10 January 2017
God did not appoint angels to be rulers of the world to come, and that world is what we are talking about. Somewhere there is a passage that shows us this. It runs: What is man that you should spare a thought for him, the son of man that you should care for him? For a short while you made him lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and splendour. You have put him in command of everything. Well then, if he has put him in command of everything, he has left nothing which is not under his command. At present, it is true, we are not able to see that everything has been put under his command, but we do see in Jesus one who was for a short while made lower than the angels and is now crowned with glory and splendour because he submitted to death; by God’s grace he had to experience death for all mankind.
As it was his purpose to bring a great many of his sons into glory, it was appropriate that God, for whom everything exists and through whom everything exists, should make perfect, through suffering, the leader who would take them to their salvation. For the one who sanctifies, and the ones who are sanctified, are of the same stock; that is why he openly calls them brothers in the text: I shall announce your name to my brothers, praise you in full assembly.
Jesus and his followers went as far as Capernaum, and as soon as the sabbath came he went to the synagogue and began to teach. And his teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority.
In their synagogue just then there was a man possessed by an unclean spirit and it shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are: the Holy One of God.’ But Jesus said sharply, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’ And the unclean spirit threw the man into convulsions and with a loud cry went out of him. The people were so astonished that they started asking each other what it all meant. ‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’ And his reputation rapidly spread everywhere, through all the surrounding Galilean countryside.
“And with authority behind it.”
For many years, I had been working hard to better myself, buying a lot of books and learning about how to become a better speaker, motivator, boss, time-manager, or any other area that I could improve myself.
One of the books that influenced me was the book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ written by the late Stephen Covey. He once noted that the modern world of self-development focused too much on the ‘Personality Ethic’ versus the ‘Character Ethic’ approach, which was the default approach in the early years of personal development.
The ‘Character Ethic’ focuses on developing a person from the inside. One worked on improving his attributes or qualities that he felt was lacking. In essence, one worked on becoming a better person. Over time, however, the ‘Personality Ethic’ began taking over. Instead of improving oneself from within, people had become more concerned about learning tricks and techniques of impressing so that others would think the best of them.
The gospel passage today talks about Jesus teaching with authority. Clearly, our Lord had a very close relationship with His Father and hence was able to instruct with such knowledge and power. Like the ‘Character Ethic’ approach, Jesus worked from within, spending much time developing this relationship.
In Matthew 6: 5-6, Jesus describes the difference between the two methods — one focuses on the external aspects of the relationship with God, while the other talks about approaching God privately.
Like Jesus, we should strive to know God intimately, rather than make a ‘big show’ of a relationship with Him. May we be able to know the difference.
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer – Jesus, we ask You to help us to grow closer to both You and Our Father. Teach us to develop a relationship with You that is authentic, intimate and not superficial.
Thanksgiving – Jesus, we offer You our thanks for showing us the correct way to relate to Our Father. Thank You for showing us how to live as Your followers.