Consider Him

“And what of ourselves? With all these witnesses to faith around us like a cloud, we must throw off every encumbrance, every sin to which we cling, and run with resolution the race for which we are entered, our eyes fixed on Jesus.” —Hebrews 12:1,2, NEB

THE Apostle Paul, having held forth to us as examples of the power of faith the lives of God’s servants in the past, suggests that we are his servants now and that this same power of faith should be active in our lives. But this is a new age and new circumstances and requirements prevail, and as a consequence we have a new pattern—Jesus. He was obedient and faithful in carrying out God’s instructions, and because of this he was persecuted, and suffered as did the servants of old. But more was required of Jesus and also of his footstep followers. The Apostle Paul explains, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author [or cause] of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”—Heb. 5:8,9

It is evident that the suffering which resulted from obedience had an associated result in perfecting, or fully consummating, his character. We know that Jesus as a man was perfect, and as a man his character was also perfect. This was demonstrated by the fact that he kept the terms of the Law Covenant perfectly, it being a measure of a perfect man’s ability to keep. (Heb. 7:26; James 2:10) But when Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan by John, the account tells us that Jesus was begotten of the Spirit. (Matt. 3:16) The effect of this baptism of the Holy Spirit is described in the text as “the heavens were opened unto him.” This means that the hidden mysteries of God’s plans and purposes—especially for Jesus himself—were revealed to his newly spirit-begotten and enlightened mind (Ps. 40:6-8), and from this point forward one of the principal objectives of Jesus’ consecrated walk was to conform his natural mind, or manner of thinking, to be in harmony with the mind of God.

Jesus tells us that “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) And the Apostle Paul states that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (I Cor. 2:14) It was only after Jesus was begotten of the Holy Spirit that he fully understood the transformation that must take place in his mind and the reason for it, that is, so that the “perfected” spiritual mind could be placed in a spirit body when he was resurrected. This is also true of his footstep followers.

Jesus was aided in this work of restructuring his mind by his experiences. Many of these experiences were difficult and required the suppression of natural instincts to retaliate or to vigorously defend himself when wrongly accused or when persecuted for doing good. The Apostle Peter, speaking of our Lord’s perfection in this regard, said, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” (I Pet. 2:22,23; Isa. 53:5-12) In the previous verse of I Peter 2 the apostle points out that Jesus is our example in these things, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” (vs. 21) The Apostle Paul also instructed the footstep followers of Jesus, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove [ascertain] what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”—Rom. 12:2

As we observe the account of Jesus’ life in the Gospels, we are struck by his singleness of purpose. He was always about his Father’s business. He was anointed to preach the Gospel (Isa. 61:1), and we note from the record that he covered hundreds of miles on foot. He talked to the people on lakeshores and hillsides, in cities and villages, synagogues and Temple, marketplaces, streets, and houses. He addressed large crowds and individuals, men and women, old and young, rich and poor. His mission was not confined to a single-handed effort, but he organized an intensive and extensive witness effort which made use of his disciples. (Matt. 10:5-39; Luke 9:51,52; 10:1-16) Jesus was tireless in his service, rising early and laboring on into the night. In addition to this intense activity he found much time to minister to his disciples, teaching and comforting them.

In all of this Jesus literally spent himself in service to the Heavenly Father and his cause. This is what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “I die daily.” (I Cor. 15:31) In other words, he laid down his life every day, spending his strength and his all in the Lord’s service. This is also what the Lord would have us do, not because of what we will accomplish, but as evidence of our love for him and his cause. This activity will bring upon us the necessary experiences for our development. We all have extenuating circumstances that keep us from expending all of our time and energy in the Lord’s service. Some of these hindrances, such as family obligations, may have a first priority on our time and strength. Others of us may have physical limitations. But as we “consider him” and the example he set for us, it behooves all of us to evaluate our activities and our use of the time and strength that we have consecrated to the Heavenly Father.

As we consider Jesus and his consecrated walk, it is well to note how the course of this walk was directed. God did not move him about like a man on a checkerboard, or implant in his mind the things that he should do or say. To the contrary, Jesus was constantly exercising judgment as a free moral agent. But to make the proper decisions, it was necessary for him to have a perfect knowledge of the Lord’s will. (Isa. 53:11) This was accomplished by spirit-begettal, giving his mind a new dimension that enabled him to discern spiritual things. When the Holy Spirit came upon him at the river Jordan, he was able for the first time to fully discern the meaning of the types and shadows and prophecies concerning the divine plan, and his role in bringing about the consummation of that plan.

It is fascinating, for example, to contemplate some of the scriptures that Jesus, with his enlightened mind, probably used to predetermine the time sequence of his short ministry. From the prophecy in Daniel 9:25,26, we are told that from the time of the commandment to build Jerusalem unto Messiah (Jesus did not become the Messiah until his baptism at Jordan) was to be sixty-nine weeks. But then in the midst of the seventieth week Messiah was to be cut off. Since the prophetic week in this instance was seven years, he knew that his ministry was to be three and one-half years long.

He knew from the type of the Passover, which was instituted at the time of the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt (Ex. 12), that this was to be the occasion of his death, for he knew that he was the reality of that typical Passover lamb and that he was to die in order to bring about the release of the whole world of mankind from the captivity of sin and death. In all the experiences leading up to these events there were decisions to be made. Jesus had the full weight of responsibility and complete freedom of choice in making those decisions. Jesus said that all the prophecies concerning the Messiah must come to pass (Luke 24:44-47), but it was necessary for him to do his part in making them come to pass.

One of the most striking examples of the intense personal effort that it took on one occasion for him to submit his own will to the will of his Heavenly Father is recorded in Luke 22:41,42, which states, “And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” The Apostle Paul amplified the circumstances of this account, saying, “He, who in the days of his flesh, having offered up both prayers and supplications, crying aloud with tears to him who was able to deliver him out of death, and was heard for his devotion.” (Heb. 5:7, Diaglott) We know that Jesus was successful in overcoming his own will and feelings in this trial, and that in some way he was given assurance. He went on to face the terrible ordeal of the next few hours in peace and perfect fulfillment of the prophecy, “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.—Isa. 53:7

When we consider Jesus in these things, and realize that in this walk he was alone, we stand in awe. The disciples, while sympathetic to a degree, did not understand. His comfort and strength was from the Scriptures and fellowship through prayer with the Heavenly Father. In only a few instances did he receive a direct and personal assurance from the Heavenly Father. Our Lord’s walk was one of unparalleled faith.

We, as his footstep followers, are in a different position than was Jesus. Nevertheless there are general principles that should likewise control the direction of our Christian walk. Our minds have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and because of this we are able to discern God’s will for us. Knowing this, we must have the confidence and courage to obey those instructions regardless of consequences, and also to claim for our own the many great and precious promises.

We have the absolute assurance of Jesus himself that if we are faithful in our walk we will have trials and our faith will be thoroughly tested. Jesus said, “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? … Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.”—Matt. 10:24,25,32

Unlike Jesus, we do not walk alone. We have the comfort, fellowship, and encouragement of our brethren. But like Jesus, our primary source of strength and comfort must come from the Scriptures and fellowship with the Heavenly Father through prayer.

Our individual walk is not critical to the divine plan of the ages as was that of Jesus, but in a general sense the Lord has designed that there will be a church to which we have been invited and of which we hope to be a part. The church is a part of the divine plan, and so the Heavenly Father is greatly interested in us as individuals that we be successful. But he does not move us about like men on a checkerboard either. To the contrary, he lets us make the decisions that determine the direction of our walk. These are, for us also, free will decisions that are motivated by a good conscience toward God—the expression of the spirit of a sound mind. It is true that if we make the wrong decisions, the Heavenly Father will permit us to have experiences that will show us the error of our way, and if we are responsive, we will be able to make the desired correction. (Rom. 8:28) And we also have the assurance that the Lord will not permit us to have experiences that will be more than we can endure.—I Cor. 10:13

Jesus, with his perfect mind and his close and favorable relationship to the Heavenly Father, could have manifested an attitude of superiority, but he did not. He was warm, friendly, sympathetic, and easily approached. His perfection did not make him arrogant and overbearing toward the imperfect, sinful Jewish people among whom he lived and worked. This was in contrast to the scribes and Pharisees, who maintained a hypocritical, pious attitude toward the people. He was not an ascetic, practicing self-denial to an extreme degree without regard to the circumstances at hand. (Luke 7:33,34) He accepted many invitations to meals and even banquets, visiting the homes of persons of some wealth. (Luke 5:29; 7:36; 14:1; 19:1-6) His first miracle contributed to the enjoyment of a wedding feast when he turned water into wine. We, of course, realize that the miracle was primarily of prophetic significance and that the occasion was used by the Lord for this very important purpose.

As we look to Jesus, what can we learn from this aspect of his conduct and manner of life? There was no guile in his mouth. He attributed everything that he had—abilities, knowledge, and power—to his Heavenly Father. He sought no honor for himself, but rather to honor and glorify God. (John 7:16,18; 5:30,31) There was no attitude of superior holiness or self-righteousness in his character such as was the case with the scribes and Pharisees whom the Lord severely criticized as hypocrites and whited sepulchers. We must realize that while Jesus was actually perfect and just in the sight of God, we are only reckoned so through the application of the blood of Jesus on our behalf. No matter how hard we try and how much progress we might think we have made toward being righteous, we are but as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6) in the sight of God, except as he views us through the merit of Christ. This becomes the common denominator for all of the Lord’s people. None have any standing above the other in the Lord’s sight. Therefore, there can never be found a place for a holier-than-thou attitude among the Lord’s true followers.

Jesus was not prudish concerning the conduct and activities of the people, but he accepted many of the things as evidence of the fallen state of humanity. On the occasion when Jesus called Matthew (Levi) to be his follower, apparently Matthew made a feast in his house celebrating the occasion. “There was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:29-32) This does not mean to imply that Jesus fully entered into all the activities of the feast, but he certainly accepted it as a custom of the time and used the occasion to witness to the kingdom.

Jesus, during the course of his ministry, demonstrated great courage and strength in dealing with the opposition to God and his plans and purposes, but he did not defend himself, accepting these experiences as from the Lord for his good. Like Joshua and David, however, he fought for God’s cause. He fearlessly exposed hypocritical religious leaders, and he thoroughly defeated these opposers in a series of verbal encounters. He wielded the sword of the Spirit, God’s Word, with strength and ability, cutting through subtle arguments and trap-like questions advanced by the opposers, leaving them without defense or words.

We, of course, cannot match our Lord’s skill with the sword of the Spirit, but we can manifest courage and determination in speaking out in the interest of the truth. We, like Jesus, must also differentiate between opposition to ourselves and opposition to God and his cause. We can and must defend the latter, but accept opposition to ourselves as permitted by the Lord for our development. And as the Apostle Paul states in our text in Hebrews 12:3, we should “think of him who submitted to such opposition from sinners: that will help you not to lose heart and grow faint.”—NEB

The objective of all our endeavors to pattern our lives after the life of Jesus is expressed by the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 12:2, who again holds Jesus forth as our forerunner: “Our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom faith depends from start to finish: Jesus who, for the sake of the joy that lay ahead of him, endured the cross, making light of its disgrace, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.” (NEB) The joy that was held forth to Jesus, and is now held forth to us, is the prospect of being used by the Heavenly Father to reconcile the world to himself in the kingdom operating under the terms of the New Covenant.

May the Lord help us to more perfectly conform our new minds to the pattern that is set before us.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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