The world eats its own young. There are plenty of examples—Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Britany Spears, Michael Jackson, Lindsay Lohan, and lately, Justin Bieber. No criticism intended here. Compared to any one of these folks, I have the talent of a pine stump. Their implosions weren’t brought on by innate stupidity, but by the excesses, pressures, and complications of fame. It’s a package deal. Pop mania delivers heady rewards, and then gets to work siphoning off one’s soul. At the crest of the wave, a person can feel absolutely god-like—adored and loved by all. But rolling along in the backwash are the shells of human beings who were used and spent by the system. None of us are made to be worshiped.
Even Jesus had His fifteen minutes. On Palm Sunday, He “trended,” hitting the charts at number one. The crowds went crazy when He entered Jerusalem, with their palm leaves and cries of “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” The Pharisees, those ancient haters, had to admit that “the whole world has gone after Him” (John 20:19).
Even non-Jews were getting on board.
John 12:20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
Momentum was building, promising to go viral.
23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
I can imagine the enthusiastic response in the hearts of the disciples: Yes, Jesus you said it! And we’ll be right there with you in your glory. Isn’t this exciting? All the hard work has paid off—traveling around, sleeping on the ground, touching all those—ugh!—sick people. We knew you’d make it.
But then came His dread words:
24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
He had seen straight through the crowds. Never was a man clearer about public adulation. He understood the people and the fickle appetites that drove them. He knew the distraction and destruction behind trusting the celebrity of the world. Neither autographs nor interviews, shoulder carries, nor endorsements, would accomplish His mission. The truth is, He would have their worship, but not through popular acclaim. He would have glory, but not the kind related to being the flavor of the week.
Charles Spurgeon writes,
He was about to die, yet he speaks of his death as being glorified. For the
joy that was set before him, he seems to overlook the intervening
humiliation in the prospect of the glory that would come of it through the
salvation of multitudes of strangers from the very ends of the earth. He
looks on these Greeks as the vanguard of a great army of Gentiles who
would continue to come to him, and pay him homage…
He knew that he must die, for his living, and preaching, and miracle
working would never produce such results as his death would accomplish.
He must go down into the ground, out of sight, and there must lie like a
buried grain of wheat, that out of him there might spring a great harvest to
the glory of God; and these Greeks were like a first handful, a wavesheaf
unto God, a promise of the great harvest that would be the result of his
death: “If it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”
(Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 58).
Thank God our Savior was celebrity-proof.