Surrender is not a word that many of us like. If we are the ones who must make this decision we often feel weak, demeaned, or belittled. To surrender implies, in the minds of some (maybe many), that we were not strong enough to win. This may be the reason that for many Christians the call to surrender our lives and wills to God can be so jarring. Why so many fight against the call God has made to bend our knew to Jesus, our King.
This conceptualization of surrender is not the biblical understanding of the term or the idea. Jesus, who is our model for this concept, shows us that surrender can be a demonstration of immense strength. Jesus told his disciples that he chose to surrender his life for the sheep God the Father has entrusted into his care. Those sheep are every person who has come to Jesus and believed that he is the promised Messiah.
14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (John 8:14-18)
Jesus is able to save because he has the power and the authority to both lay down his life and take it up. And, while we are not Jesus in this same exact sense—that we cannot take up our own lives—we can lay them down. And the reason we lay down our lives is because any effort we make to preserve our own lives, under our own strength, by means of our own wisdom is futile and bound for failure. Listen to Jesus’s call to those who give the cares of this world greater priority than surrender to him.
38And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:38-39)
John Gill, the great Bible expositor of the 18th century makes the following remarks about the implications of Jesus call to lose our lives for him.
He that findeth his life shall lose it,…. That man that seeks to preserve his life, and the temporal enjoyments of it, by a sinful compliance with his friends and the world, and by a denial of Christ, or non-confession of him; if he is not, by the providence of God, deprived of the good things of life, and dies a shameful death, both which are sometimes the case of such persons; yet he is sure to lose the happy and eternal life of his soul and body, in the world to come: so that the present finding of life, or the possession of it, on such sinful terms, will in the issue prove an infinite and irreparable loss unto him. On the other hand, Christ observes,
he that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it. That man that is willing to forego the present advantages of life, to suffer reproach and persecution, and lay down his life cheerfully for the sake of Christ and his Gospel, for the profession of his name, rather than drop, deny, conceal, or neglect any truth and ordinance of his, shall find his soul possessed of eternal life, as soon as separated from his body; and shall find his corporal life again, in the resurrection morn, to great advantage; and shall live with Christ in soul and body, in the utmost happiness, to all eternity.[Source].
As we continue in this time of reflection and anticipation of the celebration of Jesus’s resurrection, how are we practicing surrender? Are we cheerful in doing it? Or do we begrudge God this requirement of the crucified life?