The Power to Surrender

Author: Julie Simpson
April 14, 2019

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Have you ever given much thought to the absolute humility of Jesus? We talk about it at Christmas sometimes: how the God of the entire universe came down to us as a tiny, helpless baby. But that humility wasn’t just displayed in Christ’s birth, it defined his entire life. And, most assuredly, his death. 

The life of Jesus began and ended in absolute submission to the will of the Father. As Paul says it, “being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:8) Jesus didn’t just die – he suffered the most painful, indecent, humiliating, extended death of the time period. He knew what excruciating pain and scorn lay ahead, and yet in the Garden of Gethsemane we read his words: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). 

Jesus surrendered all of himself – his glory as God, his physical comfort, his reputation, his very life – to the will of the Father, to the great mission of saving us from the very justified condemnation leveled against us. 

And in return, he asks us for that same level of surrender to him: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). 

But that’s crazy, right? Why would we want to do that? His call only makes sense if death is followed by supernatural resurrection.

Because Jesus didn’t stay dead and rotting in his grave, humiliated and scorned. He came back to life and ascended into heaven to be glorified and worshipped forever. And he tells us that if we want to participate in his victory, we have to follow him into death.  As Paul puts it:

… if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin. Romans 6:5-6

Participation in what Christ has done means that our old self, the person enslaved to sin, has been nailed to the cross with Jesus. We have to die to our old ways as slaves of the world in order to experience new life. We have to suffer the loss of the old loves and hang ups and values and moral systems and surrender our whole selves to God’s will.

No, this doesn’t mean we are working for our own salvation. Christ was the only one perfect enough to pay the penalty for our sin. But Paul is saying that if we really believe in what Jesus has done for us, then our entire perspective changes. Like Jesus enduring unimaginable suffering with that ultimate mission of our salvation in mind, the suffering we must undergo as we let go of the things of this world pales in comparison to the hope of our future resurrection. 

In that light, our surrender becomes our joy, because we have to die with Christ before we can join in his victory. With our hope in that new life, we gain Christ’s power to surrender to the will of God and, ultimately, participate undeservedly in his glorification. 

Hallelujah and amen! Let us shout along with Paul, “I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil. 3:10). This sort of surrender might look crazy to the world, but not to us who are pursuing the treasure worth any cost. And who is more worthy of our surrender than he who surrendered everything for us?

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