History repeats itself, often times in the most ridiculous ways. When someone yells, “Shotgun!” with irritation and resignation, we understand, that they have made their claim on the front seat of the car. Of course, this quick-draw declaration does not always go without protest. In fact, the shotgun proclamation has started some heated debates among siblings and friends over the years, much to chagrin of some weary and frustrated parents. I never realized how much this jockeying for position ritual, irritated my parents, until I myself became a parent. And why does it irritate us parents so much? Because, we are adults with adult responsibilities. We have matured to the point of understanding that there is much more to life than our personal perceived wants and desires. Although, we do not perfectly practice this, we are aware, that those who cannot think beyond the emotion of the moment, end up missing out on a lot of moments.
As I said, history repeats itself- I spent quite a bit up time yelling shotgun as a kid and arguing with siblings or friends, as to the validity of my claim, completely ignorant to the fact that my parents were concerned with a heck of a lot more than my seating preference. And so now that I have had to endure that same ritual with my own children, I find myself wanting to catch a ride with H.G Wells back to my childhood and apologize to my mom.
As a comedian from the past sarcastically said, “I don’t condone child abuse, but sometimes I understand it.” Let’s be honest, there are times when we feel as though we could wring our kids necks. While we are dwelling in a reality that is concerned with the needs of many, they seem to be mired in a me-centered universe that is stuck in trivial pursuits.
I see a similar, but a much more serious, scenario in scripture. Jesus’ disciples had been riding the wave of their Rabbi’s popularity for three years. Jesus was the rock star of his time and culture, and the disciples were enjoying the fun of being famous by association…but the tide was about to turn.
Most of the people that had been fawning over Jesus, were about to show their true colors and prove to be fair weather friends. And Jesus inner circle, those who had been riding the crest, were about to find themselves crestfallen. At the height of his popularity, in a sobering moment, Jesus pulls his disciples aside and tells them that everything is about to change. According to the fulfillment of prophecy, He would be betrayed by his own people and turned over to the Romans to be executed. And so many short-sided people, who had approached the messiah they wanted with open hands, would shortly be standing before a Roman cross, shaking fists at a Savior they would reject. Now, this inner circle that was famous by association, would be seen as guilty by association.
Jesus’ disciples heard him, but they weren’t listening. Why? Because it was a reality they didn’t want. And not long after telling them this monumental news that would concern so many, we find them doing what would seem unthinkable ̶ in their own unfortunate way, they were yelling shotgun. As Jesus was confronted with the reality of a Roman Cross, in which He would pay the penalty of sin for the whole world; His disciples were arguing over who would be the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.
Whether we like it or not, we are all guilty of hypocrisy at times. I think the important thing is that we are able to admit it, for this enables us to have a soft, teachable heart. More often than I like, my hypocrisy rears its ugly head when dealing with my children…judging them by their actions, but judging myself according to my intentions. See, in some ways, maybe more subtle, sophisticated and covert ways, I, too, at times, am guilty of yelling shotgun. I may not literally speak it out, but unless I am intentional about battling it, I too am vulnerable to being culturally conditioned to assert my struggle for significance in wrong and worldly ways.
As one writer insightfully penned, “It seems that most of our struggles revolve around wanting something we don’t have, or having something we don’t want.” While our sin nature influences us to be consumed with what we want, God has never stopped being occupied with what we need. I am not big on resolutions, but I am big on revelation. As we go through this year, may we be intentional about meditating on the revelation of God’s Word, so we can transcend emotional moments and keep our focus on the big picture. And may we take heed of a scriptural warning…a word picture from the gospel accounts…as Jesus hung on the cross, Roman soldiers were gambling for His clothing. May we not find ourselves in the position they were in. As Jesus was providing for their desperate need, they were playing games at the foot of the cross.