It occurs to me Jesus lived such a simple life because He knew by limiting distractions, He would maximize His focus on His Father. I think we often overlook the simple teachings of Christ because we are always looking for something deeper. Like everything else in His life, Jesus kept it simple. He didn’t complicate things. He confounded the wise so the simple could plainly understand what He was saying.
The so-called learned and wise people (much like us) missed it because they were convinced it couldn’t be that easy. Certainly issues as large as salvation and eternal life could not be so simple. We continue to make this mistake today and suffer the same consequences of those in Jesus’ day.
There is peace in simplicity. We have so cluttered our lives that we’ve crowded out any margin for God. Jesus said if you wanted to follow Him, you had to put away everything else. You had to pick up your cross. You had to die to everything you’ve ever known. Following Jesus means letting go of it all. That’s how He lived. Since He is our example of a perfect life, it’s how we must live if we are to be His true disciples.
Take a closer look at the life and teachings of Jesus. He told His followers He had no home (Matthew 8:20). No distracting mortgage, repairs, or maintenance to distract Him from His mission. Jesus said if we follow Him, it would divide you from your family (Matthew 10:34-36). Indeed, the only adult interaction we see between Jesus and His family after He started His ministry was significantly less than a joyous reunion (Mark 3:21). At the same time, Jesus avoided the drama and commitments sure to come when trying to keep the peace within His nuclear family.
When the Rich Young Ruler asked Jesus what he had to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus responded to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor. Jesus didn’t carry the baggage of possessions, nor did He worry about saving for retirement. He was focused on one thing and one thing only: fulfilling the mission His Father had given Him to do. He lived and taught a simple life because He knew a life that eliminates distraction is one that allows you to focus on the mission of building the Kingdom of God.
We have strayed so far from the ideal, from the model He established for us. “Busy” is the modern calling card and badge of honor. We obsess with earning more and more in order to keep up with people we don’t know and don’t like. We purchase houses and cars we can’t afford, enslaving us to work more hours at a job which rarely has anything to do with building the Kingdom. We devote our lives to our families and children at the expense of devotion to Christ. Saving for retirement consumes us as we seek to ensure we are comfortable and well taken care of as we grow older.
Our lives have become anything but simple. We’ve ignored the basic teachings of Jesus while we pursue endless complex strategies trying to improve our lives. We need to get back to basics. We need to get rid of the ridiculous distractions in our life so we can focus on Jesus and doing the work He has given us to do. It really is that simple.