Who Died and Left You in Charge?

There’s an old maxim that says, “There are two sides to every story and one side to every fact.” It’s a bit simplistic but very catchy. Truth be told, there can be many sides to a story. And while facts may be a tad more straightforward, they can often be viewed from several angles as well.

Indecision is part of the human condition. Problematically, we all see things a bit differently than the next guy or gal. We seldom view things from the same perspective. And, contrary to popular opinion, great minds don’t always think alike.

I have always been fascinated how Jesus dealt with these things. When confronted with issues that had at least two sides (as well as sundry facts), he was a master at handling them.

One Quick Example

Take, for example, the time he was teaching some people (as we often find him doing) when a couple of brothers showed up on the scene. When I say, “brothers,” I mean they were literally brothers—same parents and everything. They, apparently, weren’t interested in the topic upon which Jesus was expounding at that precise moment.

They were focused entirely on themselves. One of the brothers (presumably the younger of the two) wanted Jesus to order his brother to divide “the inheritance” with him. It seems these sorts of problems have been with us for a long time. This, of course, was prior to probate courts, so public opinion was highly sought.

I suppose they chose Jesus as their arbiter because he was quite popular during that period. He had been gaining a reputation as one with great authority, so who better to approach with a sticky problem like divvying up the estate? Well, not Jesus according to Jesus himself.

You interupted me for this?

Before he gave them a piece of his mind, he answered with a question (Luke 12:13-21). It was similar to today’s, “Who died and left you in charge?” I’m pretty sure this was quite unexpected—enough to shut them up long enough to allow Jesus to teach them something worthwhile. To be sure, the “something worthwhile” was pertinent to their situation, but wasn’t at all what they were looking for (at least, not consciously). Jesus seemed to do that a lot.

It was right in line with what King Solomon would do in situations like that. The famous example in his life as an arbiter was the instance in which two women claimed the same baby for their own. You may remember Solomon’s solution—cut the baby in half and give some to each claimant. The real mother, of course, pleaded with the King to simply give the child to the fake mother. Solomon recognized this as the love of a real mother and awarded her the infant (1 Kings 3:16-28).

It pays to have real wisdom in situations like these. Though many of us feel we lack such wisdom, we are instructed to pray for it (James 1:5). Not a bad idea. That’s how Solomon got his (1 Kings 3:7-12).

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]

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