Self-fulfillment, selfish ambition, and the way of the cross
Imagine if you were offered the biggest raise of your life, the corner office and ruling power over your company. And imagine if that offer kept coming from multiple people and multiple ways. Imagine as well if all those around you urged you to take that position, which they whispered in your ear was rightfully yours.
Jesus had those opportunities. Consider:
- in his temptation in the wilderness, he was offered all of the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
- crowds followed him from town to town.
- after feeding the 5,000 the people sought to make him king.
- after raising Lazarus from the dead, even his enemies acknowledged that everyone might believe in him.
- at Palm Sunday, the crowds lined the street saying, “Blessed is the King of Israel!”
He could have vaulted himself to a position of comfort and power. He could have even sought an overthrow of the existing governing structure. And he could have risen to that place of power and the urging of his family, his friends, and the crowds who followed him.
That position of power, money and influence could have been the lifelong dream for many people. But we know that Jesus did not take that position. In fact, when it seemed that his popularity was growing, he’d get up and leave and go to another town. Or another time, he challenged his followers to take up their cross, to deny themselves.
I wonder frankly if there weren’t moments where his disciples had private conversations among themselves where they recognized the opportunity for selfish gain. We know that at least at one point his disciples thought Jesus was going to establish a kingdom and they vied for positions of authority.
But Jesus never chose the path to self-fulfillment. He never chose selfish ambition. He never asked what he could get out of his service. Instead, he chose the cross—for us and for all time. And for that he is most satisfied.