Nobody Can Make Him
Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea so that [they] also may see the works you are doing; for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” – John 7:3-5 (NRSV)
Jesus’ brothers worry that he’s lacking ambition. He’s got miracles, a great story, mass appeal. He could make it big. But he’ll never be a Somebody in Galilee. It’s too far off Broadway. If you want stardom, you have to go to Judea.
Jesus will go to Judea eventually. But he knows it won’t be for a star on the Walk of Fame. It’ll be for a cross. Not exactly the big splash his brothers want. He’s in no hurry. No, he says to them, not yet. My hour hasn’t come.
This isn’t the only time Jesus rebuffs people close to him who question his purpose and timing. His mother tries to drag him home before he goes completely off the rails. Peter tells him he needs to stop talking about his impending death. The disciples badger him about when he’ll install the kingdom.
But nobody can make him. He won’t shape or pace himself for anyone, even family. There’s no lust in him for celebrity, power, or control. He knows who he is and why he’s here, and he’s steadily on course, too much for some, not enough for others.
He doesn’t satisfy anyone. Except maybe those who sense that his lack of ambition is the very reason you can trust him. There’s nothing to fear from someone unmoved by star power, who won’t manipulate, shift-shape, hurry up, or slow down to get your approval, to get you to adore.
Nothing to fear, and everything to love.
For clarity and serenity, I pray, good Jesus. And to be trustworthy, my only ambition to love.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.