Lenten Day 15: Resumes and Credentials.

Today’s Lectio Divina: Luke 20: 1-8 (MsgB)

One day He (Jesus) was teaching the people in the Temple, proclaiming the Message. The high priests, religion scholars, and leaders confronted Him and demanded, “Show us your credentials. Who authorized You to speak and act like this?” Jesus answered, “First, let Me ask you a question: About the baptism of John—who authorized it, heaven or humans?” They were on the spot, and knew it. They pulled back into a huddle and whispered, “If we say ‘heaven,’ He’ll ask us why we didn’t believe him; if we say ‘humans,’ the people will tear us limb from limb, convinced as they are that John was God’s prophet.” They agreed to concede that round to Jesus and said they didn’t know. Jesus said, “Then neither will I answer your question.”

 So what’s your resume look like?

Can you imagine someone walking up to Jesus and asking Him for His resume?

While it boggles our minds here in the 21stcentury that anyone would dare go head to head with Jesus in the way these high priests, scholars and religious leaders did, the truth of the matter is that Jesus just didn’t fit the expected role of rabbi in the first century.

First, His up-bringing was truly questionable. Rabbis came from good families, you see, with well-established roots in the community. The sad truth is that from day one, Jesus’ birth is a questionable one, at best. Some claim that He is the first-born son of a lowly carpenter, Joseph, from the northern regions of Israel. But there are plenty of rumors out there as well that bring into question Mary, the mother of Jesus. Word on the street says that Mary had this child, Jesus, via illegal sexual relations outside of marriage. Certainly, no one with that kind of checkered past would be qualified to speak for God!

Next, the fact that Jesus hails from Nazareth is a problem. In the larger communities of Israel, especially in the religious hub of Jerusalem, being from Nazareth was not helpful to your position of authority at all. While Israel had experienced God raising up unknown leaders from obscure places ( i.e. David being the prime example of this type of activity), the tradition says that those who have studied for years under the tutelage of rabbis from Jerusalem will be the ones who will be chosen for prime leadership positions in God’s house.

Another factor running against Jesus is the group of disciples He has around Him. From everyone’s viewpoint, these men following Jesus are dropouts and low-end losers who can’t make it in the religious schools of the day. Fishermen, tax collectors, and other tradesmen were blue-collar at best. And the fact that Jesus also elevates women in the way He does also speaks of His ‘out-of-the-box’ theologies which run contrary to the established systems of His day.

In truth, Jesus has no right to be standing where He is this final week in Jerusalem. He enters the city of God on a donkey, symbolizing His lowly position in society, and if the leaders of the temple have their way, Jesus will leave town the same way He came in, by donkey, with His tail pinned on His back!

But Jesus, as we know, is never intimidated by those who see Him as a loser with no future. Despite the fact that His resume is less than stellar, His ability to think on His feet is quite amazing. Here, Jesus gets the upper hand in this dialogue and, quite honestly, shuts down these wise guys with one-half of His brain tied behind His back.

Makes me realize that resumes and titles just don’t mean that much to God. Huh?

I’m reminded of the little ditty a pastor wrote up to send to His board at the time they were looking to hire a second pastor at their church. The pastor typed up the following letter and sent it in the mail, addressing it to the hiring committee chairman. The letter read like this…

Gentlemen: Understanding your church is looking for a second pastor, I should like to apply for the position. I have many qualifications. I’ve been a preacher with much success and also have had some success as a writer. Some say I’m a good organizer. I’ve been a leader most places I’ve been. I’m over 50 years of age. I have never preached in one place for more than three years. In some places, I have left town after my work caused riots and disturbances. I must admit I have been in jail three or four times, but not because of any real wrongdoing. My health is not too good, though I still get a great deal done. The churches I have preached in have been small, though located in several large cities. I’ve not gotten along well with religious leaders in towns where I have preached. In fact, some have threatened me and even attacked me physically. I am not the best at keeping records. I have been known to forget whom I baptized. However, if you can use me, I shall do my best for you.

The committee chairman looked at the letter and scoffed. Yet, since he was committed to bringing all of the resumes the board received to the next meeting, he did so. After reviewing all the other resumes for the board, the chairman paused. The senior pastor looked at the table, seeing one more piece of paper untouched. Immediately he asks the committee chairman, “Isn’t there one more letter, there?”

The committee chairman hemmed and hawed, but finally, at the direction of the pastor, read the final letter. Everyone on the board was in shock when the pastor suggested that the board hire this man for the job, sight unseen! The pastor laughed and asked the board chairman to turn the letter over and see who the letter was from. The chairman did so and suddenly took a deep breath. In shock, he read out to the board…

“Sincerely, the Apostle Paul”

My prayer: God, from Your perspective, Your authorization and approval trumps all other resumes and elite training we might have. Help me to never scoff at the approval You give to those I might overlook because of earthly shortcomings. May I never take a backseat to those who believe education or training always trumps anointing. May I, like Jesus, look more for Your approval than any other earthly resumes or recommendations. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: While there is nothing wrong with education, training and bettering ourselves in the professional world, how have I put more trust in those earthly credentials than trusting in the God-presence of those who walk faithfully with Him. Would I look down on a resume like Paul’s, or would I see that man or woman as God sees them?

So, what are you experiencing today as we are journeying through this Lenten Adventure?

Over a 48-day period (from Ash Wednesday through the Monday after Easter), you and I will be taking a deeper look at the stories surrounding the life and ministry of Jesus (especially the last week known as Holy Week) as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Our Lenten Journey home page for ease of use. 

If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!

Click here to go onto the next Lenten session…

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