Pride cannibalizes awe. When our thoughts drift to how we have been poorly treated, how we are right or deserving of more, or how we will never be good enough, our worship is devoured, eaten up by the Self. We remain under the umbrella of our own authority, recognizing no greater authority and, therefore, enjoying no greater Greatness.
When Jesus returned home to Nazareth, they were astonished at his teaching (Mark 6:2). But then, in a sudden turn, their awe turned to disbelief. They were incredulous: “Where did he get these things?” implying Jesus could not have come up with insights on his own. When we walk around under the authority of Self, it is very difficult to give others credit. The proud person does not compliment — unless of course, it will make him look good.
There is something about being from the same group, same community, same hometown that makes it difficult for us to praise someone who rises to the top, who succeeds. Pride would prefer we all remain equally low, and for no one to exceed our accomplishments. This hometown pride permeated Nazareth. As a result, Jesus “could do no great miracles there” (Mark 1:6).
When pride cannibalizes awe, it prevents us from seeing true greatness. Jesus’s childhood friends, neighbors, and even his family missed his greatness. Why? They couldn’t see past themselves. They couldn’t bring themselves to learn from one of their own. And yet, this is what everybody wants — a God who can relate them, get them, knows what it’s like to be human. There he was — God — standing right in their midst, and they missed his greatness, his beauty, and life-altering miracles.
There is an antidote to pride, and it is not to think less of ourselves. Instead, we ought to dwell upon the God who did become one of us, who gracefully withstood our scorn and self-adulation. Jesus is the God who, in the face of pride, calls us to the cross. How can we be proud there, where our evil pins our God to a tree? In the midst of rejection, Jesus embraces our smugness and extends an accepting embrace. But we must look upon him. We must give up our self-made authority, and sense of accomplishment, if we are to receive his forgiving, awe-inspiring embrace.
Towering above the authority of Self, Jesus comes low — so low that his face is pressed to mortal bandages, to ensure the rescue of his persecutors. On Easter morning, he burst his grave clothes to give us a way out of our pride, to recover awe. The resurrection restores astonishment. It eats up our pride in soul-thrilling glory. The way out of pride is worship, to look upon a God who is greater than ourselves. We recover awe when we acknowledge the greatness of his sacrifice, the depth of our sin, and the height of his love — all in the person of Christ.