More Than Anything?
Have you ever done something that made other people wonder if you had lost your mind? Most of the time I’m fairly convinced that most people are crazy!
And if you’re anything like me, you can probably relate to what’s taking place here in Gospel lesson today.
It all happened early-on in Jesus’ ministry... when word of his teaching and preaching and miracles was starting to spread: crowds of people were flocking to him, hoping to be healed or blessed or touched in some way.
Jesus’ own family became concerned to the point that they “went to take charge of Jesus.” They didn’t understand what was going on - they knew he wasn’t eating right - and they thought he must be “out of his mind.”
Of course, all they could see, all they could comprehend, was the Jesus they’d always known... So to Jesus’ parents and the people of his hometown, Nazareth, he was just a local boy... the son of Mary and Joseph... the carpenter. They could only appreciate the Jesus they were accustomed to...
And we’re no different, really. Sometimes we can’t fully understand what Jesus is doing, or what faith in Jesus is all about... and we get frustrated. Sometimes it’s hard for us to understand who Jesus is, what he does and why he does what he does - and what he’s calling us to do. Especially when it comes to the hard teachings of Jesus... you know: the teachings about forgiving until you lose count... turning the other cheek... going the extra mile. All that easy stuff that Jesus asks us to do.
Of course, sometimes it’s less about NOT knowing what Jesus means or expects, than it is KNOWING full-well what Jesus wants, and choosing not to do it! In other words, we know what Jesus has called us to do, and how Jesus wills us to act... and we just choose to do otherwise... we reject Jesus’ teachings because they’re hard.
The Pharisees, the teachers of the Law (in our Lesson today) did not WANT to understand... they had no desire to understand what Jesus was doing... so they accused him of being possessed by the devil. It was an attempt to discredit Jesus in the eyes of the people, but their claim had one big flaw. How could the devil defeat the devil?
I know there’s an old saying about “fighting fire with fire.” But, in reality, that’s not normally the case. You usually fight fire with water! There are “fire hydrants” on practically every street corner, in every community... but they don’t dispense fire... they dispense water!
A good ball team can only be defeated by a better team! A strong wrestler can only be defeated by someone who is stronger. Since good is always stronger than evil, good will always defeat evil.
Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” Of course, MLK was basing his words on Scripture: “God is light in whom there is no darkness at all.” “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But those who do not love do not know God, for God is love.”
We tend to think in terms of opposites in life: there’s left and right; there’s good and bad; black and white, wet and dry, love and hate... winners and losers...
Normally, when there’s a winner of any type of contest... be it football or politics, or a new restaurant or a hip church - people will “jump on the bandwagon”, but there will always be opponents... opposition... haters.
There’s a similar situation in our Lesson. Because when it came to Jesus and the Pharisees, haters were gonna hate! And by accusing Jesus of using the devil’s power to cast out demons, the Pharisees were rejecting the work and power of the Holy Spirit.
They were willfully rejecting Christ... NOT because he was doing too much good... NOT because he had a message of love, and hope, and forgiveness, and life. They rejected Christ because they did not want to give up their power, prestige, authority, their opinion, etc.
The Pharisees chose not to believe... and by default, by refusing to accept the forgiveness of God through salvation in Christ... they refused the power of the Spirit of God himself... and could not be forgiven.
How many people in our world have refused to accept Christ because it would mean giving up something that they valued more than Jesus? An earthly way of life that is more important to them?
Some people choose their status... their position... their family... their job... their ideology... their wealth... over Christ.
Maybe that’s why Jesus would say (a little later in his ministry), that “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
To choose anything in this life over the free gift of grace in Christ... is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit.
I know those are strong words from Jesus, and they grab our attention (as they should). But don’t be worried. The fact that you’re here... seeking God’s voice... serving Christ with your giftings and graces... is proof positive that you haven’t rejected/blasphemed the Spirit.
Of course, all this still leaves us with what may just be the most shocking words that Jesus ever spoke.
When Jesus was told that his mother and brothers were looking for him... he said, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Jesus’ family was concerned about his physical and mental health, but Jesus was more concerned with doing the will of God... Jesus was saying that those who care about us, are going to be equally concerned about what matters most to God.
And when you and I truly love someone... when we truly care about another person: we’re gonna be concerned about their physical and their mental health... but we’re also gonna be equally concerned about their spiritual health.
Natalie Grant is a musician who has a song called “More Than Anything.” The chorus reads, “Help me want the Healer, more than the healing... Help me want the Savior, more than the saving... Help me want the Giver, more than the giving... Help me want you Jesus, more than anything.”
And I think, that’s what Jesus was trying to say.
In a time when there’s so much opposition to the Christian faith... both from outside the church, and within its walls... may you and I want Jesus more than anything.
You and I simply cannot be anymore in God’s will than that...