Is Jesus Just My Example? – #GospelFoundations

TMM User
TMM User

jesus wrath bearing behavior changer example

In any discussion of any New Testament writing (especially a Gospel), it is certainly important to identify normative Christian behaviors exemplified by Jesus. Jesus is most definitely the model by which Christian’s should seek to live.

However, it is also important to note that Christianity is not primarily about behavior modification, but about union with Christ. Or to say it another way, Christianity isn’t as much about doing, but being. 

Christianity isn’t as much about doing, but being. 

Wrath-Bearer, Then Behavior-Changer

Jesus words in John 18:11 create a beautiful paradigm for this notion: “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that my Father has given me?”

There is a lot going on in this short verse, most of which is primarily historical in that Jesus is simply telling Peter to not attempt to make the crucifixion any harder; for, Jesus “[knew] all that would happen to him” (Jn. 18:4).

But there is also a wonderful theological truth packed into John 18:11, namely, that the recognition and celebration of Jesus’ wrath-bearing sacrifice on our behalf and all God did for us through it is the ground of all Christian obedience.

To say it another way, all that God has done for us and is for us in Jesus is the bedrock of Christianity, not mere behavior modification.

This truth is found all throughout the Gospel of John, but is especially present in 18:11. “So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

Let’s get into Peter’s mind for a moment: When he was about to do further violence, he heard Jesus’ words that He would bear the wrath of God that Peter deserved, what motivated Peter to put his sword in its sheath? Is it not the grace of God proclaimed to him by His Lord and Savior?

Why else would Jesus bring up the cross? He could have just said, “Peter, put up your sword. I’m the boss and you need to obey me.” That’s certainly true, but it is “the kindness of God is meant to lead [us] to repentance” (Rom. 2:4).

The grace of the cross was meant to motivate Peter (and us!) to obey. The grace of God in the Gospel leads us to behavioral change, not the other way around. Jesus is our Wrath-Bearer before He is our Behavior-Changer.

Jesus is our Wrath-Bearer before He is our Behavior-Changer.

Jesus illustrates this quite beautifully in John 15:5 when He says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me, he it is that bears much fruit. For, apart from me you can do nothing.”

Apparently, in Jesus’ mind, abiding in Him is foundational to and precedes bearing fruit in Him. Or to use doctrinal language, union with Christ by faith is the foundation upon which and energy through which we pursue sanctification. If we confuse the two, that is, if we switch being united to Jesus by faith and obeying Jesus, then we have another religion.

The message of Christianity is that Jesus obeyed for us, died for us, and lives forever for us, and by faith we are united to Him, and that union with Him provides the necessary energy (grace) by which we are able to obey. The Gospel of the Grace of God leads us to obey the Law of God in the power of the Spirit of God.

Listen to the words of this amazing hymn, “All I Have is Christ“, which explains it well:

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life


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