Practical Application of the Word of God
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ to remove, upon repentance, the death penalty that all humans who have lived, who do live, and who will live incur each time they sin is a sobering event that should never be far from the front of our minds all the time as Christians, not just as we approach the annual Passover observance, which memorializes Christ’s death.
Every time you and I sin and go to God in repentance and ask for forgiveness of those sins, God and Jesus Christ bring back to the front of their minds the totality of the sacrifice they both made to provide atonement and reconciliation to God – which is beyond our ability as humans, because we are all sinners – for you, for me, and for all humanity.
This plan for the redemption of every human being ever created was in place before the foundation of the world. It was with the foundation of the world as we mere mortals know it – this begins with the creation of humans (the universe and all that is in it is an infinitely older creation, because we’re told from scripture that the angels sang joyfully when the Lord created the earth) – that the Lamb (Jesus Christ) was slain.
Because I am just another mere mortal whom God has created and given but the tiniest sliver of understanding and insight into His word and His mind through the gift of His spirit (and even that sliver is still much, much bigger than I am or ever will be, as a human, fully capable of grasping entirely – the best my puny mind and human spirit are capable of are very brief glimpses of mostly-cloudy clarity), I can only speculate as to when this plan of redemption and salvation came to be between God the Father and Jesus Christ.
My thoughts are that this plan for humanity’s redemption and salvation that was conceived between God and Jesus Christ occurred after Lucifer (who became, after sin, Satan) – who was also created by them – sinned and rebelled against them, persuading a third of the angels to also sin and rebel against them. I can’t prove this, so it’s simply my personal speculation, and, as with so many other of the deep and unfathomable things of God, I could be entirely wrong.
Nevertheless, once the plan of redemption was in place, God the Father and Jesus Christ were face-to-face continually with the totality of the sacrifice this would require Jesus Christ to make.
It is important to remember that Jesus Christ was the Lord and the I AM of the Old Testament. He was literally the God of the Old Testament.
Jesus Christ (who said that He came to reveal God the Father because although God the Father’s existence is evident throughout the Old Testament, beginning with Genesis 1:26, His distinct and separate persona is not), who created all things, including humanity, would, by becoming flesh and blood like us, give up His life to redeem us from our sins and the death penalty we have earned because of our sins.
Although in the past I’ve considered the totality of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice in terms of His death – specifically, in the stripes He received in the scourging, by which, as Isaiah 53 tells us, we are ultimately (in the resurrection, if not completely or at all in this physical life) spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally healed and in the total loss of blood when the Roman soldier pierced His side – I have begun, over the past several months, to realize that Christ’s death is the culminating action in Jesus Christ’s surrender to God’s will and sacrifice for the sins of all of humanity.
I prefer the ASV translation of Philippians 2:5-7 because it represents what Jesus Christ did – and the emulative response we must be willing to do as we yield and submit to God’s will in humility and obedience – in a more all-encompassing way.
Jesus Christ emptied Himself, as He began to physically execute the plan of redemption that He and God the Father designed before the foundation of the world, first by willingly giving up His divinity as God and putting on the vastly inferior and temporary, weak, and dying flesh that we as humans exist in throughout our physical lives.
I don’t know if we can truly grasp this incredible – and for us, as Christians, highly-imitable – act of total humility that reflects the mind and the character of Jesus Christ (who is the express image of God the Father, so this reflects His mind and character as well).
This part of Jesus Christ emptying Himself, which I think is largely missed or overlooked by each of us, including me, when we reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to redeem all of humanity, deserves more thought and attention continually as we grow into spiritually-mature Christians.
It is a mirror that we need to fearlessly look into to determine whether we see an emerging image of Jesus Christ or we continue to see just the same old image of ourselves.
I’ve thought a lot about this in the last several months and I’ve asked myself the question: “Would I, if I were in the same position as Jesus Christ, being willing to empty myself completely as He did for every human being ever created?”
The accurate answer, for me, is not the unequivocal answer I want to have and am diligently striving for, with God’s help, because I still find it difficult – and, sometimes, impossible – to answer “Yes.” because of my own carnal biases about and difficulties with the human race.
We humans have an extraordinarily exalted opinion of ourselves. Our hubris is the same hubris that Lucifer exhibited and which we have fully embraced.
We all tend to consider ourselves superior in some way to other people. We are quick to assign motives, to assume outcomes, and to vaunt our “righteousness” in condemning what we believe is “unrighteousness” in other people, even among, and at times, especially among the ekklesia.
In other words, we all tend to have more of the Pharisee in us than we do the tax collector. And we are all more than ready to jump at every opportunity to demonstrate this. This is the essence of human nature.
Because of this nature, we don’t want to give up anything that, in our eyes only, makes us greater and better and more favored of God (this includes using spiritual knowledge to set up debates where we try to trap people and then hammer them over the head because we’re right and they’re wrong, in our opinion – this happens way too often within the ekklesia and it definitely is not godly behavior nor does it reflect the humility of Jesus Christ).
And, yet, one of the two only beings in the universe who was, is, and will always be truly righteous, holy, and superior to everything created – that includes you and me – was completely willing, and, in fact, did give it all up, emptying Himself of everything He was entitled to, to become flesh to make atonement for all our sins.
I’m not there yet, but the more I have thought about this, the more on the forefront of my mind it is on a daily basis.
When I really dislike someone or something.
When I get angry at someone or something.
When I’m tempted to let somebody have it because they’re wrong and I’m right (whether it’s actually the case objectively or it appears to be the case based on my perception, which is subjective).
When I get indignant over unfairness, injustice, oppression, and sinfulness and want to take matters into my own hands (I usually have to immediately walk away and pray for God’s help that I don’t – for that change in my own attitude and mindset that would do nothing but make things worse).
Jesus Christ set the example for me to follow, footstep for footstep.
That includes being willing to completely empty myself of everything and be willing to lay down my life for everybody, no matter what.
This is total and complete humility and that, I believe, is one of the lessons we are supposed to be learning – and reflecting as our response – as we consider the totality of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all humanity.
We all – and I, no doubt more than any other human being alive – have a long, long way to go in this process.
Recognizing that, acknowledging that, and asking for God’s help to change us so that we’re moving steadfastly toward the humility that Jesus Christ models for us is one of the many lessons we should actively take with us from the Passover when we individually consider the beginning-to-end totality of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.