Father in heaven, help me respond to Jesus with humility, always embracing by faith the values of the kingdom. Give me grace to be willing to pay the price for following You, to live out your values as I live for the eternal reward that is coming when Jesus returns. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Read Luke 13-15
Luke 13 In these chapters, observe how Jesus corrects many misunderstandings of who He is. Some people suggested to Jesus that tragedies are proof of God’s judgment upon people who are more sinful than others. But Jesus warns that all people are in danger of judgment unless they repent.
The parable of the fig tree recalls Isaiah 5, where Israel is a barren vineyard. God has done everything for His people, but they reject Him and have no fruit.
Jesus heals a woman, a descendant of Abraham, on the Sabbath Day in the synagogue. Some are rejoicing, but Jesus’ enemies are humiliated. Notice again: Jesus’ life and words are divisive.
God’s rule and reign doesn’t always fit our expectations or the world’s value system. The kingdom of God may start small—like a mustard seed or yeast in dough—but it always grows and spreads. Also, when it comes to God’s kingdom, things are not always as they first appear. Some people acquainted with Jesus are actually workers of unrighteousness who will be shut out from the kingdom. Some of the last will be first, and the first will be last. At this notion, Jesus is saddened because even the holy city of Jerusalem and most of its people are rejecting Him, though He is the Savior of Israel sent from God and promised in the Old Testament.
Luke 14 Notice how conflict continued between Jesus and the religious authorities. The Pharisees knew God’s Law allowed rescuing animals on the Sabbath, so certainly it would be lawful for Jesus to heal people!
As you read the banquet parables, watch as Jesus teaches and shows how life under God’s rule is radically different. Seeking honor and status for oneself isn’t Jesus’ way to live. In fact, in God’s kingdom, we’re called to humble ourselves, taking the position of least honor. Furthermore, kingdom-minded hosts invite the needy and desperate to dine with them—and kingdom rewards for kingdom choices often come in heaven, not on earth.
Finally, Jesus explains Israel’s rejection of the Messiah and the kingdom with a parable about people invited to a great banquet who make excuses for refusing the invitation. Instead, many Gentiles who were not originally invited will attend and enjoy the banquet. Notice again: God’s eye was on the nations all along! Strangely and sadly, God’s kingdom party was a low-priority for many of the religious in Israel.
Following Jesus will be costly. Before following Jesus, we should consider whether we are willing to pay the price it requires—which, at the very least, means a fully-devoted life.
Luke 15 Notice the consecutive three parables about lost things and how they relate to our understanding of God’s kingdom. Like God, followers of Jesus are concerned to go and find the lost. Like the angels, we celebrate when sinners turn from sin and are found to return to God. Recall Jesus’ earlier words, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” (Luke 5:31, ESV).
- Ka'ala Souza - "Have You Counted the Costs of Following Jesus" (3 min)
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27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
- The gospel of Jesus Christ transforms our purposes. Jesus’ followers have new desires that align with Jesus’ desires. He wants to bless the lowly and the outcasts; He wants the lost to be found.
- The gospel changes our relationships. Disciples are humble and sacrificially loving. They serve humbly and lovingly, just like Jesus. They seek to bless others, especially those in need.
- How can you humble yourself to serve and love someone? Go and find opportunities to serve and love humbly today. Review results with another believer.
- Who do you know who is lost and needs to be found by God? What about others who are lost whom you don’t know but still need to be found? Start a list and begin praying for five lost people. You may choose to pray daily or once a week, but be consistent.