April 08, 2013
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
A New Reason or an Old One?
“Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life.”
In the teaching on the subject of the Good Shepherd in John 10, the Lord Jesus speaks of laying down His life four different times. Each of them suggests a different reason for Calvary and the self-sacrifice of the Shepherd.
In verse 11, as the Good Shepherd He gave His life for the sheep. This straight forward statement suggests that it was in the interests of the sheep that He gave Himself. Our welfare, blessing, and salvation were all before Him. He stands in stark contrast to all who went before Him. The best of Israel’s kings could not measure up to Him. Perhaps the closest would be David who asked the Lord to judge him and not the people (1 Chron. 21:17). Yet, in truth, it was all because of David’s sin in numbering the people that the judgment came in the first place.
In verse 15, it was His knowledge of the sheep, or perhaps, His delight in the sheep which led Him to lay down His life. It is not that there was anything delightful in us by nature; but as the Good Shepherd, He saw the potential in the sheep – worshipers for His Father – and His great delight was to lay down His life to procure worshipers for Him.
In verse 18, it was a result of the commandment He had received from His Father. That commandment embraced both the giving up of, and the taking back of His life. Death and resurrection were in the Father’s plans. The commandment was given and the Son willingly and readily undertook to do His Father’s will. Authorized by His Father, He willingly gave His life.
But verse 17 tells us that the laying down of His life was linked with the love of His Father. At first reading, it might seem that the Father found a new reason to love His Son. Consider, however, the verse more closely. Was there ever a time when the Lord Jesus was not the Lamb foreordained? Eternally it was His purpose to lay down His life. Every attribute of His person was involved in His will being to go Calvary and lay down His life. While we preach and teach that the Lord Jesus did not have to go Calvary, it is very possible that all that He is eternally self-demanded that He lay down His life. If this is so, then for all eternity, the Father loved the Son for all that He is, and all that required Him to lay down His life. Everything the Son is was displayed at Calvary; and these perfections, these virtues, were eternally the source of joy and delight to His Father. The Father did not find a new reason to love His Son. It was the same reason He loved Him for all eternity: He loved Him for His character and virtues which took Him to Calvary to lay down His life in love for us, and for His delight in bringing worshipers to the Father and doing the Father’s will.
1. This chapter teaches the self-resurrection of Christ. See verses 17, 18. He had authority to do this. What are the implications of a Man Who is dead having the ability, while dead, to raise Himself from the dead?
2. Verse 17 suggests that the Lord Jesus moved to Calvary fully conscious of the Father’s love for Him. He likewise owned in going His love for the Father (ch 14:31). As such, the Cross becomes a scene where the love which existed eternally within the Godhead was expressed as never before.
3. What is involved in the imagery of a man ‘laying down his life?’ What does this suggest of a lack of resistance on the part of the victim?