“No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Individual rights are at the core of the American identity, represented by the familiar words of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
With that historical background, we might hear Jesus’ words and say/think: “That’s right, Jesus. What’s yours, is yours. You have the right to choose your path without anyone else telling you what to do.” But Jesus is not speaking from a stance of individual freedom. Nor was he saying that when the crowd of Roman soldiers, Jewish vigilantes, and curious onlookers showed up in the garden of Gethsemane to arrest him, that he would show himself to be more powerful. NO! Make no mistake: whatever the influence of government, whatever the weapons of man, whatever the will of the people… Jesus was making a willful, deliberate, free choice to lay down his life.
That decision was fueled by love. It represented both injustice and justice at the same time: Injustice because Jesus had done nothing to deserve a criminal’s death, much less the wrath of the Father. Sinners like us, on the other hand, have well-earned that agony and are yet spared.
At the same time, Jesus’ decision also represented perfect Justice in that the sins of God’s people would be paid for, through Jesus’ substitute death.
This was the perfect plan (even command!) of the Father. This was the willing obedience of the Son. What wondrous love is this? How can it be that you, my God, would die for me? This is more than Good News (Gospel)! This is the greatest news that humanity could ever receive, and could ever have the privilege to proclaim!
Note: Each day’s devotional is written by a different member of the GRC family.