The story of Daniel actually begins about 100 years before he was born. 100 years before the beginning of Daniel, the world was busy being conquered by the Assyrians, a warrior nation from what is now northern Iraq and northern Syria. They conquered northern Israel, and carried all the northern tribes away — never to be seen again. Then they marched south. They surrounded the city of Jerusalem. And they told the people that, if they surrendered, they would be re-settled in a rich land. If they resisted, they would be wiped out.
Now the king of Jerusalem at that time was named Hezekiah, a descendant of King David. And he was the best king to rule Jerusalem since David. So when he received the Assyrian challenge, he went immediately to the temple and asked God to deliver them.
And God sent the famous prophet Isaiah to the king with a reply: “The king of Assyria will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here. I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.”
And sure enough, that night 185,000 Assyrian soldiers died, struck down by the angel of the LORD — most likely through a plague, a pandemic. So the King of Assyria withdrew, and continued his wars of expansion in southern Iraq.
And one small kingdom over there in Iraq thought it might be a good idea to look for some allies to help them in their war against Assyria. So they sent envoys to Jerusalem. And King Hezekiah welcomed them, because the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And he took them on a complete tour of his palace and his storehouses, showing off all his wealth, all his military power, basically telling these envoys, “Don’t worry! We got you covered.”
But that was a mistake. Again, God sent the prophet Isaiah to the king. And Isaiah asked, “Soooo…who were those guys, and where did they come from?”
“From a distant land,” Hezekiah replied. “They came from Babylon.”
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD: The time will surely come when everything in your palace will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
The bible tells us Hezekiah was really the best king Jerusalem ever had. He ruled God’s people by faith, and he consistently looked for spiritual solutions to his political problems. But right there, at the end of his life, he stumbled, and decided to put his faith in a political solution to the world’s political problems.
And because of their king’s failure, the people of Jerusalem ended up learning a very painful lesson. Five kings later, during the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.  And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.  Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—  young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace.
And so Isaiah’s prophecy began to be fulfilled. Over the last century, the Assyrian empire had fallen apart and the Babylonian empire had risen up to replace it. Once again Jerusalem found itself beseiged — but this time God did not defend the city. The king surrendered, and Jerusalem became a colony of Babylon.
And as part of the colonizing process, the king of Babylon confiscated two things:
First, he carried off some of the sacred dishes and cups and other items from God’s temple, and put them in the temple of his own personal god. And the symbolic message here is pretty clear: you are free to keep on worshiping your God here in Jerusalem…just keep in mind that your God is now a servant to my gods in Babylon. Your God belongs to me now.
Second, he carried off the best young men from the royal family and the nobility — King Hezekiah’s own flesh and blood — to become eunuchs in his palace. And the message of this is also very clear: your future is completely in my hands. If you rebel against my rule, I will put these hostages to death. You have no future without me.
But these young men were not just hostages taken to keep the colonies quiet, the king of Babylon had deeper plans for them:
The chief of the court officials was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.  The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.  Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.  The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
Basically, these young men were sent to university to have their entire identities re-written. They were to be civilized, turned into Babylonians, and then, one day — perhaps — sent back to rule Jerusalem. Except that, as university graduates, their loyalties would be completely focused on the empire. Through them, the colonization of Jerusalem would be completed, and Judea fully integrated into the Babylonian empire.
And really, this method of colonization was very effective.
First, because Babylonian uni began around age 14, right during the most formative years of a person’s intellect.
Second, it involved castration. This was considered a curse by the ancient people of Israel, because it meant no children, and therefore no inheritance in God’s land. But for many other cultures, the chance to send one of your sons to uni was a great privilege, a way of gaining power and prestige. There are people in history who castrated themselves in order to make sure they met the entrance requirements! — so just remember that next time you complain about how hard your A-levels are…
Third — related to that desire for power and prestige — going to uni meant eating from the king’s table. And in ancient cultures this created a sense of obligation, a kind of covenant relationship.
Fourth, related to that covenant relationship with the king, it involved a name change. Now, in our day names are not that important; but in those days a change of name meant a literal change of identity — a change of ownership, actually. And this is especially clear in this case, because these four names mark a shift from names that glorify the God of Israel to names that glorify the gods of Babylon. The message being sent here is that these young men are now owned by the Babylonian gods: they have been forcibly converted to a new religion.
Fifth, this conversion to Babylonian gods is not meant to be just an external one: they are going to learn the language and literature of the Babylonians, their minds and their hearts are going to be colonized and converted by the values of the Babylonian empire.
In other words, these young men from Jerusalem are facing all the seductive might of Babylonian culture: they are being offered political, economic, spiritual power at the very center of the greatest empire on earth.
Could you resist that kind of offer? Could I?
If we were going to resist, what form would that resistance take? How would we even begin?
Well, if we were Daniel, we would begin very quietly:
 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.
And the question we have to ask is this: why does he decide to resist at this point?
Because, to be very honest with you, if I was Daniel, I would have spoken up around the castration part of the process. And even if that was done by force — it most likely was — I would have resolved not to learn the language and literature of the Babylonians, because that is where the real colonization happens. Especially since the literature of the Babylonians was heavily focused on divination: magic. Daniel and his friends are being taught Babylonian magic. And the Old Testament law specifically forbids magic.
So why does Daniel decide that the food is the real problem he needs to resist?
Well, there have been a lot of theories about that.
Some have guessed that Babylonian royal food and wine was not kosher — not halal — according to the Jewish law. But the prophets Hosea and Amos both said that it is impossible to keep kosher in a foreign land: even if a Jew had the power to control his diet, he would be defiled simply by living among foreign people, so far away from the temple which was the source of forgiveness and cleansing.
Some have guessed that Babylonian royal food and wine was first sacrificed to idols, and this is why Daniel wanted to avoid it. But in a minute we are going to see that Daniel is willing to eat the vegetables — and the vegetables would have been sacrificed to the Babylonian gods also.
But the reason why Daniel resists at this point is really contained within the story: for Daniel, this is a question of dependence.
The king has assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from his own table. As we just noticed, this was a move designed to make all these young uni students feel a sense of obligation and loyalty to the king. In addition, the king also gets to take credit for their continued lives and for the progress of their studies: their success will be credited to the king and to the king’s gods.
Daniel’s choices at this point are extremely limited. He is thousands of kilometers from home. His genetic future has been removed: he will never have children. His intellectual future has been set for him: the next three years are going to be focused on ideas and values that are exactly the opposite of everything he was taught as a boy. There is not much he can do about all that.
But he can make sure that he lives for the glory of his God and not for the glory of some other gods.
And this will become clearer as we go on:
 Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel,  but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
Okay. So the chief of the court eunuchs says, “No.”
But he does not quite say no. God has caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel. And so this university official actually goes further that just giving this student a yes or no answer: he explains the core problem that Daniel needs to solve if he wants to get his way about the food.
And the core problem is this: in the Babylonian court, appearance is everything. These boys are supposed to exist for the glory of the Babylonian king and gods. If they look bad, then the gods look bad, because it looks like they lack the power to make these boys look good.
That makes sense. Right?
So now Daniel knows for sure what is going on: the real reason he is supposed to eat from the king’s table is so he can look good, and so give glory to the king and to the king’s gods. If he can solve this appearance problem, then, maybe…
So Daniel goes to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
He started by talking to the dean of the university, who told him the central issue. Now he is talking to the professor who has been assigned directly to him and his friends.
 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.  Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”
So Daniel and his friends are willing to eat veg and drink water, even if they come from the king’s table, even if they have been offered to idols, even if they have come in contact with non-halal foods in the king’s kitchens.
Well, vegetables grow naturally out of the ground: unlike steaks and cakes and char kuey teow, no one can really take credit for vegetables except God. Water works the same way.
By only consuming vegetables and water, Daniel and his friends are limiting themselves to foods that happen “naturally”. So if, by the end of this experiment, Daniel and his friends still ”look good”, then at least Daniel and his friends will know that it was their God who sustained them and not the Babylonian gods.
Okay, the professor thinks: seems fair.
 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
And it could be this professor realized that, if Daniel and his friends do not eat their daily assignment of food, someone else is going to have to! — why not him?
 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.
And this is definitely a work of God, by the way. Because, in the original language, the better nourished in this verse is literally “fatter”, and we all know that you cannot get fat on vegetables.
 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
And so Daniel and his friends got to live in daily dependence on their own God throughout their university years. And Daniel’s plan worked:
 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar.  The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service.  In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.
Daniel wanted to live for the glory of his God, not some other false gods. He found himself in a situation where he was almost completely powerless — but instead of trying to seize extra power for the glory of God, Daniel gave it up.
Daniel could have asked the dean of the university for extra rich food, to make sure that he and his friends ended up fatter than all the other students. And the dean would probably have said yes, because God had caused him to show favor and compassion to Daniel.
But instead, Daniel asked for less food. He asked for less power.
Because, as it says in the New Testament: God’s power is made perfect in weakness. Daniel understood that, if he asked for advantages instead of disadvantages, then in the years to come the Babylonian gods — the Babylonian uni system and culture — would get all the glory for making Daniel into who he was. Even worse, Daniel himself would have a tendency to give himself the glory for being smart enough to work the system for his own benefit.
But by asking for a specific disadvantage, Daniel guaranteed that any position of power and glory he might arrive at would be as a result of God’s strength, God’s work. Daniel would never be able to boast that he reached out and seized power for himself. Even if no one else knew the truth except for Daniel and his friends and their immediate professor, at least they knew that it was their God — the God of Abraham — who made them fatter in body and fatter in mind than anyone else in uni.
And by taking this specific step to make sure they were completely dependent on God for their future, these young men retain their identities as sons of the living God.
It is subtle, but that is the point that the writer makes here in verse 19 when he calls these young men by their Jewish names instead of their Babylonian names. For three years they have been immersed in the language and literature and godless magic of Babylon, they have been drowned in the pool of Babylonian culture, thoroughly colonized from the outside-in and the inside-out —
In the end, on graduation day, they still think of themselves as the sons of God, named after him. Everyone else calls them Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. But in their core they still know that they are Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.
 And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.
The first year of King Cyrus is the first year that the Jews were allowed to go back home to Jerusalem — 70 years after they were first taken away. And the reason this verse is here is to show that, through God’s faithfulness, Daniel outlasted all the conquerers of his people. He lived longer, and lived better, than all his enemies — he kept his identity in God while all those around him were losing theirs.
Okay. So that is how the Book of Daniel begins.
But what does it mean? What message is it trying to send? And what does it have to do with us?
Well, the best way to begin answering these questions is to find out who wrote it and who it was written to. Once we figure that out, the original message should be clearer.
So: who wrote the Book of Daniel? And who was it written to?
Well, we don’t know who exactly wrote the Book of Daniel in its final form.
As we go through, we are going to find out that Daniel himself wrote many parts of it, and it will be pretty obvious which parts those are. So it appears that Daniel kept a journal of his years in Babylon, and after he died someone went through his office, collected all his papers, and brought them back to Jerusalem and compiled them into this book. Some parts of Daniel’s journals they rewrote — perhaps for clarity and flow. In other parts they decided to quote Daniel verbatim — his prophecies in the second half of the book, especially.
And there is evidence that Daniel’s journals were re-published a few times over the course of 400 years, because old-fashioned words were updated to more modern words with each edition, things like that.
Which tells us that the caretakers of Daniel’s journals believed it was very important for ordinary people to be able to read and understand what Daniel wrote.
Their attitude toward scripture was the opposite of the Islamic attitude, or the attitude of some Christians in the west. These ancient Jews believed that, if God’s Word is truly God’s Word, then it needs to be read and understood by as many of the ordinary people as possible. Therefore it needs to be updated and translated as much as possible.
And it appears that the Book of Daniel was kept updated even more carefully than many of the other books of prophecy in the Old Testament.
Because the ancient caretakers of Daniel’s book believed that Daniel’s message was very very relevant to their people, and apparently they continued to believe this for several hundred years.
So now we have to ask: in that case, who was this book published for?
Well, Daniel wrote his journals during the 6th century before Christ — 2100 years ago — while he and the Jewish people were in exile away from their homeland.
But in the 5th century BC, the Jews got to go back home to Jerusalem. They carried Daniel’s papers with them, they compiled them, they published them, and then they kept them updated through the 4th century, the 3rd century, and the 2nd century.
Now: why would they be so careful to keep republishing a book about Jews in exile when they themselves were no longer in exile?
Because, even though they were physically “home”, they were not spiritually “home”. They were taken away in the 6th century and defiled by living among foreign people in a foreign land. They went back home in the 5th century and rebuilt the temple and everything — but the foreigners followed them back, and continued to defile their homeland by living there among them. And the foreigners kept insisting that they were in charge. They kept insisting that the Jewish God was the servant of their foreign gods.
In a very significant way, the Jewish people never really returned from exile.
And that is why this book, written by one of God’s prophets in exile, continued to be so relevant for hundreds of years afterward. Even during the time of Jesus, the Book of Daniel continued to be one of the most popular books of the Old Testament — and it has continued to be very very popular in the Christian world right up until today.
But…why? What is it about Daniel’s journals that make them so very interesting and relevant even to people who are not remotely Jewish?
Well…we are going to find out why as we go along.
So…keep coming back.
But for today, we are going to begin here:
This book was written by a prophet in physical exile, and it was published for a nation that was still in spiritual exile. Daniel and his friends found themselves powerless under foreign governments in Babylon; the Jewish people found themselves still powerless under foreign governments back in Jerusalem. They were home, but they were not yet at home. They had a future, but it was a future held in the hands of foreign gods, foreign powers and authorities, foreign emperors.
So God made sure Daniel kept a journal, and then he made sure Daniel’s journal was published, because he wanted his people to understand that, no matter how things look on the outside, their future is in God’s hands alone.
For instance, the very first sentence of Daniel’s book says that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.
That is how history looks to the outside observer: vast movements of irrestistible military and political power reshaping the world as they please.
But then the second sentence goes on to say that the Lord delivered Judah into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand.
That is the truth of how things really are, beneath the surface of history.
Nebuchadnezzar did not win because his gods were stronger. Nebuchadnezzar won because Israel’s God let him win.
And why did God let him win? Because God loved his people enough to discipline them. He had given them all the peace and power and prosperity anyone could ever want — and they had consistently abused those gifts for centuries. Even Hezekiah, the best king to rule Jerusalem since David, fell into the trap of using politics and power to protect himself, instead of trusting God.
And so, after taking hundreds of years of history to prove that the world cannot be redeemed through the use of power, God moved on to reveal his solution: that the world will be redeemed through the use of powerlessness. And the beginning of this phase of his plan was to take power away from his people.
He let them live with power, and patiently watched them abuse it for a long time. Then, at just the right time, God used Nebuchadnezzar to take that power away, so that his children could learn how to live without power — and, perhaps, even discover that powerlessness is more effective than power.
This is the main message of the Book of Daniel: God controls all history. Which means God’s people do not actually need power or control over historic forces.
And so this is the main lesson of the Book of Daniel: how to live for the glory of God from a place of powerlessness. In other words: how to trust God with your future even when it looks you don’t have one.
And as we have noticed, the Book of Daniel was published at exactly the right time for the Jewish people: because they never enjoyed truly independent power as a nation ever again. The Book of Daniel was God’s way of telling his people, “My great plan of salvation is in transition now to Phase 2. So you need to stop thinking of yourselves in nationalistic political categories, and you need to start thinking of yourselves as exiles even when you are at home in Jerusalem! — because this is the way things are going to be for a long, long time. You need to get used to powerlessness, because it is through powerlessness that you will finally learn how to truly live for my glory and not your own. It is through powerlessness that I am going to transform the world, and I really want you to be a part of that plan.”
God is still teaching us this very same lesson. Because this is a lesson that every generation needs to learn. Because every generation begins with a burst of youthful exuberance. We always tell ourselves, “I am not going to be like my parents! I am going to do things differently!” We always tell ourselves that if we were in control, we would use power responsibly — unlike all the previous generations. But then when we finally displace the previous generation and come into power of our own…we turn into the same old political monsters we hated when we were young.
The Book of Daniel is designed to help us break that cycle. It is designed to help us think of ourselves a little more humbly. It is designed to help us see through the illusion of political and cultural power in this world. It is designed to help us see God a little more highly.
So, practically speaking here, what is our first lesson from the Book of Daniel?
Let’s begin by considering how Daniel and his friends responded to the challenges and temptations of their day.
No, that does not mean we should all insist on eating only vegetables and water. But we can consider, carefully, what they were trying to accomplish by eating only vegetables, and then see if there are things we can do in our lives today that might accomplish the same thing.
So it seems that the reason Daniel refused the royal food is because he wanted a daily, living reminder to himself that he is dependent upon God alone for every blessing — even for those blessings later on that seemed to come from Babylonian gods and kings.
Daniel and his friends were being confronted with overwhelming power: their Jewish identities were being deliberately deconstructed and then reconstructed as Babylonian identities. But they weren’t just being confronted with overwhelming power, they were being offered overwhelming power. King Nebuchadnezzar had one very simple message for them: if you will bow down and worship me and my gods — if you will acknowledge that you owe me everything — then all this power will also be yours.
Friends, our situation today in Modern Asia is almost exactly like Daniel’s. We are being colonized daily, intensively. Every time we go online there are political and cultural powers at work trying to deconstruct us and reconstruct us. And our world’s university system is essentially identical to the ancient Babylonian system: it basically tells young people, “If you cooperate with us, we will give you high marks and an opportunity to take power later on.” What they do not tell our young people is that this offer of power within their system is really just slavery and dependance in disguise. It is castration. It is the presidential suite on a sinking ship.
We are in a war to hold on to our identity as God’s children in the face of an entire world that wants to strip that away from us. And the main tool the world uses to destroy our identity as God’s children is actually the offer of power. It is really a very simple exchange: “If you Christians will just give up this idea being God’s children in God’s world, then we will give you the chance to be rulers in our world. Just cooperate with us, and think about all the good you might do!”
And the thing is, in the face of such power, we really have no choice but to cooperate in significant ways. For instance, our entire global economy is built on a system of lending and speculation. This kind of economic system is explicitly condemned in God’s Old Testament law! But what are we supposed to do, stop using banks? No. Just like the Old Testament prophets said, it is impossible for God’s people to keep from being defiled by ungodly things while they live in a foreign land. And make no mistake: we live in a foreign land. Wherever Christians live on this earth, we are living in a foreign land. And we have to cooperate with the systems we find ourselves in, even though those systems defile us in significant ways.
So these are the questions we have to ask now: at what points then should we cooperate? At what points should we resist? When we resist, what form should that resistance take?
The lesson we learn from Daniel and his friends here is this: we need to very wisely and carefully consider where in our lives our identity as God’s children is being threatened, and we need to resist at exactly those points.
And those points are different in every culture and generation. That is why this process requires wisdom: because there is not just one, clear-cut answer. It would be wonderful if going Vegan was the answer to all our world’s problems, but it’s not! Going Vegan helped remind Daniel and his friends to live in humble dependence upon God. But as far as I can tell, going Vegan today just results in arrogance and self-righteousness.
So how can we tell what our modern version of “going Vegan” is supposed to be? How can we recognize where our identity is being specifically threatened, so that we can resist?
Well, it seems we need to very wisely and carefully consider where in our lives the world is tempting us with power. Remember, that is the medium of exchange: if we give up our identity in Christ, we (might) receive worldly power in return.
So, for example: your company asks you to give up your integrity in some small way in exchange for a chance at promotion. Now, they disguise it as a good thing, right? Because if you do not comply the entire company will suffer, people will be out of work, children will suffer. That is a lot of pressure!
But a clear vision of what is really going on can help us resist that pressure. And what is really going on is this: they are tempting you with power. They are asking you trade away a small piece of your identity. And if you do that too many times, eventually you will have no identity left: you will be a slave.
Okay. But what form should our resistance take?
Well, it seems we need to very wisely and carefully consider where in our lives we have the power to give up power. The world wants us to want richer food, a louder voice in our national discourse, etc. etc. And the reason the world wants us to want this is because the world is dominated by the Evil One. And Evil One wants us to want richer food because he knows that once we get used to it…we will even trade away our souls in exchange for more cake.
So then, going back to the example above: resistance would look like retaining your integrity and your identity, and putting your chances for promotion completely into the hands of God. That is what Daniel did. Because we have no future without God anyway; we might as well invest in a future with God.
So we need to very wisely and carefully consider where in our lives we can deliberately choose vegetables instead of cake. Where in our lives can we choose quiet service, quiet faithfulness, instead of public virtue-signalling?
Because that is another lesson we can learn from Daniel and his friends here: they worked quietly. Daniel did not confront the dean, he asked for permission. He did not try to manipulate his professor, he proposed an experiment with measurable results. And as far as we can tell, Daniel and his friends did not trumpet their success to the whole court. They turned out to be ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in the whole kingdom, and no doubt Nebuchadnezzar took credit for that. No doubt Nebuchadnezzar stood up and said, “Behold how fat and smart these boys are! I did that! My gods did that! If the rest of you cooperate with me, I will make sure you also get to be fat and smart!” But the boys did not speak up to correct their king. It was enough for the moment that they knew the truth. They were trusting that when God wants the truth to be revealed, he will do so in his own way at his own time.
— which he does, by the way. Come back next week to find out how that happens.
So: where in our lives can we set up daily reminders that we are completely dependent on God for every blessing, even for those blessings that seem to come from our government, our economy, our education, our own hard work?
These are big questions. I cannot answer them. These are the kinds of questions that need to be answered in community. We need to talk about these things. So let’s do that in a few minutes during our Q&A afterward: let’s explore what it might look like to choose vegetables and live in purposeful dependence on God.
But I do want to close with this reassurance: we are not going to do this perfectly. Many times our faith will fail. Just like King Hezekiah, we will put our faith in political solutions to our political problems. We will put our faith in royal foods instead of vegetables.
And we have to be honest: when King Hezekiah did this, it cost his people dearly. In the same way: when churches do this, it costs our people dearly. Christianity in the west is now beginning to reap the consequences of their faith in political solutions. Despite that example, many of our churches in Modern Asia seem intent on following that same pursuit of earthly power. If we do not repent, it will cost our children and our grandchildren for generations to come.
But now, here is our Good News! Here is our Gospel: we have a greater king than Hezekiah. Jesus Christ is our King. And he never fell for political solutions. He never asked for more power. Instead, he gave it all away until he had nothing left except his identity as God’s Son. And that identity was enough. It turns out that identity is all he really needed to transform the world.
And because Jesus is the perfect king, his rule costs us nothing. Because he never made a mistake, we never have to pay for his mistakes. We are not perfect, but he is. And because of that, we get to come eat and drink from his table without cost, without consequence. We do experience consequences for our sins in this world. But because we are God’s children, those consequences are not a condemnation, they are the discipline of a loving Father who is not going to give up on us. Because Jesus is our king, we are shielded from the ultimate consequences of our actions, and our children and grandchildren also, as we go forward into a future that our Father holds in his hand. We live in exile, for the sake of his name, and life in exile inevitably defiles us. But because of his name, we are safe, even while we live in exile.
So let’s keep reminding one another of these things while we live through this current exile in our individual homes. Though we are far away from our collective home, we are closer than we know.