THE WAY UP IS DOWN.

It has been said if you want to found a new religion, go to Washington DC in springtime, arrange a parade abounding in color and festivity, have a team collecting money for the cause and the publicity will be sure to bring plenty of followers. That is how Sun Myung Moon enhanced his Unification Church back in the 70’s. But man’s methods are nothing new.

In John 7:2-13 Jesus’ brothers thought Jesus needed to be bought up to speed in the science of public relations. He didn’t seem to understand that if you are going to be a winner you have to operate from a position of strength. They considered Jesus was too timid, too camera shy and spent too much time alone. He didn’t know how to play the crowd, manipulate the media or grab headlines. 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”, implying you will never get anywhere with Nazareth as your base, the same even goes for Jerusalem, we will get you to Rome, work on your accent get you some new clothes, round up guys to give you some class to replace these common fishermen and give you a whole new image. One other thing Jesus, play down this idea of being born in a stable, it hurts your credibility. His brothers did not yet believe Him as the Messiah.

A feast day was coming, what an opportunity for a superstar to shine. Anyone on his way to the top can’t afford to pass up a chance like this. Jesus later turned man’s idea of greatness on its head. In Matthew 20:21 we see it when a mother requested two of her Sons, permission to sit with Jesus in prominent places. Jesus said, “You don’t know what you are asking”. Jesus then called the disciples together and showed them how different greatness will be in His kingdom. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28). In John 5:44, Jesus says, “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?”

Where did Jesus’ brothers get the idea Jesus wanted to become a public figure anyway? All Jesus wanted was to please the Father and seek and save the lost. Jesus later went quietly to the feast through a side door and began to teach, no fanfare, no trumpets, no announcement. Genuineness doesn’t need glitzy parades or reliance on charisma to impress.

The church is strongest when it rings truest, true servants know “the way up is down”. After Jesus taught true service in (Luke 17:7-10), He adds “So, you also when you have done everything you were told to do should say, we are unworthy servants, we have only done our duty”. The brothers don’t feature again until Acts 1:14, now believers, after seeing Jesus’ humility all the way to the cross yet so victorious when he rose from the dead.

Author: John Shepher