Jesus did not do the will of God for us. We have to do it for ourselves.
What is the way, the truth and the life of eternal life, which is the will of the Father? Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. (John 14:6). God the Father required Jesus the Son to lay down his life out of love for him in order to return to him in heaven and inherit eternal life. Jesus had all the power to save his life but refused to do so out of love for God. He refused because he was determined to fulfil the will of God.
Jesus laid down his life for God; therefore God raised him from the dead to eternal life. Nobody in human history understood that this is the will of God before Jesus’ shining example. Nobody in human history had ever laid down their life for God’s sake and for the sake of his kingdom before Jesus blazed the trail. Jesus was: “the first to rise from death, to die no more.” (Revelation 1:5).
Jesus says: “My Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18). Jesus, the Good Shepherd, lays down his life; therefore, his sheep are also required to follow his example by laying down their lives.
God wants everyone to see and believe in what Jesus has done. He wants all those who love the Lord their God with all their heart, with all their soul and with all their mind to follow Jesus by also laying down their lives for God’s sake. Those prepared to do this will also be entitled to resurrection unto everlasting life; just like Jesus.
The prodigal son
In Jesus’ parable on the family of God, the will of the Father for his Prodigal Son who left home was not for him to get a university degree in Engineering; marry a beautiful Igbo girl and establish a conglomerate of successful businesses in the far country; far away from home. The Father only had one will for his son: “Come back home.”
Accordingly, when he finally returned home, the Father declared a feast, saying: “This son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” (Luke 15:24). As long as the Prodigal Son was away from home he was dead to the Father. As soon as he returned home, he was alive again.
This equally applies to Jesus and to us. At the age of 12, Jesus said to his astonished parents: “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). Much later, he said eagerly to God in prayer: “I am coming to you now,” signalling his great joy at his impending return to heaven. (John 17:13).
Jesus told his disciples who were sad at his departure: “If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father.” (John 14:28). It did not matter that, in order to go back to God, Jesus would have to die on the cross. That is why Jesus teaches that we must not try to save our lives. He says: “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” (Luke 17:33).
Jesus’ doctrine is anathema to the preaching of “Nicodemus pastors” who are ignorant of the will of God. They tell us the will of God is for us to succeed in this life of the far country. They tell us the will of God is for us to become rich and powerful in this world of the far country. They tell us it is God’s will for us to make names for ourselves in this world as managing-directors and chief executives in this far country. But it is all one big lie.
God has only one will; and it is for us for us to be resurrected unto eternal life with him. “Nicodemus pastors” urge Christians to commit our lives to Jesus but not to hate our lives. Earthly fathers encourage us to become doctors and lawyers and engineers so we can inherit this temporal life. But God, our heavenly father, requires us to hate our temporal life. Jesus says: “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25).
When we listen to Jesus, we discover that the love of life is the basis of all sin. If we love life, we hate God. If we are committed to this life, we forfeit eternal life. Therefore, to repent of sin is to repent of the love of life. From the teachings of Jesus, it becomes clear that our salvation is dependent on two interrelated issues. We must love God with all our heart. We must hate this world with all our heart.
It is not the will of God for us to live “the good life” here on earth. On the contrary, God wants us to love him so much that we have no special regard for our life in this world but yearn to be with him in heaven. God requires us to despise the vainglories of this world. Jesus says: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” (John 12:24). When we die to self and live primarily to God, we attract so many others into the kingdom of God.
Jesus says furthermore: “If anyone serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there my servant will be also.” (John 12:26). How do we serve and follow Jesus? We do so by giving our lives as a ransom for others; just as he did. (Matthew 20:27-28). We follow him by carrying our own crosses. Those who follow Jesus’ example receive the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10). They end up with Jesus in the bosom of God the Father.
Thy kingdom come
A kingdom is a territory where the will of a king is done. The kingdom of God did not exist on earth before Jesus because the will of God was not done by anybody on earth. But as soon as Jesus did the will of God on earth, the kingdom of God came down to earth.
Today, the kingdom of God is limited to only those who follow Jesus’ example of laying down their lives for God on earth. Everybody does this in heaven. Those not inclined to do this in heaven were cast out.
Jesus says: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21). This means nobody can enter the kingdom of God without laying down his life as Jesus did. This should not be confused with physical death. It means living for God and not for self. Jesus did not do the will of God for us. We have to do it for ourselves.