“And Jesus, when He had been baptized, went up immediately out of the water. And lo, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting upon Him” (Mat 3:16, MKJV)
When the time for Jesus’ public ministry came, He went to John the Baptist to be baptized. In this ceremony, everyone was descending the river of Jordan driven by one motive, “to flee from the wrath to come” (Mat 3:7, MKJV). As for that unique Son of Man, He had a completely different motive to descend the Jordan, which is “to fulfill all righteousness” (Mat 3:15, MKJV). That’s why the Spirit found no resting place for Himself except in that Man. There was a complete harmony between them. The Spirit carries all God’s righteousness and works to accomplish on earth, and here is Jesus offers His life and His body to fulfill all righteousness. The Spirit manifested His pleasure for finding an ultimate resting place for Himself on the land of man. The heavens were opened, and the Spirit descended like a dove and lighted upon Jesus.
O Holy Spirit, Would you find a footstool in my life? Do you find my heart in harmony with yours? Please give me the strength to seek accomplishing all righteousness? This is my prayer. Amen.
Why the Dove?
The Spirit was going to baptize the life of Jesus with specific baptism. Through Jesus, the special purpose of God will be accomplished. This purpose has never been accomplished before, because there was no human vessel qualified to accomplish it. The characteristics of that baptism are broad and various, but if we are to find one symbol indicates all its contents, we won’t find better than the “dove” to describe the unique life of Jesus.
When we mention “dove”, immediately characters like meekness, peace, love, simplicity and, purity pop up in our mind. These are the characters appeared in Jesus’ life and ministry.
Before we contemplate these characters, it’s important to emphasize that the descending of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ baptism was not the beginning of the fellowship between the Christ and the Holy Spirit. God forbid. Jesus life was hemmed by the Spirit from the moment He was brought forth into Mary’s womb. He has always been led by the Spirit (Luk 4:1). Also, the pleasure of the Father did not happen instantly at the moment of baptism. His pleasure was just revealed at that moment in an audible statement for the people to learn the divine endorsement of Jesus’ ministry.
The Spirit of Meekness
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, your King comes to you. He is righteous and victorious, meek and riding on an ass, even on a colt, the son of an ass” (Zec 9:9)
Nearly five hundred years before the coming of Christ, Zechariah prophesied that He will be meek. The prophecy was fulfilled at the fullness of the time. Perfect meekness has been manifested in Jesus. As stated earlier, He alone had the seven spirits of God. All the workings and the characters of the Spirit have perfectly been manifested in Him.
Meekness is a broad character influences all life activities and relationships with self, with others, and with God. Meekness is not like many people think equals to passivity, weakness, subservience, and appeasement. It’s a strong spirit; when manifested perfectly in Jesus, it was able to defeat the devil and his kingdom when they drove the whole nation against Him. That’s why Zechariah combines meekness with victory in his prophecy. Many people cannot comprehend combining the two characters together, because they think that meekness is the opposite of strength and triumph. That led some scholars to conclude that the prophecy describes two events. The first one is the Lord’s first coming when He is meek and riding on an ass, and the second one is His second coming when He is victorious. I can’t see why we can’t believe that Jesus first coming was victorious; as well, His second coming will be meek as much as it is victorious. All we need is a good perception of meekness.
What is Meekness?
A meek is a man who fears God, so that he appreciates everyone’s right without excess or lack, therefore:
Appreciates God’s Right
He judges nobody, because he knows that God is the only “Judge” who has the right to condemn. He accepts the circumstances that God allows to his life, because he knows that God is a “Master”, and He has the right to lead our life according to His will. He will not attempt to rise above others, because he knows that the Lord alone is exalted “Head” above all. As a minister, he never attempts to attract people to follow him, because he knows that Christ alone is the “Bridegroom” whom all hearts should follow.
Appreciates his own Right
Knowing who he is, he doesn’t increase himself. He accepts the truth about himself, no matter how painful this truth is. He measures himself with God’s scale; therefore, he doesn’t accept a glory that is not his. He knows his domain and never tries to expand it at the expense of the others.
Appreciates Others’ Right
He respects the other’s right of freedom, therefore, never imposes his opinion or belief onto them. He always gives the others the opportunity to express themselves even if their speech is against him. He doesn’t give anyone a hurting look, but a compassionate and an appreciating one. His appreciation encourages others to disclose their hearts and express themselves freely. He wishes everyone goodness and success, even if their success exceeded his own. Many times, he recedes to give others opportunity to proceed, or remain silent to let others express themselves. He always rejoices with the truth; he doesn’t rejoice with inequity. He is a peace maker; his love covers others’ sins.
Meekness and Lowliness
The word of God often combines meekness and lowliness. They are the two sides of the same coin. While meekness mainly determines man’s position towards God and towards others, Lowliness keeps man’s self-evaluation in its true level without increase. In other words, a lowly does not give his self what does not belong to her, while a meek does not seize from others what belongs to them.
Anyway, these are just theoretical definitions; they don’t help our growth too much. Let’s just keep them in mind while tracing the Lord’s steps in His life, so that we can learn the spirit of meekness and its thriving power to accomplish God’s purpose. May the Lord open our hearts to learn how to be meek and lowly in heart.
As stated earlier, meekness applies in three directions; towards God, towards self and towards others. Let’s begin with meekness towards God, and learn how Jesus’ life reflected it:
The Relationship with the Father
Man was created to be subject to God’s sovereignty. His obedience to God was his ultimate goal. Serving God was the essence of his existence and his glory. The sovereignty of God is not derived from cruelty or any passion for power; the essence of God’s sovereignty is love and bestowment. Sovereignty is also an absolute divine right because God has created man, and all man’s life belongs to Him; also, because God knows best what is good and what is bad for man. Therefore, worshiping God is a matter of abiding in the truth, and standing on the right position.
At the first test, Adam failed to abide in the truth. He rebelled against God’s good will, and refused to keep His commandment. Therefore, he moved from life to death.
When the first man broke the yoke of submission to God, he did not enjoy the promised freedom. He was dominated by others and became a slave to the devil. He became a slave to his pleasures, lusts and sins (Joh 8:34). Man also became a slave to another man. The history witnessed long eras where man exercised lordship over others with violence and brutality; “The kings of the nations exercise lordship over them. And they who exercise authority on them are called benefactors” (Luk 22:25, MKJV). While God’s lordship is truth-based, people’s lordship has nothing to do with truth. It’s based on false claim and passion for power. While God’s dominion saves man’s freedom and leads him to a life full of blessings, people’s dominion crushes man’s personality and humiliates him. That’s why the yoke of the slavery to God is easy and His burden is light (Mat 11:30), while the yoke of slavery to man is cruel. So, Man rejected God’s dominion on his life to become a slave to many other rulers (Isa 26:13).
Every generation left a heavy legacy of slavery to the next one; explicit slavery or implicit slavery. God decided to break this stygian chain:
The Perfect Servant
“who, subsisting in the form of God, did not esteem it an object of rapine to be on an equality with God; but emptied himself, taking a bondman's form, taking his place in the likeness of men” (Php 2:6-7, Darby)
At the fullness of time, God sent His Son to the world with a definitive mission, to bring man back to its original obedience to God. Jesus will be the firstfruit of a new creation that will succeed in what Adam and his seed failed. To achieve that, Jesus took the form of a man. Being in that form, He lived in absolute submission to God, no matter how violent the resistance of the other self-proclaimed “rulers” is.
Despite the fact that Christ is equal to God, He chose to take the form of a “bondman” and to be in the likeness of men to take their position before God. Acting as “the second man from Heaven” (1Cor 15:47), He accomplished what the “first man out of the earth” failed in.
Jesus had to take the position of a bondman. A bondman is someone who cannot claim any right. All his rights are in his master’s hand. He cannot decide anything independent from his master’s will. In other word, a bondman is someone who willingly lives according to the will of someone else.
Jesus came to the world armed with the willingness to suffer in meekness. From one hand, He knew He will suffer from “rulers” who want to stop His subjection to God and capture Him in subjection to them; Jesus faced them with the willingness to suffer, and won (1Pe 4:1). From the other hand, His meekness declared God’s absolute right to determine everything for Him. Jesus submitted to God’s will and walked the route God intended for Him. He followed that route to an extent made Him appears to others like a lamb brought to the slaughter, or a sheep dumb before its shearers (Isa 53:7).
That’s why the dove was the best manifestation to the type of the ministry of that perfect servant; that man who came not to live like a master, but like a servant (Luk 22:27); and not to be served, but to serve (Mat 20:28). Our meek Lord prevailed. He finished the job successfully. From one hand, His death destroyed that who had the power of death (Heb 2:14). On the other hand, He satisfied the Father with a meek spirit that willingly subjects to Him. The work of Jesus was a victory for the mankind. It opened the door to a new born people that will glorify God. This people are the church.
The Ultimate Goal
It’s fault to think that the redemption of man was the ultimate goal for which the Lord came in a flesh. The truth is the pleasure of the Father and the reclamation of His reign over man was Jesus first and ultimate goal of ministry. The redemption happened as a result of the Father’s satisfaction. That satisfaction gave Jesus’ sacrifice its power of atonement and intercession for sinners.
The intent of all the Old Testament’s sacrifices was to satisfy God by taking the right position towards Him. Some of the sacrifices indicated confession, repentance and acknowledgement of God’s judgement on sin; others expressed dedication and thanksgiving. Nevertheless, none of these sacrifices pleased God, because the actual life of their givers never reflected those meanings. Only one one-time sacrifice pleased God:
“Therefore when He comes into the world, He says, "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but You have prepared a body for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have had no pleasure. Then I said, Lo, I come.... to do Your will, O God." (Heb 10:5-7, MKJV)
Because God’s will and His pleasure were not accomplished by that ritual of sacrifices, He prepared a body for the Son to come to the world with a definitive mission, “to do God’s will”. A body abides in obedience and subjection to God’s will. A body that loves God’s will more than life itself. A body at which all the waves of resistance, skepticism, temptation, and intimidation break down. A body whose life pleases the Father; and finally, a body that will be torn like the veil to bring many children to His glory (Heb 10:20).
Meekness includes all Aspects of Life
The meekness of Jesus accomplished the mission entirely. It declared the absolute rights of God over man. In Lev 1:13, the knife had to reach the inward parts of the sacrifice. The inward parts, then, are burnt on the altar, a sweet fragrance to Jehovah. Similarly, God’s sovereignty on Jesus life reached His very depths; He was burnt on the cross, a sweet fragrance to God.
Some people were able to obey God at certain aspects of their lives, but the Spirit of God have always been hovering over the face of the earth, not finding a resting-place; not until Jesus came. The dove finally found a resting-place for the sole of her foot (Gen 8:9). Jesus did not just like to know God’s will, He wanted to be occupied in His father’s business (Luk 2:49).
The Powerful Sacrifice
The power of Jesus’ sacrifice was not in the process of crucifixion, but in the satisfaction of God with that pure life offered on the altar of the cross. We are sometimes miss that point by focusing on the distress of the crucifixion thinking that the brutality of the foes, the betrayal of a friend, and the physical soreness gave the Christ’s sacrifice its power. But the truth is the eternal power of the Christ’s sacrifice was gained by the satisfaction of the Father with the perfect life that was offered. The cruel circumstances of the event were just a normal result of a man’s realm full of cruelty, envy and avenger.
Meekness towards the Devil
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit up into the wilderness, to be tempted by the Devil” (Mat 4:1, MKJV)
The first thing the Spirit did after descending on Jesus in a visible form of a dove was leading Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. Notice that the Spirit was the one who sought that confrontation with the Devil in the wilderness, the devil’s resting place (Mat 12:43). The Holy Spirit does not react; He always initiates the events, even in the war with the devil.
As spoken earlier, meekness is appreciating everyone’s position. We see here another view of Jesus meekness, which is His meekness towards the devil. Since the Devil -until that moment- was the prince of the world (Joh 12:31), Jesus –led by the Spirit- gave him the chance to tempt Him. The same Spirit who manifested the Father’s sovereignty on Jesus gave the devil the chance to resist and reject the way Jesus lived. The Spirit did not lead Jesus to an outreaching ministry before spending forty days in the wilderness, and until “the Devil had ended every temptation” (Luk 4:13). Needless to mention that the devil wouldn’t have the power to tempt the Lord unless the Lord Himself has given him to do so. O how great you are, my Lord, in your meekness.
The Authentic Dedication: In Secret
The dedication of the Lord to the Father was not that kind of dedication we hear in bombastic slogans and hollow speeches. His devotion was not that shallow devotion we get excited about after listening to a passionate sermon. His dedication was an inward secret submission that is revealed and shines under pressure and in the face of opposition. Far there, in the wilderness where nobody sees Him except the Father, the Lord expressed His absolute submission to His Father’s will. Who was there to see that battle and acclaim or reward Him? Nobody. None of what Jesus did was to please man. His inside was fully occupied by one desire, to please the Father.
The Authentic Dedication: Under Distress
“And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterwards hungry” (Mat 4:2, MKJV)
After forty days of fasting, the Lord afterwards hungered. His physical strength faded, and He was under distress. In a moment like that, man’s resistance diminishes. The instinct of hunger is intensely overwhelming. When seethes, it drives man to do whatsoever to assuage his hunger. The devil always picks such a moment to shoot his fiery darts, knowing that their effectiveness at that time is devastating. His first attack onto the Lord targeted His instinctive need for food. As usual, the devil dipped the poison in the honey. His real purpose was not to fill the Lord’s hunger, but to push Him into an action out of the Father’s plan, therefore, breaks His commitment to be in His Father’s business (Luk 2:49).; How many times people forsook their faith and their devotion, and breached their promises under the pressure of an instinctive need. The devil thought it will work this time, too
No way. The dedication of the Lord is not like ours, vanishes soon under pressure. With a body feeble to death, Jesus was strengthened in the spirit and showed no interest in doing something the Father did not plan for Him; even if that thing is crucial for life. That is because for Jesus, life is not provided by bread alone, but by every word proceeds out of the mouth of God. He can’t do anything without a word from the mouth of God. The Spirit who led Him to fast in the wilderness has not yet arranged food for Him. Jesus, in complete submission to the Spirit, will not do something out of the Spirit’s plan. That’s why He was the perfect servant by whom the Father was well pleased.
When the first attack failed, the devil tried another one. The first attack targeted man’s instinctive need; this time he is going to touch a sensitive nerve inside everyone which is self-glory.
Natural man’s ego sits on the throne of his heart. She possesses his love and submission. All his work is motivated by her and aiming her satisfaction. Since the day the devil seeded in man’s heart the notion of being “as God” (Gen 3:5), man has always been struggling to achieve that. He still believes that hoax until today. His desire is to gain the glory for himself as God. He wants to be the centre of others attention as God. He is willing to go anywhere and adopt any principle if it makes him eminent or gives him some glory, even if it’s a faked glory. He uses anything in hand to reach that self-glory. Even spiritual matters and God’s word are not immune from being exploited for that purpose.
Ego is everyone’s point of weakness in. It’s the cause of man’s fall. The devil decided to launch his second attack targeting that point. But he will not go straight forward; a trick must be plotted. The snare must be hidden and the bait must be magnificent.
Why the Temple?
“Then the Devil took Him up into the holy city and set Him upon a pinnacle of the Temple. And he said to Him, If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down. For it is written, "He shall give His angels charge concerning You, and in their hands they shall bear You up, lest at any time You dash Your foot against a stone” (Mat 4:5-6, MKJV)
If indeed the purpose of that challenge was for Jesus to cast Himself over an elevated point to see the angels bearing Him up, the ideal place would be the wilderness where there are cliffs to cast Himself down and a lot of stones against which His feet may dash. But since the devil took Him up into the holy city, Jerusalem, and set Him upon a pinnacle of the Temple where everyone can see, here lays the real purpose of the temptation. The devil was tempting Jesus to do a miracle in front of the people before starting His mission, to gain a quick and easy glory.
To hide the trap well, the devil used a legitimate cover. He was not scared of picking a verse from the Bible (Psa 91:11-12) and presented it to Jesus to persuade Him to follow the devil’s advice with a satisfied conscience. The outward of his proposal is to exercise what is written, but the inward was to gain people’s praise. The devil is very plausible. He uses God’s word in irrelative situations to deceive the inexperienced believers and causes a lot of confusions and falls.
Oh, how many people fell before the temptation of self-glory! How many blessed ministries were destroyed by pride! How many great missions decayed when selfness invaded them! How many times we rode on sacred matters to gain eminence! How many times we tried to use God Himself to make name for ourselves.
Any young adult would probably weakened before plaudits and celebrity. Who can detect the poison in that honey? What spirit can discern a devil’s deception covered by the word of God?
Meekness Dispels Exaltation
Only a meek soul withstands the temptation of self-glory, because it gives all glory to God. It doesn’t seek any for itself. It cannot be influenced by the glory of men. Jesus came to glorify the Father. He did not accept honour from men (Joh 5:41). He was not satisfied with any glory, except the one given to Him by the Father; His own legitimate glory which He has had before the world was made (Joh 17:5).
As for what “is written”, Jesus knew that God’s promises were given for our security and not for testing God. We can’t dictate the timing or the mean by which God fulfills His promise. God’s promises are true. God fulfills them at His time for His purpose, not at our time or for our purposes. That’s why Jesus remained steadfast; He answered, “It is written again, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God."” (Mat 4:7, Deu 6:16). Again, the devil retreated away from the victorious spirit of meekness.
The Motive of Gain and Loss
“Again, the Devil took Him up into a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (Mat 4:8, MKJV)
One of the devil’s names is “Beelzebub” (Mat 12:24), which means “Baal of the flies” or the “flies’ God”. Probably the reason for this name is that every time you eject him, he comes back persistently without any tedium or exhaustion. After two defeats, here he is back.
Everyone is obsessed by his own profit. You can observe that obsession in people from as early as their infancy. Look how infants tend to collect toys, pile them up, and keep them at their hands. As an infant grows, their lust of possession evolutes to different forms. Those forms start from start from possessing materials to possessing people. That lust is never satisfied. It has no end or limits. Jesus did not exaggerate when He said, “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world...” (Mar 8:36, MKJV); man indeed has a desire to possess everything in the world.
Trade, marketing, and advertisements rely basically on stirring the lust of possession in consumers, driving them to buy products they didn’t really need. We often buy things not because we needed them, but because we loved to possess them.
The desire of gain is behind most of our works. Once man feels there is no more profit of what he is doing, he loses the motivation to work and delegate. Man cannot put too much effort doing something when he expects nothing in return.
That same desire is also behind a lot of our ministries and our position towards God. Many times we approach God because we think it will be beneficial to us. Moreover, some preachers try to attract people to God playing on that desire of gain. The souls that really love God regardless of any profit are rare. The Lord who tries the heart of man briefs this situation in one verse, “their heart goes after their unjust gain” (Eze 33:31, MKJV).
A Quick and Easy Gain
“And the Devil said to Him, All this power I will give you, and the glory of them; for it has been delivered to me. And I give it to whomever I will. Therefore if you will worship me, all shall be yours. (Luk 4:6-7, MKJV)
What was the devil’s intention behind that offer?
First, the devil always trys to prove that man worships God aiming to profit in return, and if man can get greater profits from another, he will turn away from God and worship even the devil himself. The devil is trying to prove that there is no “true worshipers” to the Father.
Second, he wanted to end Jesus’ ministry before it begins. If Jesus is coming to reclaim the kingdoms of the world, here they are offered to Him. Now, His ministry is no longer needed; He should just abandon it.
Third, he wanted to shake Jesus by a comparison between the price of pleasing God and the price of pleasing the devil. The devil knew from Psalm 2:8 that the Father will give the Son all the nations for His inheritance after a tough journey of agony, crushing and, depression. The devil proposed an easier plan which is, the same inheritance will be given to Jesus momentarily if He worships the devil. The path of pleasing God is harsh and the cost is vast, while the devil’s alternative path is simple, easy, and doesn’t cost too much. Why walking the road of crucifixion and death when all the glory and the power will be given to you by the devil supposedly free? Why worshiping God if the devil will give you what you want at no cost?
Fourth, the devil is jealous to see God receives such obedience and dedication from Jesus. In the past, the devil tried to grab power and lordship like God and he fell (Isa 14:14-15). All the obedience he receives from the world now does not satisfy him, because it is gained by deception. It’s not a real obedience. He ruled the world by deception and his influence continues by deception. If he ever stopped deceiving man, he will lose all his power. That’s why he was willing to give away “all this power....and the glory of them” to Jesus to get a real worship in return.
The Kingdoms of the World Are Whose?
A question would pop up here, “Were the kingdoms of the world really delivered to the devil, or he was lying when he claimed so?” In fact, he was not completely truthful or completely liar when he made that claim. He was tricky. The truth is to tell pure true facts; the lie is to tell something untrue. Preparing a blend of truths and lies, or facts and hoaxes is called deception; and that’s the devil’s most common weapon. He starts his talk with true facts, then, he builds up assumptions and false interpretations to end up with a conclusion that’s contrary to the truth to deceive the inexperienced.
It’s biblically true that the devil is currently “the ruler of this world”. Jesus mentioned that a few times (Joh 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). Yet, that’s not all the truth. The devil put it in a passive form “has been delivered to me”. He didn’t tell who delivered that power to him, and why, how, or until when that power is given to him. The comprehensive truth is that the earth and the fullness of it is Jehovah’s (Psa 24:1). He is the only legitimate creator and owner. He appointed man to dominate it (Gen 1:28, Psa 115:16). As a result of his sin, man fell under the power of the devil. The earth, consequently, was subjected to the devil, not willingly but forcefully (Rom 8:20). This inappropriate situation is temporarily until the redemption of man in fully accomplished (including the redemption of his body) (Rom 8:23). When that takes place, the creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption (Rom 8:21), and the kingdoms of this world will “become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ” (Rev 11:15, MKJV). Therefore, the earth belongs to the Lord legitimately, to man as His steward and to the devil by subjection.
The devil presented just that portion of the truth, that he is the current ruler of the earth; therefore, he is to be worshiped. That trick could not have deceived Jesus who knows the whole truth. No matter how long the usurper holds his power, he remains just a thief under condemnation. No matter how long God endures, one day He will reclaim His creation. The usurper will face retribution with all those who worshiped him and tied themselves to his fate (Rev 20:10). Woe to those who worship a thief, and bind themselves to a temporarily god for whom the blackness of darkness has been kept forever.
Is It So That God Has Said?
Using his artful way of confusing, the devil approached Eve with a claim, “you shall be as God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5, MKJV). The fact that by eating from the tree Adam and Eve will know good and evil like God is true and recognized by the Lord Himself (Gen 3:22). But, does that knowledge make man equivalent to God? Absolutely not; as we can see man remained man and God remained the exalted God as He has been. In contrary, the gap between man and God was widened. God’s knowledge to good and evil is absolute and it controls of the universe with all its good and evil (Isa 45:7), while man’s knowledge is limited and detrimental.
The truth is that God’s love was behind the commandment of not eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God wanted man to live every day by the life springing out of God’s heart, and not by man’s own knowledge of good and evil. To live by the law of the spirit of life that connects man to God and provide him with regenerated life, not with the knowledge of good and evil that puts man under the law of commandments and prohibitions which man fails to keep. Man’s knowledge of good and evil has not benefited him, because he knew the good but could not do it, and he knew the evil but could not avoid it.
A partial knowledge of the truth cannot win a spiritual war. Any ignorant area in our mind will be an open door for the devil to launch an attack and causes damages. Eve ought to know not just the commandment, but also the good will of God behind that commandment. Her ignorance of God’s good will gave the devil an opportunity to propose false motives behind God’s commandment like cruelty and selfishness. That’s why Jesus promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit “will guide you into all truth” (Joh 16:13, MKJV). We have a crucial need to learn all truth to fortify our life against the wiles of the devil.
"You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve." (Mat 4:10)
Let’s now leave the devil with all his gloom and deception, and turn our eyes onto that golden heart at which all the fiery darts are quenched. This heart never desired possession of anything. He knew that everything is God’s. The meek heart seeks no honour, but yearns to see all glory and praise given to God. The Lord came to the world to bring back the kingdom of God on earth. He came to manifest the absolute sovereignty of God over man and over matters. He revealed that in His life, His deeds, and His words. He taught people to pray:
Thine is the Kingdom
Many people repeat that phrase in (Mat 6:13, KJV) routinely without a thoroughly understanding of its meaning. This statement thwarts the lust of possession from penetrating our hearts. It declares God as the only owner of everything and everyone. Man cannot possess anything unless it is given to him by God. Therefore, man is not an owner but a steward. A steward cannot get excited with the money he manages no matter how abundant that money is, because he understands it isn’t his. He doesn’t have an absolute right to spend it on his whims. He has to be a faithful steward to his lord. Stewardship is not everlasting or permanent, but temporarily and conditional. It is subject to be taken away from him, and he is subject to be taken away from it at any moment.
When man achieves wealth, he tends to be too proud. Foolishly, people think that wealth provides them with security, and assures their future, therefore, gives them the power to determine their destiny. The Lord calls that delusive sense of confidence, “The deceit of riches” (Mat 13:22, MKJV). The statement “Thine is the kingdom” dispels that deceit. The assurance provided by money is very uncertain. A wise man would build his assurance on the owner and the giver of everything, not on the mortal things. Paul expressed that when he said “Enjoin on those rich in the present age not to be high-minded, nor to trust on the uncertainty of riches; but in the God who affords us all things richly for our enjoyment” (1Ti 6:17, Darby).
Has that truth dwelled richly in you? Did it deal with your obsession with possessions? The devil uses that lust to exhaust people by panting after what they don’t have. Many people bow before that deceitful lord, and subject themselves to worldly principles to earn more things. Jesus refused to worship the devil for all the kingdoms of the world, but we, sometimes, kneel for a minimal consideration, and other times for no consideration at all.
How Do We Worship?
Worship is not an outward action, but an inward status. The essence of worship is love, fear, and surrender to the One who has the power over my life. Kneeling reflects that status in a physical fashion. If you believe that the world has the power to give you life and joy, your heart will switch to worship the world unconsciously. If you believe that the devil has the power to make you prosperous, your heart will switch to worship him, even if your lips deny that. Man’s heart naturally worships the one who controls its welfare. If you believe that only God gives you life, breath, and everything (Act 17:25), then the commandment to worship the Lord your God becomes a natural response.
And Him Only You Shall Serve
"You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve." (Mat 4:10, MKJV). That was Jesus’ firm answer to Satan. He didn’t just say it; He lived it as well. He never bowed before Satan, because He never hoped anything from him. He didn’t hope anything from anyone, so He’s never tried to please anyone. Have we learnt from Him? Has His meek spirit dwelled in us, or we still hiding idolatry in our heart?
After He finished His battle on the devil’s field, Jesus moved on to start His ministry in man’s field. He dealt with people in every city and village with the same meek spirit that stood against the devil on the mountain. His absolute submission to God was the key of His attitude among people just as it was the key of His victory over the devil. Paul summarized that attitude, “And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Php 2:8, MKJV).
Obedient unto Death
The obedience of Jesus to the Father is distinguished from any obedience we see in ourselves or hear about in saints’ biographies. His obedience was initial and inclusive, not reluctant or partial like ours.
Our obedience is reluctant; it begins when God reveals His will to us. When that will is unappealing, our initial reaction varies; we bargain its extent, we try to amend it, or we even stay away from it. When that will chases us until we can escape no more, then we surrender and obey. That’s not how Jesus obeyed. His obedience to the Father was initial; prior to any revelation of any mission from the Father. He yielded to the Father’s will, and willingly decided to do that will with pleasure. That’s why His life contained the will of God in fullness.
Further, our obedience is partial. It’s usually related to a specific act or mission. The obedience of all saints applied in specific instances, but they lived according to their wills for several years without specific missions to be obeyed. Man is exhausted when he lives under external will continuously, because it demands complete self-denial that burdens his soul heavily. The Lord who knows our form (Psa 103:14) does not press us beyond our strength. That’s why even the life of champions of faith included resting periods, in which their life was driven naturally by their will, after each stance of obedience that requires intensive self-denial.
My Lord’s obedience was not stances of obedience. It included His entire life. He dismissed the natural human will and followed His Father’s will no matter how much the path is costly or humiliating. To get into that, He had to:
A natural man appreciates himself very much. He likes to think of himself as gracious. He strives to appear to others in the best possible image. Instinctively, man fears any situation threatens his image in people’s sight or in his own sight. That image stifled a lot of men of God when they were attempting to obey. Obedience is easy when it doesn’t conflict with the minimum stature we can accept for ourselves. But when God’s will leads us in a path deteriorates our admiration by others, an inner struggle starts. A struggle between an ego clings to the minimum acceptable stature and God’s will which appears to be destructive to that stature. At that moment, obedience becomes difficult and costly. Every step in the obedience path is now associated with loss and tears. One cannot live obedient life unless he gives up the image he thought about himself or wished to be. That’s what is called humbled himself.
My Lord humbled himself completely. He didn’t want good stature neither did he seek a minimum level of acceptance or admiration. That’s why He never struggled to obey the Father. Obedience was always a spontaneous action even when it led Him to humiliating and miserable situations. He obeyed when He was led to be “despised and rejected of men” (Isa 53:3, MKJV), when He was led to appear with “no form nor majesty” (Isa 53:2, MKJV), when He was led to be “whom the nation hates, the servant of rulers” (Isa 49:7) and even when He was led to be “Sin” (2Co 5:21) and “guilt offering” (Isa 53:10). He obeyed unto death.
Obedience on Time
“To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heavens” (Ecc 3:1).
God runs the world according to determined and ordained seasons and times (Act 17:26) which cannot be changed by others. Only God has the right to change them (Dan 2:21), because they were set by the Father’s own authority (Act 1:7).
We get it wrong when we think that life is going randomly. Satan wants you to believe that there is no purpose of whatsoever happening around you, to generate carelessness and procrastination in your heart. But the truth is there’s a time for every purpose under the heaven; if you don’t redeem the time, the hour will pass and you will miss the chance to do what you ought to. If you decided to do it afterward, it may be too late. There’s a time for repentance, a time for seeking the Lord, a time for salvation, and a time for acceptance. Blessed be the one who prays to God in a time He may be found (Psa 32:6).
Failing to discern the times squanders great opportunities and drags us into fatal mistakes. Even though it’s not for us to know the times and the seasons which the Father has put in His own authority, yet we ought to see the signs of the times that are related to us. The Lord rebuked the Pharisees and the Sadducees for not seeing those signs of the times (Mat 16:3).
Many people think that obedience is doing a list of deeds by which we please God. Obedience, therefore, would be obeying a list of commandments. They obey the law in a slavery manner that does not require a real communion with God. That’s not how Jesus obeyed. His obedience was not obedience to commandments but to Someone. It was not an obedience to execute a list of works, but one that works on the timely manner planned by God. To be able to live according to God’s time plan, we need to be in real communion with Him and in harmony with His vision to the seasons and the times.
My Hour has not yet Come
When Jesus went to Jerusalem before the Feast of Tabernacles, it was according to a predetermined time. That’s why when His brothers told Him to go into Judea, He said “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready” (Joh 7:6). He gave the same answer to Mary when she asked Him to save the wedding of Cana of Galilee as they lacked wine; Jesus answered, “Woman, what do I have to do with you? My hour has not yet come” (Joh 2:4). A natural man manages his time as he wishes; as for the Son of God, He is moving on God’s time.
The Hour Has Come
More than once, the multitudes attempted to kill Jesus (Luk 4:29), but he passed through the midst of them and went away. No one laid a hand on Him because “His hour had not yet come” (Joh 7:30). Even His death had an ordained pre-appointed hour.
When Jesus knew His hour has come, He lifted up His eyes to Heaven in absolute submission and said, “Father, the hour has come” (Joh 17:1). He then proceeded to His enemies and surrender, so that they may seize Him and do what they desired. He is really the unique servant of God who knew how to live in harmony with God’s time. He ministered when it was time for ministry, prayed when it was time for prayer, silenced when it was time for silence and even died when it was time for death. Oh, how deeply we need to see that kind of obedience in our life.
Obedience Despite Opposition
Living obedient to God must face furious opposition from the world. That opposition is known only to those who live loyal to God. People naturally reject the one who lives in different manner. The legitimacy of certain behaviour in any society is measured by its commonness regardless of God’s position on that behaviour. Similarly, its illegitimacy results from its oddity even if God admires it. For that reason, prophets were always subject to criticism, rejection, persecution, and even execution from their people (Mat 13:57). Faithfulness typically faces hostility and alienation, because people cannot accept someone with different principles and thoughts. He whether abandons his different ways or gets alienated from the herd. That opposition often works, because man likes to feel welcome, and depends on people’s support for security.
Religious leaders, especially, deal with their groups with the “herd” mentality. They think that keeping the troop ignorant benefits them. They fear that any enlightened thought will scatter the herd and damage their interests. Their hands are stained with the blood of the prophets as the Lord pointed out (Mat 23:31,37).
The Jewish society enjoyed an apparent calmness until the Lord started His ministry. His teaching exposed severe corruption hidden in the people and their leaders. The society inflamed and divided. Some were endorsing, others were skeptic, questioning, or opposing. Soon, the leaders erupted to halt that intruder who disturbed their life and threatened their interests.
The opposition began with conciliation and scheming; they attempted to announce Him king, but Jesus withdrew away to the mountain (Joh 6:15). They tried to entangle Him in words (Mat 22:15), but He perceived their wickedness and exposed it. When all those attempts failed, the leaders intended to cut Him off out of the land of the living. Using falsehood and deceit, the “shepherds” led their herd to reject Him and deliver Him to death.
Human spirit usually retreats when it faces such aggressive and continuous opposition. It fears rejection and isolation, therefore, begins to appease the others. But the spirit of meekness that filled Jesus’ heart has never weakened in the battle. It remained obedient and consistent in its submission to the Father willing to drink the cup that was given by Him. Indeed, the torrents of Hades could not quench that unique loyalty.
Even unto Death
“becoming obedient even unto death” (Php 2:8, Darby)
The word “unto” indicates the extent to which obedience can go. Each of us has their own “unto” after which they can obey no more. They quit their obedient walk and live on its remembrance.
Everyone has their untouchable area which cannot be compromised. Many times those areas were the dead ends of our obedient walk with God. This brother obeyed “unto” his money was touched; another obeyed “unto” his health was endangered. That sister obeyed “unto” her pride was hurt; another obeyed “unto” her social peace was threatened. The devil bet that at certain point Jesus obedience will be stuck. He put several obstacles in the Lord’s way to halt His walk in the Father’s will.
The first aggression faced the Lord was when He preached for the first time in the synagogue of Nazareth and rejected by His hometown people. It’s harsh for anyone to lose the acceptance of his closest ones. But Jesus went on; He left the town where He was raised, and wandered from a city to another like a stranger who has nowhere to lay his head (Mat 8:20).
Later on, the loss of dignity and reputation loomed when the Pharisees alleged that Jesus is doing miracles using the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. Amidst their malice and lies, Jesus went on with a bleeding soul to complete His mission.
The opposition rose higher to threaten Jesus credibility among His beloved ones, and to take away every support. The Baptist suspicion, Jude’s betrayal, Peter’s denial and the disciples’ flee on the day of crucifixion, a tough series of attacks. The goal was to afflict Jesus with one message, “All your life and ministry have been in vain”. Not only the Jews and their leaders outraged against Him, but also the few ones who believed Him withdrew back to their own business and left Him alone. How harsh the feelings of failure and loneliness are! How harsh is the feeling that your life has gone in vain! What else left for a man who lost his relatives, his reputation and his best friends? It was a horrible disappointing situation at which no one would have any courage to remain obedient. But my Lord passed through that situation, as well. He went on amidst all ingratitude, denial, abandonment, and betrayal. He insisted on drinking the bitter cup to the last droplet (Joh 18:11, Mar 10:38).
My Lord was stripped of everything except life itself. Here, the loss of life loomed. The devil threatened Him by death; not just any death but:
The Death of the Cross
“... and that the death of the cross” (Php 2:8, Darby)
The death of the cross means death associated with reproach, humiliation, agony, and defame. One might die, but leaves behind a fragrant memory among people. But Jesus was threatened by a death associated with defame. He was about to be remembered by people as a transgressor (Isa 53:12).
The spirit of meekness in Jesus heart was astonishing. He did not retreat when faced by that type of death. He was willing to lose everything to fulfill the will of the Father. He did not slump down under that cruel injustice or that gloomy fate looming on the horizon. He passed the trial scene; he went on to Calvary and “opened not His mouth”. He appeared to surrender to the perpetrators, but indeed He surrendered to His Father’s will. His obedience triumphed and persisted “unto” death, “the death of the cross”. Jesus offered everything on the altar of obedience. That obedience mingled with perfect love ascended like sweet incense before the Father. The perfect sacrifice was approved, and our salvation was purchased.
O Lord, Let me bow before you with gratitude. Let me ask myself diffidently, “unto” where do I obey?
Victory begins in the Secret Life
As noted earlier, the battle of the Lord started in the wilderness where nobody was watching to condemn any fault or to praise any righteousness. In the wilderness sin appears to be charge-free and rightfulness appears to be without reward. That’s why many people fall easily in the wilderness trial. Only the soul that loves God and yearns to please Him triumphs. A soul that’s filled with the spirit of meekness, and is determined to glorify and obey God; it needs no motivation for that.
The battle in the wilderness was dense and comprehensive. After Jesus descended to people to start His ministry, the trials from the devil did not differ in their essence as there was nothing else the devil didn’t try in the wilderness. The only difference was that these trials have been dispensed over day-to-day incidents in Jesus life. For example, the Lord experienced extreme hunger once in the wilderness as a trial for His anxiousness about His basic needs, while during His ministry tens of times He must have been tempted to give His body a little more rest, pay more attention to Himself or stop giving Himself for others. An incident of that is when Peter rebuked Him once to prevent Him from giving His life for others. Since the Lord defeated the temptation of self-caring attitude when it came extensively and overwhelmingly in the wilderness, it was simply certain that He overcomes it when it comes repeatedly through different human vessels.
The same principle applies to our life. The battle starts in our secret life. The devil intensifies his attacks on our points of weakness. In secret, the genuine loyalty to God is tested where nobody is watching to praise our diligence. If the soul overcame that dense course of trials, victory becomes spontaneous in day-to-day life. The opposite is also true; failure in the secret life, where one falls before temptation, will eventually be revealed in a conduct which everyone sees. He who triumphs when only God can see, will once be glorified publicly; and he who fails when only God can see, will certainly fall in front of others eventually.
My friend, is your secret life victorious?
As stated earlier, a meek knows to respect everyone’s right. It’s fault to conceive that honouring God and submitting to Him conflict with submissions to others whom we owe proper submission.
We know that obedience and worship are God’s right. How about man; what are men’s rights? Well, there are rights we owe everyone for being humans and other rights we owe particular people.
There are people who possess social authority such as parents and church leaders. Others possess civil authority such as rulers and government representatives. Paul clearly advocates, “Give to all their dues; to the one due tax, the tax; tribute to whom tribute is due, fear to whom fear is due, and honor to whom honor is due” (Rom 13:7, MKJV). Also Peter states, “be in obedience to every ordinance of men, because of the Lord, whether to a king .... or to governors .... Honor all. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king” (1Pe 2:13-17, MKJV). And these advocacies comprehends the famous principle the Lord set, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's” (Mar 12:17, MKJV).
In His life, Jesus rendered to those particular individuals their dues. In His childhood, He was subject to His parents (Luk 51:2). During His ministry, He was subject to civil authorities and taught His disciples to subject to them despite His dissuasion with the rightfulness of the collected tribute (Mat 17:24-27). At the end of His wonderful life, He told Pilate, “You could have no authority against Me unless it were given to you from above” (Joh 19:11). Jesus subjection to Pilate and his unjust verdict was not because of any fear or constraint, but “because of the Lord” as Peter put it (1Pe 2:13). That means it’s because of the Lord who gave Pilate the power to release that verdict. Paul affirms that notion saying, “For there is no authority but of God; the authorities that exist are ordained by God. So that the one resisting the authority resists the ordinance of God” (Rom 13:1-2).
Paul was a disciple of Jesus in his meekness. He apologized to the high priest for harshly rebuking him, “for it is written, "You shall not speak evil of the ruler of your people."” (Act 23:5) despite the fact that this ruler does not comply with God’s law. Since God ordained him in that position, he is to be respected. We emphasize that to those who think that their spiritual growth gives them the right to scorn authorities and bypass them. That’s not the mind of Christ Jesus who rendered to everyone their dues as well as He rendered to God His dues.
Submission is to Authorities not to Principles
It is important to understand that submission to authorities is one thing, and submission to principles is a completely different thing. The Bible doesn’t teach us to submit to the mind of the leaders when it contradicts that of God. Obviously, Jesus did not subject to Pilate’s mind, but just to his edict of crucifixion. The disciples also have never submitted to the mind of chief priests, because “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Act 5:29, MKJV). However, they didn’t resist their edict to imprison the disciples. Paul also never yielded in subjection to the mind of the leaders nor ever did he try to please them. But when they charged him with imprisonment and death, he surrendered without changing the doctrine he is teaching everywhere even from inside the prison. Rulers may thrust Paul into the inner prison and secure his feet to the stocks, but they have no power to stop his prayers and worship. Paul’s body was subject to the power of the ruler, but his heart and mind were subject to God alone. No power on earth is able to stop the heart of a believer from its constancy in God. The era of martyrdom testifies that fact.
Subjecting to wrongful mind of a leader, whether to avoid their outrage or to gain their acceptance is not meekness but appeasement. Our subjection to the leaders doesn’t necessarily mean we accept all their thoughts. We only do so when their thought complies with the mind of Christ. We must bring “into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ” (2Co 10:5, Darby).