The Great Example
Peter wrote, "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps" (1 Pet. 2:21). We are to learn from our savior, not only from His teachings but also from His example of how He lived as a human being in this world. The Hebrews writer notes, along this line, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15).
Wow, what a savior! Jesus came to this world, not to live above man as pure deity but to live among man, as man! In so doing, He went through all of the same kinds of experiences as do we. He can thus relate to us in a very special, personal way. And we can relate to Him, knowing that He has experienced what we experience. Of course, there is a big difference between how He lived here and how we live here. He faced what we face without sinning. What an example!
But that's not all that we learn from His example. Paul writes, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Phlp. 2:5-8). This incredible account of what Jesus did in order to be our savior is mind boggling!
He was in Heaven. He willingly gave up equality with God in order to become our Savior. The text says, "He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death..." We're talking about God humbling Himself, leaving Heaven, becoming a man and ultimately allowing Himself to be crucified on the cross in order to serve as the perfect sacrifice to cover the guilt of our sins (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 10:10,12). Such willing humility is certainly a graphic example for us.
But notice, too, that part about His becoming "obedient." He went through the process of learning obedience, not for His benefit but for ours (Heb. 5:8-9). Such an example of obedience speaks volumes as to our need to be obedient to God's will. If Jesus needed to exemplify obedience to God, we certainly do! In so doing, He also gave us a great example of willingness to serve God. We ought always to live our lives in service to God.
Jesus taught us much, not just through His teachings but also through His great examples. Two questions for each of us: Have we learned from His examples, and Are we living by His examples? A third question that, in many cases ought to shake us to our souls: Did Jesus waste His great examples on you???
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Gary L. Hutchens