When Much Is At Stake
You have been summoned to appear in court. The charges against you are unbelievable. The truth is that you are innocent but the court needs evidence to give its verdict. The popular saying “a clear conscience fears no accusation” does not seem to apply in this case. Everyone, especially you can tell that the case is no way in your favor.
The more the court sittings, the more the indictment and the greater the threat of life long incarceration. You are afraid for your life. The evidence against you has somehow been well knit together and there seems to be no hope of getting out of the entanglement. Defeat is written in the eyes of your best friends. You are loosing their trust even though they hate to take it from you. Your integrity is falling to the ground, about to be smashed like fragile glass falling to a concrete floor. Even your spouse does not know what to believe, but whose fault is it? The evidence is overwhelming.
When all hope seems lost, you remember something that could completely exonerate you from all the charges, yes, every single one! It is certain this evidence when brought before the court will bring the case to a close in your favor. You are not sure where you last saw it but you are sure you did see it.
Strategies are set in place for the evidence hunt. Even though you have thousands of dusty bulky files to go through in the search process, you don’t care. You are determined to find that piece of evidence that will get your life back. You set your heart to work day and night and summon the concentration you have never used at any other time in your life.
Sleep will not be a barrier. Every hour spent drives more zeal into you. This is a race against time that must not be lost. You care little about rain or shine. You nearly feel invincible to heat or cold. You heap file on file and don’t even know when you have gone through the first thousand. The only thing on your mind is the evidence that will exonerate you and since you know it is there, somewhere, you search diligently, with a sense of urgency and with all your heart.
When There Is Much To Gain
If you came across a legitimate opportunity to make much money and you have all it takes to get it done, how will you treat the opportunity? Anyone who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness will grab an opportunity that has been proven to be remedy to the ailment.. This is even easier when the means of obtaining the remedy is available. In all of these cases, people will work towards the goal with all their hearts and all other resources. They will leave no stone unturned.
Some things in this life can invoke urgency, reasonable urgency. As if a sense of urgency is not enough, they may require your complete attention, mind, body and all other resources. Jesus came with a gospel of urgency. The message was about an opportunity that was right before those to whom it was presented: “the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (in reality, the Kingdom was nearer than any could imagine). It was a message meant to be believed as it was heard.
Acceptance of the message had immediate consequences that transcended every area of life. All who believed the message were to have an urgent disposition. Lord Jesus Himself worked at the peak of urgency. Everyday of His Ministry was geared towards fulfilling the urgent task His Father had given Him. His Father’s schedule would not permit Him to work in a period His Father called “night” and so Jesus had only the “day” to work.
The task of saving lives at the brink of passing away is definitely an urgent one. Lord Jesus came to save lives and maximum impact would only be made when He adhered to His Father’s schedule. Urgency was of the essence.
Urgency alone did not suffice for anyone receiving Jesus’ message. Total commitment was required. This was not a message to be received without carefully counting the cost; the cost was engraved in the message (Luke 14:28-30).
As far as Lord Jesus was concerned, His gospel was the most important message anyone could ever be concerned with. The message demanded absolute commitment. No demand from oneself, parents, siblings, spouses, or any associates, far or near was expected to supersede the allegiance to this cause.
Jesus Himself was both the crux and totality of the message at the same time. His claim of the importance of the message was not just with words. He provided proof of authenticity. He healed all kinds of sickness and diseases, curable and incurable. Lost or improperly functioning body parts were regenerated at Jesus’ word. He sometimes made miraculous provision available to cater for people’s needs.
In addition, having met Jesus, many people known for notorious practices in society became law abiding citizens. They suddenly began to live a life that surpassed the quality expected by the most moral laws of the day. Jesus showed that absolute commitment to His message would make any person free from all limitations, including death. He did this by coming back to life after being dead and buried for three days.
[Also read: “Jesus: More Than The Life Giver”]
His resurrection was not hidden. He showed Himself to many of His disciples, not as a man recovering from wounds, but as an immortal being with full physical expression of human qualities. His disciples ate with Him, discussed with Him, and finally watched Him defy gravity by ascending to a cloud, no flight devices involved. Jesus showed that His demand was valid and rewarding. His course demanded total commitment or nothing else.
[Read: “The Fear of Death: Another Obstacle“]
“Anyone who puts his love for father or mother above his love for me does not deserve to be mine, and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me, and neither is the man who refuses to take up his cross and follow my way. The man who has found his own life will lose it, but the man who has lost it for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39 J.B. Philips). Also see Luke 6:26-30.
“…whoever of you does not give up all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33 BBE).
But Jesus said [unto him] —No one, laying the hand on a plough and looking unto the things behind, is, fit, for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62, Rotherham’s).
Counting The Cost
In one of Jesus’ parables, a man finds a field in which is hidden treasure of great worth. He is overjoyed for what he has discovered and quickly makes arrangements to purchase the land. He sells all he has in order to purchase it. (Mark 13:44). In another parable, a merchant in quest of jewels finds one of immense value. Without delay, he sells all he has and gets that jewel. (Mark 13:45). Jesus gave these parables to illustrate the worth of His gospel as well as the urgency and commitment required in following Him.
Some things are obvious from both parables:
1. The men in the parable knew the value of the treasure or jewel when they found them.
Anyone who listened to Jesus and saw the miraculous things He did soon got astonished at the supernatural works.
Jesus gave His audience a first hand experience of what His message was about and the effect it could have on anyone who believed Him. As amazing as His deeds were, Jesus gave an impression that they were a souvenir of the full package. If you found a souvenir that good, you will be more than willing to embrace the whole.
2. Getting the treasure or jewel became the immediate priority and nothing in their lives was worth holding back when it came to selling their possessions.
Jesus’ demand was not something to be bargained. You either wanted it or not and if you wanted it, the opportunity cost was all that you had, including yourself.
The disciples left all and followed Lord Jesus (Mark 10:28-31; Luke 18:38-30). When Paul saw the immense value in following Jesus, the value of everything he possessed became as body waste and he quickly abandoned them to follow Jesus (Philippians 3:7-12).
3. The life changing decision came with joy.
The message Jesus brought was good news that evoked unconditional joy in all who received it. What else should good news have produced?
The Cost Of Allegiance
The loyalty Lord Jesus demands is neither for the faint heart or double minded. With the warnings to several Churches in Revelation 2 and 3, it is obvious that people could get on this course and then fall aside. Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt because her love for the ephemeral things in a world facing destruction made her forsake the path of safety. This is an example to all who want to follow Lord Jesus as He bids them to.
[Also read: “Allegiance: Sometimes A Trail Of Blood“]
Any life long commitment is worthy of deep consideration and the same applies to that of following Lord Jesus. Have you really counted the cost? Are you living in absolute abandonment of everything else with your allegiance given solely to the One Who has shown Himself worthy of all devotion and allegiance? Are you persuaded that Lord Jesus has shown Himself worthy of what He has demanded?
God does not want half hearted men in His army; ask Gideon (Judges 7:3). He needs us to completely believe and surrender to Him. He is able to make us willing and that is why He reveals Himself with power so that just like all the Apostles, “we will be willing when we encounter Him in His Power and Holiness” (Psalms 110:3). He has promised to reward those who seek to follow Him diligently (Hebrews 11:6).
Knowing Where We Stand
No fairy tale is worth dying for. If the claims of Lord Jesus and the witness of His resurrection from the dead were all made up, it would be a shame to spend ones whole life propagating a false claim and holding to a fictitious hope (1 Corinthians 15:13-19).
If on the other hand all the claims that Jesus made and the witness of His resurrection are as steadfast as handed down to us by His Holy Spirit through His Apostles, and that the hope of incorruptible life is worthy of fervent pursuit so much as to loose one’s life in this world, then what shame and regret it will be to found unworthy at the appearing of the Lord.
Since Lord Jesus rose from the dead and has received immeasurable power and authority, His Presence being experienced today, His Words and demands are of utmost seriousness.
In the court trial mentioned at the start of this post, loosing the court case means life long incarceration, while finding exonerating evidence means living in freedom. It will take nothing to sit through the entire trial and then be sent to jail, however, it will take deliberate effort with a sense of urgency and wholehearted commitment to find that liberating evidence. This is summed up in Jeremiah 29:13-14:
“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” (KJV).