Summary: When you come face to face with the King: 1. You have to understand who you are. 2. You have to understand your options. 3. You have to understand that there is only one option.
Kings at War
There used to be a Visa commercial on TV that had a young tough telling his gorgeous girlfriend that he wanted everyone to know he loved her. She asks if he is sure that this is what he wants to do. The next scene has the guy sitting in a chair at a tattoo parlor. He is going to express his love for his girlfriend, whose name is Donna, by getting her name tattooed on his arm inside a big red heart, but he remembered about halfway through the procedure that he had not asked how much it would cost. The burly guy giving the tattoo mutters that it will be $50.00. The guy getting the tattoo pulls out all the money he has in his pocket and says, “Oh, I only have $41.” The commercial then cuts to the guy and his girlfriend Donna outside the tattoo parlor on the sidewalk. Donna is storming off, and the guy is yelling after her, “I’ll get it fixed!” The camera then zooms in on the tattoo which reads, “I love Don!” He didn’t count the cost, and he paid the price. If he had listened to the words of Jesus about counting the cost before you do something he would never have gotten himself in that position.
Counting the cost plays a big part in our spiritual lives. There are many people who want to be a Christian, but they do not think about the cost. It sounds great to be forgiven, have the promise of heaven and experience the love of God. And it is all free — given to us without cost. The book of Revelation quotes Jesus as saying, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life” (Revelation 21:6). Having a relationship with God cannot be bought, and there is no way we can earn it. It has to be a gift, otherwise it would never be ours, because there is no way we could afford it. The Bible calls this grace. But there is a great cost in an important sense.
It’s like this. Let’s say that I decided I would like to climb Mount Everest. My understanding is that it costs around $70,000 to make the climb, and I have no way of coming up with that kind of money. But suppose there is a benevolent businessman who is a very close friend and is willing to sponsor me. He pays the airfare, the fees, and buys all the food and equipment. He hires the guides and pays for the training. He knows all the things I will need. It is totally free for me. But if I accept this generous offer, there is still a great cost to me. First of all, I have to actually climb the mountain — I can’t just talk about it. The focus and direction of my life will totally change. I will have to eliminate some things from my life. There will be months of training before the climb and grueling effort during the climb. There will be great sacrifices. I will think about the climb every day. It will literally take over my life. The trip to Mount Everest has been given to me for free, but there is still a great cost on my part.
So many people come to the altar of a church and ask for their sins to be forgiven and for God to come into their lives, and walk away as though that is all there is to it. They have received the free gift, but they have not counted the cost. They think the issue is over when it has only begun. Count the cost before you begin the journey. This is the message of both the parables of Jesus which we have read today.
But I want to concentrate on the second parable. Let’s look at the lessons we find in Jesus’ words when he says, “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:31-33).
I think the first lesson in this parable is: You have to understand who you are. The Bible says that Jesus Christ is “Lord of all” (Acts 10:36). That means that there is a King of all the earth, and you are not him. You are part of his creation, not the Creator. God owns the world and everything in it. Anything you have is only on loan. When you die you will leave everything you have accumulated, and someone else will either take it or throw it away. As they say, “There are no U-Hauls behind a hearse.” Your pride will come to an end when you return to dust. You are not a king. You are a subject of the King. It is good to know your place and position. You will run into a great deal of trouble trying to be a king when you are not.