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No Fleshly Ambition

John 7:1-5
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No-one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world." For even his own brothers did not believe in him. (NIV)

Jesus did not seek publicity. He did not want His ministry to be validated by what people thought of Him; He only wanted to please His Heavenly Father (John 5:41-44). About six months had elapsed since the events in John Chapter 6. During that time Jesus had been in the northern province of Galilee, away from the religious leaders in the south who wanted Him dead, and were personally willing to kill him by stoning.

It was the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. Every able-bodied Jewish man had a responsibility to be in Jerusalem to honour God, who led the Children of Israel through the wilderness for forty years. It was a great celebration, but it was also the place to be noticed and to make business contacts. So Jesus' brothers, who had seen His growing reputation in Galilee, urged Him to go to the feast and make a name for Himself. They judged Him by their own selfish, fleshly, human standards. Perhaps they thought that they would also benefit from His popularity; or that they would enjoy being related to a celebrity. But the brothers did not understand who He was or what He had come to do.

They were like Baruch, Jeremiah' secretary, who thought he ought to get some personal benefit from working with the prophet. God said to him, "Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not ..." (Jeremiah 45:5). That temptation, however disguised, is still strong for many who know that they are called to serve the Lord. The hunger for human popularity, often encouraged by close friends or family, has stunted many ministries and spoiled many ministers. Whenever we try to make a name for ourselves, we commit the sin of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9): it is an ungodly desire which can never achieve God's purposes because its focus is human glory, and not God's. Jesus will certainly build His church, and the powers of darkness can never stop Him (Matthew 16:18): but do not ask Him to support your own personal advancement programme. We must learn to be like John the Baptist who said, "He must become greater; I must become less." (John 3:30)

Sovereign Lord. I know that everything comes from You and all glory should go to You. Forgive me when I think that I deserve some of the glory, and seek it for myself. Please teach me to be humble, content to pour myself out in Your service without seeking human applause. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams