Once in a while someone jumps to a conclusion about who we are before they really know us. It creates all kinds of awkwardness. Based on their impression of us they develop expectations. We feel under pressure; they feel frustrated when we don’t deliver. It happened to Jesus. Here’s an example.
Someone in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But He said to him, “Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbiter over you?” (Luke 12:13-14)
Jesus was crystal clear about who He was and what He came to do. He had no need to try to please anyone except His heavenly Father. So, instead of allowing the awkward situation to develop (as I tend to), Jesus answered the man with a question followed by a warning illustrated with a parable (Luke 12:15-21). The question: “Who appointed Me a judge or arbiter over you?” The answer is, of course, that the man wanted Jesus to have that role. He had seen and heard so much about the wise miracle-worker that he thought, just maybe, here was someone who could persuade his brother to split the inheritance.
Appointing Jesus to satisfy our personal desires is a danger that we all must be alert to. He is not “my Jesus” in the sense that He does my bidding. Now, certainly Jesus does care for us. He meets our deepest needs, provides for us, heals, guides, and so on. But there is a subtle yet vital distinction between indulging us and nurturing us into spiritual maturity. We must be honest, what do we ask our Jesus to do for us?
Following Jesus starts with bowing to Him as Lord; the walk continues with learning the will and ways of our new Lord. More and more we have to stop demanding what we want, what we think is best, and quietly receive His better blessings. It’s a whole new life. Our deepest needs are met in surrender to His will and to this new way of living. This was a novel idea to the man, and to the crowd. Two levels of life! On this earth, negotiating a better deal on an inheritance seems natural. Living off a surplus, like the rich farmer in the parable, is a sign of success. But Jesus suggested it’s a form of greed. A higher life happens in relationship with the heavenly Father. That relationship grows as we learn to share His values. One of those values is generosity towards the needy. Jesus immediately went on to explain that more to His disciples (Luke 12:22-34). When we care for the needy we store up treasure in heaven. When we seek God’s kingdom He ensures a steady supply of our practical needs. Perhaps the man in the crowd was still listening. Perhaps we are too.