Sunday, March 30, 2008

The many sacrifices of Jesus

Last week I talked about Jesus the man. I'm going to continue that theme today, and develop it a little more.

I want to talk about the many sacrifices of Jesus.

Yes there is the obvious one. The cross. That's amazing enough in itself, but there is more.

You see I think sometimes we get so pre-occupied with the divinity of Jesus that we forget that He was also a human being. Yes its important to remember that Jesus was the Son of God. Its important to believe He died and rose again and to understand how much He went through and gave up for us.

But He gave up more than just His divinity.

He gave up more than His own life on the cross.

He gave up some of the human things that we can take for granted. We seem to think it was easy as He was the Son of God. But if he experienced the same temptations and experiences we have, then surely He would have had to make sacrifices - apart from the very obvious sacrifice of His life.

For example, marriage. If Jesus was tempted in every way He was tempted to adultery, to sleep with women outside marriage. He may have been tempted to get married, forget His ministry and continue in the family business and raise His own family, rather than choose the life and death He chose and which God had for Him.

That brings us onto the second thing, His job, His living. He was described as a carpenter but in Biblical times they did more than work with wood. He was what is called a tecton - a mason - so would have been involved in building, architecture and working with stone. The family business. He was the eldest too, so had the pressure of setting the example for the rest. He would have been expected to follow the family business, which would have given Him a secure income. Not wealthy, but secure.

To give that up and sacrifice a steady income to trust in God to provide is another tough choice.

The other thing that may have crossed His mind is the knowledge He would be thought crazy by some members of His own family, and be rejected in His home town. His friends from growing up would have maybe rejected Him and thought Him crazy. He may have been seen to have abandoned His family.

He knew who He was, He knew His mission. He knew what lay ahead. He knew the life He was giving up. He knew what some people would think of Him.

These were temptations to avoid His calling. These were things people valued greatly - wife, family, job, security, respect and friendship of peers. Jesus would have had to give all this up for His mission.

So what did He do?

He was obedient to God.

Obedient to His heavenly Father, rather that to maybe what He would have wanted on His own.

There is a clear example in Gethsemane where we see the conflict of what Jesus the man wants, and where He tries to avoid the pain that is to come. Jesus asks if there is any other way that we can be saved, any other possible path other than the one He takes.

This only makes what Jesus did even more powerful doesn't it? That He was faced with all these temptations, desires and feelings.

Yet because He loved us and knew He was the only way we could be saved was through Him, and because He wanted to be obedient to God and because He was without sin, He resisted and was obedient. He totally submitted to the will of God, even to His own death. Jesus loved us and wanted us to be saved. He loved His Father God and wanted to be obedient to Him.

That was more important to Him than His own desires as a man.

Its not just the divinity and sacrifice on the cross of Jesus that is why we should worship Him. Its that He gave up things many of us take for granted and the life we are now free to have so that we could know Him. That sacrifice is just as important.

Faced with the same choices now, what do we do? Do we choose sacrifice, do we choose God? Or do we choose our own happiness first?

Jesus chose obedience. Jesus chose God. Jesus chose the cross.

What would we have done?