Has anyone ever told you to be more assertive? To speak up more and let your voice and opinion be heard? I know there are definitely times in my life that I have been encouraged to do so. If there is a quality to be valued in our Western world today assertiveness would have to be near the very top of that list. Employers all over our nation are seeking to hire people who possess a certain amount of assertiveness in what they do. And who could blame them? Assertiveness is confidence and assurance that you know what you are doing and can handle the situation ahead of you. Assertiveness can lead to a sense of calm and control because you have been proven to follow through and desire to succeed. Assertiveness can really make you look competent and in charge of your particular job or skill. Assertiveness can be a very good thing, a very useful thing, and a very marketable trait.
Yet if there could be a knock against assertiveness, it just very well might be its strength. This is because assertiveness can lead to a heightened view of one’s self. Assertiveness can easily become transformed into overconfidence, prideful boasting and arrogance, and sheer dominance in a way that can communicate the wrong message to people. We see examples of this kind of self-assertion over and over throughout Scripture. In our text this week from Luke 9 we see a glimpse of this from Jesus’ disciples who began arguing over which of them would be the greatest. This temptation could have even been evident for Jesus as His wide swath of miracles and healings drew quite a bit of attention and praise from the crowds. They wanted to crown Him king after His miraculous feeding of over 5,000 people. Many of the crowds said that He was Elijah, or John the Baptist, or some other great prophet of old who had come back to life…quite a compliment. Yet Jesus asserts Himself in a way quite different than we might have expected or would have been His right. We see a prime example of this in the Transfiguration. Jesus, the Son of God, humbled Himself to take on human form. Three of His disciples catch an amazing glimpse of His glory and awesomeness and yet it is only for a moment as Jesus does not stay in this glorified state. That would be for another time.
His mission called for Him to take the way of pain and suffering. To be fully God and yet fully human. To feel pain and heartache as we feel it. To laugh and cry as we do. To live the life that none of us ever could. His self-assertion was found in His humility, yet it was through His humility that He became great and it is through His humility that we can have true life. The Apostle Paul writes about this in his letter to the Philippian church in Philippians 2:6-11 where he describes this ultimate assertion of Jesus through His humility and the glory that He received from it. This glory was for us and is for us. This humble and yet glorious King Jesus has given us a new vantage point and view of what it looks like to have assertiveness and it is entirely found in Him and what He has done. May we continue to find our assurance and assertiveness in His gift of grace to us.
Pastor Ben Bigaouette