Devotion for the Week...
Years before an American election happens, there is speculation about who will run for president. I'm not even American, but I still heard the news the very day that Hilary Clinton officially said she would be running, after several years of speculation about whether or not she would. What amuses me is that these announcements are themselves announced ahead of time, as in "There's a big announcement coming from so-and-so at 1pm today," so that all the major newscasters can be ready to cover the actual announcement. Even those who are already well known do everything they can to maximize their media exposure.
If you are not so well known, then getting noticed can be very difficult. You have to work hard at finding those photo ops that will get your name into the news...for good reasons and not because you've messed up. You have to be out there, shaking hands, meeting people, taking selfies with supporters. Without being known and gaining approval, without the support of voters who like them, politicians are out of a job.
Interestingly, Jesus' brothers had the same idea. They told Him, "Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works 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" (John 7: 3,4). Get out there. Be seen. Show everyone what you can do so they will know all about you.
But that wasn't Jesus' plan. He wasn't out to win a popularity contest, or to gain a large crowd of followers. Yes, He did a lot of things in public, and a lot of things that were noticed by the crowds, but He wasn't doing them with the goal of gaining popularity. In fact, He sometimes healed people, then told them "See that you don’t tell anyone" (Matthew 8:4). Can you imagine being completely healed of some terrible disease and then being told not to tell anyone how it had happened? I find it hard to imagine anyone today healing people and not wanting to take credit for it.
Jesus was often followed by crowds of people, people who wanted to hear Him teach or receive healing, but I don't find Him sending out announcements of where He would be ahead of time to make sure the crowd grew as much as possible before He arrived. In fact, He often tried to sneak away to quiet places to pray or to spend time teaching His disciples, but the crowds followed Him anyway because He was different. His healings and the authority with which He taught were so different from what people were used to that they sought Him out. Though He didn't make a special effort to draw the crowds, God worked through Him to reach many people.
Of course, not everyone liked Jesus. The very things that made Him liked by the ordinary people were the same things that turned the religious leaders against Him. Once, after Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, "the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus" (Mark 3:6) because He went against their teaching. Though it would eventually lead to His death, Jesus didn't avoid the things that upset the religious leaders. He didn't seek to gain their approval or change His message to make it more appealing to them.
The question, then, is: Who are we imitating? Do we, like the politicians, seek out every opportunity to be noticed, to increase our popularity and have the approval of the most possible people? Or are we content to let God take care of the results?