Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Today’s Topic: How Could He Do That?
Today’s Text: Isaiah 53:7-8a He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
How could He do that? He was right; they were wrong. It was injustice to the max. He was falsely accused and unjustly abused. He was tortured without truth. Yet not once did He defend Himself, with words or with actions. How could He do that?
In my flesh, I can’t do what Jesus did. My first response to criticism is self-protection. My love for self motivates my response to threats against my value and worth. My pride protects what I believe are my rights. My words and my actions are defense mechanisms to justify my behavior. It appears that I would rather see others suffer from the expression of my pride than to experience any personal pain that might be caused by being humble. How foolish I am, for ultimately the pain I am seeking to avoid is magnified many times over by my pride.
In my spirit, under the influence of God’s Spirit, I have discovered how Jesus could do what He did. It is a simple answer, but oh so difficult to actually put into practice. The answer is found in Hebrews 12:2, which says, Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Jesus understood and accepted the higher purpose of what was happening. He did not have his heart focused on the immediate, but the eternal. That is how He could endure the opposition of sinful men and scorn the shame of the cross – He saw the joy and glory that was to come, and He chose it as His own.
I know that my fleshly response to criticism and correction is completely driven by my focus on the immediate need for approval and acceptance which I wrongly believe cannot be granted if I am found guilty. I know that my pride pushes me to protect my rights because I have given them far too much value in determining my worth. I know my love for self causes me to do anything I can to avoid pain in the present because my heart is fixed on happiness rather than joy. I know that this is all true of me, and would destroy me were it not for the grace of God in me.
But praise God my flesh does not control me. My eyes are fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith, who was oppressed and afflicted unjustly, and was led away by oppression and judgment to suffer the shame of the cross. How could He do it? Because He saw me in my sin, and His love for me overcame any obstacle to saving me. He was completely focused on the higher purpose.
That will be my goal today and every day – to stay focused on God’s higher purpose. No more living for the immediate. No more unbelief in the joy of eternity which is manifested in the avoidance of pain today. No more self-protection by resisting oppression. No more defense mechanisms against injustice. No more exaltation of my rights. There will only be the quiet response of Jesus that shows the world that my eyes are fixed on eternal joy for which I am completely qualified in Christ. And as the world observes a life so lived, may they ask, “How can he do that?”