What I read: Luke 4
Observations: I noticed how quickly the people in Jesus’ hometown turn from a response of wonder and amazement to being willing to throw him off a cliff. Obviously it’s a pretty steep roll downhill from being acclaimed as a marvelous teacher to a heretic who deserves death, but this does seem to set Jesus up for the later reactions he will receive from the crowds of people he is teaching. This seems to take place quite often – people are enamored with Jesus and then he says or does something that confuses or irritates them and he falls out of their favor. I guess, to some degree, it mirrors what still happens in reference to Jesus today. In any case, the story of him being nearly tossed off a cliff is followed by another group of people who gladly welcome him and his teachings and miracles. I guess overall my impression was of just how fickle the praise of any group of people is, and how futile it is to work for that.
Application: I tend to be a people pleaser, so the final comment in my observation hits pretty close to home. I like to be well thought of, and I enjoy when other people seem to be happy with me. It feels good. At the same time, however, Jesus never seemed to be overly concerned about whether or not people were happy with him. He stayed laser-focused on his mission of preaching the kingdom of God wherever he was going. There were clearly some who were drawn to that, and I think Jesus was able to live with the reality that not EVERYONE was going to celebrate his message. I could learn a thing or two about this from Jesus, a lesson in having enough self-confidence to not need to be liked by everyone, especially if it means somehow compromising the clarity of the message I’m supposed to give.
Prayer: Jesus today I pray that you would open my eyes to see that really, in the end, your opinion of me is the only one that matters. Instead of trying to work for the approval of someone else, or even a whole group of other “someones”, help me to work for your approval, and only your approval because that’s the only thing that will ultimately matter for me anyway. I even pray this in light of my task tomorrow, which is to bring a message of good news to all the people that will gather at New Life. Some of them are already convinced believers, others of them are still curious and seeking, and others may find themselves in a world of hurt as they walk through those doors. Regardless of their situation tomorrow, would you work through me in such a way that they can clearly see the King of the Kingdom of Heaven who is inviting them to live in relationship with him. If I can do that, and nothing more or less, I will be completely content.