The Absurdity of Making Jesus Famous



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September 10, 2020

John 7:1-9 (NIV)

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.


Something deep within all of us wants to be famous. No, we don’t all want to be rock stars or celebrities, but deep down we desire to be acclaimed by others, which is the essence of fame. Even deeper, at the heart of our fame complex lives our unspeakable desire to be god-like. Was not this the original temptation? “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God. . .” (Gen. 3:5).

Another of the infinitely amazing things about Jesus is that he, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing by taking the nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Phi. 2:6-7).

In light of this contrast, note the words from Jesus’ brothers. 

“Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.”

They thought Jesus wanted to be famous. Why would they think such a thing? It’s because deep down they wanted to be famous. I hear a lot of Christian leaders these days call their churches to “make Jesus famous.” I think it’s the most presumptuous and even ridiculous thing we could possibly say. Jesus unequivocally rejects the whole category of fame. The one who lives to love will not be made famous. The world looks for the famous ones. Heaven searches for the holy ones. The world makes celebrities. The kingdom of God makes saints.

Jesus refuses the public captivity of celebrity. He hides himself in the nature of a servant. He will have no entourage of sycophants drafting on his fame. He drafts disciples—men and women who have walked the ways of the world and found them wanting, who are ready to abandon their lives to only one who gives life—no turning back, no turning back.


Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is the way and the truth and the life. There is no other way, no other truth, and no other life outside of him. Come, Holy Spirit, and help us give our whole lives to him, holding back nothing that we might receive everything. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.


1. Why do human beings crave fame?

2. Why do human beings exalt celebrities and famous people?

3. What holds you back from renouncing the ways of the world and abandoning your life to Jesus who alone can give you life?

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For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

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