"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
Christ Exemplifies Perseverance
By Fred O. Blakely
"He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for His law" (Isa. 42:4).
As the time for His predestined death drew near, Christ "steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem" (Lk. 9:51). That determination, and perseverance in the discharge of His mission, characterized all of our Lord's earthly ministry.
Indeed, it continues to dominate Him, as He now executes the Father's will from the eternal throne in heaven, as our text from Isaiah, printed above, indicates. "I come to do Thy will, O God," thus, was the prophetic utterance that set the tone for the obedient Son's enfleshment, as well as for His glorified state (Heb. 10:9; cf. v. 7; Ps. 40:6-8).
Self and Satan's Opposition. We need to consider the severe and recurrent challenges and obstacles to that unrelenting determination that beset the blessed Savior. That is so that we, confronted with like responsibility and discouragements, shall not "be wearied" or "faint" in our minds (Heb. 12:3).
There, of course, was the opposition of His own human nature. It was as earthy as is ours, and thus fully as inclined to the earth. That was climactically demonstrated in Gethsemane. There, immediately confronted with the cross, Jesus' humanity cried out for deliverance from it, were it possible for God to grant such deliverance.
From without, of course, the Devil persistently sought to dissuade the Savior from the accomplishment of His appointed task. That is apparent from the wilderness temptation (Mt. 4:1-11), and by the people's desire to make Him King after the earthly order (Jn. 6:15). In the people's call for Him to "come down from the cross," it is also manifested (Mt. 27:39·44).
The Conflict with Friends. Even those who were not intentionally opposed to God did not understand the Messiah and His mission. They included the Apostles, whom He had chosen. At Caesarea Philippi, Peter planted himself squarely athwart Christ's path to the cross, and had to be severely rebuked by Him for his carnal-mindedness (Mt. 16:21-23). At the last supper, with His sufferings and death hard upon Him, the Apostles were still wholly earthbound in their perception and outlook (Jn. 14:5; 16:17-18). And when His appointed death finally was accomplished, they appear to have virtually given up hope, some of them returning to their former occupation of fishing (Jn. 21:2·3).
And what shall we say of the trying in this connection of Jesus by His earthly family? It was out of His personal experience of the situation, as well as a citation of the old covenant Scripture, that He made the pointed declaration of relevance. "A man's foes shall be they of his own household" (Mt. 10:34·37; cf. Mic. 7:6). Neither Mary nor His half-brethren appear to have understood or been reconciled to His purpose and ministry as God's Son and the Sin-offering for the world (Mt. 12:46-49; Mk. 3:21; Jn. 7:2-5).
The Situation with Us. This having been the experience of a "green tree," as the Lord would remark, it certainly cannot reasonably be expected to be different for a "dry" one (Lk. 23:31). That is to say, if the Master of the house was so misunderstood and opposed in the execution of His commission from the Father, so may we expect to be. In His steadfast purpose and perseverance, despite all obstacles, He has left us "an example," that we should "follow His steps," in the diction of Peter (I Pet. 2:21).
Unless we encounter from people of the world something of such opposition to our bent of spirit and way of life, we should be alarmed. "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you," warned Christ Himself; "for so did their fathers to the false prophets" (Lk. 6:26). "If I yet pleased men," well observed Paul, "I should not be the servant of Christ" (Gal. 1:10).
Rather, we are to expect opposition from those who are "not of God" (Jn. 8:47). They cannot but resist His ways and us who walk therein. We are to have and maintain the attitude of Paul in that warfare, which certainly was that of his Lord as well. "None of these things move me," declared the Apostle; "neither count I my life dear unto myself" [it had been lost for Christ's sake]. That was his spiritual state, in order "that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus," he continued (Acts 20:22-24).
Let us who have taken up our cross to follow Jesus be likeminded, as we are urged by both Paul and the Savior to be (Jn. 12:26; I Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:13-17). So shall we make our "calling and election sure" (II Pet. 1:10), and in doing it, glorify Him who has summoned us "unto His eternal glory" (I Pet. 5:10).
"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).