TO CHEW ON: "And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, 'Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts which nursed you.'
But He said, 'More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.'" Luke 11: 27-28
The woman who called out to Jesus may have done it in the spirit of fan worship that infects so many of us today. She was saying, in effect, How fortunate are the people who have a blood tie to You, Jesus.'
Jesus' reply shows that the kinship she so values ranks lower in His regard than the relationship built by obedience. In fact in another place He says that the obedient ones are His mother and brothers. (I love how the Message puts it: "Obedience is thicker than blood.")
In today's passage we see some of the reasons Jesus rates obedience so highly:
1. It is our guard against demonization.
Jesus refers to demons re-entering a life (11:24-26). Though He makes no direct reference here to disobedience being behind it, the implication in other scriptures (e.g. Ephesians 4:26-27) is that willful sinning (disobedience) is one way we give the devil a foothold in our lives.
2. It helps us understand Him and why He came.
Jesus scolds the Jewish leaders and their generation because they continue asking for more signs in order to believe (11:29-32). He compares Himself to Jonah and likens His coming death to Jonah's stay in the belly of the whale. But unlike the Ninevites who repented when Jonah preached to them after his 'resurrection' these people refuse, and will continue to refuse, to repent (obey).
3. When we obey we live in light.
Our compliance with God's standards and ways of working affect how we "see" or understand all of life (11:33-36). A "Word Wealth" sidebar in my Bible sheds some light on 'darkness.'
"'Darkness' (skotos) from the word ska, 'to cover.' The word is used literally for physical darkness and metaphorically for spiritual, moral and intellectual darkness. The darkness arises from error, ignorance, disobedience, willful blindness and disobedience. Darkness is an evil system, absolutely opposed to light" (New Spirit Filled Life Bible p. 1411).
If our friendship with Jesus depended on a family blood tie, we'd be left out. But it doesn't. It depends (so far as we are concerned) on our obedience. It's so simple, yet so hard.
PRAYER: Dear God, I want a Holy Spirit-directed life that is full of light. Help me to make the connection - at a deep level - with how closely the fulfillment of this desire is dependent on my obedience. Amen.
MORE: More wise words on obedience
"The golden rule for understanding spiritually is not intellect but obedience. If a man wants scientific knowledge, intellectual curiosity is his guide, but if he wants insight into what Jesus Christ teaches, he can only get it by obedience. If things are dark to me, then I may be sure there is something I will not do. Intellectual darkness comes through ignorance; spiritual darkness comes because of something I do not intend to obey." Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, July 27th reading.
Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.