The line in the sand was clear, the sides had been chosen. There were only two options; the illusion of a third choice likely tempted some just like it fools some today. This intersection didn’t offer any free ride based in benefits, one place’s programs vs. the others, it was much more radical than that. Instead of pancake breakfasts and potluck dinners, the opportunity was one which required death.
The crowd in Luke 14 was following and Jesus was intentionally addressing their commitment before they went any further. He was risking them leaving for the message of them living. He goes into examples that Christ followers have to consider prior to qualification as a disciple:
- He first says you have to die: hung on a cross every day
- He then goes into the costs: Are you willing to commit your resources to the completion of the tower you start to build? It takes everything you have.
- If you ever felt offended at the offering call of your local church, consider how Jesus calls for everything and not just 10%.
Then Jesus illustrates that you are getting attacked by an enemy that outnumbers you two to one. As you see the battle threatening are you going to stand your ground? The king that Jesus uses as an example won’t. That king sends a delegation to compromise before the enemy even gets in fighting range.
I was a tank commander in the army and the preferred ratio for an offensive against a fortified position was 3 to 1. In other words, if I wanted to attack and enemy who was standing his ground I needed 3 to 1, not just double. If I were defending a 2 to 1 attack, I would know that the odds were in my favor. Yet, in the example that Jesus gives, the compromise comes in a ratio that isn’t even a significant combat disadvantage to the defending king.
The king is just a flat-out coward. He’s afraid and fear is the very emotion that his enemy benefits from without ever even firing a shot. The simple threat of battle brings victory and reward to an enemy who didn’t bring enough of a force to overcome the king in the first place.
The king in Luke 14:31 sends a delegation to compromise when there is a threat from an inferior opposing force. He doesn’t value what he has enough to keep it and defend it and is willing to give away part of his kingdom to preserve a portion and stay safe and relatively comfortable. What have we sacrificed to stay safe? What are we giving up to hold onto our piece of the American dream?