Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Just Like Jesus
A friend and I were talking recently about the meaning of Jesus’ words in John 14 when he says, “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” (v.11)
Part of the problem we run into whenever we try to wrap our brains around complicated concepts concerning God is that we use spatial terminology to understand non-spatial realities. So, you might try to imagine placing a ping pong ball inside of a coffee cup but you can’t imagine that – at the same time – the coffee cup could also be inside the ping pong ball. That’s because spatially this is impossible. But God is Spirit and the sense in which Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Him is not something that can be conceptualized in terms of space and time.
The other problem comes because we tend to forget that we need to look at the whole of scripture before we come to any conclusions. Even in the same Gospel of John we can see that Jesus explains in what ways he means that he is in the Father by saying:
“If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.” (John 14:7-10)
Elsewhere Jesus also affirms that he does nothing under his own power, nor does he teach anything apart from what the Father tells him to:
“These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” (John 14:24);
“For I do not speak of myself, but from the Father who sent me and commanded me what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that to obey his command is life everlasting. Therefore, whatever I speak is just as the Father tells me to speak." (John 12:49-50)
“Then Jesus answered them and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you; the Son can do nothing of himself, but only does what he sees the Father do. For whatever things he [the Father] does, these are also likewise done by the Son.” (John 5:19)
“Of my own self, I can do nothing. I judge only as I hear; and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of the Father who has sent me.” (John 5:30)
“But so that the world may know that I love the Father, I only do exactly as the Father has instructed me to do.” (John 14:31)
So, it’s clear that Jesus didn’t accomplish his perfect life on Earth out of any power of his own. This means we cannot point to Jesus and say, “Of course Jesus could live that sort of selfless life – He’s God!” On the contrary, it was because Jesus emptied himself of his glory and power and took on flesh to become nothing that he was capable of doing what he did:
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:5-8)
Jesus laid everything down and became – not just a mere human – but a servant among humans. Remember, “...the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
Because Jesus laid everything down and emptied himself and allowed the Holy Spirit to fill him and to guide him throughout his life, he was capable of great things. He fully submitted himself to the Father and allowed the Father to speak through him and to work through him.
The whole point is that we can do this too.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ the possibility of living and loving and forgiving and sharing and serving like Jesus is more than possible – it’s promised!
Think about how Jesus told us to follow him:
“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’” (Luke 9:23)
We all begin our walk with Jesus by laying everything down and fully submitting our lives to Him. This is how we can be filled with the Holy Spirit and (like Jesus) do only what the Father is doing and speak only what the Father is speaking.
Peter and Paul affirm this principle:
“If any man speaks, let him speak with God's words; if any man ministers, let him do it with the ability that God gives, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever. Amen. “ (1 Peter 4:11)
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10)
“What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” (1 Cor 2:12-13)
So, the next time you’re tempted to blow off your calling to be like Jesus because “He was God and I’m not” remember that Jesus let go of his own power in order to show us the truth that the weaker we are the better God can empower us and work through our empty lives to bring glory to His name.