Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Attributes Of Obedience: Jesus’ Example - Part 1



It all started when Jesus Himself chose to leave Heaven and come down to a fallen and sinful earth as a human child. He willingly chose to become “Emmanuel, God with us” (Matthew 1:23). John 1:1-5 tells us that Jesus was in existence before time and space (as we know it), existed. Verse one states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We know that Jesus is the Word from reading further on in chapter one (especially verse 14). Verse 10 even goes as far as saying, “the world was made through Him”. Through Jesus, God’s Word somehow takes on human form and enters history as a person, Jesus Christ, the hope and salvation of all mankind.

You most likely know that Isaiah 53 maps out a pretty clear picture of what was in store for the coming Messiah. If you take some time to parallel Isaiah 53:3 and Luke 19:41-44 (as well as Isaiah 61:1 and Luke 4:17), you’ll see that Jesus understood clearly that He was in fact the suffering servant that He had read about in Isaiah, “sent to release the captives”. He knew that He would be “as a lamb led to the slaughter”, yet He would “not open His mouth.” Jesus was the epitome of obedience. Although much debate has occurred throughout history as to define what Jesus knew beforehand, the fact is, He was fully God and fully man. He experienced all of the emotions, temptations and earthly struggles as every man that’s ever walked the earth, yet He was found blameless before God and man.

Because of this, I want to dedicate some time to look into a few of the attributes of Jesus’ obedience. How did He do it? Why did He do it? What characteristics can I glean from His life and apply to mine? If I don’t believe that I’m capable of living a life of obedience as Jesus did, then I really don’t embrace the depth of His salvation. His life of obedience, even unto death, is our absolute template for living a life worthy of His doing so. Romans 8:29 states that Jesus was the “firstborn among many brothers”, so I feel that it’s imperative that we daily add more attributes of the One who went before us and exemplified obedience. Let's look at a few of them, shall we?

Self-Abandonment

Did Jesus have a will? Did He have desires and cravings as you and I? The Word answers this with a resounding “yes”. Jesus, while in the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion stated, “Not as I will, but as You will." Yes, He had a will, He had desires of His own that He had to lay down in order to embrace the will of His Father. After all, knowing the agony of what lay before Him, it’s no wonder He asked if there was any other way. Yet He surrendered His will and His way, seeking only to carry out the will of His Father.

Even when Jesus had every right to shout “Do you know Who I am?”, He was silent. Isaiah 53:7 says “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth.” Jesus had nothing to prove other than His love and His obedience. He had one mission to accomplish – His Father’s will. We can learn greatly from this attribute of Jesus’ obedience. He had no selfish motivations. His choice was to abandon His desires and please His Father - nothing more, nothing less.

When Jesus was before Pilate in Matthew 27, He had the opportunity to lay it all out there and show them Who He really was, yet He humbly surrendered His own defense. Verse 14 states, “And (Jesus) did not answer (Pilate) with regard to even a single charge”. Jesus abandoned Himself… He was perfectly obedient.

At salvation, I chose (and daily choose) to abandon my will and my ways. I can no longer say, “Well, I’m just a sinner saved by grace”. I’m a new creation! I’m no longer a slave to sin, pride and self… I am not even of this world anymore. Jesus proved that it is possible to live for the Father alone as we walk upon this earth. I must make every effort to be found denying my wants and my ways that are contrary to my Father’s will for me. I must abandon my selfish ways.

Humiliation

Before you succomb to your old nature's desire to likely skip over this one, I implore you to read on. When you read the Word and also begin to walk and talk as Jesus did, you will, without question, see that the act of being humiliated is a prerequisite for true Godliness while on this earth. It may show itself as people questioning your character and motives or it may be flat out degradation. However it comes, a true seeker of the deep things of God will, without question, be humiliated in this life. Jesus Himself said that true Believers will be hated for following Him. Matthew 10:22, “And you will be hated by all because of My name.” Not convincing enough for you? Also see Isaiah 66:5, Matthew 24:9, Mark 13:13 and Luke 21:17, for starters. We must be ready to leave behind our reputation and follow Jesus alone! If everyone loves you and agrees with you all of the time, then you’re not living as Jesus did – period. We live in a world that we’re no longer to be “of”, yet we’ve somehow been mislead to think that if we ever look and act “different”, it’s a problem. What part of Jesus’ ministry are we missing? I too often run from confrontation and disagreement over who I am to be in Christ. I shy away from doing what I know I should do because I don’t want to stand out or look, what the world would deem, odd. Jesus however, was not affected by the opinions of men.

In fact, He was even betrayed by the most beloved of friends. Matthew 22:21 speaks of His betrayal by Judas. When reading the account of the crucifixion, there is no questioning that Jesus was humiliated. His Kingship was mocked, His claims to be the Son of God scorned. Despite His being the “firstborn of all Creation” (Colossians 1:15), He willingly subjected Himself to humiliation in order to be found obedient. I’ll address the crucifixion details further in an upcoming attribute within this article.

As a friend recently pointed out to me, even the disciples didn’t personally embrace the humility that Christ showed them. Did they wash each other’s feet at the Last Supper? Did they stand up and say, “No! Put me on the cross instead!"? No. They were not willing, even after seeing Jesus model humility, to be humble themselves. They were all interested in one thing – themselves.

In Matthew 12:24, the Pharisees, the religious leaders of their day, basically called Jesus the devil as He cast out demons and healed people. (Pharisee, ironically, was known to mean “loyal to God”). They then continued to challenge Him to prove His Sonship by performing signs and wonders. I find it interesting that the religious leaders of Jesus’ time treated Jesus almost identically the same as Lucifer himself did in Luke chapter 4. We’ll look at this more later. Imagine knowing you’re the Son of God, holding all power and authority within Your very hand, yet as Your Father required of You, You say and do nothing. That, my friend, is obedience.

We, those who have Jesus now indwelling us, must humble ourselves and willingly take the lower position. We must allow ourselves to be humiliated in the sight of others as a result of our obedience. Obedience to Kingdom Government and purposes will, without question, be humiliating at times in the here and now because it goes against nearly everything that this carnal world stands for. Let people say and do what they will – we must not be shaken!

In the upcoming part of this series, I’ll explore more of Jesus’ attributes that brought Him into complete obedience to His Father’s will. Until then, examine your own life and ask yourself, “Do I abandon my wants and my ways in order to please my Father? Do I speak, work and live my life giving no attention to gaining the approval of men?" We must be Kingdom minded – we must live lives of obedience.


Thanks to my handful of friends in Christ that assist in stirring up what the Spirit is saying (you know who you are). I see His attributes beginning to surface in our lives and that excites me to no end.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

obedience....

not impossible..

We have the Spirit,who brought Jesus back to LIFE, living inside us!!

NOTHING is impossible!

thank you for your continued effort to REACH people Joel!

grace and peace,
Harriet
(who wishes she could express herself in such an amazing way)

Anonymous said...

What amazes me is that even our brothers will hate us. In Isaih 6 it is talking about a literal blood brother. As I read the others it is also talking about those we are in close reltionship with, kindred and brothers in christ.
Humiliation is a must as we become more conformed into the image of our Savior! I pray that others will be offended in the Jesus in me.But I do say, obediance is always done in love. Without love...our arrogance will only be a sour taste to them. LOVE is a huge attribute of Jesus and as I go through this life, will they see the LOVE OF JESUS as their reason for being offended, I should only pray it so.

Joel Spencer said...

Anonymous 1 (Harriet): The same Spirit that raised Jesus from death to life residing within us... wow. I love to think on that! As always, thanks for your input!

Anonymous 2: True love will definitely humble us. I often wonder what it would look like if I offered to, say, wash my neighbors feet in order to give them a tangible example of Jesus' love for them. Talk about an act that would be humiliating...or would it? Hmmm.

Thanks for commenting!

thehoov143 said...

There is always more at stake when you give into temptation. What seems innocent actually tears at your faith.
WHy not pause when we are tempted and pray, Lord Keep this temptation away from me. DO not allow it to ruin my faith Don't allow it come between You and me God."

Temptation is a powerful thing. the more you fall to it the more power you give it. We usually think of it as well it is only whatever, but it can be a path to pull you away from the Lord and possibly ruin your faith.

I see as obedience to God as not keeping your self from falling to temptation and following where he leads you!

Hope that all made sense!

Looking forward to the rest of the series.

rave.n said...

He willingly subjected Himself to humiliation in order to be found obedient.

This line really struck a cord with me. As you know I've recently stepped out on faith in the job market.

At first it was this exciting and thrilling experience to abandon my own plans for security and follow hard after God. Now as it gets down to crunch time -- although I still believe, my praises have gotten softer.

Not all my heart is thinking how awesome it is to follow God. Part of me is wondering how horrible it will be if He didn't provide and I had to make very noticeable changes. Then everyone would see how foolish I'd been.

The kicker is the thought of being foolish eclipses the lie that "maybe God won't provide" or that He will forget about me.

When the people in the desert try to store enough bread for the next day it was full of maggots. They had to trust God from one day to the next. At least they were all in the same boat together. All of them were learning how God provides.

In this time, we're all learning different things as God sees fit to reveal them and we're ready to receive them. So while I may look foolish in the eyes of some, I'm just going to have to willing walk into that "role" so that I can be found obedient.

The most important thing is that I do stay filled up on "lamp oil". Like the virgins that waited at the gate, I don't want to be among the foolish that ran out.

jerry goff said...

Joel always a challenge. So we recognize this battle that wages within. I must confess I so often surrender only to regret later. God has changed me so much but there is still so much that needs to be changed. I am so encouraged to see a young guy like you getting ahead of the battle! Thanks for the challenging thoughts!

Joel Spencer said...

thehoov143: Obedience in the face of temptations - what a place of victory. Denying temptations and obedience are, without question, interconnected. I can never be found doing God's will until I abandon my own.

rave.n: "So while I may look foolish in the eyes of some, I'm just going to have to willingly walk into that 'role' so that I can be found obedient." - well said - you got the point.

Jerry Goff: Thanks for your encouragement. We're all works in progress - the more obedience, the less regret. For me, obedience reproduces a desire to be more obedient.