Sunday, the pastor preached on Nehemiah’s return to Jerusalem. By way of reminder, Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, with his king’s blessing and backing to restore the city for which he had a plan and resources. Nevertheless, he was sure to meet resistance both from competing forces in the area as well as from the people occupying the city. The reality lived up to his expectations and then some.
The pastor focused our attention on Nehemiah 2:11-16 where Nehemiah says he was in the city three days. Before telling anyone why he was there, he went out at night reconnoitering the situation. He was assessing how big a project it was. I suspect that during the day he was also scouting the culture of the people there. He was assessing which of the elements in place he wanted to retain. The words of Jesus’ parable in Luke 14:28-30 rang in my ears, where we are advised one should count the cost before embarking on a building project, lest he run out of funds and resources before finishing the project.
Now, back up a verse and contemplate Luke 14: 27, “Whoever doesn’t bear his own cross, and come after me, can’t be my disciple.” Did Jesus count the cost before giving himself up to bear his cross? I think he did.
I believe he didn’t spend three days assessing the condition of the world and the mindset of the people. He spent three years. In addition to spreading the word about a more abundant way to live and a New Creation to come in his three-year ministry, he was gathering information about the real conditions here on earth, and the state of people’s thinking.
One of the most famous scriptures is John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” You will recall this passage occurs in the run-up to Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Mary and the mourners invite Jesus to “come and see” where Lazarus’ body resides, and the scripture reports, “Jesus wept.” I had always been led to believe, and accepted, that Jesus wept out of immense grief. Now I read neither Greek nor Hebrew, but a couple of years back a Bible teacher taught me that the Greek word is not weeping from grief, but weeping brought on by intense anger. This was the first instance where Jesus came face to face with the pain death inflicted on the deceased’s loved ones he observed.
Jesus knew his primary objective for his earthly visit was to confront the powers of darkness and to defeat sin and death, once and for all – a huge task. All throughout his ministry, he was counting the cost of assuming this challenge. I’m not suggesting he was procrastinating or putting off the job, but confronted directly with the depth of pain death inflicted on his dear friends Mary and her sister Martha, it was at that moment he said, “Enough!”
He counted the cost, deemed it worth every penny, and set his face like a flint for Jerusalem and the showdown (Luke 9:51). Once he arrived in Jerusalem, he kicked in the door and announced his presence.
This was a call for all evil to answer his call to the greatest showdown in the history of God’s Good Creation, and show up they did. They brought every ounce of energy to bear, and on Friday night they rejoiced at their achievement (Victory is Ours). Little did they know, Jesus was down, but in no means out.
By Sunday morning, Jesus was on the move. The light shone again, and the darkness will not overcome it.
Jesus counted the cost and paid the price for the redemption of God’s created.
Assuming the cost of discipleship,