My aim is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
(Philippians 3:10-11 NET)
When Jesus was nailed to the cross and subsequently died, He did so as a perfect human being. He had lived a life in complete submission to God the Father by forsaking the temptation to live in His own power and to satisfy His own desires. He had completely died to self in a figurative sense.
The life that God calls us to is a life of self-denial. This does not mean intentionally living in poverty or not taking care of our own needs. It means looking out for the needs of others rather than looking out for our own wants [Philippians 2:3-4]. This is how Jesus lived.
Jesus did not neglect Himself. He took care of His own needs. He slept. He ate. But He did not attend to Himself more than was necessary. Rather, He lived for others. No where was this more evident than in His willingly going to the cross and experiencing the wrath of God in our place. No greater sacrifice has anyone ever made.
While God doesn’t always ask believers to experience physical death for Him (although He may), He does command us to take up our own cross [Luke 9:23]. That is, we should put to death our selfish human nature and live for Him by serving others [Colossians 3:5]. This is what Jesus did.
Jesus’ life was 100% committed to doing the will of the Father. He did not cling to His own rights [Philippians 2:5-8] or seek to serve Himself [Matthew 20:28]. His entire life on this earth was focused on doing for others what they could not do for themselves.
No one can save himself from the penalty of their sin which is eternal separation from God (aka “hell”). We need someone to save us from that destiny. That is what Jesus did. He created a path to heaven for those who believe [John 3:16].
Once a person believes (i.e. is “born again” [John 3:3]) he/she has been figuratively crucified just as Jesus was [Colossians 2:20] and no longer exists. The person who exists is a new creation [2 Corinthians 5:17]. The previous person is dead. This is the death Paul is talking about there.
When we walk in someone else’s shoes and experience life as they do we can relate to them. When we live as Jesus did – by dying to self and living for others – we will “know” Him more, which is Paul’s ultimate goal and should be our goal too.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.
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