By Sheryl Tay, Singapore
Many role models of today are much favored by the people around them. Some of our role models include celebrities and world leaders, and we follow after them because they have been an inspiration to us. And we celebrate their presence when they are among us.
Jesus was (and still is) a different kind of role model. Instead of being celebrated, the King of kings was hated by the scribes and Pharisees, betrayed by His own disciples, arrested by Roman soldiers and Jewish officials, and crucified on the cross together with two murderers. Instead of winning the favor of the synagogue leaders, He was greatly persecuted by the very people He came to save.
When Jesus called us to “deny [ourselves] and take up [our] cross[es] daily and follow [Him]” (Luke 9:23 NIV), He was not referring to following only His acts of kindness and mercy, but also in His footsteps in standing up for righteousness’s sake, for the fulfilment of His Father’s will.
In his first letter, Peter says, “But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:20-21).
When we are being scorned at or looked down upon because of the works we are doing in Christ’s name, God “commends” and blesses us (Matthew 5:10-12). He does so because, it means that we are not following the advice of the wicked, standing around the sinners, or joining in with the mockers. Instead, we are delighting ourselves in the law of the Lord.
Apart from “suffer[ing] for doing good”, we are also called to “endure it.” The Greek word for endure translated in this context means “to persevere and to hold fast to one’s faith in Christ under misfortunes and trials.”
On the night at Gethsemane when Jesus was about to be captured, He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). Later on, He prayed a second time, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (v.42). Then when the soldiers and officials came to arrest Jesus that night, Peter drew his sword to cut the ear off the high priest’s servant. But Jesus rebuked Peter, saying, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:11)
Even at such a perilous time, Jesus endured the mortal danger that was before Him and fixed His eyes on the Father. Instead of “call[ing] on [His] Father” to “put at [His] disposal more than twelve legions of angels”, He submitted Himself to the Father’s will, so that “the Scriptures [would be] fulfilled” (Matthew 26:53-54).
Likewise, as Jesus’ disciples, we are to follow His example in enduring the suffering that may come our way by surrendering ourselves to God so that He may be glorified through us.
As we follow in Christ’s footsteps, let us be assured by God’s unchanging Word that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and that He will always be with us (Psalm 23:4).
“… He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me”(Psalm 23:3-4).