Sermon Extra – “I’m A Creative Visionary Leader Who Is Also Obedient”

June 14, 2010 at 4:45 am 2 comments

Creative.  Visionary.  Leader.  Ambitious.  Inspiring. We place a high premium on these values in our culture.  When we are looking for a job, we know that these words, or some combination thereof, are sure to make potential employers salivate and want to know more about us.  When we are seeking out a mentor, these are the qualities for which we look.  For the most part, we want to know people – and we want to be people – who are out in front, recognized and respected by many, leading the pack.

Obedient. Now there’s a word you won’t find on a resume or on a top ten list of values to which we aspire.  Indeed, this value is more often denigrated than celebrated, especially in our popular culture.  From the James Dean classic “Rebel Without A Cause” to a motorcycle named the “Rebel,” disobedience is much more admired and prized than is obedience.  After all, obedience seems so – well…boring!

Perhaps we shouldn’t so readily dismiss obedience.  For obedience is highly prized in the Scriptures.  A sampling of Scriptures will suffice to bring out the premium the Bible puts on obedience:

  • “Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you” (Deuteronomy 6:3).
  • “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28).
  • “This is love for God: to obey His commands” (1 John 5:3).

Clearly, the Bible likes obedience.  And no one is exempt from this cardinal virtue of obedience – not even Jesus.

In my sermon this past weekend, we looked at Luke 2:41-52, the only canonical gospel account of Jesus’ childhood.  This story is depicted by one of our stained glass windows, pictured above.  As the story opens, Joseph and Mary take Jesus in tow, traveling from Nazareth to Jerusalem, to celebrate the Passover Feast.  After the Feast, they travel back to Nazareth only to find that Jesus is missing at the end of the first day of their travels.  So they make a desperate search for their son.  As I mentioned in my sermon, after finding Jesus, when Mary says to her son, “Your father and I have been anxiously looking for you” (verse 48), the Greek word for “anxiously” is odunao, a word meaning, “pain.”  Mary’s concern for her lost son was so great that it caused her pain.  It put a lump in her throat.  It made her sick to her stomach.  And Jesus knows this.  And Jesus cares about His mother and her anxiety.  And so we read:  “He went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.”  Jesus, the Son of God and the Sovereign of the universe, is obedient to his earthly father and mother.  Such is the primacy of obedience.  It is a value extolled and practiced by our Lord.

The Greek word for “obedient” is hypotasso, meaning, “to arrange under.”  The idea is that, out of love, people should learn to place their concerns, wants, needs, and desires under the concerns, wants, needs, and desires of others.  That is, people should be concerned with others before they are concerned with themselves.  In the words of the apostle Paul, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).  This is obedience – to show concern for the interests of others.

Jesus is concerned with the concern of His parents.  For they have been worried sick trying to find Him.  And so, He is obedient to His parents.  Indeed, Jesus’ whole life and ministry is one of obedience as  “He humbles Himself and becomes obedient to death – even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8)!  Jesus’ obedience is so unflappable, it leads Him to a cross.

What premium do you put on obedience in your life?  Do you intentionally arrange your concerns, wants, needs, and desires under the concerns, wants, needs, and desires of others?  Obedience may not be a secular value, but is a biblical one.  And it is a value that, when embodied by Christ on the cross, wins our salvation.  Perhaps we should take a value as powerful as obedience a little more seriously.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rev. Kevin Jennings  |  June 14, 2010 at 7:01 am

    Hi, Zach!

    How true it is that obedience is dismissed while “thinking outside the box,” “being a self starter,” and the like are revered. The American psyche is full of itself in its “Don’t tell me what to do” attitude.

    The verb which you mention is also the key verb in Paul’s writing about marriage in Ephesians 5: submit. Hypotasso involves submitting one will under another. Thus, a critical ingredient in the recipe of obedience is equally disdained in the world: humility, submission.

    Think of all the humility involved in arrange under and submit. Consider Jesus, who submitted Himself to His parents. Consider this part of his life, His perfect obedience, as the key part of what the Catechism calls Jesus’ State of Humiliation.

    God bless!

  • 2. Sandy Ryan  |  June 14, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Hey Pastor Zach,
    I think I mentioned to you and Melody that I was starting this Daniel Fast a couple of weeks ago and (this is so cool…) what I have been getting out of it is the word obedience. I told Mike on Sunday that the message wasn’t really on obedience (since the topic was misunderstanding) but the scripture talked about Jesus’ obedience to His parents. Then I read your blog and also the comment by Rev Jennings. Thank you so much. I just love it when God does things like this. Now to obey!!
    Grace and Peace,


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