Did Jesus Christ yield personal rights?
Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus Christ gives us a striking example of complete obedience and surrender to God. In the Book of Philippians, we read that although Jesus was equal with God, He humbled Himself to live among men and to redeem them from the bondage of sin.
In order to fulfill the direction of God the Father, Jesus yielded His right to wealth, to a good reputation, to be served, to enjoy physical comforts, and to make His own decisions. We are challenged to learn from Him and to follow His example.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5–8).
Jesus Yielded His Right to Wealth
In order for Jesus Christ to redeem men and women from sin, He left the splendor, beauty, and majesty of heaven.
- Jesus is God, the Creator of all things; He had a right to enjoy all wealth and riches (see Colossians 1:15–17), yet He confined Himself to the limited means of a carpenter’s household.
- During the years of His public ministry, Jesus did not have a home of His own. He received gifts of hospitality and care from others. He was not interested in building a grand earthly kingdom, and He challenged His followers to give to the poor and lay up treasures in heaven.
When His work was done, Christ returned to heaven with greater wealth than He had before, because He had purchased salvation for all the people He had redeemed.
Jesus Yielded His Right to a Good Reputation
In heaven, Jesus is continually worshiped and His name highly honored. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. When Jesus came into the world, however, He “made himself of no reputation” (Philippians 2:7).
- Rather than being born into wealth and prominence, Jesus was born into poverty and obscurity. His hometown was of such poor repute that when Philip first told Nathanael about Christ, Nathanael retorted, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
- The manner of Mary’s conception of Christ probably cast suspicion on the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ birth.
- Jesus obeyed every directive of His heavenly Father, but His behavior caused His popularity with religious leaders to sink. Among other things, they were shocked that He allowed a woman with a bad reputation to wash His feet (see Luke 7:36–50), and they were offended when He healed a man on the Sabbath. (See Mark 3:1–6.)
- Christ’s ultimate humiliation came when He was arrested, falsely accused, and crucified. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree” (Galatians 3:13).
In light of eternity, Jesus understood that His reputation among men was temporary. Obedience to God mattered eternally, and through Jesus’ obedience, God’s plan of redemption became a reality. God has rewarded Jesus with a name that is above all names, and one day every knee will bow to Him and everyone will acknowledge His sovereignty over all things. (See Philippians 2:9–11.)
Jesus Yielded His Right to Be Served
As the Creator of every living person, Christ has the right to have others serve Him. However, when Jesus came to earth, He did not demand the service of others. Instead, He took opportunities to demonstrate humble service, thus setting a precedent for leaders to serve those under their care.
- Jesus was sensitive to the needs of those around Him and performed many acts of kindness. He healed the diseased, delivered those possessed with evil spirits, restored the disabled, provided food for the hungry, and more.
One of the most demeaning tasks of Christ’s day was that of washing the feet of guests. On the evening of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest, He washed the feet of His disciples, who were shocked by His actions. Jesus challenged them to demonstrate such love and service to one another.
“. . . He said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:12–17).
Jesus taught us that true leadership involves serving others, not demanding to be served. Jesus laid down His life for others, and now He receives the fellowship and devoted service of all who believe in Him.
Jesus Yielded His Right to Physical Comforts
Jesus met the demands of a heavy daily schedule by practicing personal disciplines. His lifestyle of traveling, teaching, and ministering to the needs of people along the way did not include many of life’s basic comforts.
- When a man told Christ that he wanted to become His disciple, Jesus warned him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20).
- Jesus traveled dusty trails through rugged wilderness, preached in the open air, slept on the ground, and sailed the choppy waters of the Sea of Galilee. The fact that He could sleep in a fishing boat during a violent storm indicates how weary He must have been. Jesus yielded the right to enjoy a home and a means of transportation in order to fulfill the will of His heavenly Father and to ensure the greatest fruitfulness for His ministry.
- The Gospel of Mark records the strenuous schedule of a typical day in Jesus’ public ministry. He taught in the synagogue, delivered a man possessed with a devil, and healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Then “at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:32–35).
Jesus understood that the earth was not His final home.
Jesus Yielded His Right to Make His Own Decisions
Perhaps the most difficult right to yield is that of making final decisions. Yet, if we do not fully yield this right to God, we will not develop a spirit of meekness or walk in true humility before God. Jesus lived in complete surrender to God’s direction.
- When Christ was twelve years old, He understood His calling and expressed His desire to be about His heavenly Father’s business. (See Luke 2:49.) He yielded to God’s direction through His parents and waited until He was thirty years old to begin His public ministry. (See Luke 3:22–23.)
- During His ministry years, Jesus made no decisions independently but did only what His heavenly Father directed Him to do. (See John 8:28.) Continually, His attitude was “not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).
- When Christ was arrested and placed under civil authorities, God carried out His ultimate will through their decisions. (See John 19:11, 28–30.)
Jesus’ obedience to the directions of His Father allowed Jesus to complete the work He was called to do and to fulfill the Scriptural prophecies about His life. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9–11).
We are challenged to follow Jesus’ example: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1–2).
The material is adapted from pages 97–99 of the Basic Seminar Follow-Up Course.