With a diverse multitude following him, Jesus chose twelve and set his sights on Jerusalem. From chapters 9-19, Jesus is moving in the direction of the cross and teaching about what life in the kingdom looks like. It looks upside down in a world that is right-side up. If you want to be his disciple, you have to turn things upside down in your life. Throughout this section of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus gives challenging teachings for what it means to follow him. Life as a citizen of the Kingdom of God comes at a cost. When Jesus calls people to follow him, they give very legitimate reasons for delaying their journey (9:57-62). When we think about following Jesus we often think about the “bad things” we have to give up. When Jesus calls you to follow him, he calls you to let go of everything. Taking up the cross and following Jesus means there is nothing greater in your life than following him.
We see this again with the rejections to the invitation to the great banquet (14:15-24). It might not make a ton of sense to us in our culture, but the excuses given are actually acceptable excuses in the world at the time. Why does the banquet host then get so angry when the people give their excuses? Either the host is irrational, uncaring, or he knows that what he is offering is more important than anything else that could possibly be going on in life. This seems to be the same mindset with Jesus calling the disciples. This isn’t about what bad things you are giving up. A life with Christ is one of complete submission. What are some of the good things in life that you might be putting in front of your following Jesus? I won’t lie…I don’t like that question but I feel like it is the question we need to wrestle with.
Jesus arrives in Jerusalem this Sunday in Luke’s Gospel. He arrives, riding on a donkey, and enters the temple courts to cleanse it. He continually comes back to the temple to teach. The leaders want to kill him, not because he flipped some tables, but because he was taking on an action that only the priests could do. They yearly cleansed the temple to prepare for God’s presence to arrive. This immediately leads to questions from the leaders about where his authority comes from (20:1-8). Refusing to answer their questions, Jesus turns back to the crowd to tell them a parable. He tells the parable in v9-19 with the leaders still standing nearby frustrated that Jesus wouldn’t be clear with them. Read that parable while imagining Jesus addressing the crowd that came to hear him teach and the frustrated leaders standing just off to the side.
Jesus could have told this parable with a number of different settings. But the cross is beginning to cast a shadow over Jerusalem and the resurrection is coming. The resurrection is the conquering of the curse of sin brought about in the Garden when Adam and Eve failed to be the co-gardeners God called them to be. God’s desire has always been for his creation to partner with him in cultivating this beautiful garden. Jesus came as the New Adam to restore creation and God’s co-creators back to their original good creation (1 Cor 15:22, 45, 48-9; Rom. 5). When Jesus chose a setting for a parable about an owner renting out property to tenants, he chose a vineyard where a harvest was to be shared.
This Sunday, we are going to talk about Jesus’ authority and what it looks like in contrast to the world around him and the world around us. When you say, “Jesus is Lord!” what is he Lord of? What areas of your life do you struggle to allow him to be Lord over? What does this parable tell you about Jesus’ authority and everything you have in your life? Before Jesus goes to the cross, he gives one clear picture of what authority looks like in this upside-down kingdom. Reading through this section of Luke, do you see what the picture of authority looks like?