1997-01-09 - The Cost
Luke 14:27-30 - "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it? 29 "Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, 30 saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' (NAS)
It is a new year for us all. An arbitrary boundary to be sure, but a boundary that seems to carry with it the significance to actually make people stop and think for a microsecond or two. New Year's resolutions and looking back at where we've been of the last 12 months, and looking forward into the mist to plan for the next 12 months.
It is almost laughable, like we can see into the future. But planning is important. God apparently values planning from what we see in the verses above. There is a cost being calculated here. The example centers around building a tower. But what is our cost? "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." The cross is the price, and the fee it extracts is a high one. In the old hymn The Old Rugged Cross, it is called "the emblem of suffering and shame".
Gal 3:13 - Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-- for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"-- (NAS)
Jesus willingly submitted to the humiliation of being publicly beaten and mocked by Roman Soldiers in a game called "Kill the King". It was a game reserved for political prisoners. There are stones found today with the rules for the game found carved into them. The game involved dice or lots. If I rolled a three, for example, I would get to strike the prisoner. While rolling a 5 might only allow me to place a reed in the victims hand a mock him. Other things that the players might get to do were to crown the victim with thorns, or to spit on him. The notes are from Biblical Archaeological Review from about four years ago. If someone is very interested, I will indeed hunt down exact references for them. The point is this, that Jesus endured remarkable humiliation at the hands of His own creation. It always strikes me as ironic that the power of His will held the atoms together that made up the nails that were driven through His hands and feet.
Hebrews 1:1-3 - God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; (NAS)
So what does that mean for you and me? We have the words that God has left for the world through Jesus Christ. Christ loved the world so much that He died and rose again to make a way for each one to be able to spend eternity in paradise with Him. Yet, the Sadducees and Pharisees, the very ones who should have recognized the Savior where the ones who "sought to put Him to death". The people turned in four days from "Hosanna!" to "Crucify Him! We have no king but Caesar." And before we get too judgmental, we must remember that we too are simply flesh and blood. Jesus loved the people who shouted their denials as much as he loves you and me. Remember when Jesus sent out His disciples:
Matt 10:16-22 - "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves. 19 "But when they deliver you up, do not become anxious about how or what you will speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what you are to speak. 20 "For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. 21 "And brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. 22 "And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. (NAS)
The world hates us. Not because of who we are, but Who we represent. I am just as human and frail as the next person with the capacity to commit terrible acts. But we are constant reminders to the world of Jesus Christ and our accountability to Him. We acknowledge it so they either must also acknowledge it, or ridicule us in hopes that we will go away or play the game their way. They see Jesus through us and hate Him. Again the irony is bitter as the creation of the Creator, will stand and sneer in the face of the One who made them and refuse to accept the free gift of life forever in Heaven with Him.
John 15:18-19 - "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (NAS)
And in all this, Jesus is concerned for His children. He tells us not to worry, He assures us of our place in Him, and of His certain victory.
John 16:33 - "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (NAS)
What amazing love. That the God of the Universe would come to my heart and say "Don't worry, I have it all under control and in a little while I'm going to take you to a place that will blow your mind." He say my heart two millennium ago and knew that I would need this comfort.
The cost is a life along the narrow way with Jesus walking at your side and guiding you along. He will be your constant companion. This narrow way is tracked with tears, suffering, humiliation and pain. Seventy years may seem like a long time until you stack it up against the eternity that Jesus has promised His children.
John 14:1-4 - "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 "And you know the way where I am going." (NAS)
The cost of the Christian life is brutal and inhuman. This life lived in our own strength will quickly buckle the strongest of hearts. The cost is not aimed at us thankfully. We have been set free. The cost is aimed at the One who loved us, even when we were His enemies. Before we could have lifted a finger to save ourselves, He had already paid the price of our redemption from the enemy. The price was paid in His blood and found acceptable by the Father.
I John 4:10 - In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (NAS)
We do have a cross to carry through this life. Jesus promises that He will make our burdens light. We will suffer humiliation for our faith. And Jesus will be right their in our heart assuring us that He is able. It will only get more intense as the end gets closer. But the cost is nothing compared to the prize. And then we realize, the price is paid. The words recorded in John 19:13 "It is finished". are more literally translated "Paid in full."
Jesus, we stand in Your presence amazed by the things that You have done and continue to do for us. As we look forward into the new year, take our hands and guide us into the darkness and uncertainty ahead. We thank You and praise You for the faithfulness You have shown in making a way for us. The way that leads to life forever with You in Your matchless Kingdom. You have paid the price of our redemption. We could never have paid it ourselves, have done nothing to earn it, and can never repay the debt that we owe You for that price. We count the cost in years and will reap the rewards without end. Thank you Lord, for loving us so much. Amen.