There’s a joke between myself and my clergy friends that I don’t have the “right” degree. It isn’t meant to be self-deprecating . . . it truly is a joke because we all know I have more “post-graduate” hours than possibly necessary. It is mainly just because I could never find the “best” path to take. Ultimately the bishop and cabinet found another path for me to take . . . and here we are. And on any given day no one really cares what diplomas sit on the floor in my office.
The importance of degrees is not a new thing.
The procedure for being recognized as a religious teacher in Palestine during the time of Jesus was simple. The Sanhedrin (the religious governing body who established law, boundaries, etc.) was the group who declared people to be rabbis, elders, judges, etc. They made the rules.
So we shouldn’t be surprised when they asked Jesus, “what authority do you have to do these things? Who gave you that authority?”
It would have been different if their questions stem from authentic concern for the purity of the temple and the integrity of the position that Jesus was holding when he was teaching others.
But they were not about concern and purity – they were about control. They wanted their territory.
Sadly, no effort was made to probe into the miracles, recognizing that perhaps he really was who he said he was. There was little to no concern about the ultimate content, they were more worried if he had the proper credentials.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up, like the Sanhedrin did, in titles, power, and prestige. We forget that titles don’t really make a difference.
Take this brief quiz:
Name the ten wealthiest people in the world.
Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
Name the last six winners of the Miss America contest.
Name eight people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.
Name the last ten Academy Award winners for best picture.
Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.
Unless you are a huge trivia person, you most likely don’t know the answers to ALL those categories.
BUT – see if you can answer these:
Think of three people you enjoy spending time with.
Name ten people who have taught you something worthwhile.
Name five friends that have helped you through a difficult time.
Name five teachers that helped you through your journey through school.
Name six heroes whose stories have inspired you.
The lesson from this:
The people who have the “credentials” may not be the ones who make a lasting difference in your life.
This was true for Jesus and is also true for us.
Think today about where we invest our time.
Is it in credentials or in caring . . .
One has a lasting impact . . .
It certainly did for Jesus.