Obedient Even unto the Death of the Cross


By John Thiel

We have looked upon Jesus to learn of Him. We see the reason why the subject of beholding Jesus is very important.

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Why do we need to look upon Jesus? Let this mind be in you which was in Him. We are to realise why we are called upon to behold Jesus.

Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Do you want to see God in peace? Do you want to see God and not have to cry for the rocks to fall upon you? Then what must we have? We must have holiness without which no man shall see god.

That holiness, that character that we must have is the character of the glory of God’s character that we must gain.

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.

We must behold Jesus so that we might be changed. There is not one of us here that is ready to meet Jesus otherwise Jesus would have already come. We must still change. Our character must change into the same glorious character of God’s character and that character can only be transferred to us if we will behold Jesus Christ. We need to be changed into the likeness of Jesus. Our scripture reading came to help us understand it. You and I need to look to Jesus so that we can be the children of the light of the world.

Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us],

Isn’t that true? Do you find it easy to sin? Do children find it easy to be disobedient to mom and dad? It’s easy not to obey, isn’t it? We are to lay aside this thing, this easy besetment.

Hebrews 12.1 … and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith;…

What was Jesus? He was the Author, the Beginner, the Writer of the instructions, and the concluding, the Finisher of our faith.

Hebrews 12:1 … who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

In seeking to be the children of light, seeking to do what God wants us to do, we can become weary and tired of obedience but Jesus is there for us to look at, so that we will consider Him lest we become tired and weary. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. What did He have to do when He was here on earth as the Author and Finisher of our faith?

Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

He was the Author of our salvation. How did He become the Author of our salvation? He became a human being in human flesh that gets weary and tired, and suffers. What did He learn? Obedience.

The Obedience of Jesus Christ

Obedience is what every human being must learn. We are told that the very first lesson that a child needs to learn is obedience, because the child’s relationship to the father and mother is what a relationship of us adults is, to our heavenly father. If I haven’t learnt obedience as a little child, it is very hard to learn obedience to the heavenly father. You see that in the world today. Jesus came as a little child and He grew up and learnt obedience by the things which He suffered. We have already contemplated Him from the unconscious little babe born in Bethlehem right through to His years of ministry.

We have seen how He learnt obedience and even in the days of His ministry, it was so important to learn from Him. When He was ministering, at the end of His ministry, did He see good results? Did He see His labour was successful? Did He see it when He came to the cross? When you labour and work for something, you expect to see good results, if you don’t see the good results, what do you do? I think I’ll change my work and do something else because I’m not being successful here. Jesus was given a task to do. That task was to save us but it looked like everybody was failing around Him. As the song says, “He could have called ten thousand angels”. to take him away but no, He was obedient. He was obedient unto death. See Him expressing Himself:

Isaiah 49:4 Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: …

This is a prophecy of Christ. He actually says, “I haven’t succeeded.”

Isaiah 49:4 … [yet] surely my judgment [is] with the LORD, and my work with my God. 5 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb [to be] his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.

He was concentrating on obeying His father, and if it was in vain that He labored, that didn’t matter; He was doing what God the Father had told Him to do. He was obedient.

Let us have a close look at what we read in Philippians 2, He was obedient unto death, but then … even unto the death of the cross. Obedient, not just until death, but even the death of the cross. That word “even” means something very special. It’s even more special than those children who continued all night to keep that light circulating, even the death of the cross. Tell me … obedience, what does that generate in your mind? Does it generate, “Oh yes, I love to do that.” Is that what it generates in your mind? Obedience always has a little pad on it, doesn’t it? “Oh, do I have to?” Isn’t that there? Somebody is telling me to do something. If somebody says to the children, “I want you to do this” like for instance, “Wash the dishes”, then they go “Oh, do I have to?” and they look for excuses not to do the dishes. That’s what obedience is all about, doing something which is different to what you want to do. It’s doing something that somebody else wants you to do. It’s doing the will of someone else, and it’s not your will. Obedience means that you know you have to do it even if the duty does not suit you, or fit into your wishes. That’s the meaning of obedience.

We will now behold how Jesus was obedient, even unto the death of the cross. We read of a prophecy of Jesus, how He loved to obey His father,

Psalm 40:7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book [it is] written of me, 8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law [is] within my heart.

That’s good, isn’t it? That’s easy to obey something that’s in your heart. When you study the Ten Commandments, you know how good they are. If everybody kept those Ten Commandments the world wouldn’t be in dire straits as it is now, would it? So we say, “Yes! To keep the Ten Commandments is a delight, I love to keep them.” It’s understandable for Jesus Christ to be obedient to the will of His father because His law was in His heart, but there is something else here.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin;

God made Him… Like we often say, “You do as you’re told. And if you don’t do it, I will make you do it.” Here we have a very similar phrase. God made Him to be sin. He was obedient even unto the death of the cross. God made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin. This was something extraordinary, He who loved to keep the commandments of God because they were in His heart, now He has to submit to be made to be sin. That is against all sane thinking. “I don’t know sin, I don’t want to have a part of it.” That is what we need to understand.

Not as I Will, But as Thou Wilt

Let us carefully look at another prophecy. It is a very interesting plaintive cry. Jesus is actually saying, “You people, I’ve come to give you the grace of God, please, is it nothing to you?”

Lamentations 1:12 [Is it] nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the LORD hath afflicted [me] in the day of his fierce anger. 13 From above hath he sent fire into my bones, and it prevaileth against them: he hath spread a net for my feet, he hath turned me back: he hath made me desolate [and] faint all the day. 14 The yoke of my transgressions is bound by his hand: they are wreathed, [and] come up upon my neck: he hath made my strength to fall, the Lord hath delivered me into [their] hands, [from whom] I am not able to rise up.

Here is a description of what is written in Isaiah 53, He has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. In this story, in this picture, He is saying, “This is too much. My transgressions are wreathed by His hand.” When you see a twisted ladder, what would rise in your mind if you were a student of biology? The genetic structure in the chromosomes. What is in the genetics? What a person becomes. When Jesus was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, He received all of our heredity, all the genetic make-up of every human beings, He received it all. There was an experience that Jesus met at a certain point of His life, the death of the cross, where the sins of our making were laid upon Him, and they came up to His neck. He was meant to be obedient even to this. When was it exactly that Jesus was brought to this? When was it that He actually fulfilled this experience that we read of in Lamentations? Here Jesus, just before the cross, makes this very experience.

Matthew 26:36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

What was happening inside of Jesus? He “began to be sorrowful and very heavy”. Have you ever seen a person who goes into depression? He feels like he’s got a big load upon his shoulders. As Jesus was walking along He was beginning to feel heavy, and He began to be very sorrowful, then He said, “Oh, my soul is so heavy, so sorrowful, even unto death. Please pray with me.” What was happening to Jesus?

As they approached the garden, the disciples had marked the change that came over their Master. Never before had they seen Him so utterly sad and silent. As He proceeded, this strange sadness deepened; yet they dared not question Him as to the cause. {DA 685.3}

You know what it’s like, you’re walking with somebody that’s always happy, always cheerful, and all of a sudden they become very, very serious. You think, “What’s the matter with him?” you don’t even want to ask him a question, because you’re afraid. This is what happened.

His form swayed as if He were about to fall. Upon reaching the garden, the disciples looked anxiously for His usual place of retirement, that their Master might rest. Every step that He now took was with labored effort. He groaned aloud, as if suffering under the pressure of a terrible burden. Twice His companions supported Him, or He would have fallen to the earth. {DA 685.3}

What was happening inside of Jesus? There was nothing outside that was happening at this stage. They were walking as usual as they often did to pray in the garden, now Jesus was going through a very strange experience. What was the problem?

It was not bodily suffering from which the Son of God shrank…. The sins of a lost world were upon Him and overwhelming Him. {AG 169.3}

Who can fathom the suffering of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, as He felt to its fullest extent the weight of the sin of the world? So keenly did He feel the sinfulness of sin that for a moment the cup trembled in His hand, and all heaven heard the agonizing cry, {UL 223.3}

What was the agonizing cry?

Matthew 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me …

Tell me children, when Jesus had to die on the cross, was that a pleasant thing for Him to do? Was it nice? No. Just like those children that were trying to keep the light burning, was it nice? No. It was so bad that Jesus cried to the father, “Oh, if it be possible… Do I really have to go through this? This is more than what I can appreciate; please let this cup pass from me.” But what?

Matthew 26:39 … nevertheless not as I will, but as thou [wilt].

This is obedience. This is the example of Jesus, to obey when you wish you could be released. Many people think that Jesus was suffering in Gethsemane the fear of the cross. No. He was not suffering the fear of the thorns on His head, or the nails in His hands, He was suffering that, He was fearful of that.

The Open Heart of Jesus Christ

The cup which He prayed should be removed from Him, that looked so bitter to His soul, was the cup of separation from God in consequence of the sin of the world. {HP 89.4}

When Jesus received all our sins, that were wreathed in His inward psyche, He could feel the separation from His Father. “Oh, this is too much, Father please, no, your will be done. I must go through with this.” Three times He said, “Oh Lord, let it pass.” Then three times He said, “But no, Thy will be done.” Look at Jesus. Whenever you find something too hard to do that you know God requires of us, look at Jesus. And you cry out, “Oh, I can’t! But Father Your will be done.” “If you say so, if it is written, I must do it, alright. And it might kill me, never mind.” Even the death of the cross. What did He take hold of? He took hold of our sins, He was made to be sins for us as we read in 2 Corinthians, so that we might we made the righteousness of God in Him. “It’s okay, I’ll do it because these people need to be saved.” Like the children, they had to save the people from running into the rocks, so we have to do it all night long, no matter how hard it is. This was not a desirable thing. He was obedient unto death. Many people say, Oh, that’s alright, the terrorists, they are obedient to what they psychology teaches them. Oh, we’ll blow ourselves up, that’s fine. But the death of Jesus was not like that, it was the death that was in consequence of sin, and nobody wants that, a separation from God. Because these terrorists think that they’re going to go to paradise. This experience was different. It was an experience of separation from God. Let us meditate on the death of the cross.

If he drank of the cup of suffering, he must open his breast to the griefs and woes and sins of humanity. {ST, November 25, 1889 par. 2}

He must open His breast. You know what it’s like, don’t you? When you can feel certain things happening to your heart, like a conviction that is coming to you, and you know you should be doing something. But what can you do with that conviction? You can close your heart, can’t you? “No, I’m not going to.”, “I’m not going to go through that.” But what did Jesus have to do, as He wanted to close it? He said, “No, Thy will be done.” He had to open His breast to the griefs and woes and sins of humanity.

He, the Sin Bearer, endures the wrath of divine justice, and for thy sake becomes sin itself. {DA 755.1}

This is what we read in 2 Corinthians,

2 Corinthians 5:21 … he hath made him [to be] sin for us,

And sin is a terrible thing, which only those who permit to open their hearts to God, can really appreciate.

The sword of justice was unsheathed, and the wrath of God against iniquity rested upon man’s substitute, Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father. {5BC 1102.8}

What rested upon Jesus? The wrath that is associated with the sin… God’s wrath, He hates sin. And the justice of an hate against sin was now experienced by Jesus His only begotten Son.

Satan with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of Jesus. The Saviour could not see through the portals of the tomb. {DA 753.2}

Many people think, “He knew ahead of time.” But when He went through that experience, He thought, “That’s the end.” I don’t know whether you’ve already met that experience, where you discover that you have sinned so badly that you think you have no hope anymore, and you are damned eternally, that’s what Jesus met.

Hope did not present to Him His coming forth from the grave a conqueror, or tell Him of the Father’s acceptance of the sacrifice. He feared that sin was so offensive to God that Their separation was to be eternal. Christ felt the anguish which the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the Father’s wrath upon Him as man’s substitute, that made the cup He drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the Son of God. {DA 753.2}

Spiritual Pain

As you go to the cross yourself, you know so well how these tear jerking stories are told of Jesus with the nails in His hands, the crown of thorns being pressed upon His forehead, the lashes He received on His back, and as He was hanging on the cross, and the cross was put into the hole, it just made Him suffer even more. Before all those physical sufferings, people go, “Oh, terrible what sufferings Jesus went through.” But we should pay attention to the following words,

So great was this agony that His physical pain was hardly felt. {DA 753.1}

There are three stages of pain, there is the physical pain, there is a mental pain, and there is a spiritual pain. Physical pain is far easier to bear than mental pain. Psychiatric patients will tell you that. You can do what you like to their bodies, they don’t care, they are in agony of pain mentally. But spiritual pain is much worse than that. And Jesus was suffering at the cross spiritual pain so that His physical pain could hardly be felt. You could suffer so much physical pain that you become numb, that’s possible. What was Jesus really suffering? He was suffering the death of even the cross, which was much more than physical pain. As you gaze upon Jesus like that,

Imagine, if possible, the nature and degree of Christ’s sufferings. …Yea, for the church this great sacrifice will be efficacious throughout eternity. Can we compute the amount of her transgression in figures? {HP 42.4}

How many sins are there in the church? How many sins are there in Israel? Can you appreciate how much?

Then who can approach unto a conception of what Christ has endured when standing in the place of surety for His church…? {HP 42.4}

You are on death row, and now the very thing that you have to suffer, somebody else will suffer for you. He has to suffer your sufferings plus everybody else’s suffering. That’s what we have to understand. Every human being who ever sinned, Jesus suffered the loss. He was made not only to receive my sin, He was made to be sin. Therefore we go there, and we see Him suffering like this.

The evil works, the evil thoughts, the evil words of every son and daughter of Adam press upon His divine soul. {OFC 119.5}

Though the guilt of sin was not His, His spirit was torn and bruised by the transgression of men. Let us verify from prophecy what we are reading here. When He died, He didn’t die of the physical suffering, He died of this,

Psalms 40:12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about:

He couldn’t count them; they were more than the hairs of His head.

Psalms 40:12 …mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.

What did Jesus die of? Watch Him as He is hanging on the cross, He is dying, and why? Because the sins of the human race were more than the hairs of His head. Those who have any medical knowledge know that, when pressure upon the blood system is so strong and everything else holds out, all of a sudden the heart can rupture.

You can actually get a ruptured heart, and that is what Jesus died of. Remember the high heart blood pressure He had in Gethsemane, what did He perspire? Drops of blood. That is a blood pressure that is beyond other human blood pressure that’s ever been. To actually perspire the serum of the blood, and so strong was that blood pressure as He came to the cross, it broke His heart. It actually physically ruptured His heart. Look upon Jesus, and be changed. Watch His last moments, as He was hanging there,

Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

He couldn’t hold it in anymore. The next thing that happened,

Matthew 27:50 Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

Into Thy Hands I Commend my Spirit

That was it, one more cry, the agony of the heart. Let us come to see what He said before that last breath,

Luke 23:46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

That was the last words He said, “Father, into yours hands I comment my spirit” What had He just done, when He said that? He said, “Why have you forsaken me?”, “I’m so totally depraved, I am so overwhelmed with the guilt and the sin of everything, and your justice…I am absolutely hopeless, I can’t see through the tomb.” What was He saying when He finally gave up the ghost. It says there, “I will give you my spirit.” What was actually happening?

Amid the awful darkness, apparently forsaken of God, Christ had drained the last dregs in the cup of human woe. In those dreadful hours He had relied upon the evidence of His Father’s acceptance heretofore given Him. {DA 756.3}

He remember what His Father was like. Although He felt the Father had forsaken Him, He remembered, as He contemplated now, the Father’s acceptance beforehand.

He was acquainted with the character of His Father; {DA 756.3}

What was the character of His Father? Grace, He was acquainted with that.

He understood His justice, His mercy, and His great love. By faith He rested in Him whom it had ever been His joy to obey. And as in submission He committed Himself to God, the sense of the loss of His Father’s favor was withdrawn. By faith, Christ was victor. {DA 756.3}

He trusted His Father again, and it is the hardest thing to trust someone who you feel is actually exercising justice over you. His wrath is upon you because of sin. And now you say, Jesus said, “I trust you… Father I just give you my breath, I give you everything, I give over. I trust you to save me.” And by faith, not by sight, He gained the victory. That’s why it says His face suddenly lit up, and He gave up the ghost. He was no longer in darkness the moment He surrendered Himself to the Father in heaven. Indeed, Jesus suffered, even unto the death of the cross.

And He gained the victory over of a person who felt absolute depraved hopelessness. Here you are invited, by beholding Jesus, to trust the Father as Jesus trusted Him, when all your sins come up before you, to say to God, “Alright, I can’t see you anymore, but I give you my heart. I love you, no matter what you do to me. I’m throwing myself at your mercy.” What is the character of God? Grace. He can’t turn away from the man who does that, he can’t turn away. Jesus threw Himself at the grace of God’s character. That is why Jesus rose again. Look to Christ, submissive, to trust the Father’s mercy.

Hebrews 12:3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. 4 Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

We will need to…we will need to. If I am going to change to be holy so that when God comes I can meet Him, I will need to resist sin unto blood. Let us fasten our eyes upon Jesus. Let us look, and look, and look again, and again, under every heart-sinking circumstance. As we move on into this history now, to the very end, you’re going to meet it, we’re going to meet it. Jesus said, “If you would overcome, as I overcame, you will sit on my throne.” Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

Amen.

Posted on January 5, 2013, in Beholding Christ, Divine Service Sermons, Sermons by John Thiel. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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