It is always a shock when we learn that someone we have held in high esteem has committed a crime or egregious sin and has fallen from the pedestal we had put them on. I recently watched a movie that told the story of the head of a very popular news organization and how he fell from his high tower of power when his sexual exploitation of several female employees was revealed. It was an eye-opener.
Perhaps that says more about our tendency to erect pedestals than anything else. Society has a way of creating a hierarchy built on power, wealth, and social status. Sin has a way of knocking all of that down. The only safe pedestal to perch upon is the word of God.
In the twenty-first chapter of Matthew, Jesus had a conversation with the chief priests and elders of the people. They were at the top of the food chain in Israel and loved to flaunt their status. They had the audacity to question Jesus about his authority, as if their self-assigned societal authority gave them the right to question the Son of God.
See how handily Jesus knocks them off their man-made pedestals:
Matthew 21 (Common English Bible)
28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. Now he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’
29 “‘No, I don’t want to,’ he replied. But later he changed his mind and went.
30 “The father said the same thing to the other son, who replied, ‘Yes, sir.’ But he didn’t go.
31 “Which one of these two did his father’s will?”
They said, “The first one.”
Jesus said to them, “I assure you that tax collectors and prostitutes are entering God’s kingdom ahead of you. 32 For John came to you on the righteous road, and you didn’t believe him. But tax collectors and prostitutes believed him. Yet even after you saw this, you didn’t change your hearts and lives and you didn’t believe him.
Whoa, Nellie. That was a deep cut. The prostitutes and the TAX COLLECTORS? Surely that rankled the chief priests. Jesus effectively mopped the floor with their over-blown pretensions and their misunderstanding of “greatness.”
To be the first, one must commit to being the last. To enter the kingdom of God, one must be humble. Securing eternal life requires changing our hearts, minds, and LIVES. Walking God’s righteous road is the way.
Look at the pedestal you are currently standing on. If you see privilege, position, wealth, status, or arrogance there, jump off and save yourself.