“Rest in this – it is His business to lead, command, impel, send, call or whatever you want to call it. It is your business to obey, follow, move, respond, or what have you.” -Jim Elliot
You know when the same Bible verse that you read earlier in the week (the one you REALLY needed) pops up 3 more times– on a church marquee, your friend’s facebook page, and the sermon on Sunday? Or you keep getting the same message in different forms over and over in a short period of time? When you feel like God has gone out of His way to make sure you got the memo?
That’s been happening to me this week.
For over a year at my church, we’ve been studying the book of Luke. The past few weeks, we have been looking at Luke 23, where Jesus begins his Jewish and government trials prior to being crucified. Then, this Saturday, I started writing part of a Bible study for LifeWay’s Collegiate Magazine. My assigned chapters were John 18-21, where John describes Jesus’ trials before the high priests and Pilate all the way to his crucifixion and resurrection. And, of course, this Sunday is Easter. So what devotional am I reading? A devotional leading through the Holy Week–Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday (which if you’re not getting the trend contain Jesus’ trials, condemnation, crucifixion, and resurrection).
Okay God. I get it. Jesus’ death and resurrection is important. Easter is important.
But what stuck out to me on Saturday, and then was preached on Sunday, and then I read again in my devotional on Monday, is that Christ obeyed His Father to the point of death.
We’ve heard the gospel and the Easter story so many times, it’s hard to examine it with fresh eyes. But try.
Jesus was fully God and fully man. And as fully man, he was just like you and me. He was totally human with all of our human frailties (except sin) and he had to choose to obey His Father and follow the plan God had designed.
Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done. (Luke 22:42)
Just hours before his crucifixion, Jesus knelt in the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed and prepared for what He knew lied ahead. Luke says that He was in agony and prayed so hard that his sweat turned to blood. Can you imagine? I barely can. But right there, we see it, His plea– Lord, is there another way? But He knows there isn’t. And He knows it is His choice to obey.
Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say “Hail King of the Jews!” and to give Him slaps in the face.
Again, He chose to obey His Father, to submit to God’s plan. Roman flogging (or scourging) was done with a leather whip with pieces of glass or metal on the ends. It usually ended in death. The flogging, mocking, piercing crown of thrones, purple robe of royalty, and punches to the face were all fulfillment of the Prophet Isaiah’s words. I gave my back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out My beard. I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting. (Isaiah 50:6) And it was Jesus choosing to obey, even when it meant horrible physical pain.
It was now the sixth hour, and darkness fall over the whole land until the ninth hour, because the sun was obscured; and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” Having said this, He breathed His last. (Luke 23:44-46)
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant… He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)
He humbled himself by being obedient. How often do I not humble myself and not obey? Way too often. And God’s never asked me to die for others.
He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. How often do I think my will, my way is better than God’s way? Far too frequently.
So that’s the memo God has been sending me in every email, carrier pigeon, and smoke signal He can.
Jesus lived a life of perfect submission and obedience to His Father. He obeyed even when it meant a gruesome, horrible death on two beams of wood. He obeyed even when it meant separation from His Father, as he was smothered with the weight from all the sins of world.
I am not even kind of good at being obedient and submitting to His will over my own. Are you?