Jesus never gives up on us.
In His parable of the “great supper” (Luke 14:15–24) Jesus portrays the host sending out invitations to attend his immaculately planned celebratory feast. The invited guests sent back their declines with “excuses” (too busy at work, home, and so on). The host never gave up. He kept expanding His guest list and sending invitations until the banquet hall was finally filled. Jesus thereby revealed the pain He feels when His daily invitation to “abide in [Him],” and ultimately to receive the eternal inheritance He has prepared for us, is rejected. His anticipation of sharing eternity with us was the “joy . . . set before Him” as He hung tortured in body and spirit on the cross (Heb. 12:2). The parable also portrays His commitment to continue extending His invitation until everyone has made a final decision.
In another parable (Isa. 5:1–6) Jesus likened His people to a vineyard that He planted in the choicest soil and tended meticulously, but it continued to bear only “wild grapes.” It eventually became encumbered with “briers and thorns” and was “trampled down.” The centrally positioned climax occurs when the vineyard owner, heartbroken, cries out, “What more could have been done to My vineyard that I have not done in it?” (v. 4). A brokenhearted Jesus echoed this cry shortly before His crucifixion: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem. . . . How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matt. 23:37, NKJV).
The divine covenant is not merely a subject for study; it is the story of Jesus’ unrelenting pursuit of us. Prayerfully studying the divine covenant should help us to feel it as much or more as to understand it. It is His heartbeat, His passion. We, and all of those in the wake of our life influence, are in its focus.
A quick review of our thirteen vignettes on Decoding the Covenants provides a fleeting glimpse of the breathtaking breadth and depth of His commitment to us and to the prospects of our eternal future with Him in the earth made new (lessons are designated by numbers):
1. Our plight, which we didn’t sign up for in this world of sin, has been a major concern of the divine everlasting covenant from eternity past.
2–3. The four comprehensive new-covenant promises assure us that every provision has been made to secure our eternal salvation.
4. The all-encompassing benefits of His covenant of grace are explicitly spelled out in the gospel of Moses.
5–10. Reception of the covenant benefits depends on our individual response, not on when we were born, and God has provided a clear definition of an old-covenant experience resulting in death, in contrast with a new-covenant experience resulting in eternal life, so there can be no doubt concerning what choice we are making.
11. Jesus ratified His eternal commitment to us with His “blood of the everlasting covenant.”
12. He assures us that when we are “imbued with His Spirit” (i.e., abiding in Him), every hardship and opportunity that reaches us has passed through Him first and has a purpose.
13. If we daily accept His invitation, “Abide in Me,” we are as safe as though already in the kingdom now, and our lives will continue to bear fruit for Him to the end, even posthumously through the legacy we leave, as well as in eternity!