In Mark chapters 11 and 12, Jesus encountered an assortment of religious leaders, all of whom had questions for Him and all of whom had agendas of their own. Jesus’ answers made some of them furious, others silent. Many listened and agreed with no intention of doing what He said. Some heard Him gladly (especially the “common people”). Many met their match and refused to ask Him another question. Everybody wanted to know what Jesus thought, but the majority didn’t like His answers. I think a lot of people today want to know what Jesus thinks. But, only to the degree that He agrees with us. It’s so easy to process what He says only through human intellect to determine whether or not what He says is true. In other words, does what Jesus said fit into our agenda? If so, we’ll take that as fuel for our fire. But, if what Jesus says conflicts with an experience we’ve had, our current world view, or what we perceive to be wisdom, it is disregarded or outright rejected.
If we think everyone should sell all they have, give it to the poor, and follow Jesus, we will tend to overlook the rich people that followed Jesus to whom He never said to sell everything, such as the wealthy women who supported him from their substance (Luke 8:2, 3). Thank God Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus AND was rich (Matthew 27:57) didn’t sell all he had…otherwise Jesus wouldn’t have had a tomb to rise from! On the flip side, if we think everyone they should be rich in order to please God, we tend to forget about the little widow who gave two mites whom Jesus said was the most generous of all the givers that day (Mark 12). If someone confronts me about an issue of sin they have observed in my life, I can quote Jesus’ words “Judge Not!” (Luke 6:37) which is great because it not only seems to excuse my sin, but also rebukes those who would challenge me on it. How easy it is to forget the times Jesus told people, such as the woman caught in the very act of adultery, to “Go, and sin no more” (John 8:11), or the time He confronted the woman at the well about her sin (John 4:16-18). There are countless other examples, but the truth is, we can far too easily find ourselves in “consumer Christianity” where we pick and choose what we like about the Kingdom and overlook or disregard the other parts. That tendency is rooted in a pride that thinks we know best, a pride that doesn’t want to be inconvenienced or have our agenda’s messed with….the same pride that caused Eve in the Garden to disregard God’s word and seek out a better way to “help” Him.
For me personally, the message of Jesus that is the hardest for me to fully accept is the Good News. It seems ironic, but it really IS too good to be true sometimes. Jesus says that I’m forgiven; I have my doubts…ESPECIALLY when my sin is REALLY bad (by my estimation of course). Jesus tells me when I fall down to get up, knock the dust off, and try again; I say that it can’t be that simple. Jesus stands there opening the door of the trap I fell into and offers me an escape, and I don’t want to leave until I have felt sufficiently bad for what I’ve done.
I’ve discovered that the reason it’s so hard to accept His help is because of my pride. If I accept His help, I also have to accept the fact that I need help. I’m needy. I’m frail. I’m weak. I am prone to fall into traps. I need a Savior. And, while part of me rejoices in that Good News, another part of me fights it because I don’t want to have to depend on anyone for anything. I want to prove that I can “do this.”
But, the truth is that I’ll never outgrow my need for the Gospel. I’ll never outgrow my need for a Savior. I’ll never reach a place of maturity where I don’t need the trap door opened on occassion. And, though that is Good News that seems too good to be true, it really is true!!
I want my response to His word to be an enthusiastic, arms-raised-in-surrender, “Yes Lord!” I want to rest in the fact that even though I am prone to wander from Him, He will never fail to open the trap door for me. Hallelujah! What a Savior! Let’s hear Him gladly today!