Day 5: Luke 14:27-33
Good morning, tektons! Jesus reminds us that every major task costs something. It may be money but it will certainly cost you energy and attention and thought and time. Which are all pieces of your life. Time is one major way of measuring your life, by its duration. Yet it may not be the best way to measure it.
Certainly Jesus didn't think so. He died at 33. But he knew his mission was more important than his continued earthly existence. And he had to know the cost from the very beginning.
Remember how he lived just 4 miles from the ambitious rebuilding of Sepphoris, the gleaming capital of Galilee? And how it is quite probable that Joseph and Jesus, his apprentice, went there looking for work? Remember how we said the rebuilding was necessary because the Romans had destroyed that city when it rebelled? Well, the Romans didn't just destroy buildings. They killed or took into captivity all 30,000 residents. They crucified all the men of the city, some 2000, in one day, all along the road, so that everyone could see what happened to those who went up against the powers that be.
When our Lord was a boy in Nazareth, the bodies were long gone but were the crosses still there? Did the child Jesus pass by them every time he and Joseph went to work? Did he grow up literally in the shadow of the cross?
Jesus knew the cost of going up against the powers that rule this world. And he did it anyway. Because of the good news of the kingdom of God.
To paraphrase General Patton, you don't win a war by dying for your country; you win it by making someone else die for their country. The kingdoms of this world come about through the shedding of the blood of the conquered. Most people don't choose their country. It just comes from whatever side of the man-made boundaries you are born on. And if some ruler wants your country, he conquers it and now you are a subject of his kingdom. You were never asked. That's how the kingdoms of this world operate.
The kingdom of God doesn't work that way. It has no boundaries. Anybody who puts their trust in Jesus and swears allegiance to him is born again as a citizen of the kingdom of God. And wherever followers of Jesus are, there the kingdom is also.
And the kingdom of God is not founded on the blood of the unwilling or its subjects. It is founded on the shed blood of its king, Jesus, who knowingly and willingly took up his cross for us and marched to a horrible death. He so loved the world that he took upon himself the brunt of the evil we unleashed on the world, so that the world through him might be saved. As Paul says, “...he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:15)
As we read before, “You are not your own, for you were bought for a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) If our King took up his cross for us, we should take up our crosses for those he died to save.
Odds are you will not die for your faith, though there are parts of the world where our brothers and sisters in Christ are dying for him. But you are called to deny yourself, to disavow any imagined right you have over your life, and follow Jesus. Your talents, your treasures, your time are his. They are tools on loan for the brief span which is your time on earth so that you may carry on the work he has given us. We are God's co-workers, as Paul said. (1 Corinthians 3:9) We are to build up the kingdom by building each other up and by spreading the kingdom through our words and through our works.
Not that our works save us. As it says in Ephesians, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10) Works don't save us; they are the natural result of Jesus saving us. We don't do works to earn his love; we do them out of the overflowing love he has poured into our hearts. Remember that the point of becoming a Christian is becoming Christlike. A Christlike person manifests Jesus' self-sacrificial love for others.
Soon you will go back to your home. And in time you may leave that home: for college, for jobs, for love, for adventure. And wherever you go, Jesus will go. He will never leave you or forsake you. And where he is the kingdom, the reign of God, goes. Lay a foundation wherever you find yourself. If someone else has already laid one, build on it. If it's already being built, sign up to help. There is always a place on God's crew!
Let us pray: Lord God, King of the Universe, Heavenly Father, help us to recognize the great cost Jesus paid to make our relationship with you whole. Help us to appreciate the value of what we have received and what others will receive from following your Son. Keep our eyes open for places to build your kingdom and for fellow workers and citizens, even in those perceived as the least of your siblings. We ask these things in the name of your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, and through the power of your Holy Spirit, who live and reign with you, Father, one God forever and ever. Amen
You go out into a world of broken lives and broken relationships. You have the blueprint for God's kingdom in his Word. Tektons, gather up your tools, level up your skills, be filled with the Spirit and build something beautiful for Jesus!