As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”
He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.
Jesus’ response to this interruption teaches us something very important about what it takes to be a “blessed” person. “Blessed” here doesn’t necessarily mean saved. Jesus uses the same greek word in the beatitudes. This kind of blessing is more about having good fortune, being happy, and being in favor with God. And who doesn’t want that?
Blessed is the mother who gave you birth
Much like popular opinion seems to say today, the woman in the crowd assumes that blessedness comes by association. Jesus’ mother must be blessed because she knew Jesus so intimately and was relationally close to him. The frequent church attender must have a favor with God because they’re in his house regularly. The pastor must be blessed because he has a position that associates him closely with God.
Blessed are those who obey
Jesus, however, responds by declaring that the path to blessedness has little to do with association. Blessedness is determined by obedience. “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
It’s not those who hang out with Jesus and are buddy-buddy with him that are blessed; it’s those who hear what he says and do it. It’s not the Bible knowledge guru that has favor with God; it’s the man or woman who acts in accordance with the little they know. According to Jesus it’s better to know little and obey much than to spend time with him every day without acting in accordance with his commands.
Do we hear the voice of God? Good. We’re halfway there. Now for the hard part. Do we obey?
If we aren’t obeying God’s word the world will never come to know Christ. Not only that, we will never know the blessedness of walking closely with our Lord. When Jesus says that blessedness comes from hearing and obeying we ought to do as Hebrews 12 urges us to do and cast aside anything that keeps us from running in the path of obedience.
It’s good to listen to Jesus, but it’s much better to obey. Christine Caine said it well in a recent Facebook post when she wrote, “If God instructs us to do something—whether through His Word, a prompting of the heart, or the words of a godly adviser—we must quickly obey. Obedience may be as simple as sending someone a note of encouragement, apologizing to a friend for being short with them, or even crossing the street to lend a helping hand. Let’s all make plans to take steps of obedience tomorrow.”
Amen. Let’s do it, and as we do so we will step into the blessedness that Jesus says is reserved for those who both hear and obey.