Let’s follow Steve on his quest to be somebody. Steve was born into a family with a deadbeat dad and an alcoholic mother. He was one of seven children from various fathers. Steve never had much food to eat and had to learn to take care of himself as best he could at an early age. His mother made him go to school so she could get her welfare checks and supply her habit. But she never asked Steve how he was doing or cared to help him. So he never tried very hard
Steve grew up pretty much on his own and never thinking about prospects for the future. Life was about learning to get by. Then one day, he saw Ozzy, the local kingpin, slide by in his big beautiful Cadillac. He thought to himself, “There is someone who’s made a name for himself. People pay attention to him!” Steve didn’t think he would ever amount to much himself, but he thought about how much he would be respected if he could become friends with Ozzy.
One day, as Ozzy’s car was sliding by, it slowed and the window rolled down. “He, kid, what’s your name?”
“Well, Steve, how would you like to do a favor for Ozzy?”
“Just take this bag and deliver it to this address. Ozzy would appreciate it and he won’t forget it.”
“Sure!” “Wow!,” thought Steve, “Ozzy actually asking me for a favor! I must be somebody!”
Months went by and Steve was feeling pretty good. Ozzy himself would wave and call out his name when he drove by. More and more packages got delivered, and the were always generous tokens of appreciation. Steve was no longer hungry, and everyone is school treated him a little differently because they knew he was a friend of Ozzy.
One day, Ozzy’s car rolled up and stopped next to Steve. The door opened. “Get in,” came Ozzy’s voice from inside. Ozzy told Steve that he was now was of the posse and that he wanted him to quit school and work for him full time. When Steve was let out on his street corner, he almost couldn’t contain his happiness. He was now a somebody! He was a friend of Ozzy!
Familiar story, and many such stories end in tragedy–dead from overdose, dead from gang war, jailed for criminal activity, always, in the end, suffering alone. Most names that we drop might make us feel special by really don’t do much to improve our lot and might even make us end up worse in the end.
In sports, we like to root for our favorites teams and take pride when they win. But it does nothing for us personally. Even is we rub elbows with the players, we are trading on someone else’s fame and fortune but still it doesn’t affect our own.
As I was sitting in a church this morning in another city and watching a former school mate lead the service, I reflected on how well-respected he was in his congregation and how he has seemed to enjoy a long and fruitful ministry. He seems like a Godly man. I reflected upon my status as a washout, a man cast by the wayside of pastoral ministry by circumstance. I reflected on my own failings, of which I am personally all too well aware, even if those around me think more highly of me. No one will ever drop my name as someone to take pride In knowing.
But, then there were the Bible readings and the text for the day. And they all spoke of the name that is above all other names — Jesus. Today we talked of his mountaintop experience, where he showed his followers a glimpse of his true glory, and it was so brilliant they could neither adequately describe it or even stand to witness it. It was so awesome that Peter thought maybe they should just stay there forever and bask in it. It was truly beyond anything that this world describes as awesome.
How lucky for Peter, James and John, who were the witnesses. How great to say you were the intimate friends of such a man. Of course, in a few weeks, Jesus would be nailed to a cross and the disciples would be in hiding. But that is why they could not stay on the mountain. Jesus has to complete his work.
And it is the completion of this work that has done a remarkable thing. Because, by paying the punishment for all the evil deeds of all the world’s evil people, he also paid for my evil deeds. And he opened a door to a new life, one in which I will not only reflect the glory of Jesus for now, but I will have my own glory in eternity
King David wrote, “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. Something to remember: If you are the right hand man of the most powerful man on earth, or even if you are the most powerful man yourself, or even if you are Satan himself and posses all the powers of darkness, but cannot call Jesus your friend, all you have to look forward to is to rule over misery. If, however, you are the lowest creature on earth, and no one knows your name, but you are a friend of Jesus, and even if you are least in the kingdom of Heaven, you still have a share of glory.
Who cares who has the top pot in Heaven. Jesus will know everyone’s name. When there is no end of time, there is not limit to access with Jesus. All alike will be perfect, all alike will be glorified, and not even the lowest citizen will cease to were a royal crown.
Who were Peter, James, and John? There were nobodies. But Jesus picked them out from the crowd and made their names famous for all time. They were famous because they were the chosen friends of Jesus. But they are not unique. All the chosen friends of Jesus shall be eternally exalted. That includes even lowly, unknown people like you and me.
One day, while Steve was in prison, he heard through the chaplain the voice of Jesus calling, “Steve, come be my friend.” It was then that Steve connected himself to the only name that could ever really make him something. And it was then that he knew to real joy of name dropping.