose. "Before we set out to follow Christ, we must understand what the consequences might be, or to put it another way, what will be the cost of discipleship." (The Parables, pp. 135-136) Here the Lord is challenging us to look into the future. He wants us to evaluate the cost, or, if you will the weight of discipleship.

An interesting fact about scaling Mt. Everest is how often attempts fail. When examining why they fail, most reason that the failure to summit can be traced back to the planning. In fact between his successful first summit of Mt. Everest and his previous failure, Hilary changed basically one thing: he doubled the amount of water he packed. Proper planning demands careful accounting.

  • "If we undertake to build a life that conforms to the Lord's demands, but have not considered all that is required, we will be left with something ridiculous like a half-finished tower." (Parables, p. 136)
  • "Following Christ with reservation or going only halfway will not impress our neighbors (especially those we want to bring to Him) and will invite only ridicule."
  • "Life in Christ is a conflict with His enemy, the devil."
  • "If we have not strengthened ourselves, we will be easily defeated."
  • "Or, worse, we may try to make peace with the enemy by accepting his terms."
  • "There is probably no one among us to whom these examples do not apply." (Parables 136).

We obtain four principles from this parable: half-hearted effort or commitment will lead to shame, battle, spiritual exercise, and capitulation.

The parable implies by its opening, in verse 28, "Which of you. . ." or "What king. . ." that no one would be so foolish to attempt what follows without careful consideration. Unfortunately we don't do the same with our spiritual life. In many ways this parable takes us back to where we began with the parable of the Sower. The seed lands on different types of soil and only one type has the ability to give rise to a mature plant. We don't take the task very seriously. We don't enter into our relationship with God very carefully. Rather we are like young love birds who impulsively marry.

Verse 33 calls us to a sacrificial life: "In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple." This brings to mind three questions:

  • Am I willing to give up whatever I discover, in an honest examination of my conscience, that is more important to me than my relationship with God?
  • Am I willing to give up my abundance of possessions, or do I love them so much that I am unwilling to share them with others who may really need them?
  • Am I willing to give up position or standing in my community or in society, if my confessing of Christ would jeopardize it?

We don't seem to be raising in abundance Christians with mettle anymore and this parable demands it. The last two verses, 34 and 35, are a description of the inept, insipid Disciple, a description of what it means to be a disciple of Christ without power! If the essence of discipleship is lost then one cannot do the work Christ has sent us to do; save the world/bring men and women to Jesus. If we do not live up to the call of discipleship, if we in effect are not able to be disciples of Christ, then there is nothing to bring change or transformation to the world.

Allow time for discussion or reflection.

End the bible study with a prayer.

[1] For this study I relied almost exclusively on Archbishop Dimitry's The Parables, pp. 133-136

Prepared by Fr. Evan Armatas

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