Apr 11 2013 - Luke 14:7-35 – Finishing well
Down at the end of our garden is a shed that used to be our bike shed. Now that the children have grown, the remaining bikes have migrated to the Wendy house where they are better protected from the damp. The old bike shed is a store for useful bits of wood and all sorts of other forgotten things. In the far corner sits a Land Rover. Well I call it a Land Rover for that is what it was intended to be – a model Land Rover, about four feet long, made of wood and mounted over the chassis of an old petrol-driven lawn mower. It was made for the young son of the household but technical difficulties (and our lack of competence) meant that it was never finished. Young son is now 26, has left home and has a proper vehicle of his own. The model Land Rover remains mouldering in the corner of the shed. Perhaps you also have long abandoned projects sitting in your shed, a loft or a cupboard.
Jesus tells a parable about a man who began to build a tower but abandoned the project with the foundations and perhaps a course or two of stone. Those who passed by laughed at his lofty ambitions – he intended so much but had produced so little. Jesus told the parable as a warning to the crowds who were saying that they would follow him. Jesus calls us to realistic discipleship. We need to understand what it means the follow him; it demands a complete devotion of all our energy and resources. A half-hearted disciple is one who will not last the course.
Yesterday we looked at how Jesus was determined to go on to Jerusalem even though it would result in his death. He had counted the cost and would let nothing turn him back. He was not going to leave a work half done. And he calls us to follow him with this same resolve; "Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:27).
The man who set out to build a tower ran out of resources and could not continue. We need to recognise that we do not have sufficient resources in ourselves to live a life of consistent and persistent discipleship. But Jesus never turned back from the course mapped out for him by his Father. By his Spirit and risen power, he is able to provide us with the encouragement and strength we need to go on following him. In writing to the Philippians, Paul said that he was confident “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). His confidence lay not simply in the character of the Philippian Christians, it rested in the God who had laid hold of them in Christ. If we try to live the Christian life in our own strength we will fail. But Jesus who first drew us to himself is able to keep us following him. Jesus has no abandoned projects.
Lord Jesus, thank you that you did not turn back from the cross and leave your work half done. You finished the work that had been entrusted to you and saved me from judgment and destruction. Help me to go on following you and never to turn back. Make me continually aware of my own weakness that I may depend entirely upon the presence and power of your Spirit who began the work in me. Enable me to finish the race you have run before me and to finish strong and full of joy.