1. Dangerously Empowering
Jesus stood toe-to-toe with the bullies and exposed the hypocrisy of the religious leaders who had the political influence to torture and kill. On the other hand, he was empowering/liberating the common people (and the victims of the bullies – which threatened the religious careers of the bullies) with truth and God’s love/grace. All this, while being humble, non-violent, and non-resistant to physical threats!
2. The Inevitable Cross
That was a life dangerously lived. He did not play it safe. The cross was inevitable. His followers who ought to live as Jesus lived, will face similar situations at some level (if they are really living as Jesus lived). As Jesus said in John 15:20: “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also”. Or Matthew 10:16: “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves”. If we live like Jesus, the cross is inevitable.
2.1 Definition of Faith
This then is a good definition of what faith is: to live like Jesus with the faith he had. That is the only way he could have lived (such high-risk life). 1 Peter 2:23: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly”.
2.2 Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit
Luke records in Luke 23:46: “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’. When he had said this, he breathed his last.”
So that was the last statement that Jesus spoke before dying on the cross. That was a quote from Psalm 31:5. Commentator William Barclay writes that this Psalm was a prayer that Jewish children were taught by their mothers to pray as they went to sleep each night. So it is possible that Mary too may have taught this prayer to Jesus when he was a boy. Jesus was probably praying silently when he died.
2.3 Prayer for Everyday
To commit our spirit to God is not just a prayer while dying. It is a prayer for every day, every moment. That is the only way we can live if we live like Jesus.
3. Carrying the Cross in His Footsteps
And in Luke 9:23: “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me”. The way of Jesus is the way of the cross. If we are not feeling the cross, that is because we are not exactly living like Jesus. We are probably playing it safe. Following Jesus is inevitably the way of the cross.
3.1. Christ’s Suffering Continues
When we as the body of Christ continue to suffer for righteousness’ sake, that is Christ’s suffering too. Paul never directly persecuted Jesus, but in the Damascus encounter, Jesus says, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting”. Jesus says in Matthew 25:40 “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”.
3.2 Meaning in Life, Death… And Resurrection
To live in the pattern of life that Jesus showed gives meaning and purpose to life. Whatever may be our profession or day-to-day endeavors or position of influence etc – whether it be at the workplace or in society/community or even in the family – there is always the empowerment of people to be done, there are always bullies and hypocrites (who exploit people) to stand against – while being humble.
Not just meaning in life, even death could have meaning. Death may be the last thing we want, but in Jesus, even death has a meaning and purpose. The death of Jesus not only for salvation, it also paved the way for Resurrection with a new glorious body.
3.3 Salvation – A Full Package Deal
Salvation is not what happens when you die. It is about what happens from the moment of accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior: To live a meaningful life that he lived, to carry the cross daily, to die as he did, and to be resurrected like did (in the new creation – the New Heavens and the New Earth – Revelation 21-22).
3.4 United in a Death Like His
“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his” – Romans 6:5