Work to Do

Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else–to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. (Mark 1:36-39)

Just as wealth can often be harder to handle than poverty, succumbing to popularity and notoriety over anonymity can be difficult. Extremes are never easy to live out properly in any life–whatever those extremes may be. Balance is key in the life of a believer! We would do well when we are successful to remind ourselves of Paul’s words to the Corinthians:

For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1 Corinthians 4:7)

In the Old Testament, the Bible says:

“Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:7-9)

Jesus was riding the popularity wave–people were seeking Him from every direction and instead of riding upon men’s shoulders, He spends the night in prayer. What an example! I don’t know about you, but when things are sweet in my life, my prayer life often starts to stink. But Jesus knows the risk of popular acclaim. Prayer is for all times–necessary to equip us when life is easy as well as difficult. It is not hard to remember to pray when times are hard! Our Lord was well aware it was not yet time for His earthly kingdom to be established. He eventually had a cross to bear. The temptation to shirk the pain would have certainly been appealing.

Look at the disciples in our verses for today. Crowds were gathering, people were seeking Jesus, and the disciples were lapping it up. All the while the Lord Jesus is praying for strength and protection and standing firm in all the will of God. Remember, Jesus said He came to do His Father’s will. Yet Satan bites at the heels of all and particularly at the Lord Jesus. I am reminded of his foiled temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Satan offers Jesus the kingdoms of the world with all their splendor and notoriety and glitz if Jesus would simply bow down and worship him. A seemingly easy path to power and glory–and Jesus nipped it right in the bud:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'” (Matthew 4:8-10)

It was and is God’s design for Jesus Christ to rule the world, but that design involved the cross. Jesus knew this, yet the temptation to take the easy rather than the hard way remained. The writer of Hebrews tells us Jesus was tempted in every way as we are, yet He was without sin. As fully God, He never gave in to sin, yet as a man He could feel the hard reality of temptation and is therefore able to sympathize with us:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

Jesus had a lot of work left to do. He came to preach Good News to all people, and present popularity was not going to prevent it. His mission was His Father’s mission and He remained focused on that mission. He was committed to carrying out the plan which would include going to the cross.

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)

“As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:4-5)

Take It to Heart

“Let God do with me whatever He will.” -William Mountford
While I haven’t had much firsthand experience with notoriety, fame, or acclaim, I know it is true that how one handles popularity is just as important as how one handles anonymity. Whatever God allows in the life of a believer, He gives each one of us the power to bring Him glory. It works wondrously when done in His way!