CLERGY CORNER: Following Jesus’ example

Posted on 27 April 2017 by LeslieM

The recent celebration of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ provided an opportunity to reflect upon His enduring impact and influence on millions of faithful believers the world over. The consideration of these events underscores the effectiveness of His mission, which was to redeem and provide eternal life. But His obedience to the will of His Father in fulfilling His mission is also instructive for those who would obey and honor God in their lives. In all that Jesus did, He showed His followers how to relate to God and their fellow man. He provided for us a pattern, a model and a fitting example of what a surrendered life looks like.

Mark 10:45 records Jesus as saying, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” This summation of His mission points to three areas in which believers are challenged to follow His example. He came to serve, to suffer and to sacrifice His life for the benefit of others. In a similar manner, we are called to serve, must be prepared to suffer and be willing to sacrifice for the glory of God.

That Jesus came to serve is undeniable. Philippians 2:7 remarks that “He made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” A bondservant was one who willingly offered himself in slavery to another. Jesus’ followers are enlisted to serve, and expected to do it willingly. We certainly serve God through our obedience and worship, but we are also expected to serve each other as well. On the night before He was betrayed, Jesus surprised His disciples by washing their feet. He then remarked, “If I then your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14). True service includes doing humbling and menial things to help others.

Jesus’ suffering was predicted in messianic statements in the Old Testament. Isaiah 50:6 says, “I gave my back to those who struck me, and my cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide my face from shame and spitting.” And part of Isaiah 53:10 states, “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.” The Father purposed and allowed the suffering of His Son. The Son willingly endured the suffering, looking ahead to the joy that lay before (see Hebrews 12:2). Believers’ suffering is also promised and we are to expect and endure it. Indeed, suffering is part of the human experience (due to Adam’s disobedience, not God’s meanness). Believers can face suffering in this life with hope however. In Romans 8:18, Paul confidently asserts, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Jesus was victorious through His suffering, and so shall we be, if we are faithful to endure.

The sacrifice that Jesus made was the ultimate one: He gave His life as a ransom. His death secured our redemption and provides for our fellowship with the Father. We may not be called to give our lives as martyrs but we are called to lives of sacrifice. Our brokenness over our sins, obedience to God’s will, and praise to Him are all acceptable sacrifices that the Bible notes. Jesus was clear in Matt 16:24-25, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” There’s no denying that He did just that in His earthly existence. May the Lord’s exemplary life inspire us to truly honor Him by following His pattern of service, suffering, and sacrifice.

Bishop Patrick L. Kelly is the pastor of Cathedral Church of God, 365 S. Dixie Hwy., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. 954-427-0302.

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