Do you want to be famous? Maybe not really famous, but just a little bit famous: well-known and respected by a couple hundred (or maybe just a couple tens of) people who think you are awesome. And smart and clever and insightful. And very godly.
So, if that doesn’t work out, would you latch onto fame and glory by association?
That’s what the people in Jesus’ hometown area did. They wanted Him, but for all the wrong reasons. For many, it was a grab at fame and glory by association. They welcomed him in; asked him to make himself and his miracles known. Why? Because they didn’t believe in Him. Not as Lord and Savior, just as a miracle worker to be used for personal advancement.
Here’s an excerpt from Pastor John’s sermon where he points this out:
Another illustration of this kind of false faith, or superficial “welcoming” or “receiving” of Jesus, is his brothers in John 7:3-5,
So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” For not even his brothers believed in him.
So they believed he could do miracles. And they were eager for him to show these miracles to the world. But John says in verse 5, they talked like this because “even his brothers did not believe on him.” He comes to his own—his own brothers—and they do not receive him. Oh, they think they are receiving him—just like the people in Galilee think they are welcoming Jesus—but they don’t understand him. They don’t have eyes to see. And so they don’t honor him—even though they make much of him as a miracle-worker.
There is a kind of believing in Jesus that isn’t really believing in Jesus, as Pastor John says. It’s a user’s belief. Here’s some more on this kind of blinding sinfulness which includes:
A kind of vicarious sense of importance. The people could say that this great miracle-worker grew up in their town. This makes them want for him to do his miracles. So they “honor” him in that way. But why do they want him to do these miracles? Because the more he does, the more their attachment feeds their ego. They don’t see the glory of humble service. They don’t feel the need for his grace. They use him. His power and fame feeds their pride. And so they don’t honor him for who he is, even though they think they are.
This impulse is very much alive today and can infect us and keep us from knowing Christ the way he really is. We can be attached to a church, or a movement, or a music style, or a person, or a ministry in a way that starts to feed our ego. And it will seem justifiable because it’s Christian. And subtly we begin to want this Christian thing to thrive not for the glory of Christ, but because it feeds our ego. And when that happens, it becomes harder and harder to see Christ for who he really is—the one who saves by grace alone, and who calls us to lowliness and servanthood.”
And so I ask myself and you: are you (am I) riding the coat-tails to second-hand glory? Who are you (am I) proud to be associated with because it boosts your (my) self-importance? Are you (I) willing to be humbled so that God gets the glory due His name, and you (I) get the indescribable joy of knowing Him, the full Person and Diety of Jesus, rather than using God as a commodity for second-hand glory?