Jesus Christ played the pivotal role in our  redemption and it is essential for us to be constantly  mindful that we have been “bought with a price”.  It is hard for us to comprehend how the Creator  of heaven and earth, One so great and powerful, could take cognizance of wayward mortals and  provide for them a way of salvation. The Lord’s  comment that “God so loved the world, that he gave  his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”  (John 3:16), fills us with wonder each time we think about it. This love for the world was matched by  Jesus’ great love exceeding any other man’s, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his  life for his friends”. It is profitable for us to reflect on the love of the Father and the Son in order for  us to appreciate and be thankful for the price paid.

Imagine if you had to fulfil the role that was  laid on our Lord? What would have been your  response? Isaiah in the first of the Servant Songs  speaks prophetically of Yahweh’s delight in His  Servant, and there He outlines his demeanour and  final victory: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold;  mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put  my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment  to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor  cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised  reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall  he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto  truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he  have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall  wait for his law” (Isa 42:1–4).

And what was it that was expected of the  Servant; what was his commission? Yahweh his  Father required, as the basis for the extension of  His grace, mercy and forgiveness, a perfect man, a  sinless bearer of the mortal nature that had come by sin in the beginning. He was to be touched  with the feeling of our infirmities, our frailties, our weaknesses in striving for the goal of perfection,  but with the added dimension, this sinlessness was to be achieved under the greatest trial, provocation,  humiliation and pain ever experienced by man, and it would culminate in a cruel lingering death by crucifixion. This was his work description:

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as  it were our faces from him … He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth  … In his humiliation his judgment was taken away  [lxx as cited Acts 8:33]: and who shall declare his  generation? for he was cut off out of the land of  the living: for the transgression of my people was  he stricken” (Isa 53:3, 7–8).

Imagine if this was your appointed lot. How would you have reacted?

His birth and early youth

In a certain sense we are treading on holy ground, as we explore the closest relationship that has ever existed,  that between God and the Saviour, or more poignantly between the Father and the Son of the Father.

What were some of the factors that were  necessary for the achievement of the objective of  our righteous and Holy Father?

There had to be a young woman, virtuous  and willing to accept the lofty role of being “the  handmaid of the Lord”. Mary, a virgin of Nazareth,  graciously responded to this heavenly calling, to  be the mother of Israel’s Messiah. But she had  to be a special person as she would have such a  defining influence upon her son. That she had the  requisite spirituality can be seen from her immediate  responses and the remarkable words spoken to her  cousin Elisabeth, in which she humbly perceived  the import of her singular honour: “My soul doth  magnify the Lord … He hath holpen his servant  Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake  to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever”  (Luke 1:46–55). Moreover there was required of  her maternal compassion, wisdom and a capacity  to instruct with a heavenly balance, lest the young  child should be skewed or prejudiced. She would  perform her sacred charge from the earliest days of  his life. The Psalmist anticipates this, along with the  child’s awareness of his Father’s influence in his first  remembrances: “But thou art he that took me out  of the womb: thou didst make me hope [rsv, ‘keep  me safe’] when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my  God from my mother’s belly” (22:9–10).

God, his Father

Another crucial element in attaining perfection was  our Lord’s divine paternity: in order for the victory  over sin and death to be achieved, God would have to  intervene; the Holy Spirit would overshadow the virgin  Mary bringing about the unique conception of that  holy one who was truly the Son of God (Luke 1:35).

Why was this necessary? The simple answer is  because there was no man of purely human origin  who was or could be sinless: “all have sinned, and  come short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23, 9–11).  God had looked in vain amongst the ranks of the  holy nation, Israel, without success. It was essential  for Him to become involved: “And he saw that  there was no man, and wondered that there was  no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation  unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him”  (Isa 59:16 cp 50:2; 51:18).

But what part did the divine paternity play in the  sinlessness required? It did not make Jesus sinless,  but it made sinlessness possible, if he chose to do his  Father’s will; it gave to him a predilection for spiritual  things beyond any other man; he had an insight,  and intimate knowledge of his Father’s ways. This  was coupled with daily communion and instruction  that led to fervent love between the Father and Son, unique and never experienced by any other.

The Father’s education

We might pose the question, Whence could the  Redeemer obtain the education, the knowledge  mandatory for a sinless life? In a word it was from  Scripture, but in his case it was not ministered by  the Rabbis, but by his heavenly Father. Daily he  was ‘tapped on the shoulder’, awakened, and his  ear was attentive to his Father’s voice. God initiated  the education of this special, responsive one: “The  Lord Yahweh hath given me the tongue of the  learned, that I should know how to speak a word in  season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned” (Isa 50:4).

In the course of this careful instruction the  Son learned many things about his mission, some  daunting and frightening. He came to understand  that he was the subject of Scripture, he was its  theme, the seed of the promises made from earliest  times and to Abraham and David! Everything  depended upon him and his performance of his  Father’s will.

All that he learned about this mission was not  pleasant. We do not know at what age he actually  came to understand that his life would be terminated  by a humiliating, cruel death at the hand of Jew and  Gentile, but we do know what his response was –  acceptance: “The Lord Yahweh hath opened mine ear,  and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I  gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them  that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from  shame and spitting” (Isa 50:5–6). This response showed  courage and commitment to the uncompromising will of his Father; he came to understand His objectives, and though he was a Son, he would learn obedience by the things he suffered; perfection would come only  through suffering! (Heb 5:8).

We should ask ourselves again what our  response might have been to such a commission?  Then we shall understand something of the burden he had to live with “in the days of his flesh”. How  thankful we should be to him who alone can lift our burden and set us free.

In the Temple, twelve years of age

Jesus and his family made their way from Nazareth  to Jerusalem to keep Passover. While returning, his  mother and Joseph became aware that he was not in the company. With much anxiety they retraced  their steps to Jerusalem, where they found him  in the Temple. The story provides us with some  significant insights: clearly in those years there had  been prodigious spiritual growth, for we read that  all that heard him, and that included “the doctors”  of the law, were “astonished at his understanding  and answers”.

He was the subject of adulation and amazement, but he could not let pride, so common in gifted  youth, take root. The record notably informs us that he returned to Nazareth with Mary and Joseph, “and  was subject unto them” (Luke 1:41–51). Rounding  out the time of his youth and development, Luke  adds, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature  [mrg, ‘age’], and in favour with God and man” (v52).

We have commenced our contemplation of  what was entailed in the “great salvation” in which  our Lord played the crucial role as he undertook fulfilling his Father’s will. God willing, we shall  follow his time-line and strive to appreciate more of what was involved in being the Saviour of the World.