Facing Crucial Choices

KEY VERSE: “No man taketh my life from me, but I lay it down of myself.” —John 10:18


JESUS KNEW FROM the start of his ministry that he was to voluntarily give up his life in the end. As that time approached he explained to his disciples that he would give his “flesh,” his humanity, for the life of the world.—John 6:51

On his final trip to Jerusalem, Jesus said to his disciples that he expected to be arrested and to be put to death. It was on this occasion that Peter endeavored to dissuade his Master from going to Jerusalem, and thus recklessly expose himself to his enemies. Then Jesus said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou savorest not the things that be of God.” (Mark 8:31-33) Jesus recognized that it was the will of God for him to surrender to his enemies and allow them to put him to death.

Even when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on an ass, and was enthusiastically acclaimed king by the multitude, he knew that he was not then to receive his kingdom, but was to be put to death. In a parable he had likened himself to a “certain nobleman” who went away to receive a kingdom and to return, and he knew that he was “going away” in death.—Luke 19:12

In the upper room, prior to going to Gethsemane, he knew that Judas, one of his own disciples, had plotted to betray him to his enemies. Knowing this, Jesus could doubtless have escaped from the city and to safety. But he faced the cross knowingly and willingly. This required courage and strength, inspired by love for his Heavenly Father and for the dying world of mankind.

In Gethsemane, the awful reality of his death was seen more vividly by the Master, yet he was still resigned to the Father’s will, and remained steadfast in his determination to carry it out. In prayer he said to the Father, “All things are possible unto thee; take away this cup”; but quickly he added, “Nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.”—Mark 14:36

John 12:27 (RSV), is another record of these words of Jesus: “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.” Obviously this gives the correct thought. Jesus knew that it was his Father’s will that he should die, and he had covenanted to lay down his life; so, regardless of the suffering involved, he would not ask to be saved from this hour of trial. What he did request was that in the experience his Father’s name would be glorified.

Certainly Jesus would have been glad had there been another way to accomplish the divine plan. The ordeal of mental and physical suffering which faced him was not pleasant to contemplate. But since it was God’s will he would not flinch from it. Instead he looked earnestly to his Father for strength and courage to endure, and he received an abundance of both.

A little later Peter demonstrated his love and devotion by drawing his sword and attempting to prevent the Master’s arrest. With the assistance of the other disciples who probably would have been willing to help, Jesus might well have been delivered from his enemies, but he did not permit this. As he explained to Peter, if he had wished to ask the Father, he would have sent him more than twelve legions of angels to deliver him. Jesus did not need Peter’s sword!—Matt. 26:53

Jesus’ refusal to allow Peter to deliver him was a demonstration that his death was voluntary. This was further shown when he was on trial before the High Priest, where he acknowledged that he was the Christ, the Son of God.” This, to the priest, was blasphemy, rightly punishable by death. (Matt. 26:63-66; Mark 14:61-64) When asked by Pilate if he was a king, Jesus answered, “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” (Mark 15:2; John 18:37) He made no attempt to defend himself. His hour had come, and he delighted to have the Father’s will accomplished.

Just prior to this experience of his trial before Pilate, Jesus had told his disciples, “I shall not talk much longer with you, for the prince of this world approaches. He has no rights over me, but the world must be shown that I love the Father, and do exactly as he commands, so up, let us go forward.”—John 14:30,31, New English Bible

To many—perhaps even to the Devil himself—Jesus’ death might appear as a victory for Satan. But Jesus was simply confirming the statement of our Key Verse, that he voluntarily allowed himself to be put to death, because of his great love for his Heavenly Father, and toward the ultimate accomplishment of the outworking of God’s great plan of salvation.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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