“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” (1 Pet. 2:21).
As we look briefly at a number of qualities, is there any situation that Jesus could have shown each of these qualities more clearly than He did on the cross?
- Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross ( 2:5-8).
Are we called to be that obedient?
- And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life ( 2:8-10).
If we are supposed to be obedient even if we have to die to obey, then what other things should stop us from obeying? Because we don’t “feel like it”?
- Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things (John 8:28).
As Jesus hung on the cross, everyone could see how completely He obeyed God.
With what heart did Jesus obey? Is it possible to do what is required of us, but to do it unwillingly?
- And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done(Luke 22:41-42).
- But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:6-7).
Submitting to God requires humility – accepting whatever His will for us is, even if that is not what we would have chosen.
Submitting to God requires submitting to those He has placed over us as well.
- Obeythem that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you ( 13:17).
With what attitude do we obey – rebellion, or willingness?
Submitting completely requires faith in God’s goodness.
- And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost (Luke 23:46).
- For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be comparedwith the glory which shall be revealed in us ( 8:18).
We can be okay with whatever happens because we so strongly believe God’s promise that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us. I might not be able to imagine how that could be, but I believe God’s promise enough to act on it.
- Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross ( 2:5–8).
As Creator, Jesus humbled Himself greatly to even come to earth at all. How much humility did it require to make Himself the servant of the people He had created, and to suffer like a criminal at their hands!
Do I feel “entitled” to decent treatment? I’m definitely not as “entitled” as Jesus was! If people treated Jesus badly, they certainly could treat me badly.
- It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? ( 10:25).
How much greater was Jesus than these people? But He chose to put Himself under them, because He chose the heart of a servant. I might be equal to my sister, but can I choose to make myself her servant?
- But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many ( 20:25 – 28).
Jesus said that when they lifted Him up, they would see He did nothing of Himself, but only what the Father taught Him. If He is my Master, then I should not do anything of myself either. Whatever my Master says, I should do, even if it is as hard as dying!
- Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier (2 Tim. 2:3 – 4).
Humility made Jesus accept that God was in control of His life; He could have controlled what happened to Him and prevented those people from killing Him, but He humbled Himself to commit His life to God.
- Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator (1 Pet. 4:19).
Jesus had mercy even on the ones who were in the process of killing Him.
- And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. 51 And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him (Luke 22:50 – 51).
- A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth ( 42:3).
Remember how much God values every soul, and doesn’t want even one to perish. Jesus didn’t want people to get what they deserved, so we shouldn’t either.
- The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).
If Jesus died so that those who were killing Him might have a chance to repent, how merciful should we be to those who may have wronged us?
- But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died ( 14:15).
He probably knew that many would not repent, but He still had mercy on them to give them a chance.
- But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance ( 9:13).
How much mercy has God had on me? But I cannot have any mercy on others?
- Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? ( 18:32 – 33).
- He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth ( 53:7).
How much meekness did Jesus have not to react to those who were spitting on Him, mocking Him, taunting Him to prove it if He were really the Christ!
Remember that God allows these situations for us to be tested.
- Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? (John 18:11).
Did Jesus have the same understanding that David did, when Shimei cursed him? If it is God’s will for us to be tested, we should have the meekness not to rebel against God’s way of testing us.
- And David said to Abishai, and to all his servants, Behold, my son, which came forth of my bowels, seeketh my life: how much more now may this Benjamite do it? let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him. 12 It may be that the LORD will look on mine affliction, and that the LORD will requite me good for his cursing this day. (2 Sam. 16:11 – 12).
As long as someone is not perfect, the devil can use their imperfections to be a trial to me. This is God’s will. I also have had struggles, which may have been used to test others, so I can’t get angry with others.
- Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way ( 14:13).
- And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. 34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots (Luke 23:33 – 34).
Has anyone done this much wrong to us? How can there be anything we would not then forgive someone for?
- And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you ( 4:32).
God has forgiven us so much, how could we not forgive others?
If we have the meekness and understanding not to get angry over offenses, and If we understand that it is God’s will for us to be tested by others weaknesses, then we can remember our own weaknesses and encourage each other to grow without holding a grudge against them.
- But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: (1 Cor. 12:18, 21 – 22).
- Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: (1 Pet 2:22 – 23).
How hard is it not to lash out when someone is physically hurting us!
His temperance required not only a great knowledge and wisdom and faith to understand and accept the situation, but also a huge amount of spiritual might to be able to control His lips.
- He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city ( 16:32).
Jesus’ control over His words on the cross show that His heart had become fully complete.
- For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body (James 3:2).
- Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? ( 26:53 – 54).
How did Jesus have so much patience that even though He knew He could end the situation instantly and “show” them their mistake, He endured that much pain for that many hours?
Jesus understood why these things had to happen, and had built up that endurance by passing every other test of His faith up to that day.
- Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing (James 1:3 – 4).
- For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again (2 Cor. 5:14 – 15).
What things are we called to endure? Anything nearly as painful and miserable as what Jesus went through? What shouldn’t we be willing to endure for His sake, considering what He endured for us?
- For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: (1 Pet 2:20 – 21).
This gains us great favor with God.
- For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope ( 8:20).
Jesus came to earth with a specific purpose in mind, which He had faith in and was hoping for. Hope of something wonderful can give us motivation to endure!
- For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it ( 8:24 – 25).
- Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, ( 1:16 – 19).
Paul prayed for the Ephesians that they would grow in knowledge and wisdom so that they would understand their hope. It is worth waiting for! Even if we don’t see how it could possibly.
- Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God ( 12:2).
Jesus endured all that for the joy that was set before Him. You wouldn’t think that joy would be what was in His mind as He was hanging on the cross!
Joy can come from understanding and having great hope in the work of God. Then we can have joy in even the worst-seeming situations, because God promises that He will work out ALL things for the good of those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.
- And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose ( 8:28).
- We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body (2 Cor. 4:8 – 10).
The more we understand the work of God, the more we can rejoice. Even in the middle of a horrible situation understanding the work of God can show us there are things to rejoice in, but we have to grow in the ability to rejoice. And choose to rejoice rather than complain!
- Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
Jesus’ death shows us the greatest love that there could be – the same love that we are called to have.
- A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another (John 13:34).
- For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us ( 5:7 – 8).
That love might sometimes seem unimaginable – that He loved not only those who followed Him, but also His enemies – doing good even for those who were hatefully hurting Him.
Yet we’re called to the same love:
- But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect ( 5:44, 45, 48).
How can we learn to love like this? If we never do anything for these people, do we value them? How much does God do for these people? He sent His Son to die for them, besides His daily care. He values each soul, and doesn’t want them to be lost! If we spend all our lives for these people like Jesus did, it will matter to us that these souls we’ve worked so hard for not be lost!
- Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: 11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle? (Jonah 4:10 – 11).
- How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. 14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish ( 18:12 – 14).
If a parent has a child who does wrong, do they hate that child, or grieve for them and do everything they can to bring that soul back to the Lord again? It is possible to learn to love every soul like that. God does!
Is it possible to form such a heart in ME?
- For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen ( 3:14 – 21).
To What Does Jesus’ Death Obligate Me?
- Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God (1 Pet. 4:1-2).
- For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again (2 Cor. 5:14-15).
Because His hands were driven through,
Take and bind my hands for you.
Because His feet the nails endured,
Send mine far to spread your word.
Because His tongue clave to His jaws,
Proclaim with mine your righteous laws.
Because His back was made to bleed,
Use mine to bear the brethren’s needs.
Because His flesh was marred and torn,
Take and use mine ‘til it’s worn.
Because for love He, anguished, died,
Give me the strength to be crucified!
In Jesus’ name, AMEN