Monday, May 25, 2015

Queen of the South

For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now something greater than Solomon is here. (Luke 11:30-31 NIV)

When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relationship to the Lord, she came to test Solomon with hard questions. Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind. Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her.

But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. (1 Kings 10:1-3, 7 NIV)

The Queen of Sheba (also called the Queen of the South) was from what is now Yemen. She had heard about the wisdom of Solomon and his relationship to God, as well as his wealth, but did not believe what she had heard. No one could be that wise in every area, she probably thought, and decided to see for herself. The Queen loaded up a large supply of gold and spices (very similar to what the magi carried to Jesus) and headed out to see King Solomon. 

When she arrived, he was gracious and entertained her lavishly. While there, the Queen tested Solomon with as many hard questions as she could formulate. He answered every one. There was no question that was too hard for him. No situation was too difficult for him to find a solution. The Queen was incredulous. "I did not believe it until I saw it with my own eyes," she said. "You have far exceeded the report I heard." 

At the judgment, Jesus said, the Queen of Sheba will rise up and condemn those who refused to believe in Him. She will say something like this, "I heard all the hype about Solomon and didn't believe it, but I didn't just dismiss it and refuse to believe. I did what it took to find out the truth. I took all my questions to him, and found that he had the answers to every question I ever had. You should have done the same with Jesus. He has the answers to all the questions you have... if you'd only bothered to ask. He is all that was said of Him and more. If you'd only bothered to seek, you'd have found."

The Queen of Sheba will be right. If what we've heard about Jesus is true, and it is, it behooves us to find out for ourselves. If we have questions, He will answer them. All we have to do is ask. What a tragedy it will be at judgment day to find that the One we discounted as nothing more than a good man is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. What a tragedy it will be to find that questions with eternal significance, left unasked, could have made an eternal difference.

There is something more that needs to be considered. Jesus was very specific about discipleship. The first step, He said, was to deny ourselves. Only then can we follow. If we never deny ourselves, you can be sure we are not disciples of Christ. This is so important that it bears repeating. Discipleship begins with denying ourselves. 

There will be a time of judgment. We will answer for our response to Christ. What a tragedy it will be if our response was limited to two hours in a pew on Sunday morning. If we don't understand, if we aren't sure, let us do what the Queen of Sheba did. Ask all our questions, for, when we do, we will find that Christ has every answer we need. We, too, will say what the Queen of Sheba said. "Jesus has far exceeded all the reports I have heard." He is more than we expect, but we will never know if we never ask.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. (Matthew 16:24-27 NIV)