Sunday, May 14, 2017



Who are we? Are we so secure in our identity that we no longer have to defend or prove ourselves? Instead, it seems that we are controlled by this overwhelming need. While we clothe ourselves in pride, we are also aware that what is on the inside doesn’t match our outer confidence. It seemed that the people of Nazareth were aware of this when Jesus came to preach in their synagogue. Initially:

·       All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. (Luke 4:22)

However, their good tidings would not last long.  Once Jesus attacked their national pride, all of this would dramatically change:

·       “I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4:25-27)

Jesus merely had reminded His home-town folks of what their Bible and history should have made clear to them – they were no better or more deserving than others. Moses had repeatedly warned them against this error:

·       “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18; ESV; also see chapters 7 and 9)

However, when Jesus reminded His countrymen that God’s healings had gone to the Gentiles instead of to them, they attempted to kill Him.

Pride can be deadly, and anyone who questions our surpassing worthiness will suddenly find himself in our crosshairs, and this is exactly what Jesus had done. Why was He so hated - so much so that it was the “righteous” who schemed to put Him to death? Jesus explained to His biological brethren:

·       The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. (John 7:7)

This raises an important question about humanity. Why do we care when someone disputes our worthiness or significance, and why do we love it when we are validated? It seems clear that two elements must be present. We have a great need to feel that we are significant.

The second element is just as important. We know that, in ourselves, we are not significant. Even worse, we know that something is seriously the matter with us. Consequently, we have spent a lifetime covering our moral failures with fig leaves, success, money, influence, and power.

We are so desperate to prove our significance that we will even kill to prove it. On December 8, 1980, Mark David Chapman, a zealous fan of the Beatle, John Lennon, first obtained his idol’s autograph and then gunned him down. He explained
  • “I was an acute nobody. I had to usurp someone else’s importance, someone else’s success. I was ‘Mr. Nobody’ until I killed the biggest Somebody on earth.” At his 2006 parole hearing, he stated: “The result would be that I would be famous, the result would be that my life would change and I would receive a tremendous amount of attention, which I did receive… I was looking for reasons to vent all that anger and confusion and low self-esteem.” (George Weaver, The Significant Life, 47)
Chapman’s life highlights the fact that we are programmed to feel that we are a “Somebody.” This drive is so compelling that we spend our lives trying to prove it by our attainments, friends, and the even groups to which we belong.

Consequently, I had been drawn to my Jewish identity as a thirsty man to water. However, I was paying a high price for what was unable to satisfy. My people, the Jews, were convinced that they belonged to the superior and entitled group. The inhabitants of Nazareth were willing to kill a sinless Man, a man they had initially esteemed, to preserve their sense of entitlement.

I no longer have to defend my personhood. It is firmly established in heaven by a Savior who loves me and will never let me go. Since He accepts me, I can accept myself, warts and all.

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