Did Jesus Christ Yield Personal Rights?
Christ’s Example of Yielding Rights: learning from Jesus’ surrender to God
Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus Christ gives us a striking example of complete obedience and surrender to God. In the Book of Philippians, we read that although Jesus was equal with God, He humbled Himself to live among men and to redeem them from the bondage of sin.
In order to fulfill the direction of God the Father, Jesus yielded His right to wealth, to a good reputation, to be served, to enjoy physical comforts, and to make His own decisions. We are challenged to learn from Him and to follow His example.
“For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man. He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:5–8).
Jesus Yielded His Right to Wealth
In order for Jesus Christ to redeem men and women from sin, He left the splendor, beauty, and majesty of heaven.
Jesus is God, the Creator of all things; He had a right to enjoy all wealth and riches (see Colossians 1:15–17), yet He confined Himself to the limited means of a carpenter’s household.
During the years of His public ministry, Jesus did not have a home of His own. He received gifts of hospitality and care from others. He was not interested in building a grand earthly kingdom, and He challenged His followers to give to the poor and lay up treasures in heaven.
When His work was done, Christ returned to heaven with greater wealth than He had before, because He had purchased salvation for all the people He had redeemed.
Jesus Yielded His Right to a Good Reputation
In heaven, Jesus is continually worshiped and His name highly honored. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. When Jesus came into the world, however, He made himself of no reputation by “taking the form of a slave” (Philippians 2:7).
Rather than being born into wealth and prominence, Jesus was born into poverty and obscurity. His hometown was of such poor repute that when Philip first told Nathanael about Christ, Nathanael retorted, “Can any thing of good come from Nazareth? ” (John 1:46).
The manner of Mary’s conception of Christ probably cast suspicion on the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth.
Jesus obeyed every directive of His heavenly Father, but His behavior caused His popularity with religious leaders to sink. Among other things, they were shocked that He allowed a woman with a bad reputation to wash His feet (see Luke 7:36–50), and they were offended when He healed a man on the Sabbath. (See Mark 3:1–6.)
Christ’s ultimate humiliation came when He was arrested, falsely accused, and crucified. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written: Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:” (Galatians 3:13).
In light of eternity, Jesus understood that His reputation among men was temporary. Obedience to God mattered eternally, and through Jesus’ obedience, God’s plan of redemption became a reality. God has rewarded Jesus with a name that is above all names, and one day every knee will bow to Him and everyone will acknowledge His sovereignty over all things. (See Philippians 2:9–11.)
Jesus Yielded His Right to Be Served
As the Creator of every living person, Christ has the right to have others serve Him. However, when Jesus came to earth, He did not demand the service of others. Instead, He took opportunities to demonstrate humble service, thus setting a precedent for leaders to serve those under their care.
Jesus was sensitive to the needs of those around Him and performed many acts of kindness. He healed the diseased, delivered those possessed with evil spirits, restored the disabled, provided food for the hungry, and more.
One of the most demeaning tasks of Christ’s day was that of washing the feet of guests. On the evening of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest, He washed the feet of His disciples, who were shocked by His actions. Jesus challenged them to demonstrate such love and service to one another.
“.. he said to them: Know you what I have done to you? You call me Master, and Lord; and you say well, for so I am. If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also. Amen, amen I say to you: The servant is not greater than his lord; neither is the apostle greater than he that sent him. If you know these things, you shall be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:12–17).
Jesus taught us that true leadership involves serving others, not demanding to be served. Jesus laid down His life for others, and now He receives the fellowship and devoted service of all who believe in Him.
Jesus Yielded His Right to Physical Comforts
Jesus met the demands of a heavy daily schedule by practicing personal disciplines. His lifestyle of traveling, teaching, and ministering to the needs of people along the way did not include many of life’s basic comforts.
When a man told Christ that he wanted to become His disciple, Jesus warned him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests: but the son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20).
Jesus traveled dusty trails through rugged wilderness, preached in the open air, slept on the ground, and sailed the choppy waters of the Sea of Galilee. The fact that He could sleep in a fishing boat during a violent storm indicates how weary He must have been. Jesus yielded the right to enjoy a home and a means of transportation in order to fulfill the will of His heavenly Father and to ensure the greatest fruitfulness for His ministry.
The Gospel of Mark records the strenuous schedule of a typical day in Jesus’ public ministry. He taught in the synagogue, delivered a man possessed with a devil, and healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Then “when it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all that were ill and that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many that were troubled with divers diseases; and he cast out many devils, and he suffered them not to speak, because they knew him. And rising very early, going out, he went into a desert place: and there he prayed.” (Mark 1:32–35).
Jesus understood that the earth was not His final home.
Jesus Yielded His Right to Make His Own Decisions
Perhaps the most difficult right to yield is that of making final decisions. Yet, if we do not fully yield this right to God, we will not develop a spirit of meekness or walk in true humility before God. Jesus lived in complete surrender to God’s direction.
When Christ was twelve years old, He understood His calling and expressed His desire to be about His heavenly Father’s business. (See Luke 2:49.) He yielded to God’s direction through His parents and waited until He was thirty years old to begin His public ministry. (See Luke 3:22–23.)
During His ministry years, Jesus made no decisions independently but did only what His heavenly Father directed Him to do. (See John 8:28.) Continually, His attitude was “not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).
When Christ was arrested and placed under civil authorities, God carried out His ultimate will through their decisions. (See John 19:11, 28–30.)
Jesus’ obedience to the directions of His Father allowed Jesus to complete the work He was called to do and to fulfill the Scriptural prophecies about His life. “For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names: That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9–11).
We are challenged to follow Jesus’ example: “Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: [Set your affections on] the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth.” (Colossians 3:1–2).