Be Devoted to God Like Jesus
Various Passages
By Paul Robison

Someone has said: "Follow Me; I am the way, the truth, and the life.  Without the way, there is no going.  Without the truth, there is no knowing.  Without the life, there is no growing" (Kempis).  After Jesus washed His disciples' feet, He told them: "For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you" (John 13:15).  We should do as He has done.  There is a famous Jewish rabbi who has written over 500 books.  He admires Jesus, but he believes that Jesus went in the wrong direction when He took the emphasis off of "us" in the community and placed it on "I".  The rabbi saw very clearly that Jesus doesn't say: "Follow the example found in law," but He says instead: "Follow Me, follow My example" (Yancey).  So in our next few sermons, we want to see how we can imitate Jesus in several areas.
 
Anyone who even looks at Jesus' life casually has to be impressed by Jesus' devotion to God.  Someone observes:”Because He is so absolute, Jesus doesn't offer a path of devotion that consists [solely] of daily prayer and piety to God.  He wants total, unswerving devotion ... every thought must be of God, and every action directed toward Him" (Chopra)!  A third writer comments: "In other words, in the first commandment, God told Israel to serve Him exclusively, not only because they owed it to Him, but also because He was worthy of their entire and exclusive trust [He had freed them from bondage and led them through the Red Sea].  They were to bow to his absolute authority over them on the basis of confidence in His complete adequacy for them.  And, clearly, these two things needed to go together; for they could hardly have been whole-hearted in serving Him, to the exclusion of other gods if they had doubted His all-sufficiency to provide whatever they might need.  It's this kind of trust and exclusive devotion to which Christ calls us as His disciples" (Keathley III). Jesus Himself said in Matthew 6:24: "No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon."  Jesus loved and was loyal to God. That is this sermon's theme: "Be devoted to God, like Jesus!"  Let's now look at four ways that Jesus was devoted to God, so we too can imitate His example.
 
First of all, Jesus respected God's nature, so we should respect God's nature.  Jesus said in Luke 12:4-5: "And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you must fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has the power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!"  That's a pretty straightforward passage, isn't it?  We don't need to fear men for they can only kill the body.  But we do need to fear God because He has the awesome capacity to cast us into an eternal hell!  Jesus' respect or fear of God is also seen in Hebrews 5:7, where the writer affirms: "Who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear."  Jesus' honor, reverence, and awe of God were a part of His Jewish heritage.  Remember how the book of Ecclesiastes ends? "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear [or respect] God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil."  Respect God's nature!  This respect for God focuses on His majesty, His holiness, and His transcendent glory (Bridges).  We need to remember "there is a gap, an otherness between man and God, which shows the exaltedness of God's nature" (Ibid.).  His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways are superior to our ways (Isa. 55:8).  Respect God's nature!  As Christians, we often magnify the love of God so much that our respect for God's authority becomes almost excluded (Ibid).  Someone has observed: "It is this profound sense of veneration and honor, reverence and awe, that draws forth from our hearts the worship and adoration that characterizes true devotion to God. ... In our day we must begin to recover a sense of awe and profound reverence for God.  We must begin to view Him once again in the infinite majesty that alone belongs to Him [as the Supreme Ruler]" (Bridges).  The apostle Peter admonishes us very simply: "Fear [or reverence] God" (1 Peter 2:17). Jesus' devotion to God was based on His respect for God's exalted nature. We should do as Jesus has done—Respect God's nature!  Be devoted to God, like Jesus!
 
Next, Jesus honored God's uniqueness, and we should do the same!  Look at John 4:24 where Jesus affirms: "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth."  Notice here how Jesus reveals God's uniqueness.  God is a spirit; He is not material or earthly, nor is He limited by time and space (NSB).  One commentator explains: "God is Spirit means that God is not made of any physical matter and does not have a material body but has a more wonderful kind of existence that is everywhere present (hence worship is not confined to a place, v. 21) ... Because 'God is Spirit,' the Jews were not to make idols 'in the form of anything' in creation as did the surrounding nations" (ESVSB).  Now look at Jesus' prayer in John 17.  Let's read the first five verses: "Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: 'Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.  And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.  I have glorified You on the earth.  I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.  And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.'"  Did you hear what Jesus just said?  Let's note what He affirms about God. First of all, He says: "You have given Him authority over all flesh to grant eternal life."  Now Jesus is a being who gives others eternal life; that's someone that more than just a human being.  But then note that God has given Jesus the ability to grant eternal life to mankind.  Now that is surely a supernatural Being beyond the human dimension!  Secondly, Jesus called God the "only true God".  There were many false gods and goddesses that the pagans worshiped, but these gods were just the creations of cultures.  In contrast, the true and living God is the Creator of all cultures!  Lastly, note the last verse where Jesus says in essence: "Give Me the glory that I shared with You before the world was spoken into existence."  Doesn't this mean that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have lived in a glorious state that is beyond the constraints of time, from everlasting to everlasting?  Surely, Jesus honored God's uniqueness, a uniqueness that's hard for our time-bound, finite, and fleshy minds to grasp!  Nevertheless, we should do our best to honor God's uniqueness. The story is told of one graduate student who returned to the seminary that had trained him to preach in their chapel service.  One of his former professors sat near the front.  Now you can imagine that there is something rather intimidating about going back to the school where you trained to teach the Scriptures to those who taught you.  After the chapel service, the professor shook the speaker's hand and said: "If you come back again, I will not come to hear you.  I only come once.  I am glad that you are a big-God-er.  When my students come back, I come to see if they are big-God-ers or little-God-ers, and then I know what their ministry will be like."  The speaker then asked the professor to explain himself a little more.  "Well, some men have a little God.  They are always in trouble with Him.  He doesn't intervene on behalf of His people. He doesn't do much to help mankind.  He doesn't even speak to people through the Bible.  They have a little God, and I call them "little-God-ers".  Then, there are those who have a great God.  He speaks, and it's done.  He commands, and it stands fast.  He knows how to show Himself strong to those who fear Him.  He continually blesses people.  You, Donald, have a great God, and He will bless your ministry" (Barnhouse in Swindoll).  Are you a "little-God-er" or a "big-God-er"?  "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come! ... You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power, for You created all things, and by Your will, they exist and were created! ... Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever" (Revelation 4:8 & 11;5:13). "Then sings My soul, my Savior, God to Thee, how great Thou art!” Jesus honored God's uniqueness.  We should honor God's Uniqueness!  Be devoted to God like Jesus!
 
Next, Jesus practiced God's will, and so should we.  He proclaims in John 5:30: "I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of the Father who sent Me."  He asserts in John 6:38: "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me."  But we also note, that all these passages aren't just lip service.  It was God's will that Jesus die the horrible death that He did to be that perfect atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Jesus had heard and read Isaiah 53:7 many times before He Himself submitted to baptism: "He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet he opened not His mouth. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter."  The next day after Jesus' baptism, John looked at Him and said: "Behold, the Lamb of God!"  Could those words have sent shivers down Jesus' spine as He comes to the full realization: "Yes, it is I who will have to face the cruelties of a Roman cross."  We remember His famous prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane recorded in Luke 22:42: "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done."  God sent an angel to strengthen His Son, but He did not change His will that Jesus drink the cup of suffering.  And so, Jesus suffered all cruelties linked to the cross—the betrayal, the kangaroo courts, Peter's denial, the soldiers' beatings, the large nails, the mockeries, the insults, the fears of suffocation, the pain of a Roman spear.  Looking back on this scene, note what the writer of Hebrews has to say in 10:8: "Previously saying, 'Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them' (which are offered according to the law), the He [Jesus] said: 'Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.' He takes away the first that He may establish the second.  By that will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ one for all."  Jesus came to this earth to do, to practice God's will. And that was not always a bed of roses for Him.  In fact, it was just the opposite—it was degrading, it was stinging, it was humiliating, it was painful, it was horrible, it was tempting, it was cruel, it was unjust through and through.  Now listen to Jesus challenge to us in Matthew 7:21: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of My Father in heaven."  Oh yes, you can call me Lord, but are you willing to pay the price that practicing God's will may cost you?  You see, practicing God's will, will make you unpopular, will make you politically incorrect, will make you the target of put downs, insults, and persecutions!  It will make you a laughingstock and a scapegoat for others' cruelties!  "If anyone desire to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desire to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it" (Luke 9:23-24).  Isn't losing your life for His sake the same as denying to live life according to your own will?  Isn't that you praying daily, "Not my will, but Yours be done," whatever the cost that might entail.  There was a business man who was torn between his business and the Lord's church.  He was proud of his business, and he had been very successful.  But God was not in his business.  He ran it according to the world's standards and ethics.  Yet, as time went on, this Christian man could see that people were being hurt by running his business without God.  So, the time came that he started to make changes and put more of God's will into his business.  Things sometimes got tense, but some strides were made towards improvement. This Christian man still wrestled, however, with the idea of running all his business according to God's will.  After all the fretting over this decision, one Sunday after a church service, he decided to turn all his business over to doing God's will.  He was determined that come ridicule and losses, he would do all that he could to let God's will be in his business. He felt pleased and somewhat energized by the future challenges.  Later that night, he got an emergency call; the place of his business was in flames.  He calmly drove to the place and watched the firemen as they did their best to bring the rage under control.  He was sort of smiling to himself.  One colleague raced to his side and saw immediately how relaxed the man was.  "Man, don't you know what's happening?  All our profits have gone up in smoke!  Can't you see, it's all burned up!"  The Christian replied: "Yes, I know.  How well I know, but really it's no problem, Gilbert.  You see, this morning I gave this company to God, and if He wants to burn it up, well, that's His business.  In fact, He has probably saved me lots of confrontations and has now given me a grand opportunity to include Him in the new business that will be started" (Swindoll).  Let's practice God's will.  Be devoted to God like Jesus!
 
Next, Jesus recognized God's presence, and we should do the same.  Even while suffering the horrors of the cross, Jesus did not forget that God was near.  He said in Luke 23:46: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."  After He had risen from the grave, notice what He tells Mary in John 20:17: "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them: 'I am ascending to My Father and our Father, and to My God and your God."  The fact that Jesus had to endure the grave did not hinder Him from recognizing God's presence once He was alive again.  As He had always recognized God's presence throughout His lifetime, He continued to recognize it after He was alive again.  Jesus recognized God's presence.  What difference can this make?  Listen to these interesting words: "Jesus' answer to the question: 'What sort of person is God?' is simple. He is 'the Father.'  When we hear this familiar truth, we nearly always read back into God's character what we know of fatherhood.  This is understandable enough, but it reverses the actual truth.  If God is 'the Father,' ... then we derive our characteristics from Him. ... If once we accept it as true that the whole Power behind this astonishing Universe is of the kind of character that Jesus could only describe as 'the Father,' the whole of life is transfigured. ... People [made in the image of 'the Father'], and our relationships with them, at once become of tremendous importance. ... People, not things, matter.  It is impossible to divorce Christianity from life.  Those who attempted to divorce Judaism from ordinary life were called by Jesus 'play actors' (or hypocrites); they were acting a part and not really living it" (Phillips).  Another brother gives this good insight: "I see no hope for a worldly church except that which exists in a sense of God's Presence. ... Let a certain holy ambition for God invade our souls, so that—content with nothing less than God Himself—we rise above mediocrity and shall find the light of life and joy. ... Although God has concealed some things, He left nothing about Himself unmarked. A sense of His Presence is possible" (White).  The Hebrews had a name for God called "Jehovah- shammah, which means "The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35).  Think of the apostle Paul's life and where do you find him?  You find him left on a road almost stoned to death, you find him in many prisons, you find him holding on to the wreckage of ship, you find him standing in the courts of kings and the emperor.  And in all those places, God is near as well!  "But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear" (2 Tim. 4:17).  Whatever circumstance you may find yourself in, recognize God's presence!  Be devoted to God like Jesus!
 
"There was a Knight of Bethlehem, whose wealth was tears and sorrows, His men-at-arms were little lambs, His trumpeters were sparrows.
His castle was a wooden cross on which He hung so high; His helmet was crown of thorns whose crest did touch the sky" (Barclay)! 
This Knight of Bethlehem was deeply devoted to His King.  Be devoted to God like Jesus!  Let's pray: “God, help us to be devoted to You as Jesus was.  Your nature is far above ours.  You are spirit, and not flesh and blood.  May Your will be seen in our lives and in all the earth.  We are thankful that Your presence is always with us, even the darkest of circumstances.  You are worthy of our deepest devotion.  In Jesus name, Amen.”
 ""You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment" (Matthew 22:37)!  Have you been devoted to God like Jesus?  Are your respecting His nature and honoring His uniqueness?  Are you practicing His will and recognizing His presence?  "Follow Me; I am the way, the truth, and the life.  Without the way, there is no going.  Without the truth, there is no knowing.  Without the life, there is no growing" (Kempis). Make Christ your Lord today and show this audience your devotion by being immersed or confess that you haven't been as devoted to God as should be and ask His forgiveness. Decide for Christ right now!