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Heb.5:8 "Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered."
The Obedience of Jesus Christ
Some people looking at Jesus death see it primarily as a sad event that should never have taken place. They then see it as some sort of unfortunate accident that took place when events took an unexpected turn in the Jerusalem of the first century and everything spiralled out of control. But Jesus' death was no accident.
Others will talk about Jesus' death as though its primary purpose was designed to leave us a challenging example, its main purpose being to inspire us to live better lives. But Jesus' death was no mere example.
The Bible emphasises that when Jesus died his death had a distinctly God-
Justification is that monumental change of status that every sinner must know in an individual and personal manner if he is not to be lost for all eternity. Justification is being declared to be right in one's relationship with Almighty God. For such a justification to be effective two distinct problems must be resolved.
Firstly, the sinner's guilty debt must be eradicated
Secondly, compensation must be found for the sinner's lack of a positive personal righteousness
Jesus' death is essential in securing these twin aspects of our justification.
Our task this evening is to consider just how Jesus' death relates to the provision of that perfect righteousness that must be credited to a sinner's account if he is to be declared fully right with God.
If any sinner is to be declared righteousness in God's sight then it is absolutely essential that the Saviour's righteousness be pure and spotless and complete. This perfect righteousness was, as we will see, secured as Jesus lived his entire life in obedience to his Father's will. His actual death, and not merely his willingness to die, was essential in this as the means whereby his obedience was brought to the climax of perfection. Jesus died so that his obedience might be made perfect!
The Nature of Jesus' Obedience
Jesus was always obedient to his Father. There never was a time or even a moment when this obedience was anything other than absolute. Jesus' followers looking back over his entire life could affirm declared his complete sinlessness:
And Jesus' enemies were never able to convict him of sin being unable to meet Jesus' challenges:
Jn.8:46 "Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?"
Jesus too was conscious of the full obedience he offered to his Father and he referred to such obedience both indirectly and directly.
Before we examine this more closely it is worth noting how radically different this makes Jesus from every one of his true followers. Not one of his true followers ever makes a similar claim concerning themselves. As the apostle John would later write:
This is the way every disciple of Jesus thinks but it is not the way Jesus thought about himself!
Indirectly – Jesus declared that he never operated independently of his Father:
With regards to how he judged, with regards to what he did and with regards to what he said and taught
Jn.8:16 "Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me."
Jn.5:17 "But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working."'
Jn.8:28 "So Jesus said to them, 'When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.'"
Jn.14:10 "Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works."
Directly – Jesus declared that he always did what the Father wanted:
It was his purpose in coming into the world:
Jn.6:38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me."
Heb 10:5+7 "when Christ came into the world, he said,… ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’"
This was all his desire and satisfaction having come into the world:
Of course it is possible for obedience to be rendered reluctantly or hypocritically but that Jesus' obedience was not the obedience of outward show it flowed from the heart:
Jn.4:34 "Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.'"
His obedience was dynamic – it developed and grew. This was not a move from disobedience to obedience but from and progression from one degree of obedience to another.
Jn.14:31 "but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here."
Jn.15:10 "If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love."
Jesus' obedience was not something that took place at one specific moment of time but rather was something that characterised his entire life. As a boy he was obedient – he knew he had to be about his Father's business but did not use that as an excuse for failing to be submissive to his parents. Small wonder that with such an attitude we then read:
Lk.2:52 "And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favour with God and man."
Jesus spoke clearly about his success in being obedient: his words don't have the hollow ring of the Pharisee who boasted about not being like other men (Lk.18:9-
Jn.8:29 "And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him."
Jn.17:4 "I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do."
The writer to the Hebrews described the state to which Jesus had been brought – it was to a state of mature perfection! This was truly a sinless perfection.
Heb 2:10 "For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering."
This success was fully realised as Jesus carried his obedience as far as it could possibly go – he became "obedient unto death" and that no quick or easy death but the excruciatingly painful and shameful death of the cross where he was made to be "sin who knew no sin".
Phil.2:8 "And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
The Father's full approval
But perhaps someone might ask how can we be sure that Jesus really was different from that arrogant Pharisee? After all both laid claims to being upright before God: is there anything to back up Jesus' and his claims?
Well yes there is! Twice during the earthly life and ministry of our Lord the Father spoke audibly from heaven to voice his approval of his Son. On both occasions we find that there is a clear link to death, the Saviour's death can never be construed as an accident:
Mt 3:17 "and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
These words were spoken when Jesus was baptised and the NT develops baptism as a kind of burial, a sort of dying only to live again in a new way.
Mt 17:5 "He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.""
This time the occasion was the Transfiguration when for a few brief moments Jesus' radiant divine glory shone forth. At that time Moses and Elijah had appeared talking with him on the Mount and the subject of conversation had been his "exodus" from the world – a reference to his leaving this world by means of his death.
And then of course there is the resurrection that followed on the third day. By it the Father declared Jesus to be the "Son of God... by the Spirit of holiness" (Rom.1:4) We are also taught that he was raised for our justification (Rom.4:25) something that would be impossible if he were not himself perfectly righteous.
Jesus Perfect Obedience was also Purposeful
Jesus perfect obedience was never intended to be an end in itself. I suppose were we told nothing more than that Jesus lived a life of spotless perfect obedience we would still be left with a wonderful life to admire and marvel at. When we think of how hard we find it to live for even a short while in a manner that our Heavenly Father might find pleasing and Jesus did so year on year for 30+ years in circumstances of increasingly difficult, opposition and hardship. Well might we want to stand back and say "Behold the man!"
But the Bible tells us Jesus obeyed not in order to be some remote ivory column but to secure something for us. He wasn't a monument of uprightness that was of no practical help to anyone rather by his perfect obedience he brought immensely practical help. As the writer to the Hebrews tells us:
Heb.5:9 "And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,"
If we are to be saved then we stand in need of a righteousness apart from the law because by the law we have failed and would go on failing again and again. That righteousness has been secured by Jesus Christ as he completed his obedience by laying down his life. Becoming the source of eternal salvation he has supplied the obedience that causes the many to be made righteous (Rom.5:19)!
What should our response be to all this?
We should admire this man Jesus
We should value and treasure this man Jesus
We should rest our trust firmly and confidently in this man Jesus
Praise be to God for the unspeakable gift of his Son to be the Saviour we need!