Last week, I wrote about time, time-management, and noted how that is becoming increasingly difficult for me. For so many of us there is more to do than there is time to do it. We are required to prioritize and allocate time segments to those tasks that are most pressing or most deserving.
Demands on our time come from outside as others ask that we give of ourselves, our talents, our strength, our time. Volunteer opportunities and philanthropic organizations endlessly make their case for our beneficence. This has become a distinct phenomenon to such a degree that psychologists have given it a name – Prosocial Behavior.
Not all, however, are attuned to such a mindset. Just moments ago, I stood in line at Safeway with about a half-bag’s worth of groceries in my cart. Just ahead of me was a young boy, roughly eight or nine years of age. He seemed concerned about the line to our right.
Parallel to me, in the line next-door stood a mother with an even younger boy. The mother had strategically placed the older boy in my line as a gauge for which line was moving the fastest. If need be, she would be able to lane-shift, since she had staked a claim in each line. As the family was reunited, she patted her son on the head and bid him, “Good job.”
Rather than live narcissisticly and self-consumed, as did my Safeway friend, what if it were possible for us to reach a point of such self-denial that we gave not only our finances, our possessions, our comfort, our self-interest, and our time, but our entire being . . . our very essence to another. I cannot envision what that would look like or feel like. But I know it has happened.
Jesus gave not money, not time, not possessions. Jesus gave himself. His entirety. Everything he had, and everything he was, he laid that down for us.
He Gave Himself – x6
Six times, the New Testament tells us that Jesus “gave himself” for us. This week, we will look at those statements.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. – Galatians 1:3-5, ESV
We speak often of the “gift of salvation,” freedom from our sin, and rightfully so. But in this passage the gift is not the salvation. That’s the result or outcome of the gift, but the gift is Jesus himself.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20, ESV
The reality of Christ living in me in exchange for me no longer living is a strange reality for our finite minds to ponder. But it is made possible only because Jesus gave himself for me. Without that, the former reality is not possible.
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 5:2, ESV
Jesus’ giving himself for us is prompted by his love, but the amazing thing about this verse is that his sacrifice for us was simultaneously a sacrifice of atonement to God.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. – Ephesians 5:25-27, ESV
Jesus gave himself for us to make us holy (hagios) and that he might cleanse (katharisas) us. This is where we get our concept of catharsis – a purging or discharge.
[Jesus] gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. – 1 Timothy 2:6, ESV
Jesus gave himself in an act of ultimate potency, a sacrifice that was a sufficient ransom for all sin. It frees us, not only from the penalty of sin, but from the power of sin over our lives.
[Jesus] gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. – Titus 2:14, ESV
Here, again, we see the catharsis – purify – and the purge results in a people who are zealots, eagerly chasing after good works, that whatever we do, we do it all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV).