“Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God” (verse 7, quoting Psalm 40.)
“By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (verse 10.)
Did you know that you were saved by obedience, by good works?
NO, not your own, but those of Jesus Christ. It is by the will of the Father that you are saved. But what if the Father had willed to save you, ordained that it would happen through His Son, and the Son had refused to obey? Such a thing is unimaginable, because the Son is God and because we know Him to be so perfect and holy.
But what if the Son had not obeyed?
We would all still be dead in our sins.
There is a lesson about humility and obedience from the life of Christ, but too many take His humility and obedience and use it as an opportunity for their own pride and disobedience.
First of all, even the Son, the eternal Son, does the will of the Father. It was the Father’s will that the Son be sent into the world to save the world and to be born a human to save humans. Even before He took on humanity, therefore, the Son submitted to the Father. In theological terms, we call this the economical Trinity. Though ontologically the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all equally God and have equal glory, the Son is subordinate to the will of the Father, and the Spirit to the Father and the Son.
And there is a lesson here about humility, submission, and obedience. Even before He became man, the Son knew about subordination.
But then the Father asked the Son to become a human being so that the will of the Father to save humanity might be fulfilled.
And what was the Son’s answer?
“Not now, Dad, I’m a little busy. I’m in the middle of this planet creating project, and I don’t want to be interrupted.”
“Aw, Dad, do I have to? Can’t you send somebody else?”
“Alright, Dad, just a minute” (and then He goes on doing what He was doing and never gets around to taking on human flesh).
It sounds ridiculous when we imagine the Son of God giving such proud and impertinent answers to the Father.
But the truly ridiculous thing is that these are the very excuses (and worse!) that we give for not obeying the will of the Father. Now a case might be made that the Son would have a right to reason with the Father, even though it’s an impossibility that God would be divided against Himself. But where do we get off saying “NO!” to God? And yet we do it all the time.
It is not just through the will of the Father (verse 10) that we have been sanctified but also through the will of the Son. And what was the will of the Son? To do the will of the Father. “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me” (John 6:38). “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work” (John 4:34). Jesus’ daily bread, which He ate in the wilderness even when there was no other food, was to do the will of the Father.
In obeying, as the Son obeyed, we are fed by the Son, who is our Daily Bread, the Bread of Heaven, the manna by which God nourishes us. And when we disobey, we become famished and weak, and we wonder why.
“Why doesn’t God help me?” we cry out, conveniently forgetting that we have been refusing to do eat our daily bread and do His holy will.
By His obedience, by the voluntary will of Jesus Christ to perfectly obey the will of the Father, you are saved. In obedience to the will of the Father, the Son became man. In obedience to the will of the Father, the Son was tempted, suffered, and died. We all remember the anguish with which Jesus obeyed the will of the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, choosing to obey and suffer, rather than to disobey and not suffer.
By this active obedience of Jesus Christ you are saved. There’s a story told about J. Gresham Machen, a staunchly orthodox Presbyterian minister who fought valiantly and intelligently against the liberal opponents of his day in the 1920s. Just before he died, Machen dictated a telegram to John Murray, who was a professor of systematic theology at Westminster Seminary. Machen’s last words in this life were, “I’m so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.”
You are saved by Christ’s active obedience. But the active obedience of Jesus Christ requires active obedience on our part as well. You can’t really participate in the Christ, who lived, obeyed, died, rose again, and sits at right hand interceding – for you – unless you actively obey as well. The alternative would be to say that it was fine for the Son of God (who was perfect) to obey, but that we who are imperfect and sinners and in danger of Hell do not need to obey.
Excuse me? Didn’t Christ come so that you could obey? You’ll have to forgive me for another tirade against those who say they are Christians and also say that they don’t have to obey God. He doesn’t really care if I’m fornicating by living with someone outside of marriage. He doesn’t really care if I get drunk or get high (which is just another form of drunkenness). It doesn’t matter how much I sin because Jesus already paid for all my sins.
Jesus Christ became obedient – to the point of death, even the death on a cross – so that you, too, could obey and receive God’s blessing.
You know that there are things in your life that God, without a doubt, is commanding you to do. You might sublimate them, and you might be able to distract yourself from them by the busi-ness of the world. But at night, when the world is quiet, you know that they’re there.
What are those things that God has been commanding you to do that you have not been doing? Today is a good time to remind yourself of the things God has been telling you to do. Remember the ways He has been speaking to you: through His Word, through prayer, through other Christians, through the sermon.
Now, write down the things you know He’s been telling you, and put a date on it for future reference.
Finally, remember the obedience of Jesus Christ to the Father, which has brought you salvation.
Then decide today what you will do about it.
Prayer: I thank You, Father, for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of His life; for His steadfast obedience, by which He overcame temptation; for His dying, through which He overcame death; for His rising to life again, by which we are raised to the life of your kingdom; and for His sitting at Your right hand from where He intercedes and ministers on our behalf. Amen.
Point for Meditation: Go back and re-read the last 5 paragraphs of today’s Give Us This Day and take time to meditate on what God is asking you to do. Spend time, if necessary, praying that God will remove all obstacles, especially your stubborn heart.
Resolution: I resolve to write down the things I know God has been telling me to do and to resolve to take one specific action on one of them today.
© 2013 Fr. Charles Erlandson
Category: Give Us This Day