King Incognito


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 84; 148, Genesis 24:1-27, Hebrews 12:3-11, John 7:1-13

Many cultures have folk tales about a king incognito, that is a king (or sometimes a prince or more unusually a queen) who disguises himself and roams his kingdom. The results of his secret adventure depend largely on whether he is a just king or an unjust one. For example, a just king may uncover plots against him and so prevent them from hatching. An unjust king may be discovered and suffer – even die – as a result. The tone of these stories generally reflect the people’s feelings about their current ruler.

Near the end of his ministry, Jesus arranged such an outing.

The Festival of Booths (Sukkot) was happening in Judea. He sent his disciples without him, saying: “I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.” After they departed, he went to the festival alone and disappeared into the crowd. In an era without cameras, not having a group of disciples around him was disguise enough. He was the talk of the festival, and many Jews were looking for him. Some said he was a good man, and others said he was deceiving the people.

Have you heard the phrase: “What someone thinks about you is none of your business?” Knowing what the people thought about him had no ultimate effect on Jesus’s mission. Can we imagine he was surprised to hear both good and bad news? Realistically, what else could we expect? In the verses that follow today’s reading from John, Jesus reveals himself to the crowd and begins preaching. His time had come, and in the end the king must reveal himself.

Other people’s opinions do not matter when we are carrying out the work of the Kingdom of God. While we remain open-minded and listen to what people tell us about their needs, we are to respond as Christ calls us to, whether it makes us popular or not. Some people may love us for it, some may hate us, and some of each may be fellow Christians. When we are following Christ, God’s is the only opinion that matters.

Comfort: You are accountable to no one but God.

Challenge: Do not let other people’s opinions and reactions inflate your ego or deflate your spirit.

Prayer: Breath of Life, help me to learn to rely only on you. Amen.

Discussion: Think about how other people’s opinions have influenced your behavior, for better or worse. What would you have done differently if you didn’t care?

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