Take a Few Steps into the River

Today’s Readings: Joshua 3:1-4:24, Luke 14:7-35, Psalm 80:1-19, Proverbs 12:27-28

Joshua had to trust God’s promise to make him a leader in place of Moses. So what is the first thing God tells Joshua to do? He was to instruct the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant to walk into a raging river that was overflowing its banks due to the spring runoff.

Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.’”

I must give Joshua credit. He did not object as so many others in the Bible objected when God told them to do dangerous and outrageous things that would only work if God intervened. Joshua obeyed and the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River at a time when it was overflowing its banks.

I must give credit to the children of Israel as well. The entire nation crossed the Jordan River while the water was piling up on one side and running away from them on the other. Some of them (along with Joshua and Caleb) had crossed the Red Sea as children, but this was a bit different and that was forty years ago. What about the priests who were standing in the middle of the river holding the Ark of the Covenant? Did they get nervous as the wall of water became higher and higher?

Jesus issued a similar challenge to all of His followers – to count the cost.

25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

To be Jesus’ disciple, we must love Him so much that we hate everything else by comparison. And there is only one reason to carry a cross – to be impaled on it. Talk about being all in.

As I focus on love and justice this month, it is clearer to me now than ever that God thinks it is fair and just to demand complete allegiance from those who follow Him. He made the demand of Joshua. Jesus made the demand of all who were going to follow Him. He encouraged them (and us) to count the cost before deciding to follow Him. It is a serious and wonderful thing.

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