Obedience is God’s love language, and Jesus was the perfect example of how to love God and obey Him completely. Jesus made it very clear that His focus was on obeying His Father only. He said, “The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him,” (John 8.29 NIV).
That word “always” is amazing to me. Jesus always did what pleased His Father. He never once skirted the boundary or stepped across the line. He never sinned. This attitude of obedience was forged even as a young man. Jesus chose to be obedient. (Hebrews 5.7-9 NLT) gives us a glimpse into Jesus’ life, “While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.”
Look at the passage again. While Jesus certainly prayed with a “loud cry and tears” in the Garden of Gethsemane, I’m convinced that wasn’t the first time Jesus had suffered. I’m sure, even as a young boy, Jesus suffered as He chose to obey His Father instead of following the crowd. I’m sure He was tormented and ridiculed even by His own brothers. I mean, how would you like it if perfect Jesus was your older brother?
But every step, every day, Jesus chose to obey God and not men. He chose to bend His life to the Father’s will, not the wind of the culture. He learned obedience through suffering. He learned in hard times to stand firm and trust the Father. We know as a young man — most likely twelve to thirteen years old — Jesus was confirmed at His Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem. Even then, He was aware that He had to be about His Father’s business. He had to be obedient to the kingdom agenda of His heavenly Father (Luke 2.49 ESV). In (Luke 2.40 NLT) we read, “There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him.”
Jesus grew in obedience to His parents and obedience to His heavenly Father. “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people,” (Luke 2.52 NLT).
Later, Jesus suffered and chose obedience when He was tempted. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested, (Hebrews 2.18 NLT). At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus was tested and tempted by Satan directly (Luke 4.1-13 ESV), and He continued to be tempted and tested throughout His ministry. All the while, Jesus chose to say no to the passing pleasures of sin and say yes to His Father. “I carry out the will of the one who sent me, not my own will,” Jesus said, (John 5.30 NLT). “I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me,” He said, (John 14.31 NIV).
But the obedience of Jesus was most clearly seen on the cross. As He struggled in the garden, He once again — as He had done His whole life — said yes to His Father. “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine,” (Luke 22.42 NLT).
After learning to trust and obey His Father in small trials, Jesus was able to trust and obey His Father in His biggest trial. That is why we are urged to follow the example of Jesus. In (Philippians 2.5-8 NLT) the Apostle Paul writes: “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
Jesus is our example of obedience, and He calls us to obey Him completely. On the mountaintop, after His resurrection, Jesus gave His disciples a commission… “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28.19-22 NLT). Notice the emphasis. The call of Jesus is to be His disciple, to follow Him and to obey Him with all our hearts — just like He showed us.
Written by Craig Etheredge