“He became obedient unto death.” (Phil. 2:8)
A higher obedience of Christ is this, than that we have just considered, since it is obedience to a divine law and to a heavenly Parent. Those who honor and obey God will not be found willfully and persistently dishonoring and disobeying an earthly one. The higher law, recognized and honored, will mold and regulate all subordinate relations. Oh that the fear of God in our hearts might so shape and sanctify the ties, duties, and trials of this present probationary scene, as to make them subservient to his glory! “Surely I know that it shall be well with those who fear God.” (Eccl. 8:12)
But consider the obedience of Jesus. It was substitutionary obedience. Although consenting to come under a law which he had never broken, no obedience, therefore, to that law was required for himself. Made under the law as man, he was bound to obey it, but it was the obligation of a Surety. He honored to the utmost every precept, but it was on behalf of those for whom in the covenant of grace he had entered into engagement. It was strictly substitutionary. “By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Rom. 5:19) My soul, contemplate this blessed truth. Your covenant Surety head has answered in your stead all the requirements of the law you had broken, and under whose great condemnation you did lay, thus paying all your great debt and delivering you from a terrible and eternal condemnation.
It was divine obedience. It was the obedience of God in our nature, and therefore the righteousness which springs from it is termed the “Righteousness of God.” God, intent upon accomplishing his eternal purpose of saving a portion of the race, provided a divine righteousness for our justification in the obedience of his co-equal and co-eternal Son, and so we are “made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Cor. 5:21) Glorious truth! “In your righteousness shall they be exalted.” (Ps. 89:16) It exalts us above angels, above ourselves, above sin, above condemnation. And because it is divine, it places us before God in the condition of a present and complete justification.
And lest the shadow of a spot
Should on my soul be found,
He took the robe the Savior wrought,
And cast it all around.
The obedience of Christ is imputed to us by the Spirit. In the same manner by which he became sin for us, we become righteous in him — by imputation. Glorious truth! It is the marrow and fatness of the gospel to those who feel the plague of sin, and who have long starved their souls with the husks and chaff of their own worthless doings. “Unto whom God imputes righteousness without works.” (Rom. 4:6)
It follows that the obedience of Jesus is ours freely, because ours by faith. Are you, O my soul, bankrupt of all merit and worthiness? Have you nothing to pay? Then, listen to the divine declaration — sweeter than angels’ chimes — “By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2:8, 9) My soul, it is not yours by your own doings, nor your deservings, nor your sufferings. “It is by faith, that it might be by grace.” (Rom. 4:16) “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief.”
Imitate Jesus. Let your walk before the Lord be obedient. Let your obedience be loving and unreserved. “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” (1 Sam. 15:22) Aim, Caleb-like, to “follow the Lord fully,” standing complete in all the will of God. If Jesus thus fully obeyed for you, all he asks in return is that, if you love him you will evince that love by obeying his commandments. Love will make any act of self-sacrifice for Christ sweet, the relinquishment of any sin unhesitating, and the bearing of any cross pleasant.
Jesus, Your blood and righteousness,
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.
When from the dust of death I rise,
To take my mansion in the skies,
Even then shall this be all my plea—
Jesus has lived and died for me.