Last week, we talked about God’s faithfulness to make sure that the word He sows into our lives has a good outcome. He is committed to making “all things work together for good” in the lives of “those who love God” and “are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). To further ensure success in this operation, He sends another type of “the Word” into our lives to perform a miracle in us.
Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:44-49)
No man can open his own mind, or the mind of another to the true meaning of God’s word, but this Being does it at will. In John 6:29, Jesus said “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” Here, “the work of God” as defined by Jesus Christ is obviously talking about something that goes on within our heads and our hearts that no man can do for us, nor can we do it for ourselves. If we really believe in the One Sent, the work of God that He is doing in us is yet another piece of evidence of God’s “inner, effectual working” – His energia (G1753) that we defined and discussed in last week’s post.
Follow in Suffering
There are many things that contribute to our ability to understand and react in the right way to God’s word – our life experiences, frustrations, our failures to “overcome” on our own, our failure to impose our will upon God (that’s a big one!). All of that adds up to one word: suffering. Jesus Christ submitted Himself to suffering as an example to us, and I really don’t think anything contributes as much to God’s end goal for us as our suffering while we follow the example of Jesus Christ.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name (Phil. 2:5-9)
A great reward followed this suffering, but look at the mindset that it took to achieve that end. This is the mind of Christ, which is supposed to be in our minds as well.
who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Heb 5:7-9)
Notice again, the reward follows the suffering. We can’t follow Christ’s footsteps toward the reward without following His footsteps through suffering.
For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Pet 2:21- 25)
So we see again this example, and we see again the mind of Christ revealed. I like the wording in verse 23 … He “committed Himself” with complete faith and trust to the One who was working out His end goal to accomplish good things in Christ’s life.
Come In Faith
Let’s go to Hebrews 4, and look at a part of that end goal for Jesus Christ that is now contributing mightily to our own quest to achieve God’s end for us.
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:14-16)
I recently read an article in one of United Church of God‘s publications that pointed out that Jesus Christ is simultaneously the “great shepherd of the sheep” and “the lamb of God” (a description used 27 times in the book of Revelation). He understands both the role of the guide and of the follower. He knows what it is like to be in our shoes, having been tempted in all points as we are, and having followed His “shepherd” – the Father – as we are to follow Him.
So let’s do just as we’re told in Hebrews 4:16, and come boldly to the throne of grace to see if we can find grace to help us in our times of need. If anyone knows “the faith of the operation of God” it is Jesus Christ, and we can follow Him with full assurance that God will be faithful to us as well.