According to the programming of this world, Jesus was a total failure. If we look at his life through the lenses that we judge our own lives, it would appear that he knew very little about “success” and spent no time seeking after the things that we in this present time hold dear.
1. He was a homeless thirty year old man.
“As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.” But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” Luke 9:57-58 (New Living Translation)By today’s standards that would definitely take him off of the list of people who are heading in the right direction. We in America seem to judge the value of people by how well things are working in their lives. We look at their nice homes and fancy cars, and think that they are successful. But the truth of the situation is that many times people are so bogged down by all the stuff they have accumulated and have become so wrapped up in the pleasure they contain that they have no real spiritual power.
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Luke 16:13 (New Living Translation)
2. He walked away from a successful carpentry business to travel preaching about spiritual things.
As firstborn, he had a duty to take care of his family, especially his mother. Since the Gospels are conspicuously silent about his father Joseph when his ministry started, we can assume that he was either dead or gone from the scene.
“Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.” Mark 6:3 (King James Version)He left a profession that was esteemed and became a person who was despised because of what he did daily. I can only image what the reaction of his brothers and sisters was as he told them that he was walking away from an established industry and going to be “living on faith”. If your older brother came home for Christmas and told you that he was going to be leaving his successful law practice to walk around Europe and preach, what would you say? How would you react? Would you consider him a success?
Ironically, some of his disciples did exactly the same thing. James and John had fishing businesses and walked away. It was the same with Peter. They dropped their nets and started following a homeless guy around the country. I’m sure they received the same reaction from their families.
3. He remained unmarried.
Regardless what the bull-discus of "The DaVinci Code" says, Jesus never married. If you were thirty and unmarried, and not gay, would your family consider you a success? Could his relatives have tried to fix him up with “nice Jewish girls” incessantly?
4. He bucked his religious upbringing.
Imagine a good Jewish boy who was devout and knowledgeable preaching in the temple.
“So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.” Luke 4:16 (New King James Version)
Now imagine that same boy making enemies of the priests and scribes, throwing out money changers with a whip, and becoming number one on the “most wanted” hit list. Does that sound successful to you?
Let’s not even talk about hanging out with his crazy cousin John the Baptist. Locusts and honey? He was not the best dressed man in Judea.
So what is my point?
“Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.” James 4:4 (New Living Translation)
If you are trying to be “too cool for school” and seriously desiring to look successful in this world, you might want to have a look at where you are at spiritually. Because Jesus has shown us that many times we have to buck the worldly system in order to be fully submitted to the perfect will of God. Was Mother Teresa successful? Not according to guys like Donald Trump who base their whole existence on the accumulation of stuff. But to God, she rocked. And He is really the only one we have to impress.
“And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” Matthew 19:29 (King James Version)