13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words. 14 They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth...”
The Pharisees were supposed to be helping people prepare for the Messiah, but they were so caught up in religion that they missed Jesus. They respected Jesus as a good and wise teacher but they could never cross the bridge and embrace him as God’s Son. Jesus knew that the religious teachers were not charter members of his fan club and yet he didn’t allow their view of him to affect him. Living for the approval of others is exhausting; always looking over your shoulder, preoccupied with what those around you are thinking, wondering who’s talking about you, calculating every word or phrase, tossing restlessly at night over that person that says they are upset with you.
Jesus had plenty of opportunities to sway with the wind of public opinion. He could have avoided quite a bit of personal pain by simply caving on a few core ideas. But Jesus was a man of integrity; his words were integrated with his life. He was grounded in who he was; secure in what the Father had called him to do. This integrity, this grounded-ness, this security gave Jesus a freedom to live for an Audience of One. The yoke of approval didn’t fit on the shoulders of the Messiah and therefore shouldn’t fit around the neck of his followers either.
Jesus, we long for the kind of freedom we see in you. We long to be released from the burden of others’ thoughts and feelings. We long to be free from impressing people so that we can love others as you have loved us. Deepen our roots in you. By your grace, lead us to wholeness. May we live today “...in the way of God and in accordance with the truth.” For your glory, Amen.