Sunday, July 5
He let himself be afflicted, but he would not open his mouth. —Isa. 53:7.
When we are under stress, it is difficult to be meek. Our words may become harsh and our tone cold. If you have ever felt stressed, consider the example of Jesus. During the final months of his life on earth, Jesus was under intense stress. He knew that he would be executed and that he would suffer terribly. (John 3:14, 15; Gal. 3:13) Some months before his death, he said that he was distressed. (Luke 12:50) And just days before his death, Jesus said: “I am troubled.” We can sense his humility and his submissiveness to God as he poured out his feelings in prayer. (John 12:27, 28) When the time came, Jesus courageously handed himself over to God’s enemies, who executed him in the most agonizing and humiliating way possible. Despite the stress, despite the suffering, Jesus meekly did God’s will. Without a doubt, we can say that Jesus is the most outstanding example of someone showing meekness under stress! —Isa. 53:10. w19.02 11 ¶14-15
Every Sunday-schooler knows that Jesus died. It is repeated so often “Jesus died for our sins,” or some similar saying, that it loses its meaning. Yes, Jesus died a substitutionary death. He gave his life as a ransom. There is more to it though.
Jesus could have died a painless death and his perfect human life still would have corresponded in value to the life of the first man, Adam, before he became a sinner. The 53rd chapter of Isaiah touches upon it. Verse 10 states: “But it was Jehovah’s will to crush him, and he let him become sick.” The original NWT stated that ‘Jehovah took delight in crushing him.’
What does that mean? Obviously God did not enjoy seeing his beloved son tortured and die an agonizing death. Neither did Jehovah personally perpetrate the crimes against Jesus that led to his death. To fully appreciate the issue and why it was God’s will that Jesus be crushed we must consult the book of Job.
In the first two chapters, we are allowed a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Heaven and the presence of an angel identified as Satan. Jehovah specifically called him out to say what was on his mind. God wanted the issue to be out in the open. Basically, the rebel angel said that all of God’s intelligent creatures were only loyal to God to get out of him whatever they could and that no one would be true to God if it involved suffering or death.
In the case of Job, God allowed Satan to take away everything except Job’s life. Job was true to God— even as an imperfect man.
It was evident from the moment Jesus was baptized that Satan was intent upon tempting or pressuring Jesus into being disloyal to God. The issue was the same as with Job. Prior to his coming to the earth Michael was the most privileged Son of God. He was the very first angel Jehovah had fathered. When the Devil rebelled and called into question the integrity of all of God’s sons no one was in a position to provide a more unequivocal answer than the favored Firstborn of all creation.
The apostle Paul explained it in his letter to the Philippians, where he wrote: “Keep this mental attitude in you that was also in Christ Jesus, who, although he was existing in God’s form, gave no consideration to a seizure, namely, that he should be equal to God. No, but he emptied himself and took a slave’s form and became human. More than that, when he came as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, yes, death on a torture stake.”
In the human sphere typically the sons of rich and powerful men are privileged and enjoy many advantages. For example, the sons of wealthy families often avoid military service. Or, if they are conscripted they are assigned to safe areas away from the combat zone. No one was more privileged than the Firstborn. Yet he gave that all up and became human.
And there is that word “obedient.” Jesus knew it was God’s will for him to die to pay the ransom. He also well knew the issues that Satan raised. He knew it was God’s will for him to be crushed by Satan in order to demonstrate before all the angels that the issue was over. Jesus submitted himself to God’s will. He obeyed into death.
That is why when Jesus returned to the spirit realm he is said to have “preached to the spirits in prison.” It was not a message of good news. It probably wasn’t a vocal message at all. But the very fact that Jehovah resurrected Jesus as an immortal spirit meant that Christ had been faithful. It meant that Satan was exposed as a liar and a false accuser. It meant that the issue Satan had pushed in order to justify his own course of opposition had failed. The resurrection of Christ meant the prophecy God issued in Eden regarding the serpent bruising the heel of the seed of the woman had been fulfilled. Since his exaltation to the right hand of God, the glorified seed is now in a position to crush the Devil out of existence.
Since Jesus established his congregation as a pillar and support of the truth Satan has sought to infiltrate and subvert. He has been widely successful. Since Jesus’ obedience to God was a humiliating defeat for the evil one the Devil has used his influence over church leaders to elevate Jesus to become God. Hence, the Trinity is considered the foundation truth of the Devil’s phony Christianity. The Trinity effectively obfuscates the truth of Jesus’ obedience to his Father. After all, how can God obey or disobey himself?
But the truth is, Jesus could have disobeyed. Even moments before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus said in prayer: “Father, if you want to, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, let, not my will, but yours take place.”
Had Jesus flinched it would be a whole different world. I shudder to think what the outcome might have been had Jesus not submitted to being crushed.