Friday, August 29, 2008

Attributes of Obedience: Jesus' Example - Part 3

This will be the last installment of this series. My hope is that you've seen just a few of the main attributes that Jesus possessed in order to bring about perfect obedience. By looking at these a bit more in depth, I've been personally challenged to daily walk in these attributes as I continue to be conformed to the Image of Christ. Keep in mind however, that earthly Jesus is only the beginning. He is no longer in earthly form and sits enthroned at the right hand of the Father. This is one of the studies I'm currently undertaking and look forward to sharing it in the future. Now, on to part three!

Focus and Determination

When looking at the life of Jesus in Scripture, there’s no question that He was One that would not fall prey to the distractions of this world. When He encountered troubled men, He went to the heart of the matter, rarely even addressing the surface issue.

After the account of Jesus being baptized, we’re led to Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit and led to the wilderness. For forty days He was tempted by the devil and He didn’t even eat anything. Needless to say, His flesh had to be screaming out for attention in ways that you and I have never even imagined. Personally, a two or three day fast is equal to climbing Mount Everest in cowboy boots, but Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, overcame. At the end of the forty days, the devil is still hard at it. If nothing else, he is persistent. “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread”, the devil insisted. I don’t personally believe it was some ghastly evil event where a horridly Lucifer danced about as some horror movie scene. I believe it was likely casual, much like we’re tempted. The devil likely said, “Hey Jesus, I know you’re hungry. Just turn this rock into some food and eat.” His goal was to, in Jesus’ physical weakness, turn His eyes off of the spiritual moment at hand and face His physical need. But, what works far too often in our lives, didn’t shake Jesus in the slightest. He quoted the Word in accordance to the devil’s bread reference.

Of course we then know that Jesus was led to overlook the kingdoms of the world and was offered, by Lucifer, to rule and reign over them if He would bow down and worship him. We must remember that this could have been a reality. The devil did in fact have the capability to hand this over to Jesus, and Jesus knew it. In the same way today, scores of people throughout time have bought into the lie that they can have it all (rule and reign) here on the earth, yet they only died to have no eternal hope whatsoever. Their domain, as the Word states was built and established in an earthly realm that quickly passes away. Jesus reminded the devil that God alone would He worship and again was found to be focused on the bigger picture, the eternal prize – the domain that Lucifer could not give to Him.

Lastly, Jesus was led to stand on the pinnacle of the temple. He was tempted to thrown Himself down and prove that He was the foretold Christ. The devil is even so brazen as to quote Scripture, stating that he knew angels would come to catch Jesus so why not do it? Jesus responded that no one should put God to the test. Luke 4:13 is very fascinating to me as it is worded as when the devil had “ended all the tempting" (KJV) or “finished every temptation” (NASB). Could this be the point where Jesus had experienced EVERY temptation known to man? On the biblical timeline, Jesus’ public ministry began right after these events. He was now ready to move further into His purpose and immediately declared the prophecy stated in Isaiah 61 that He had come and this Scripture had been fulfilled. He could now move on into His deeper purpose. Is it not the same for us today? We cannot minister, we cannot be effective carriers and proclaimers of the Gospel until we too have overcome the temptations that come our way. Although we are still in fleshly bodies, we must strive to be full of the Holy Spirit, ready in every instance to remain focused on the eternal prize – resisting temporal pleasures and rewards, just as Jesus did.

Upon further study, I discovered some interesting events that revealed that the religious leaders of Jesus’ time treated Jesus almost identically the same as Lucifer himself did in Luke chapter 4. One example is found in Matthew chapter 16. The Pharisees continued to challenge Jesus to prove His claims to be the Messiah by provoking Him to perform “signs from Heaven”. The same Greek word is even used, peraizo, which means to scrutinize, tempt and to prove. This again proves to me that the religious today will, as they did then, often operate in a luciferian mindset rooted in disproving and demanding signs that Jesus alone is Lord. Jesus was not thrown off by their accusations and demands. In fact, the account in Mark states that “He sighed deeply in His spirit” and spoke. They just didn’t get it. Likewise, we must be found seeking the deeper truths as Jesus did. Jesus summed it all up in Luke 4:43 when the multitudes selfishly wanted Him to stay with them instead of going away. He stated, “I must preach the kingdom of God… for I was sent for this purpose.” He did not allow the distractions of the devil, the arrogance of the religious, or the selfish errors of men to sway Him in His purpose. Jesus Christ was our perfect example of focus and determination. He came for one purpose and no thing or no one could thwart His fulfilling that purpose.


Lastly, I believe that Christ’s love is what fueled Him unto the end. Nothing and no one could stop His carrying out His task to redeem man unto God, His Father. When He was offered the kingdoms of this world, He saw you and I and the great love of the Father. When He considered His will to put an end to all of His suffering and pain, He saw you and I and the great love of the Father. He knew there was no other way – He knew that on His shoulders alone rested all of humanity’s eternal future. I say, “Thank You Jesus, for Your perfect obedience!” for You first loved me.

“Now what?” you ask? A great friend once told me, “It doesn’t matter how much you know the Word, it’s how much you’re obedient to it.” Jesus, the Word, our perfect example, laid a perfect foundation, outlining the attributes necessary to be obedient to the Father. It’s my prayer that you understand the mystery of Romans 8:29. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” I am one of the “many” and Jesus, our perfect example, is the “Firstborn”. It’s time that we realize that we too, with Jesus Christ now indwelling us, can now be overcomers and obedient Ambassadors of Jesus Christ. And this is only the beginning!

“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death...” Philippians 2:8

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this series regarding if you've been challenged in your walk. Does the obedience that Jesus attained affect your path to obedience? What areas have you found to be the easiest/hardest for you along the way? Discuss.


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this series. It hit me hard.Self abandonment and Focus and determination. My weakest points I would say.I don't know whats wrong with me it's like I have spiritual ADHD. Some weeks I'm good then others I just fall off the path and go completely the opposite way. I am now more determined to turn around and run back to Him. If he can love me enough to die for me then I should at least find time to talk to Him everyday, read my bible and focus on Him. It seems simple enough.I don't know why its so hard.

Joel Spencer said...

Anonymous 1: I'm glad to see it challenged you. The fact is, we're still here wrapped in mortal flesh and prone to falling down. The key however is to keep our focus ahead and set on things above.

I believe that the direction I've been studying and writing recently will greatly help others move much deeper into how they view who "Jesus" is now and who they are in Him.

Stay close!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this series your writings are encouraging me to be a better man and to seek Jesus andhis teachings to follow.

Joel Spencer said...

Hoov: I'm glad that you've found the study encouraging. I'm deliberately planning to keep revisiting this stuff from now on.

Wait until you see where we're headed from here though - it makes the attributes stuff look like elementary school.