This morning as I meditated on the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem for Passover (what we affectionately call Palm Sunday), I read a line that I am sure I’ve skimmed many times. Jesus was having a conversation with the crowd who is enthralled and curious and hopeful that he might be The Messiah—their Savior.
He had recently raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus was quite literally dead for several days. Some thought he may have just been asleep, but others knew he had, without a doubt, been dead as he was actually buried in a tomb.
Lazarus was Jesus’ friend and his family loved Jesus. They knew who he was. They believed. But, the crowd was trying to decide for themselves and as Jesus entered the area, they were asking questions and listening to what Jesus had to say. Yet, most of them did not want to believe despite the amazing miracles Jesus had performed.
There was a group, however, that actually did believe for the first time. They were Jewish leaders. (shocked eyes) These religious leaders actually were actually believing in Jesus.
But, they did not want to admit it. They did not want to reveal themselves. They were afraid of what other Jewish leaders (Pharisees) would do to them and their positions of leadership. They could be excommunicated. They could be dismissed. They could be cast out. They could be brought down, lowly and despised.
Their positions of leadership meant more to them than following Jesus.
The Living Bible says, “they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” John 12:43
I think it’s easy to judge them, to mock them, to dismiss those religious leaders. Neh! Why would you care more about the Pharisees than you did Jesus?!? That’s stupid. After all, that’s how I’ve read this scripture so many times.
Until this morning when I realized that was me.
I love the praise of men more than I do the praise of God.
Lord, forgive me. I’m sorry. Help me to change.
For so long, I’ve wanted out of a situation in my life where I do not feel respected. I do not feel valued. I do not feel appreciated. (no, it’s not my marriage 🙂 that woman deeply respects, loves, and appreciates me) And I have wanted out, despite what I thought God wanted. I have basically not cared what God’s opinion was, I just wanted out.
In many ways, I know that God has been using me in that situation. I know that I am a light unto the world as He shines through me. Yet, I have not always acted like it. I have not always been the best example, the best witness. But, the reality is I just wanted out and I’ve been asking God to show me the way.
This morning, this phrase about these Jewish leaders that I’ve commonly dismissed (because they weren’t disciples of Jesus), “they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” became very real to me.
I began to look back at my life and realize how many times that has been true. Where I was more interested in what people thought of me than I was what God thought of me. I wish I could only care what God thinks of me. I repent and I ask that God helps me to think his way, that he enables and empowers me to only care about his thoughts of me.
I know, part of this is simply being human. We all want to be loved, to be appreciated, to be valued and respected. This is how we are designed. This is a part of our humanity.
BUT, what do I want more? And when I realize the conflict between pleasing God and pleasing man, what do I choose?
Lord, today, help me to choose you. Help me to care more about what you think than what others think about me. Help me to be your light in the darkness. Help me to exemplify you above all others. Help me to choose you and not be afraid of what others think.
How about you? Do you struggle with this? What scriptures have you read before, completely glossed over, but later hit you like a ton of bricks? Where do you need to grow today?