You know those stories where there are ten different places that you can choose one path or another? I wondered what would happen if we did that with the Bible. Here’s Jesus’ path in Luke 13-14:
You are walking around, there are many people who love you, and you have many enemies. You come to a signpost that points to Jerusalem, the headquarters of your enemies. Do you take the road or go the other direction.
Take the road. What? Okay. Oh, and then start talking about how some people will be saved, others will not, and a lot of the people that your culture dislikes will be saved. Hmm…
You are approached by a group of people who are usually your enemies. They warn you that the mad king of this area hates you and wants to kill you. Do you run away; say thanks and stay because taking advise from an enemy is dumb; or start calling Herod out for his evil lifestyle and imply that your enemies talk to him on a regular basis.
You call out Herod, and begin to lament over Jerusalem, implying that everyone in it is blind to what is really happening spiritually.
“34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
Now you are invited to dine at the house of one of your enemies. Do you run away, politely remember something else, or accept?
Accept. You go and heal a man who is injured (which your enemies/hosts do not like) and remind them of principles that they ignore from Scripture. They are stumped, left without an argument to stand on, and even more furious with you.
At this point, Jesus told the parable of the Wedding Feast:
“7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 ‘When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, “Give your place to this person,” and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, “Friend, move up higher.” Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’”
A wedding was an important occasion, and there was definitely a social hierarchy among the guests. Knowing that Jesus has been saying that the Pharisees are blind spiritually, what is He trying to tell them?
Perhaps it is better to not try to be a high official in the church. Mr. Pharisee, are you after the power and prestige or are you trying to serve God?
How often do I serve my own self-interests instead of God? Plato in his Republic posed the question, “what is a just man”, and asked what would happen if a man who wanted to pursue justice was stripped of his reputation. Would he still act justly? Would I?
The only reason that you would be motivated to continue doing justice is if there was a reward promised already. You did not have to depend on finicky people to give you kudos. God has promised a reward to those who follow Him. He has promised eternal life of blessing after this earth-shadow has faded away. And He saved us from eternal pain and agony that comes from being separated from all good that comes from God alone.
Look how Jesus’ path is powerful: He never backed away, afraid of what people could do to Him. He was not afraid to confront the bad and evil that He saw, and call people to live better. He was fearless, always teaching. Wouldn’t it be cool to be brave enough to choose a path like His?
There are many forks in the road. How do you know which one to take?
God, thank You for giving us the chance to choose in life. We get to pick so many times every day what we will pursue. God, I want to pursue a life like Jesus. Help me to seek Your reward and Your path. To You be the glory. Amen.