The Obedience of the Cross

November 17, 2016

Matthew 27:50

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 

CONSIDER THIS

Over the years one of the things I continue to learn about reading Scripture is the smaller your focus the more you see. At this point in the journey to the Cross we really should be on our knees at the granular level of the ground, crawling our way through these words. We live in a world where the mantra is crawl, walk, run. I think it’s just the opposite in reading the Word of God. We want to move from running to walking to crawling through the text. The celebrated Trappist Monk, Thomas Merton, said it something like this: “Cover less ground more slowly.”

Today in v.50 of chapter 27 we witness the most unthinkable moment in the history of the world—the death of God. I see something here today I have not seen before, and had we not slowed down to this single verse I’m sure I would have missed it. Here’s the insight. No-one killed Jesus—neither the Chief Priests or the Elders or the Scribes and Pharisees, nor Pilate or the Roman soldiers—no-one killed Jesus. They arrested him and accused him and tried him and sentenced him and tortured him and crucified him, but no-one finally killed him. Look at the text again:

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 

No-one killed Jesus. He gave up his spirit.

Remember these words from Philippians 2:8, “He humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.”

Jesus was not subject to people. He was obedient to God. His life was not “taken,” but rather, offered up. Because he was submissive to God he was not subject to people. Do you see the difference?

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

The biblical meaning of the word, obedient, means “to hear or listen.” To obey is to listen to the voice of the Lord. When we obey God we can become submissive to other people without being subject to them. It’s an interesting dynamic. This is why obedience to God creates true freedom. We can make our lives a gift to others.

I will always remember being corrected by a minister after I served communion on an occasion years ago. As I gave people the bread and the cup I would say to each one, “The Body of Christ, broken for you. The Blood of Christ shed for you.” He said the proper way to say this is, “The Body and Blood of Christ GIVEN for you.” In other words, Jesus was not “broken” for me. He GAVE himself for me. It may sound like a subtle distinction. It is not.

THE PRAYER

Father, thank you for the Cross and all you teach us there. Thank you for Jesus and the way he gave himself for us. Thank you for the example of his obedience. Come Holy Spirit and give us the power to follow the example. Open our ears to hear the voice of Jesus and open our hearts to obey and make of our lives a gift of love to the world. In Jesus name, Amen.

daily-text-matthew-11-17-16THE QUESTIONS

1. Do you tend to measure your faithfulness to reading Scripture by how much Scripture you read or by the depth of your immersion in what you read?

2. How do you relate to this notion of obeying God empowers you to submit to other people without being subject to them?

3. How might your obedience shift from reluctant “compliance” to true willingness?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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