What does Luke 14:29 mean?
ESV: Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,
NIV: For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you,
NASB: Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who are watching it will begin to ridicule him,
CSB: Otherwise, after he has laid the foundation and cannot finish it, all the onlookers will begin to ridicule him,
NLT: Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.
KJV: Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
NKJV: lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,
Verse Commentary:
Jesus continues His metaphor about the man who starts to build a tower but does not have enough money to finish it. He is talking to a crowd about discipleship. Jews could choose from many teachers and religious leaders to follow. Few, if any, of these teachers are being stalked by Pharisees who want them dead (Mark 3:6; Luke 6:11; 11:53–54; John 5:16). For Jesus' disciples, loyalty to their teacher includes the willingness to lose their lives (Luke 12:4–5; 14:27).

As part of this explanation, Jesus compares the sacrifices His disciples must make to constructing a tower. A person may have a vision to build, but they need to understand the risks and consider if they have the resources to complete the job (Luke 14:28).

This is not about earning or paying for salvation. Salvation is a gift of God by His grace (Ephesians 2:1–10). Rather, Jesus is talking about the ongoing life of growing in relationship with Him. Salvation requires us to humbly repent and ask Jesus to cover our sins with His sacrifice. Part of repenting is acknowledging that how we live is wrong and agreeing to change. Salvation is the foundation. An ongoing life of obedience and faithfulness to Jesus is the tower. This imagery of discipleship is the only proper way to thank Jesus for what He's done for us.

Sadly, stories of "Christian" leaders or celebrities who have fallen into disgrace prove that someone can have a biblical foundation but lack the discipline to build a strong, resilient life for Christ. The public ridicule they incur brings shame on themselves, Jesus, and all Jesus' followers.
Verse Context:
Luke 14:25–33 continues Jesus' lessons on who will experience the kingdom of God. Humble, generous, and responsive people will receive God's blessings (Luke 14:1–24). Those who would be Jesus' disciples must count the cost of dedicating their lives to Him and make sure they're willing to pay it. Entering God's kingdom is free, but being a useful citizen takes sacrifice. This section on the cost of discipleship resembles Matthew 10:37–38.
Chapter Summary:
A Pharisee invites Jesus to a formal dinner. There, Jesus teaches lessons using invitations and feasts as a theme. These emphasize humility and the importance of not making excuses. After the dinner, Jesus warns that those who seek to follow Him will experience hardship. Believers should "count the cost" and understand what aspects of this world they may have to give up.
Chapter Context:
Luke 14 continues Jesus' doctrinal march to Jerusalem and the cross. Luke 14 and 15 contain the second grouping of one miracle and a series of discussions about the kingdom of God and salvation; Luke 13:10–35 is the first. Next will be a collection of warnings about rejecting God's kingdom (Luke 16:1—17:10) and two more sets of lessons about the kingdom and salvation, each beginning with a single miracle (Luke 17:11—18:34; 18:35—19:27). After this comes Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
Book Summary:
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
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