I’m reading David Flusser’s “The Sage from Galilee” and a verse was pointed out that I find incredibly important.Micah 2:13 speaks of the Messiah leading God’s people out of a gate after having the strength to break it. The interesting part of the verse is its emphasis on the Messiah going out before them, in advance. John 10:4 holds much the same idea.This is important to me because I claim the earliest Christians saw Christ as a “trail-blazer” or “pioneer,” giving proof of blessings available to them by experiencing them first. Christ was baptized. Christ received the Holy Spirit. Christ put his trust in God (“He who judges righteously” in 1st Peter 2:23) rather than call on angels to save Him, providing an example of how Christians should live. And then Christ was resurrected with a transformed body. These are the elements of Christian salvation as understood by the early Christians (in particular the receipt of the Holy Spirit and then resurrection with a transformed body).This idea of “trail-blazer” or “pioneer” for the purposes of providing example is, in fact, what the Greek word “archēgos” means. The one used in Acts 3:15, Acts 5:31, Hebrews 2:10 and Hebrews 12:2, but most translations do not convey the notion of “trail-blazer” or “pioneer” because there is a general interest in under-playing Christ as an example or seeing Him as the first Christian martyr.Instead, the word is translated as “Prince” or “Author” in these verses [the other two meanings according to Thayer’s Lexicon.
This discussion of the first verse is linked to another verse shown to me when reading a completely different book. I am also reading the apologies of Justin Martyr. He pointed out a verse commonly used by early defenders of the faith to refer to the idea of Jesus submitting to unjust death out of confidence that God, being good, would not allow a righteous man to be ashamed. This is the idea found in the 1st Peter 2:23 verse I mentioned earlier, but is found throughout that letter.
A crystal clear OT prophecy of Christ submitting to suffering for that purpose is given in Isaiah 50:5-7 !
I really love this aspect of Christ’s submission. It really speaks of Christ’s faith rather than merely His faithfulness to God’s plan. If we think of Christ as merely going through the whole suffering and death for purposes of fulfilling God’s plan, it really speaks nothing at all about faith. Faith is confidence in something unseen. If we picture Christ as being absolutely certain of the aftermath [in the way that the Almighty Father was], there is nothing to have faith in because there is nothing unseen to rely on.
However, if we allow Christ to have the dimension of a righteous follower of God who believed so strongly that the Father, being righteous and good, would not allow the extremely shameful crucifixion to be the end of the story, then we see Christ having faith in the unseen…faith in God’s attributes. This is exactly the kind of faith Christ calls for in others: “you believe God is powerful, cares about the poor, and is inclined to reward those who do His will…then why don’t you act like it?”
I could see that the above depiction of Jesus might seem a bit too humble for some. A “middle road” would be that Jesus had been told by God what would happen and then we see Jesus not having faith in God’s attributes but rather God’s willingness to do what He said.
However, I think the above is both absurd and very close to what might be reality: Christ had faith in God’s Word as shown in the Old Testament. He believed the sketch portrayed there was authentic and could be trusted. Note that this is precisely the kind of faith He attacks His disciples for not having in Luke 24:25-27.
Given that Jesus is the incarnation of God’s Word, it would be (in some way I cannot fully wrap my head around) fitting for this latter type to be the kind of faith Jesus had.I realize this whole discussion may grate on some people who feel it makes Jesus too human by claiming there were things he did not know [in the sense of have evidence for rather mere confidence in.] But He has no problems evincing His ignorance of some aspects of the Father’s plan in Mark 13:32 (and note Luke 2:52).
P.S. The content of this passage is not meant to suggest that the only reason Christ submitted to death was for purposes of example.