Life and Hell are found in Your Choices

Updated: Oct 29


Is Christianity what you expected?

Where is the life Jesus promised to believers?

A man was to be crowned king. Those who disliked the man opposed his crowning. They traveled and met with the ‘Council of Kings’ before the coronation. They hoped to dissuade the council from their decision. They made their objections public all the way up until the day of the crowning. They moved among the crowd shouting and dissenting making every effort to halt the proceedings. Regardless, the man was named king.

Before the man left his home for the coronation, he gave gifts to three of his servants. The value of these gifts was in the millions. The first servant he gave ten million. The second servant five million, and the third one million. Upon his return as a newly crowned king he called for his servants asking each about their gifts. The first and second had doubled their value; large cities of great value were given to them to govern. They had done well with what had been entrusted to them. He knew they would be of great value to these cities and his kingdom.

The third man had hidden his gift. He kept it, protected it, but tucked it away. The king was enraged, “You could have at least put it in a bank to gain interest.”

“Sir,” the man sniveled and pleaded. “Please, I was afraid. I knew you’re a hard man. You withdraw what you don’t deposit and reap what you don’t sow.”

The king was furious. “You knew this about me? I am a hard man? Then you will be judged by your own words. Take the million from him and give it to the one with ten million.”

Those standing by said, “But master he already has ten.”

“Everyone who has will be given more, but the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” Looking, he turned. “Where are those enemies who opposed me and made a ruckus at my coronation? Bring them here and slay them in front of me.”

The Pharisee now enters our story. The teacher of the law. He who the people trusted to reveal the heart of God. The Hebrew order of the Pharisee maintained and protected the oral traditions of Moses along-side the law of God. This order committed themselves to God’s law and its exegesis. The historian Josephus said about the Pharisee, “They were considered the most expert and accurate expositors of Jewish law.”

What character in the King’s story represented the Pharisee?

Would it surprise you to learn all of them and none of them?

Jesus tells the story about the king in Luke nineteen, just before he enters Jerusalem in the triumphal entry. We celebrate this day as Palm Sunday. It’s the week before Jesus is crucified. The people want to crown Jesus King, they want him to overthrow Rome and return Israel as it had been in David’s day. He enters the city as a king on the back of a donkey, people wave palm branches before him has he goes. It is a triumphant entry, and what the people believe to be the coronation of the Messiah.

Jesus tells the king story to explain he is not going to do what they hope. Their expectation is to be saved because they are Hebrew. They believe they will be part of God’s kingdom due to their blood and birth. What Jesus is going to do is divide Israel. There will be those who believe and live their lives according to his teaching from the Sermon on the Mount. They will remain in Jesus, as he remained in God. They will be the branches connected to the vine. But there will be others who want Jesus dead. They will create their hell with every decision they make for violence, war, hate, and vengeance. The culmination of those decisions is seen in 72 A.D. when they attempt to overthrow Rome but are sieged and Jesus’ prophecy comes to completion. Not one stone of the temple was left on the other. This is where violence, war, vengeance, and hate take those in Israel who refuse to follow the teachings of Jesus.

There were Pharisees who could see what Jesus was doing and, had done, through his resurrection. So, the story of the king was to explain his kingdom, those who had received the gifts and teaching would go on to do amazing things and be granted more. Those who had seen and did not listen their Million was taken from them and they were thrown out to weeping and gnashing of teeth. They were wicked.

Jesus said we would know them (believers) by their fruit. The fruit is the evidence of a changed heart. We must remain in Jesus’ teaching in order to bear fruit. It’s not enough to believe. It’s not enough to be baptized and attend church. We must bear fruit. Fruit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Gentleness, Faithfulness, and Self-Control.

When we love our enemies and find joy in any situation, we find life. We seek peace with patience and kindness so we can create life around us. We become a spring of life, together a river of healing. The opposite creates hell for us and those around us.

The wicked servant in the story feared hell and so believed but didn’t do anything with it. He wasted the gift of hope and salvation. The life Jesus offers is achieved through producing fruit. Judas believed and hung himself out of shame. The Judas’ believe and die every day with every wrong decision. The Judas’ hear the good news of Jesus but don’t change their behavior. They still believe they know good and bad better than Jesus or God. They believe the end justifies the means, thus creates hell for themselves and others out of selfishness.

Those enemies who were slain in front of the king, is the twist in Jesus’ story. He took the place of his enemies giving his life so they might live. This is the example and the cornerstone of our faith. We love to the point of death. We seek peace and find joy in the most difficult situations. We become fountains of life until the world is covered in the healing river of our selfless actions. This is how the Kingdom of God is brought into the world.

His will be done, His Kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven.

Amen.

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