I Don’t Know Who Jesus Is (I Just Did What He Said)
In our last post on the book of John, we saw the Pharisees’ reaction to the man who was healed after thirty-eight years. Instead of marveling at Jesus’ grace manifested in this man’s healing, they became upset about how the healed man was carrying around his bedroll on the Sabbath. Instead of focusing on Jesus’ love, they focused on their own violated expectations. They’re expectation was that people will follow their rules. (And these weren’t God’s rules. These were their own, these were rules they added onto themselves and others.) (see previous post Religious Bigots)
But curiously, the man couldn’t answer their question. Because after they asked him, “Who told you to take up your bed and walk?” The healed man had to tell them: “I don’t know.” Jesus told him to pick up his bed and walk, and even though he didn’t know who Jesus was at the time, he listened and then he did what Jesus said to do.
How Jesus Just Did What God Said
But, he didn’t know who Jesus was because after Jesus healed the man, he disappeared into the crowd. It’s worth noting how Jesus didn’t make any effort whatsoever to promote himself after this healing. In fact it’s likely that he lost himself in the crowd intentionally, to avoid drawing attention to himself. We see this type of behavior from Jesus throughout the gospels. For example, after Jesus heals the two blind men in Matthew chapter 9, he tells them, “See that no one knows about it.” (Matthew 9:27-31)
Jesus lived a life of listening and doing. He listened to God and then simply did what He told him to do. As a result, Jesus was passionate about sharing God’s love and God’s word, but, he never made a point of seeking fame.
Achieving fame today has never been easier. There are so many avenues to fame available on just social media alone. Today (at the time of this writing) I learned there’s a Wiki page dedicated to the recent phenomena of being “famous for being famous.” It describes how some people seem to be famous for no discernable reason. They’re famous for nothing more than being famous (or infamous).
I think the ease with which fame can be attained today can be confusing. What I mean by that is the social norming that takes place when so many people pursue fame makes it easy to confuse fame with greatness. In this context, Jesus is our model in that those people who will be acknowledged as truly great in Christ’s eyes will be those who, like Jesus, lived a life of listening and doing: listening to God and then simply doing what He tells them to do, without making a point of seeking fame.
How John The Baptist Did The Same (And So Can You)
We see how John the Baptist lived this way in John chapter 3:
One day some people came to John and said: Rabbi John, look what is happening. Jesus the one you preached about is baptizing too and everyone is going over to him. (John 3:22-36)
But John remains completely unconcerned. He responds by reminding them, “I am not the Christ.” Then he tells them how great Jesus is. And then John keeps on doing the last thing he heard God tell him to do, he keeps on baptizing, without regard for his dwindling fame. I think this is part of the reason Jesus calls John the Baptist the greatest man who ever lived up to that point in history. (John 3:28)
Can I give you my best advice? Pray for Christ’s direction. Read the Bible. Then as best you can, do what you think Christ would have you do. Live for greatness and not for fame. Jesus lived a life of listening to God and then doing what he heard, without regard for fame.
John the Baptist lived the same way.
You can live a life like that too.
Image via Derek Swanson – Creative Commons