Divine Denial

This radical call for self-denial comes from the only Man who fully denied Himself. He left the beauty, comfort, and glory of heaven to enter into this world of suffering and sorrow. In the process, He obscured His peerless “family” pedigree as the unique and eternal Son of the holy Father to join Himself to a family whose lineage is littered with idolaters, murderers, adulterers, cheats, and frauds (Matthew 1:1-11). Even then, He obscured His royalty by growing up as the son of a carpenter in Galilee of the Gentiles (2:19-23), rather than coming as the prince of Judah in Jerusalem. The very beginning of His public ministry was marked by a stunning feat of physical self-denial, as Jesus fasted in the desert for more than a month (4:2). Tempted to prove His divine Sonship by turning stones into bread, He affirmed His consuming desire for God’s Word (4:4). He refused to tempt God just to draw attention to Himself (4:7). He rejected Satan’s offer of world dominion by affirming His sole allegiance to God the Father (4:10). In all this, He exemplified the essence of the teaching He gave his disciples on prayer: “Hallowed be Your name; Your kingdom come; Your will be done” (6:9-10). He often went without sleep so He could pray (Matthew 14:23; Mark 1:35). Hunger and fatigue were set aside in order to bring salvation to sinners (John 4:1-38). He renounced popularity by courageously crossing the religious rulers of His day (Mathew 12:38-45; 15:1-14; 16:1-4; 23:1-36). What shall we say of His total abstinence from sex and his giving up the “normal” and legitimate pleasures of family life and a settled home (8:20)? Throughout His life on earth, Jesus turned away from the claims of “self”: He did only what the Father showed Him; spoke only what the Father told Him; sought the honor of God the Father alone (John 5:19; 7:16, 18). With regard to His fellow men, He came “not to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). Finally, He renounced even His own right to decide, saying, “Not as I will, but as You will” (26:39). The only righteous man that ever lived allowed Himself to be considered a criminal by wicked judges (26:65). On that unspeakably horrible Cross, for a brief time He even sacrificed His relationship with the Father (27:46) – and all this to “save His people from their sins” (1:21). Surely, He possesses the right to say, “Follow Me!”