Fame is bad for you.
Sorry to be so unequivocal about it, perhaps it’s fairer to say, too much fame is bad for you. It’s certainly the thought I was left with after seeing this film about the life and music of Whitney Houston. She was such a talented singer and person. She had a God-given gift, a voice like no other. The greatest voice, it was said, of her generation. But sadly other things came with that rush of fame. Things which hurt and distracted her, and eventually led to her destruction. The odd thing about fame is that we know of so many people who have been brought crashing down by it, and yet we still long a for a bit of it. For our own 15 minutes of fame.
Jesus was very wise when it came to fame. Tempted to do great and public miracles in the wilderness he dodged them all, continuing on his quiet way, trusting his father and taking one day at a time. When the crowds wanted to make him king after he fed them miraculously, he stepped back and tried to point them to another kind of food, a less dramatic bread, a divine meal that would sustain them forever. On his way to Jairus’s house, followed by a large bunch of people, he took time to focus on the one person whom everyone else overlooked. A woman who had been damaged and injured by life. He ignored the press of the people in order to show her how much she meant to God, calling her aside so he could smile and look her in the eyes with the truth that could set her free.
When he rode into the capital and the crowds flocked to cheer and adore him, he was careful to ride quietly away again, refusing any pressure to exert his limitless power and authority. On the night before he was murdered, when he could have called down legions of angels to engage in a public, Marvel-superhero type battle between good and evil, he chose another way. He knelt in a garden of sweat and blood and wrestling, and chose to shoulder shame and intimidation and squalor, dying like a broken and failed criminal in order to save the world in a way no on else could comprehend.
And even when he stepped from his own grave, and set the world on a brand new course, he did so quietly, the rising sun lighting his steps, with just one or two witnesses. No huge Palm Sunday crowd then, just Mary and her friends, those who had quietly come through the dark, to bless his body and care for their lost friend. They got more than they bargained for that morning…
…and so it continues today. Morning after morning. Quietly. Unassuming. People meeting the smiling Saviour in unglamorous settings, no press or paparazzi around to front-page the news. Lives transformed by this man from Nazareth who is always on the lookout for those who are quietly hungry for his help and hope.