Jesus the Son
This is one of my favorite chapters from the book, ‘The Disciple’. If you click on the book link on this website you can now download it for free.
There are certainly endless lessons we can learn from the scriptures. There are guidelines, encouragement, directions, and life giving words. There are things that we are instructed to do and some things we are instructed do without. However, throughout the scriptures, there are certain statements that just seem to really stand out. Things we just cannot do without. When we are talking about discipleship, this may be the one lesson we cannot forget. Without a proper understanding of this, we may miss everything. In fact there is a very strong directive here, it says, ‘You Must’.
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.
Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-11 (NLT)
A few years ago, I was sitting with a young man who was planing on attending seminary. We were listening to a powerful sermon from a seasoned minister. He shared from several scriptures and told many amazing stories about how God had worked in his lifetime.
In our discussion afterwards, this young man expressed his desire to be a great speaker like this gentleman we had just heard. While of course this was a noble idea, I gave a word of caution. I shared that this man did have a story to tell because His message came out of his experience. He had a wealth of wisdom to share because God formed him through the stories he told. I told this young man that he needed to go live his life for God and one day he would have a message worth sharing.
Too often, we are guilty of wanting to sidestep life’s process and take steps to build our own kingdoms and move into greatness. We want the results without ever paying the price. We want the glory without the pain of the cross.
Yet, it almost seems that Jesus had no plans of greatness for Himself. In fact, everything He did worked to the contrary. I am sure that even His disciples wondered, ‘When are You going to rise up and free us from Rome?‘ Yet, even in the humility of His birth, who His parents were, the animal He rode into Jerusalem, there was no running after self glorification. Jesus seemed content with just letting the Father lift him up.
To truly model the character of Jesus, we have to understand humility and ‘sonship’. According to the scripture in Philippians ‘we must’ take on this attitude. In fact, it is through humility that He can teach us how to live this out. ‘He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way.’ Psalm 25:9 (NLT)
We may have thoughts of what it means to be a leader but Jesus broke almost all definitions. In Matthew 18:4 Jesus shares his thoughts on greatness when He said, ‘So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.’ (NLT)
In Matthew 23:12 He even warned us that danger was ahead if we tried to become great ourselves. ‘But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’ (NLT) He even instructs us that any ‘lifting’ that needs to be done, needs to come from God. ‘Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.’ James 4:10 (NLT)
Though He Himself was God, Jesus seemed content to operate as a son. It was only in the Father’s love, words, and love that He even operated. It seems so true that, while many people, ministers, and leaders want position, unless we take on ‘sonship’ we risk moving up without God lifting us. This is where Jesus’ leadership differs from any others. We become great by becoming less.
If you want to be a great father to others, then, first, you must learn what it means to be a good son. If you are striving to disciple others, you must put yourself in a position to be discipled. If you want God to use you in greater things you must do your best with what you have now. “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ Matthew 25:21 (NLT) The message is always the same, more comes from the master. We do not have to strive for greatness. We must strive for ‘sonship’.
Without ‘sonship’, we operate in a dangerous place. As people who are serving and discipling others, we can try and lead people into something we have never operated in ourselves. We can even be doing something worse in that we are asking people to do something we are unwilling to do ourselves. If we can not submit and become a son we cannot be kingdom leaders, unless the kingdom is your own.
Throughout the Bible, we see that blessing flows from father to son. Unless we put ourselves in that place, we can never receive the blessing and impartation that happens through this relationship. Blessing flowed from Abraham to Isaac, from Isaac to Jacob, from Paul to Timothy, from Elijah to Elisha, and from the Father to Jesus. This is often a painful switch. For too many so called Christian leaders, the words, ‘Yet I want your will to be done, not mine,” have never cross their lips. Luke 22:42b (NLT)
What is part of the beauty of Jesus is that He is the Truth and He is the Word. Perfect integrity. Life, deed, actions, thoughts, and words all working together. In Mark 9:35b He gave the disciples these instructions, ‘Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.’ (NLT) Then we see how Jesus was even willing to lay down His life for each one of us, and to serve the Father.
Throughout scripture we see how others took on this example that Jesus gave us. In 2 Corinthians 4:5 we see a picture from Paul’s life. ‘You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.’ (NLT) Great leaders lay down their lives to serve, and do not look to be served. It is the great paradox of the upside down kingdom. The last will be first. The servant is the greatest. The humble are lifted up. The Son is the King.