What king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not first sit down and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. (Luke 14:31-32)
The Good News is the message of love between God and man. God loves man with such an intense and compelling passion that He could only express it through incarnation. Only through divinity dwelling in humanity could God fully demonstrate His desire to be one with man — His highest and most precious creation. Love was the compelling force that caused the divine Word to leave behind all His divine rights in heaven to come to earth and take up residence in a man. Only in that way could He deal with the enmity that divided Him from those who were made in His very image and likeness.1
What did God see in us that compelled Him to make such a sacrifice?2 It wasn’t as if the sacrifice He made didn’t come at a great cost to Himself, for it was this very thing that the gospel discloses about His true character and heart, which compels us in the same way to make that corresponding sacrifice of our own lives in surrendering all that we are and have to follow in His footsteps. Somehow, underneath all our accumulated layers of hardened callous, there lay a heart which He knew still had the potential of being reunited with Him to accomplish His purpose on earth — even when we were yet His enemies.3
The story of Jonathan and David gives us understanding of the essence of the gospel. Jonathan was the son of Saul, the first king of Israel. As such, he was the rightful heir to the throne, though David was God’s choice to be king in place of Saul. But Jonathan loved David more than his own right to the throne. If we can’t comprehend the gospel in this story, then we can’t be saved. We will never be united with God, for it is through the covenant of Jonathan and David that we can see the heart of Messiah and the heart of a true disciple and what is required of those who follow Him. It contains the very essence of the true gospel.
In 1 Samuel 18:1-4, Jonathan made a covenant with David (who represents Messiah4) because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his armor and even his sword, bow, and belt. In doing so, Jonathan ratified his covenant with David in an act of total capitulation (surrender) to his coming kingship and kingdom,5 giving himself to David as a servant. This was a sign of his recognition that David was the anointed king.6
Jonathan gave up his kingdom, his sovereignty, to the greater king. He laid down his arms and gave up his possessions — representing his very life. David was to replace Jonathan as heir to the throne, and Jonathan gladly gave David the preeminence. In giving David his robe, he capitulated his own kingdom to the greater king. In giving David his sword, his armor, his bow, and his belt,7 he showed that he was no threat to the authority of the coming king. Jonathan was fully surrendered to David.
David was not a usurper of Saul’s kingdom, but the Spirit of God had come upon him to rule. Samuel had taken the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of God came upon David in power. A small circle of witnesses to David’s anointing assured its reality.8
Do you know a coming king who is worthy of unconditional surrender and capitulation, or is Luke 14:31-33 meaningless to you? Do you see the worth of Messiah as Jonathan saw the worth of David? Like the disciples of Yahshua, Jonathan’s loyalty to David extended beyond earthly ties and loyalty to family — father and mother, wife and children, etc.9
Saul gave in to a Satanic impulse to kill David.10 Those who are under Satan’s control do not recognize the Greater King, nor those who are sent from the King.11 But like Jonathan’s covenant with David, the New Covenant in Messiah seals our loyalty and enduring faithfulness to our King. Our only authority to represent Him is the reality of His Spirit working in our midst — the Spirit of love and unity, which is our only witness. Wherever the fruit of love12 and unity is,13 there the Spirit is poured out without measure,14 and there is eternal life.15
There are many degrees of service and love to Jesus in the system of Christianity, but no such degrees existed in the first church. It was all or nothing.16 You either saw His worth or you didn’t. The proof of recognizing His worth was revealed in your obedience to the call to forsake or forfeit family, possessions, your own life — everything you have and are. Whoever accepts these terms of peace17 receives 100 times as much in return for everything he gives up in this life: homes, farms, families, etc., along with persecution, and eternal life in the age to come.18
In the story of Jonathan and David we can see the essence of the gospel, the message of capitulation — absolute and unconditional surrender to the Greater King. Anything short of this response to the message of salvation does not recognize the worth of Messiah.
Many excuse themselves by saying they are only required to have a willing attitude in forsaking these things for His sake. But our Master said in John 7:17 that if anyone is willing to do His will, then he will recognize it and, of course, do it. He won’t reason it away. Our Master doesn’t have to force recognition of His Kingship upon those who truly hate their own lives.19 The gospel’s demands simply expose our innermost heart — what we deem to be of greater worth than Him.
If the gospel you’ve heard did not communicate to your very heart the worth of Messiah, compelling you to give up all to follow Him, then you aren’t saved. If the gospel you heard did communicate that to you, then you will be loving as He loved.20 It takes a 100% sacrificial response on both sides — His side and ours. That is what brings about the establishment of New Testament Community, because we are all on common ground through our common sacrificial response of love for one another. He gave up all — we give up all. In that way we become one in the covenant community of Messiah. That is how His Kingdom can come through the Good News. Is it good news to you?
- Philippians 2:5-8 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
- Matthew 13:44 The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
- Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
- Christ is the Greek translation of Messiah (Hebrew), which literally means “the anointed one”
- Luke 14:31-33 Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
- 1 Samuel 20:31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Therefore now, send and bring him to me, for he must surely die.; 1 Samuel 23:17 Thus he said to him, “Do not be afraid, because the hand of Saul my father will not find you, and you will be king over Israel and I will be next to you; and Saul my father knows that also.”; Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”
- 1 Samuel 18:4 Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt.
- 1 Samuel 16:13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. And Samuel arose and went to Ramah.
- Matthew 10:37-39 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.
- 1 Samuel 20:30-34 Then Saul’s anger burned against Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you are choosing the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? 31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Therefore now, send and bring him to me, for he must surely die.” 32 But Jonathan answered Saul his father and said to him, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” 33 Then Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him down; so Jonathan knew that his father had decided to put David to death. 34 Then Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did not eat food on the second day of the new moon, for he was grieved over David because his father had dishonored him.
- Isaiah 14:13-14 But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’; Matthew 21:33-40 “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard and put a wall around it and dug a wine press in it, and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. 35 The vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. 37 But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ 39 They took him, and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?”; John 15:18 If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.; 16:2 They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.
- 1 John 3:14-16 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
- John 17:21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
- John 3:34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure.
- Psalm 133:1-3 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard, Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes. 3 It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the Lord commanded the blessing — life forever.
- Luke 14:33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
- Luke 14:32 Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
- Mark 10:28-30 Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.
- John 12:24-26 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. 26 If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.
- 1 John 3:16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.; 2:6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.