London 2012 proceeds at great speed. Records are being broken – many of them by only a few hundredths of a second. All are accompanied by great emotional rejoicing; some by the clenched-fist of achievement.
Only a cynical armchair sportsman would minimise such dedication. Seen from another angle – that of the un-medalled participants – suspicions arise about drug-use, nationalistic training brutality, and tactical moves to defeat the efforts of others, to name but a few.
These identical principles are at work in every arena of human competition. Even the Jersey v. Guernsey v. Isle of Man v. Many Other Financial Centres “competition” is pursued and published around the world in order to establish (the appearance of) pre-eminent achievement. Behind the scenes Jersey is seeking to fund itself via internet gambling and ignoring the tens of thousands overseas whose lives will be irretrievably destroyed by it.
“Who will show us any good – any real, truthful, achievement – untainted goodness?” Intriguingly the words of Jesus in bold above refer to “these things” which have been “hidden” “from the wise and understanding” and instead “revealed” (by the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ) “to little children”. And Jesus was thankful to his Father, “Lord of heaven and earth”, for showing such wonderful hidden things to them......
What are “these things” that are really, really good. Can they better than Olympic-level achievements, better than Jersey’s Olympic-level reputation?
“These things” were Jesus’ “mighty works” done in Chorazin and Bethsaida, two cities in Galilee. Immediately before Jesus declared the words in bold above “he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not change their minds’.”
What kind of “mighty works” were these? Let Matthew answer from a few paragraphs earlier. Jesus words again: “the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news broadcast to them.” Despite all those wonderful works, the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida did not “change their minds”.
Chorazin and Bethsaida didn’t see Jesus’ works or his broadcast messages of good news as of any significance to them. Why is it that we do the same? Why do we so greatly admire the works of the Olympic athletes (even when there are no minuses underneath the surface) but ignore the man who restored sight to the blind and raised the dead?
Why do we admire the dedication that a person has in pursuing his or her own glory? Why can’t we see that true glory – true “mighty works” – truly amazing achievements - are those done totally altruistically. These “mighty works” were done by a man who wanted to bless others, not himself. Chorazin and Bethsaida were disinterested. Was it because of their achievements? Had their achievements (through wisdom and understanding) made them self-sufficient in all things? Like Jersey?
To the “little children” Jesus’ “mighty works” demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt the one and only way, the wonderful prospect, the transcending deliverables which Jesus had come to bring to them. The way of restored health, restored strength, life to replace death, good news for those poor in spirit.
Jesus said then – and says today – “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”