#36 WHAT DOES SUBMISSION LOOK LIKE - 2

In a word, submission looks just like Jesus.

Peter put it this way:

‘To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

“He committed no sin,

and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, to that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed’ [2:21-24].

Paul expressed it in his letter to the Philippians:

‘Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!’ [2:4-8].

Jesus demonstrated it when he washed his disciples’ feet:

‘“Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. ... A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”’ [John 13:12-15, 34].

Several levels of Christ’s humility and submission are revealed in these texts:

His submission in his incarnation. He who is the eternal Creator became part of his creation. He who is spirit, unbounded by time and space, became flesh, locked in time and space. He who is clothed with glory and splendour and is worshipped by all the hosts of heaven, became exceedingly ordinary, hidden, unrecognized.

His submission in non-retaliation. When subjected to rejection, mockery, abuse and false accusations he could have summoned the angelic hosts to rescue him. Indeed, he could have annihilated with a single word those who mistreated him. But he chose not to do so.

His submission in taking on the role of our substitute under the just judgement of God. He, the innocent one, put himself in place of us, the guilty ones. He, the righteous, put himself in the place of us, the sinners. He who had no sin, and therefore no condemnation, took upon himself our sin and our condemnation.

His submission in the symbolic action of foot-washing. This action was a micro symbolic demonstration of the submission involved in the three above. It shouts of the grace of Christ. It commands us that we act towards one another with this same grace.

In this submission of Christ we learn that submission has a double direction:

The primary direction of Christ’s submission was submission to the Father’s will. The Son came to do the Father’s will, to implement in time and space the divine plan of salvation that had been determined before time began and before the universe was created.

The secondary direction of Christ’s submission was submission to our well-being. He put aside his rights for our sake. For our sake he became one of us and lived the authentic human life. For our sake he took our sin upon himself and bore its just penalty. For our sake he died – so that we may live.

This is the submission God requires of us: firstly, that we submit to his will, to his commands, and secondly, that we put aside our own rights in order to bring about the well-being of the other.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2018