“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8
The most heroic example of love that has ever been demonstrated took place on an old rugged cross two thousand years ago and leaves us a lofty legacy to look to as the best enactment of love. It had nothing to do with two lovers on a lavish date, human sized fluffy teddy bears, nor an over indulgence of chocolate or candy shaped like a heart. His love was shown red and bloody–messy and wrought with pain, anguish and suffering. Jesus showed us the greatest act of love with His self-abasement, not self-gratification. He did not demand honor and adoration even though that’s what He rightly deserved, but gave all his privileges up for us who did nothing to deserve even an ounce of his immeasurable love. Jesus came as deity somehow wrapped in humanity. As God, He had the right to come down from the cross and make us pay for the gross sins we’ve piled up against Himself. Yet, he did not use His divine rights but denied Himself to attain full conformity to the Father’s will and save us from our sins.
MacArthur animates a portrait for us of the harmony between the Father’s will and Christ’s loving self-sacrifice, “The Father did not force death upon the Son. It was the Father’s will, but it was the Son’s will always to perfectly obey the Father. He had a free choice. Had He not had a choice, He could not have been obedient. (John 10:18) He was commanded by the Father, but not compelled. As love incarnate, He became the perfect example of the truth He Himself had declared: ‘Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.’”
My late husband was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease at an advanced stage in 2016. He chose to undertake a bone marrow transplant that gave him the best chance of life, despite the pain and suffering that it entailed. The last sermon series he preached was on suffering and the sovereignty of God. He had the biblical conviction that the sanctity of human life stretched from the womb to the tomb. He chose to be an example of how to suffer to the glory of God and had countless opportunities to share Christ through his difficult journey. During his last days in the hospital I couldn’t bear the sight of his pain; yet I also could not stand to leave his sight. Unlike ever before, I saw Jesus’ love displayed through his suffering. This servant of God, emptied himself for love and shone as a bring light to all who watched him from the hospital walls to wherever his story was heard.
Dear Lord, our God who loved us to the cross and back–thank you for your self-less and unfailing love! Thank you for your sweet Holy Spirit to teach us to live like your Son. Forgive us for the sins that took your Son to the depths of the cross. Help us to be like Him and be willingly emptied of ourselves and live a life marked by love no matter the cost and the pain. May we lose our life that we may find it eternally. We ask in the beautiful name of our Savior–Jesus!