Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Proper Responses


In the Word, we see that Jesus is not the only child born to Mary. She and Joseph have other children. Matthew’s gospel (13:55) tells us of James, Joses (Joseph), Simon and Judas (Jude) in addition to unnamed sisters. As we come to John 7:1ff, it is incredible how His brothers could have lived with Him all those years and not realized the uniqueness of His person. Perhaps, this is simply a testimony concerning how quiet Jesus was up until the time of His ministry commission at age 30 (Matthew 3), but it is not possible to know. Certainly the brothers are aware of Jesus’ miracles to this point after His commission…especially since everyone else seems to be aware of them. Having been in close contact with Him, the brothers have had the best opportunity to watch Him and test Him…and yet, they still are unbelievers! Irony abounds in this situation. Here, we have these men going up to a religious feast (Feast of Tabernacles) with their brother, who is the Messiah...even though they are rejecting Him as their Messiah at this time.

Jesus' brothers display the world’s point of view – if you want to get a really good following, Jesus, use your opportunities to do something spectacular. This is similar to what many of the Jews thought with regard to Jesus. Jerusalem would be crowded with people and this would provide Jesus with the ideal opportunity to present Himself, and win disciples. The brothers likely knew that Jesus had lost some disciples…so this would be an opportunity for him to regain some of them. Unfortunately, we detect a tone of sarcasm in the speech of the brothers that also betrays their intentions (v.5). They are not really concerned about Jesus’ life and ministry…and, indeed, they see this as an opportunity to ridicule Him. Jesus has already turned down the crowds’ offer to make Him king (6:15), and He also sees through this sad charade. Jesus could certainly perform some miracles at this time, but like so many things in His life, as well as in the lives of others -- it is all a matter of timing. This is not the right time for Jesus to reveal Himself to the world. He is living and ministering on a divine time table that is marked out by His Father. He exercises caution at this time, because He knows that the Jewish leaders are seeking to kill Him.

Through His character and His ministry, Jesus reveals the shallowness and the emptiness of the religious system of the Jewish leaders, and He is, indeed, calling them and all of the Jewish people back to the reality of life in and with God. As history reveals, the “religious system” often persecutes the very prophets of God who are sent to save it… including in our present day and time, which ought not to be. The Father has a plan for His Son, and nothing can spoil this plan…it is set in action. Jesus does not tempt the Father by rushing to the feast, nor does He lag behind when the proper time comes for Him to attend the feast. Spiritual discernment learns God’s timing. As we understand it, the debate rages on as to who this Jesus is – the religious leaders have an opinion, as well as the crowd…some of them believe He is a good man, others believe that He is a bad guy.

It is not an easy thing – to do what is right and be ridiculed for it. Many of us have probably been in this position. Several years ago, the Boy Scouts of America chose to take a stand on the basis of their principles against an Eagle Scout who claimed to be an atheist. One of the basic tenets of the Boy Scouts is the belief in a Supreme Being. Because some people do not believe in a Supreme Being, they believe that they are being discriminated against…yet, the Boy Scouts of America is a private organization and not a public entity. The Boy Scouts set their own by-laws and have every right to do so, and I admire them for this. Even though they may be persecuted by certain groups who do not agree with them, they continue to stand steadfast behind their by-laws and beliefs. To the present day...certain people, those of us who are believers, find ourselves in a similar situation, in some respects, but where the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak. A group of people have chosen to make a case regarding what they believe, and are facing persecution for it. With respect to the emotions involved in the situation, just as the atheists needed to (but did not necessarily) show proper respect and restraint in their particular situation and campaign, so we who are believers in Christ have an opportunity to respond in a different, yet forthright, manner. After all, if we react in the same way as the atheists…rather than respond appropriately...are we then viewed any better than them in the eyes of onlookers? Indeed, we are viewed worse.

At times, we find ourselves in the same position as the Lord, or as the Boy Scouts. How do we handle ridicule or rudeness when it comes our way? We can react in kind…and return ridicule for ridicule (which I have done, by the way...and contrary to popular belief...one doesn't necessarily feel better for doing so). This is the way that many folks deal with adversity. Jesus models for us how to respond. Be forthright, be steady – be yourself. Do the right thing. Continue doing what you do and don’t be deterred. It requires courage to stand up, forthrightly, as did the Boy Scouts…this sends the greatest and most positive message. It says, “I will be consistent in my belief and in my walk, come what may.” This is the definition of integrity. God will be pleased and will bless us if we do His will…no matter what seeks to throw us off course. Not only this, but He will give us the strength to stand. So, take a right and proper stand for your belief system…not in a reactive way, but proactively. Seek to make a positive difference for the Lord in your convictions…and positive things will happen.


1 comment:

Marilyn Sue (Libby) Moore said...

Is it possible that Jesus was so completely human in His growing-up years in the home He shared with His family that, although Mary pondered these things in her heart and Jesus knew He must be about His Father’s business, His siblings didn’t recognize Him as Messiah prior to His public ministry?
One verse that always pointedly reminds me of His human side is Hebrews 5:8, “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.” Note: He learned obedience…” And though at the end of His earthly life, He pleaded if any other way were possible, He yielded once again to “Not my will, but Thine be done.” …a lesson lived right to the end in His having learned obedience as He continued entrusting Himself to the One who judges righteously (I Peter 2:23) So also should we!
Thanks for making me think.