While reading Luke today, I was struck by the apparent harshness in Jesus’ response to a woman who appeared to give Him a compliment. Jesus shrugged off the comment and turned it into an object lesson for His followers.
After Jesus cast out demons and taught on demonic possession, a woman yells out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” Jesus said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28).
The woman was obviously caught up in the moment and did what people tend to do when something really spectacular is taking place. She tried to become part of what was going on by yelling words of praise to Jesus. I’ve done it. It’s easy to fall into the habit of being an “active” spectator. No real risk or faith required. But you still get to share in the glory.
There are many time that I have shouted “Amen” without living out what is being preached. That is exactly what I believe this woman was doing here. Jesus called her on it and many others in the crowd who did the same thing. He basically said, “Thanks for your words of support. But I would rather you go and live out what I have told. The kingdom of God is not about words but actions – truly living for the glory of God.”
Jesus is basically saying that talk is cheap. If you want to be blessed, you have to do more than “claim the promises of God.” You have to live by faith and not by sight. You have to love not your life unto death. You have to hear what the word says and do it. You can’t live by your reason. You must live by obedience.
Blessings come only through the cross. This seems so hard for people in the modern world to understand. It’s not that God helps those who help themselves. Truly God blesses those who live for God and not themselves. God’s blessings cannot be defined by what happens on this earth. God’s blessings will be tallied and distributed on judgment day. Many who are first now will be last then and visa versa.
Praise be to God that He helps us live it if we just stop talking a good game and start listening for God’s call and submitting to His divine power at work in His people.