I don’t remember who said it first, but the phrase, “You ate it all!” signified utter contempt among my brothers, sisters, and me when we were young. When that phrase was heard or spoken, it meant that trouble was brewing. I have an older brother, older sister, younger brother and younger sister. I’m smack in the middle, and with so many in the house, invariably there’s going to be some competition when it comes to the best stuff to eat and drink. Hence the “You ate it all.”
If someone had the last of anything, whether it was the Cap’n Crunch, the ice cream, the cookies, or even the last scoop of beans out of the pot, they “ate it all.” Never mind that you may have had the first, and possibly largest, helping, the person who got it last was seen to have had it all. It even came to the place where if we were sharing a can of soda, whoever had the last sip “drank it all.”
This, of course, had the unintended consequence of no one wanting to finish anything lest they be accused of being a hog. Things would be eaten and drank to the place where what remained in the package was the most worthless smidge which wasn’t worth the effort to consume; one cookie left in the tray, three spoonfuls of cereal in the bottom of the box, a gulp of orange juice in the bottle.
Obviously, such attitudes are selfish and my parents did their best to stamp it out. Reigning unchecked, such competition would make for a mad house where everyone did their best to make sure they got not only their share, but part of someone or everyone else’s portion as well. When we consider it deeper, the root desire is to have it all. All for me, none for you. This attitude isn’t just child’s play either. People who don’t get a handle on this early in life make for seriously mean-spirited adults.
John the Baptist faced down just such a crisis of “ownership.” A particular religious leader started a discussion on the finer points of the law with some of John’s disciples. They ended up bringing the conversation to John when the antagonist pointed out, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him.” (John 3:26) In other words, Jesus took your stuff. Jesus has your cookie. Jesus is eating it all!
John would have none of it. He shot it right down with a powerful principle that, if we can grasp it, can set us free from the need to “guard what is mine.” In John 3:27 he replied, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.” John recognized God’s plan for his life and God’s plan for Jesus’ life. He knew that as he walked out the Lord’s purpose and direction, some things would come to him, and some things would be taken from him. John did not get caught up in the game of “that’s mine” or “you have more than me.” He didn’t cry, “UNFAIR!”
Contrast John with the religious leaders. As one reads through the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, it’s plain to see that they could never get over how popular Jesus was and how much the people loved Him. They couldn’t stand the fact that Jesus associated with everyone, even the worst of sinners. Their jealousy of Jesus ate them alive. It drove them to set traps for Him in an effort to discredit and defame Him.
Ultimately, their envy of Jesus and His “eating it all” was part and parcel of their motives for having Him crucified. When the religious leadership committed themselves to killing Jesus in John 11:47-57, they said, “If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” They wanted their own “stuff” and couldn’t stand the thought of someone else having any of it, regardless of the fact that as John recognized, this guy is/was the Messiah.
It really makes me stop to think about what the Lord has moved into and out of my life. Am I still trying to hold on to things He doesn’t want me to have? Do I allow God to be GOD and be the overseer of what I have? Am I dissatisfied with what He wants for me? Is what I have truly what HE has given to me? Or am I hoarding and collecting “stuff” in an effort to play to my baser nature that demands and attempts to “eat it all?” I really don’t want to be consumed and driven the way the Pharisees and Sadducees were. It’s time to take personal inventory and get ready to clear some things out. Anyone want the last cookie?
Copyright © 2012 John P. King
Verses from the NASB