His Life is Our Example, but Not His Death

No man taketh 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 commandment have I received of My Father. – John 10:18

Some have said that Jesus died as our example; but that is not altogether true. Christ’s death is not absolutely an example for men, it was a march into a region of which He said, “Ye cannot follow Me now.” His life was our example, but not His death in all respects, for we are by no means bound to surrender ourselves voluntarily to our enemies as He did, but when persecuted in one city we are bidden to flee to another. To be willing to die for the truth is a most Christly thing, and in that Jesus is our example; but into the winepress which He trod it is not ours to enter, the voluntary element which was peculiar to His death renders it inimitable. He said, “I lay down My life of Myself; no man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.” One word of His would have delivered Him from His foes; He had but to say “Begone!” and the Roman guards must have fled like chaff before the wind. He died because He willed to do so; of His own accord He yielded up His spirit to the Father. It must have been as an atonement for the guilty; it could not have been as an example, for no man is bound voluntarily to die. Both the dictates of nature, and the command of the law, require us to preserve our lives. “Thou shalt not kill” means “Thou shalt not voluntarily give up thine own life any more than take the life of another.” Jesus stood in a special position, and therefore He died; but His example would have been complete enough without His death, had it not been for the peculiar office which He had undertaken. We may fairly conclude that Christ died for men who needed such a death; and, as the good did not need it for an example-and in fact it is not an example to them- He must have died for the ungodly. ~ C.H. Spurgeon


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