Psalms 43; 149, Jeremiah 5:20-31, Romans 3:19-31, John 7:1-13
Anonymity and privacy are quickly becoming obsolete. We carry identification for many purposes; our online activity is tracked and traded; our purchasing data allows marketers to target us directly; cameras and surveillance equipment feed the nightly news; and we voluntarily document almost limitless information about our lives on social media.
Life in the first century was very different. Because there were no photographs or even binoculars, many (if not most) of the people who followed Jesus wouldn’t know him if they met him. Thus, when the annual Festival of Booths arrived, he was able to wander it unnoticed and listen freely to what people were saying about him. Even his close friends didn’t know he was there. When they tried to convince him to go so he could increase his fame and reputation, he said “my time has not yet fully come” and told them he was remaining behind. What they didn’t fully understand was that he was referring to his time to die; the authorities were already plotting to kill him, and public appearances would only hasten that time.
Jesus knew how to pick his battles. He was focused on his mission and avoided distractions. However, that focus didn’t always translate into action; sometimes it meant working out the timing. It was no accident he turned over the money-changer tables in the temple just before Passover when it would have had maximum impact. The Festival of Booths (or Sukkot) was about six months later, and his crucifixion occurred at the following Passover. In one carefully orchestrated year he planted the seeds and tended the fruits that would be harvested at the resurrection.
As we move through life, we don’t have to constantly announce the minutia of our every intention and action, particularly for personal and important matters. Sometimes we need to hang back and weigh the available information (minus distracting if well-intentioned commentary) before deciding how best to live out our own calling. That way, when the time for action arrives, we are clear-headed and committed. Let’s try to recognize when things are best kept between us and God.
Comfort: You don’t have to be answerable to everyone all the time.
Challenge: Spend some time each week in a setting where no one knows you.
Prayer: Loving God, teach me when to reap, when to sow, and when to lie fallow. Amen.
Discussion: Have you ever shared too much information about yourself?
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