Sunday, August 24, 2008

Attributes of Obedience: Jesus' Example - Part 2

I've picked back up on the Attributes series. I've condensed some of this because, quite frankly, I'm ready to move on to much deeper subjects already in process. It is great nonetheless, as much useful truth resides within the reality of Jesus' obedience. I don't want to get ahead of myself and miss the ground level truth that is within Jesus as the Saviour. Part 3 (the main attribute and conclusion) will soon follow as it is done and ready to post, so don't expect a long delay this time.

Persecution and Suffering

Hebrews 5:8 “Although he was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered and, once made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” The obedience that He attained through His suffering made Him perfect. He was not “born perfect” on an easy route to the cross as some have errantly assumed. It says word for word, He learned, or attained it. So what did He suffer in order to learn such great obedience?

“He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” (Isaiah 53:3) Jesus endured a life of persecution – He was always questioned and doubted. He never even had a place to lay His head. He was misunderstood by His friends and family. In Matthew 26 Jesus stated that “(His) soul was exceedingly sorrowful”. His physical and emotional man, that felt and hurt just as yours and mine, was tortured and abused in ways which we’ll never know. We often hear about Jesus excruciating crucifixion and painful death, but we seemingly hear little, if anything about His life as an outcast and the emotional pain that this surely caused. Imagine if you will that from the moment you were born, nearly everyone that you ever encountered doubted who you are. Not quietly either, but publicly, to your face. Everything you claimed as truth was questioned and mocked. And, to make it even worse, your absolute entire purpose and motivation was perfect love for those who are despising you. Even the majority of those who were found defending Him and following Him turned against Him in the end. We cannot even fathom such an existence! But Jesus, possessing the attributes of obedience, was focused on the goal despite it all.

Of course, we know that the suffering did in fact also take place in his physical body. There are several accounts that refer to Jesus being scourged and brutally beaten, as in Luke 18 and John 19. After being stripped naked in Matthew 27, He was spit upon and beaten. I could include page after page of graphic details of the crucifixion, but I don’t want to get sidetracked from the overall theme of this article. Just remember that the Word tells us that Jesus was “marred more than any other man” (Isaiah 52:14). I’m sure many of you have seen the movie The Passion Of The Christ which graphically depicts the scene. I truly believe that it was much worse than that. What we cannot comprehend is the disgusting sin and disease of the entire race of mankind was placed upon Him. It was much more than just a tortured flesh issue that made Him “marred” and unrecognizable”. Imagine for a moment what the sin and affliction of all mankind upon one physical body would look like. He truly would have been beyond recognition.

“Surely our griefs, He Himself bore and our sorrows He carried. Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-6)

Have you really been led to believe that you’ve been “humiliated and persecuted” when someone laughs at your wearing a WWJD bracelet? Do I think I’m doing some great deed if someone sees me with my Bible and rolls their eyes? We have no idea! When Paul encouraged Timothy to “suffer hardship with me as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:2), he knew that persecution and suffering was part of the lifestyle of a true follower of Jesus. Do we even have any concept of what this really means? We must if we’re to be conformed into the image of Jesus. I do not encourage anyone to ever seek out persecution as some perverted way to please God. Those who do this have missed the point. Jesus did not seek out persecution and suffering, living His life completely contrary to the ways of this world “naturally” brought it on. Likewise, living as one seated in heavenly places and not of this carnal world will, without question, usher in persecution and hardship. There is no way around it. I personally believe that there is no way one can pursue the deep things of God and be everyone’s best friend at the same time. A lifestyle of obedience to the Father will, without question, look absolutely ridiculous to this world. If it is accepted, respected, embraced and looked well upon by all, I’m convinced it is not the true Gospel, but a counterfeit Christianity.

Next, I'll address the last attribute that I'll be covering here. There are, of course many, but I'm wanting to move deeper. The Word is blowing my mind (and my often carnal view of Christ) out of the water. Get ready to be blown away (and perhaps a little more challenged) soon.


Anonymous said...

I liked this! It is true to follow God and his path for you will probably make you look strange and foolish.

I am eager to read the third part.

I think it sucks how we read alot of how things went down in the death of christ and his coming back to life. But when you think about it and think about how much pain he was in it is a humbling thing. I mean we think a papercut hurts and sticking ourselves in the foot with a nail is awful. But all the tourture he went through for us is so mind blowingly amazing.

I don't think i would be able to go through all that for others who had wronged me.

good talk! :)

Joel Spencer said...

Part 3 will be posted tomorrow morning.

I agree - we think we've done so much for God, yet we're barely even scratching the surface of a living a sacrificial life unto Him.

Anonymous said...

Good for reflection! You don't read too many articles on suffering and persecution. That is not a concept most want to embrace, but all who live to please God will experience it. If we are truly willing to follow God he will ask us to do things that are not popular, go against the grain of our fleshly desires, the worlds opinion and even at times the opinion of our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We are called to follow HIM even when it hurts. It is part of our training as it was his. It is in suffering that we truly come to know the Lord for in our weaknesses we are made strong!

Nice read!