"He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."
Colossians 1:18

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Monday, April 22, 2013

The Exemplary Savior

The earthly life of Christ is an unprecedented gift to the believer.  Aside from its glorious culmination in satiating the Father’s just wrath for the sins of His children, it also provided a dramatic paradigm of what a life of total obedience looks like.  Our Lord did not hesitate to demonstrate the very life that He expected of His followers, and afforded a truly complete example of a God-centered, righteous life.  We see the effects of this example throughout the New Testament.

Romans 8:29 – we have been “predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”  The example of Christ becomes indispensable as we strive to grow in Christ-likeness, or to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 13:14; cf. 1 John 2:6)

Hebrews 4:15-16 – Christ’s earthly perseverance in the face of temptation emboldens us to seek mercy and grace because we understand both that it is effectual and that our Lord is sympathetic! 

1 Peter 2:18-25 – Jesus’ righteous example in an evil world demonstrates that we are obliged to suffer for the reason and cause of righteousness.   If persecution was visited upon Him, then we ourselves ought to anticipate it fearlessly as we grow to be more like Him.

1 Thessalonians 1:6 – the Thessalonians were said to have become imitators of Jesus Christ because they “received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.”  Like Christ, they could not be dissuaded from joyfully holding fast to the Word of the Lord in light of earthly suffering.

Ephesians 5:1-2 – the example of Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross should stir us to exhibit a selfless love.  If Christ could love even those who were yet His enemies, surely we should work to free our own love from the fetters of human inclinations.

Romans 15:2-3 – we must work in selflessness (and righteousness) to please others, for, search the gospels though we may, we will never find an example of Christ serving Himself.

Philippians 2:5-11 – Jesus’ humility before the Father, even to the point of horrific death, rises into view here.  Clearly if our divine Lord did not hesitate to humble Himself as profoundly as He did, so too must we humble ourselves.

John 13:14-15 – “For I have given you an example,” Jesus says, “that you also should do just as I have done to you.”  He upholds His life here as an example of how to serve one another with humility.

1 John 3:16 – by Christ’s sacrificial example, we come to understand the extent of selfless love, and seek in turn to love our brothers and sisters in Christ in the same way.

These examples from Scripture are of the most personal importance to believers, because - incredibly - the very power, love, and patience that fueled Jesus Christ in His earthly work are the selfsame ones that are wondrously and abundantly furnished to us through the work of the Holy Spirit (Phil. 2:12-13; 2 Pet. 1:3-4).  This is a blessing beyond human perception, a gift beyond our paltry understanding!


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