Jesus lived a life of complete obedience. We read in Hebrews 10:7 that Jesus was careful to carry out every detail according to the will of His Father, “Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come . . . to do thy will, O God’”. Even His coming to earth was an act of obedience to His Father. His life and ministry focused on the will of the Father. “That the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do”(John 14:31).
Jesus even takes this obedience a step further when he said “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak” (John 12:49). The ultimate step of obedience was going to the cross. “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).
In theology there is the term ‘the active obedience of Christ’ which really means the totality of his actions which were in accordance to the law of God. It is important to note however that it was not a legalistic compliance with Law, but a loving obedience to the Father. Jesus lived by the obedience of faith by 1. listening to the Father through trials, hardships, suffering, Hebrews 5:8 – “He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” 2. continuing to listen to Father unto death on a cross (Philippians 2:8) and such listening to God unto death allowed Him to take our death and invest His life in us, Romans 5:19 – “through the obedience of the One, the many will be made righteous”.
What does this mean for us? Like Jesus our obedience begins with listening. Jesus said in John 10:27 “My sheep hear My voice”, thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives we can be fully persuaded/convinced we have heard what He wants to do. Then come the act of receptivity, we must like Jesus show “Obedience of faith” – Romans 1:5; 16:26.
John MacArthur wrote ‘In many ways, the attitude of obedience is much more vital than the act, because if the attitude is right, the act will naturally follow. But the right action with the wrong attitude is nothing but hypocrisy.’
There is something special about a life to “Obedience of faith” in oppose to a legalistic compliance. The Obedience which we are called to show actually gives us liberty or freedom. We as Christians are free to obey, Romans 6:6 tells us that we are ‘no longer slaves to sin, for the one who died has been set free. Thanks to Jesus’ obedience and death we are now set free to obey the will of the Father. We do not keep the Law to be saved. But rather, in keeping the Law we show ourselves to already have gained salvation through the cross of Christ. In light of the cross of Christ and the liberation from the (sting) of sin we receive from it, we are now free to keep the Law (Gal 4:31).
Jesus sets us an example of a life of obedience. In the Disciples’ Prayer (Matthew 6:9–13), Jesus tells us to desire to do the Father’s will. “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, . . . thy will be done” (Matthew 6:9–10). It is not enough just to recognize the authority of Scripture as the voice of God. God wants us to honour that authority by our own obedience. In fact, Jesus makes obedience to the Father a condition of our relationship with Him: “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50).
Jesus Christ illustrates by His own life and walk the path we are to choose. Our lives are to be completely in line with the Word of God and thus the will of God.