Live Like Jesus Died
For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:8-11 Becoming like him in his death. I think what Paul means by this is that he wants to live like Jesus died. The reason I think this is Paul is talking here about what he wants to experience in his present life. He says he counts all things as garbage to gain Christ. He’s living his life in such a way that he throws away anything that would get in the way of his gaining Christ. So he’s talking about his experience in this life. Another strong clue is the phrase, “and may share his sufferings.” That’s not something he will do in heaven. There will be no suffering in heaven. So he must be talking about the experience of this life. Paul wants to live his life on earth like Jesus died. He sees in Jesus’ death the greatest glory in this earth and he wants his life to display that glory. When Paul speaks of Jesus’ death, I don’t believe he’s merely talking about moment when life departs from Jesus’ body. It’s the whole episode. The betrayal and arrest. The sham of trial. The conviction and sentencing. And of course the time on the cross. In John 19, we see very clearly some of the glory Paul, and prayerfully we, desire. We will read verses 1-16. 19 Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. 4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” 6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” 7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” 8 When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. 9 He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” 12 From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” 13 So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. 1 My family is watching a TV show called Smallville during this stay-at-home order. It’s about Clark Kent’s life in his teens and early 20s before he really becomes Superman. He is discovering his powers little by little and struggling with the responsibility he has in having these powers and being a normal young man. He knows he has to help people and keep his identity and powers a secret. Lois Lane has joined the show in the last couple of seasons. She is pretty condescending to Clark and his small town persona, not knowing, of course, what Clark is capable of. So she makes these little comments to Clark like, “Just try to keep up,” or “Stay with me so you don’t get yourself into any trouble.” Clark just kind of smirks when Lois makes these comments as if to say, “If you only knew.” It reminds me a little bit of this episode involving Jesus, Pilate, and the Jewish religious leaders. The Jewish religious leaders have arrested Jesus and brought him before Pilate. The Jews are confident that they finally have Jesus exactly where they want him. Pilate is, I believe, unintentionally condescending. He is in a position of great authority in the most powerful empire on earth. He’s trying to do his job well. He’s trying to keep peace in the empire and uphold justice. Pilate thinks he holds Jesus’ fate in his hands. And Jesus remains quiet and calm. If they only knew… That this Jesus is the creator of the universe. This Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth. This Jesus knows what is in the hearts and minds of Pilate and the religious leaders better than they do. He has raised people from the dead. He has told a storm to be still and the storm obeyed. This Jesus could be done with this whole thing any time he wanted. And it wouldn’t even be hard for him. Instead, Jesus, God in human flesh, submitted to the flogging ordered by Pilate. Have you read about these floggings? Your Bible may use the word scourged. Roman guards would use a short handled instrument that had several leather straps attached. These leather straps would have pieces of metal and bone attached to their ends. The blows of this instrument would tear the flesh so deeply that veins, arteries, even organs were often exposed. We don’t know how many of these blows Jesus received. The Bible doesn’t tell us. It is often assumed that he received 39 lashes because it was believed that more than 40 lashes would kill a man. So the Romans would give 40 minus one to leave room for miscounting. So 39 lashes has become tradition’s teaching, but we don’t really know. After the flogging, the Roman guards held a mock coronation ceremony in which they placed a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head. Well, placed is a little too sanitary. They took the crown of thorns and jammed it as far down on his head as it would go so that the thorns pierced Jesus’ flesh. The guards further ridiculed Jesus by saying, “Hail! The king of the Jews!” If they only knew. If you ever wonder what real humility looks like, read John 19:1-30. And don’t mistake Jesus’ humility with weakness. Much of our world will do just that. But Jesus wasn’t weak through all of this. In fact, this may be the greatest display of strength in human history. It surely took divine strength for Jesus to restrain the power he had displayed so many times throughout his ministry. Humility isn’t powerless-ness. It doesn’t require humility to do what you have no ability to do. Humility is power under submission. Jesus humbly restrained his divine power in this flogging for you and me. Isaiah 53:5 - But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds (or by his stripes) we are healed. We are made whole because Jesus was torn. We will know ultimate and eternal healing because Jesus’ flesh was ripped apart. And here’s the thing, his humility in enduring this for our healing, should produce humility in us because not only do we not deserve the benefit of his suffering, we deserve his suffering. If any hint of pride is present in us at all when we see what Jesus did for us, then we don’t get what he did for us. We aren’t seeing the glory in Jesus’ stripes. Why did Paul desire to share in Jesus’ sufferings? Because the glory he saw in Jesus’ sufferings was the King of all kings willingly taking the stripes of people who hated him so that people might be accepted by his Father. He saw Jesus lay down his life for people who are infinitely guilty of treason against the highest authority in existence. Jesus took this beating for traitors. And Paul saw this as the most beautiful thing. So Paul went into cities that arrested him, beat him, even stoned him to share in the beauty of laying down one’s life so that others may know Life. The treason is obvious in our text. Look at verse 15. 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” Isn’t that something? The religious leaders of Israel, enthusiastically claimed Caesar as their king. The Gentile, Caesar. The idolater, Caesar. For all of their piety and law-keeping and public displays of devotion to God, Israel’s religious leaders declared their devotion to Caesar. This was an act of worship. Now, I don’t think these Jews joined with many Romans and considered Caesar to be a god. It wasn’t Caesar these Jews were worshiping. It was themselves. The religious leaders were claiming allegiance to Caesar to keep their positions of influence, their lifestyles, their power. They could not, and did not desire to see Jesus for who he is because that would mean the end of the earthly lives they loved. And do you know what 1 John 2:15 says? “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” You can’t be devoted to God and love your power, your influence, your wealth, your comfort. You can’t long for heaven and protect your earthly stuff at all costs. In this case, these Jews sacrificed God the Son for the sake of their own earthly lives. And what has Jesus said about a situation like that? “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” The religious leaders were too proud to look outside of themselves. They were too proud to think beyond what affected them. Jesus looked only to the interests of others as he stood silent before Pilate. Jesus sought glory for his Father and redemption of sinners. And he forfeited his life to attain that glory and redemption. The religious elite thought nothing of God’s will or the eternal interests of anyone. They were focused solely on themselves. Jesus lived and died for what matters most, eternal things. The religious elite lived only for their present. Folks, live for what matters most. Do things that you may know him and the power of his resurrection, and share in his sufferings for the sake of the glory of God in the redemption of people, becoming humble like Jesus in his death that by any means possible you may obtain resurrection from the dead.