We’ve just celebrated Easter, and that caused an old question to pop into my head. This question used to plague me as a kid. See, I grew up in the church and heard all about the life of Jesus from the time I could walk. The one question I could never answer was this—why didn’t Jesus use His power for personal gain?
Think about it. As a kid, I knew that Jesus was the Son of God. I could not explain the Trinity, but I accepted that Jesus was God and man at the same time. Some things that adults have a hard time understanding are just accepted as fact by kids. This was one of those ideas.
Knowing that Jesus was a man and also God at the same time, I knew He had total power to do anything. Stronger than Superman and faster than the Flash, Jesus had the ultimate power. There was simply nothing He could not do if He wanted to.
Because I believed this, I had a really hard time with understanding why He didn’t use His power more. I mean, I knew He worked miracles—He walked on water, turned water into wine, and raised Lazarus from the dead. But…
It’s not like He wasn’t supposed to use His power at all. Clearly, God didn’t tell Jesus to hide His power. So if that is the case, why didn’t He use it more often? As a kid, I could think of so many different ways He could have used it!
He could have defeated playground bullies. He could have won every arm wrestling match he ever faced. He could have even won the fastest runner award every year in school.
And as an adult—Jesus didn’t have to be a lowly carpenter. He could have been a very successful business owner. He could have risen to the top of the political structure of the time. He could have even defeated the Roman army singlehandedly and taken over the world!
As a kid with a great imagination, I came up with endless ways Jesus could have used His power. And every year when Easter came around, this question burned even deeper. Why didn’t Jesus use His power to escape the cross?
He Had An Eternal Perspective
Now, looking back, I see how silly my question was. What seemed so elusive at the time is an answer that is all too obvious now. I am sure it is just as obvious to you, but I think it is worth reviewing.
Jesus had an eternal perspective. He came from heaven to earth for a short time and with very specific purposes. Jesus knew before He came that He would return to heaven. He knew that anything material He gained on earth would be left behind upon His return to His throne.
His Purpose Was Bigger
Jesus didn’t overuse His power to win fights or contests because that did not align with His purpose. He didn’t seek business wealth and success because He knew those were fleeting. He knew self-gain was worthless in eternity and promised little comfort during His tenure on earth.
Jesus avoided political and military entanglements because His perspective was bigger than they could ever be. And most of all, He submitted to the cross because the lives of those He would save as a result were infinitely more valuable than the value of His additional time on earth.
Folks, the question I struggled with as a kid is almost ridiculous when I look back at it. I almost laugh at myself…until I come to another realization and want to cry.
See, if this question is so ridiculous to me now, if the answer is so obvious, then why am I still living as if this life on earth is more valuable than the eternity I face after this life?
Do you understand the problem?
I begin to laugh at my limited understanding as a kid, until I realize I am still living as if I have that same limited understanding now!
When I look at all of the ways I continue to seek my own personal gain today, at the expense of eternal gain, I want to cry. Maybe you are different, but I am almost embarrassed to put these thoughts on paper. In fact, I wouldn’t, except for the hope that someone else will gain from my weakness and transparency.
The bottom line is that my original question is ridiculous. The answer is obvious. And the same purposes that motivated Jesus to act as He did should motivate us today.
We should be exchanging what this short-term world has to offer for the eternal reward that Jesus offers us. We should be sacrificing our comfort today for the promise of our future in heaven.
Some of you are doing this very thing. Some of you are nodding your head right now and maybe even pumping your fist in agreement. At the same time, others of us are silently considering our own lack of commitment.
It’s Not Too Late!
For those of us in this uncomfortable position, the exciting news is that the story is not over. It is not too late! God is faithful and forgiving. He is full of mercy and grace. He is standing ready to embrace our full focus and lead us to greater eternal results.
Written by Chris Patton
Photo by Tim Foster