I had an interesting conversation with a friend yesterday (I’m sure he won’t mind me saying) and it struck me again how radical Jesus is.

We were practicing a song I wrote for a friends wedding. It tells the ‘love story’ of what marriage is really all about a la Ephesians 5. In it the women sings ‘I’ve heard a love story about a bride/who willingly follows and obeys her king‘. My friend voiced his feeling that we should rewrite that part, so I explained a bit more of the story behind it, how leading/submitting isn’t about status but about role.

My friend came back saying ‘you’ve just redefined ‘obedience’ – obedience is about one person giving the orders and the other following’.

Interestingly (as I pointed out) I don’t think it’s me who’s redefined that word. I think it was Jesus. In my opinion our big problem with the idea of obeying is that we want to be the ones giving out the orders, and that’s because we think status is found in being able to have what we want.

But Jesus comes along and blows that out of the water. He turns up and says ‘the son of man came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.‘ He says if you want life you have to give it up. He claims that in being last you will be first.

Hang on. This is a guy claiming to be God in the flesh… I don’t think you get any higher status than that! But he says that in living out his identity as God, he lowers himself to serve humans! And he goes further. He’s willing to lay down his life for others, in obedience to his Father. He submits to his Father, even when the plan is for him to die and take the weight of wrath for our rebellion. I think this is one of the most powerful statements in history ‘yet not my will, but yours be done’. Is there not true freedom in this?

Does this give him a ‘lower status’? In one sense yes. He is humbled. Willingly. Yet, through that he is raised above everything else (Philippians 2).

It’s this kind of thing that makes me believe that the gospel is true. On a human level it makes no sense at all. But it’s not about intellect. It’s not about being clever. This message is so radical it needs a completely new heart, a new way of thinking, a new direction to be able to get your head round it. What a great thing then that God promises to give people that.

So as Kate Middleton doesn’t vow to obey her husband, perhaps she’s actually missing out… if Jesus’ life is anything to go by…

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