“I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep. But I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life so I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father.” John 10:14-18
Jesus Christ chose to lay down His life, to surrender completely. He laid aside any will of His own and completely surrendered to Father God’s will; to His plan! Let’s push pause for a moment and look at the term surrender… Free Miriam-Webster online dictionary defines surrender as “yielding to the power, control or possession of another upon compulsion or demand; to give up completely, forgo in favor of another. To give oneself over to another’s power, authority or influence. I believe the third definition, forgo in favor of another, best describes Jesus’ surrender to God. He knew from the beginning of time God’s purpose for mankind and His desire for fellowship with His creation. Jesus also understood God’s grief over man’s choosing other gods and other objects of worship from carved images to money and everything in between. Jesus saw how man’s brokenness and his captivity (today we’d say addictions) were harming mankind and destroying individual lives and families in Christ’s day and even long before.
Jesus choose to be the bridge between all the things that separated us from God, making a pathway bringing good news to the poor, the favor of God, comfort for those who mourn and a way for us to be freed from all bondage, captivity, disease, and idolatry. He came to bring beauty for our ashes and joy to replace our mourning. Jesus came to bridge our separation from God so He could proclaim us righteous oaks planted by God for His glory. All this Jesus did, not because He ‘had’ to but because He chose to. He was moved by great love and compassion for His creation and for the human condition, taking on every sickness and disease and every single issue that had come between God and man. At any time, Jesus could have cried out and stopped the plan in its tracks.
Let’s just look at a few of the struggles Jesus faced in life, I bet we will recognize them: HE was stalked by the angry and threatened Herod; the victim of attempted murder before He was two; sibling rivalry and living with brothers and sisters who considered Him not only odd but at one point proclaimed Him crazy; sought more often for what He could do for people than for who He was; used and betrayed by those closest to Him; accused though He was innocent; mocked and made fun of; beaten so badly that He was not recognizable as a human being with most of the flesh beaten off and finally crucified for a crime that He never came close to committing! Despite a life that had experienced such great pain and suffering, His character was always firmly in place knowing that the greater picture was much more glorious than the temporary but harsh suffering. He had each of us on His mind and knew the victory of the resurrection. He knew the freedom, forgiveness, and restoration that it brought to mankind and that it would supercede any of the harsh and horrible things He suffered. Because of this magnificent gift He gave us, we have available to us extraordinary mercy, extravagant grace, a chance for an abundant life of freedom not to mention eternal life! The choice is ours whether we will accept this extravagant gift.
Jesus made a choice. He chose us. He willfully laid down His rights, left His place in Heaven and came as an infant. He live a normal human existence surrendered to His parents and more importantly to His Father in Heaven. He was obedient even to the point of torture and death. Tomorrow morning we celebrate that His horrible death was not the end of the story but truly just the beginning. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He was raised to life and appeared to over five hundred people before ascending to His Heavenly thrown beside HIs Father. Even today He is there, our advocate; interceding on our behalf beckoning us to Him; calling us to a life full of freedom, love, grace, and joy in Christ with a promise of eternity with Him. The question is have or will we choose Him? Will I go further and really learn what it means to truly be His? How much of me am I willing to surrender? Can I look at all He went through and suffered; at His character and still refuse to see HIs goodness and the magnitude of His love? He made His choice and beyond that… It’s up to each individual what will we do with Jesus…
Grace and peace to you this Easter!