Jesus laid down his life for us. We nod our heads and go uh-huh. But wait a moment; Jesus didn’t just give his life in DYING but in LIVING. What do I mean by that?
Have we become so familiar with the concept of the sacrificial DEATH of Jesus on the cross that we haven’t considered what his obedience cost him during the 30 years (or thereabouts) beforehand, during all those years of his LIFE? I would like you to consider that now, if you would.
See More: The Emotions of Jesus http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1997/february3/7t2042.html
Knowing he was the Son of God, and knowing his mission and fate, the Lord Jesus could not live what we would call a normal life at any stage of his childhood or adulthood.
We cannot gloss over this by believing he HAD no needs or emotions of his own, for he was fully human as well as fully divine, and that is the whole point of his incarnation. He had to have experienced life as every human being lives it, in order to overcome it for our sakes.
There’s a huge difference between having a HUMAN nature and having a SIN nature. Just because Jesus Christ was born of a virgin [that is, by the Holy Spirit] and without the sin nature inherited from Adam, it didn’t mean he had no thoughts or feelings or desires of his own while in the flesh. Those also needed to be striven against and overcome, or else what would be the point of tempting him, as in the wilderness encounter with the devil and in the garden of Gethsemane.
We know he got angry (Mark 3:5) and frustrated (Luke 9:41) and sad (John 11:35). But in all of this he did not sin, that’s the difference between Jesus and ourselves.
He did not allow himself the selfish indulgence of satisfying his emotions with inappropriate thoughts and actions. His righteous indignation, for instance at the Temple moneychangers, was a godly wrath and not a self-satisfying reaction.
It must have been tempting sometimes to snap at the crowds, to resent the pressures and insults of those around him, to long for “just one day off” from the relentless neediness and ignorance of almost everyone he met. But here again Jesus decided and committed to obedience, and laid down his own life for our sakes.
The bible, rather mysteriously, say that by his sufferings in the flesh Jesus learned obedience and thus was “made perfect”. I am sure the bible isn’t suggesting the Son of God was not perfect to begin with, but there obviously was a process whereby he took on the call of the flesh and the world and through prayer and obedience to his Father he completed and verified his perfection in all practical terms.
Heb 5:7-9 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
However, let’s look at what that cost him. Where do we begin?
It’s hard to speak for such a Person who doubtless sacrificed much more than we can ever imagine. But from the simple things of life such a regular supply of good food and a change of clothing, to the big things like marriage, career, family life and popularity – in almost every area of his day to day life there was the choice between self and God.
So Many Choices
Jesus had the choice to lay in a warm bed, or get up in the middle of the night to pray. He could have stayed in bed but…
Mark 1:35 …in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
He could have been influenced by the worries of his mother and brothers, who feared for his life and sanity and only wanted to protect him. And didn’t the Law command respect and obedience towards your parents? Jesus must have heard the devil suggesting all these things to him as he saw his mother:
Mark 3: 31-33 There came then his brothers and his mother, and, standing outside, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, your mother and your brothers outside seek for you. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brothers? And he looked round about on them who sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brothers! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.
Instead of doing the natural thing, Jesus again obeyed the will of his Father and put his mission first. He laid down his love for his family for something greater – and you know what, that is just what he commanded of all who follow him:
Luke 14:26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Not only the family of Jesus, but his friends also had to be sidelined and not become an influence over his actions. How it must have hurt…
Mark 3: 21-22 …when his friends [some say his family] heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, He has Beelzebub, and by the prince of the demons casts he out demons.
His Mother Rebuked
Just at the start of his ministry, the mother of Jesus again tries to assert her maternal rights over her son by asking him to intervene in the wine situation at the wedding in Cana. (John 2:1-5)
Here was another trial. Would Jesus be helpful, acquiescent, obedient, kindly and easily bidden as a son should be, or would he listen to his heavenly Father and do as God the Father commanded? This was another choice between the easy human way and the Godly way.
On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
In the Baker exegetical commentary on John, Andreas J. Köstenberger says:
The underlying thrust of the phrase translated ‘Why do you involve me?’ in the TNIV is ‘What do you and I have in common (as far as the matter at hand is concerned)?’ The implied answer: ‘Nothing.’ The expression occurs elsewhere in the Gospels exclusively on the lips of demons who strongly oppose Jesus (see Matt. 8:29 pars; Mark 1:24 par.). As OT parallels make clear, the phrase always distances two parties and frequently carries a reproachful connotation. This suggests that Jesus here is issuing a fairly sharp rebuke to Mary (cf. Matt. 12:46-50), similar to his rebuke of Peter when he failed to understand the nature of Jesus’ calling (cf. Matt. 16:23).
What other areas of life were sacrificed? Well, we have already mentioned his broken relationship with his mother, brothers and friends which must have been painful. Who of us can bear to have our closest relatives and friends calling us insane?
But the same was true also of most of the religious leaders in the synagogues and the temple – leaders whom Jesus must have been taught to respect and heed in his youth like all good Jewish lads – but they too rejected and despised him. In the end they even handed him over to be crucified.
John 10:20 MANY of them were saying, “He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?”
How do you think that feels, when all you are trying to do – at great cost to your own personal health and safety – is to rescue people from a lost eternity?
But then, we DO know how it feels because we have all been there, and how did we react but (perhaps) with inward hurt, resentment, self-justification, coldness – all those human emotions that spring up so naturally and are so hard to ignore. The Lord Jesus did not act according to the flesh even though he was flesh, but laid down his life for us.
When people rejected him – such as the “rich young ruler” who was so close to salvation but baulked at the idea of having to give up the very thing he valued most, his great wealth – Jesus remained compassionate and loving. He was deeply sad, but not resentful or pushy. (Mark 10:17-22)
We are told that Jesus was a carpenter (Mark 6:2), probably because that was the trade of his earthly father Joseph. No doubt Joseph trained Jesus in a trade and when he died (possibly when Mary was still relatively young) it would have been natural for the firstborn to provide for the family through that trade. Not to speak of becoming a master craftsman and gaining renown in the locality.
But Jesus could not do that. His career was interrupted by something greater – his mission of salvation. Did the devil try to make him feel ashamed, negligent, unlawful for abandoning his family? I wonder. But yet again this is something Jesus laid down.
A carpenter? See this: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/06/jesus-wasnt-really-a-carpenter/
Love and Marriage
So his mother, brothers, friends, religious mentors and also his career were put to one side for a much higher calling. What else?
Have you ever wondered if Jesus, before his public ministry began, perhaps had the opportunity of love and marriage? Did he know a girl in his home town of whom he was very fond?
Now before you go accusing me of blasphemy I’d like to say that we know nothing whatsoever of the early life of Jesus apart from his birth and a few early incidents. We could assume he was entirely and completely free of any thoughts that normally come to a young man – but can we be sure, given that he was here in order to face and to overcome ALL the emotions and temptations of the human condition – for he was the SECOND Adam and undid the work of the FIRST Adam on our behalf.
Naturally we know that Jesus our Lord did not and could not love and marry any one person, because his father had already chosen for him a Bride. Nonetheless, in experiencing humanity in all its aspects he sacrificed (as I say) many things that we hardly ever consider – like comfort, companionship, safety, wealth, a career, popularity – all for us! Possibly then, even human relationships.
Indeed, Jesus gave up his LIFE.
Not Just in Death
It is as I said when I began, Jesus didn’t start to lay down his life when he approached the crucifixion, but he began on the day of his birth to forsake himself on our behalf and to do God’s will.
Each decision before him, great and small, was a choice between himself and God. To sleep or to pray? To eat or to provide food for others? To avoid trouble or to speak the truth? To placate friends or to lose them?
Each moment of each day, Jesus gave up his life for us!
Not only that, but as our example he was calling us to choose between OUR human lives and the will of God. Some of the same choices are presented to us day by day and although they may not be as absolute or as life-changing as those in the life of Jesus, the same principle applies. Self or God? Obedience or Comfort? Friends or Truth? Let him be the example.
1John 3:16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
John 15:13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.