Selfless Love: A Good Friday Post
By Benjamin H. Liles
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow —to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.” Going a little farther, He fell face down and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will."
~ Matthew 26:36-56, Holman Christian Standard
A friend of mine who has both pastored a Church and mentored me, to a degree, once spoke to our group, saying, "Jesus' driving passion during Passion week--that is Passover week--was to do the will of the Father." Time and time again scripture tells us, "Jesus replied, "Truly, truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing by Himself, unless He sees the Father doing it. For whatever the Father does, the Son also does" (John 5:19, Berean Study).
In another gospel account Jesus said it this way, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the one who does not fall away on account of Me" (Matthew 11:5, New American Standard).
An Old Testament verse says of God's Word, "so shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing I sent it to do" (Isaiah 55:11, World English). What's the point to these verses? Why do I list so many?
It's to prove that the night/morning Jesus was arrested, He wrestled not just with His humanity, but in the process He was laying down His divine right; He struggled with the Father in accomplishing His will: "Yet not as I will, but as You will," He said. Even on the cross He could have commanded legions of angels to come care for Him, to bring Him down from the cross, but He chose those nails for you and I. A Roman centurion went so far as to declare, "Truly this was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:54, Berean Study).
The reality of this whole message is that Jesus willingly gave Himself up for us to have access to the Father. It is why Jesus could declare, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6, Holman Christian Standard). How selfless can one man be so that many from all nations, tribes, and tongues could know salvation and have access to and before the God of all--the Father--who showed Jesus the way to Calvary?
I think of all the ways in which I could better exemplify Jesus's command to love others as I love Him. Today, while at the store, I noticed someone driving a white Prius with the bumper sticker"BNHIM," but they weren't concerned for their own safety or that of a truck driver who was waiting to pull forward. The accident was avoided sure enough, but we say we love God and yet treat one another with contempt or a lack of thinking of others. I am no exception either.
My wife and I have discussions on God and His word, wondering which way He wants us to grow and complement one another. I get mad when I feel I'm not being heard or understood. Is that right of me? I say I love God, but show little regard for my wife, so do I show the love of God, really? I feel I have a right to be hard on myself. I need to look in the mirror of God's word, His truth, which tells me I don't measure up. But guess what? He loves me anyway! He sent His Son, Jesus the Messiah, on this day Good Friday, to be crucified and bear by punishment so I can know and have salvation.
I am compelled, daily, to give my utmost to the Lord for what He did on my behalf. I totally and honestly feel, given that I call myself a follower of the risen Lord Jesus, who died on a Friday and rose on a Sunday (Easter as we call it), it is my love, obedience to Him, my duty, to spread His word which was manifested for me. In the words of Ezekiel, "Son of man, I have made you a watchman over the house of Israel. When you hear a word from My mouth, give them a warning from Me" (Ezekiel 3:17, Holman Christian Standard).
I am aware Peter wrote, "but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence" (1 Peter 3:15, New American Standard). I feel, as I have said, I have a duty, an honor rather, to do this daily so that others may know and come to experience Him and His love. I do it not that He has to persuade me to do so, and certainly not because He commanded of me to (although His word does point to that as we have seen). I do it because I mainly love Him.
Because of His selfless love towards me, to you, to everyone, I feel compelled to do this. It is why I maintain my website/blog. It is why I keep it as up-to-date as possible, sometimes changing little things to make this a better experience for you, the reader. I want everyone to know and see what I have seen, that God is real; He is alive. He died on a day like today almost directly two thousand years ago (okay, we're off by a decade and six years, but who's counting, right?) and was resurrected by the Father's hand.
The disciples who became apostles saw Him with their eyes. They penned their books as best as possible within a relatively short time, as they were able to do so. There's no way to claim, except if you were there, they were lying about what they saw, heard, and experienced with Jesus Christ (the Messiah). These same men offered up their lives as valid testimony of their faith and witnessed to the nations that surrounded Israel at the time of Roman occupation. John was exiled to Patmos as well as dipped fully into hot oil, Paul imprisoned in Rome as well as died there, Peter was crucified, just to name a couple. How selfless were these men and their words still endure even now? So shall I be.
Father, I thank You for the gift You gave at Calvary's cross. Without it I cannot even begin to tell of You and Your ways. Without what You did there's no way I came to know You, Your Son, or Your word. There would be no way I could tell of Your majesty, of Your love, of Your power if none of it were true. You are true. You are also just. You could have spared Your Son and been fully in the right to condemn sin and those who practice it. It means none of us would be spared either, and it includes my wife and I too. I thank and praise You for what You have done, through Jesus Your Son. And to this end I will always put my trust in You, speak about You and Your great and wondrous love. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.