Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'
But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an Example, that you should follow His steps.
He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God...
The life of Jesus, the Man, was a set up job. He played the low Man Who rose to the top. God set up the bad guys to lose, the Good Guy to win and us to follow. But He did it in the most unusual way.
Therein, Satan was stunned, the priests were stymied and the people who chose to follow His exceptional path were set up in a similar style.
Consider His groundwork: God chose to impregnate a virgin, mar her reputation and convince a carpenter to marry her anyway. He chose a humble birthplace in Bethlehem and a nowhere town called Nazareth to begin His Life. 'It was a place, at that time, proverbial for wickedness' (Barnes Notes on the Bible).
At 12, Jesus was recognized as a Boy Wonder in Jerusalem, but He decided to work 18 additional years as a Carpenter before He began His ministry. Although Jesus is pictured by artists as handsome, the Bible's only description of Him says He was plain.
So, let's recap the Example He left for us to follow:
1) Jesus chose to be born to a no-regard family in a good-for-nothing town to work as a common Laborer, as simple people commonly do. His mother's reputation was tainted. His father came from royalty, but that was ages ago.
2) Jesus was not attractive, never married and lived at home for 30 years. He didn't own much and had no supernatural gifts until He was baptized by John. When He received the Holy Spirit, He received God's power, but He still depended on His Father to help Him work.
3) Jesus chose ordinary, even questionable, people as disciples. He washed their feet, cooked their food and forgave their sins--including abandonment. He told them to deny themselves, live simply, stay ready, follow Him, travel abroad and serve others.
4) Jesus submitted to the leaders of Rome and Israel. He followed every law. His fanciest ride was an unsaddled donkey, but mostly He traveled on foot. When He was arrested, mocked, beaten and crucified, He never complained, but suffered silently.
Actors, models and talent for Christ: your job is to look like Jesus. So remember, He chose to be born, grow, preach, teach, heal, serve and die as a humble Man: a Man without beauty, wealth, status or defenders; a Man without a large estate, big wardrobe or impressive transportation.
When He became a Prophet, He still lived like a Servant. When He became famous, He refused fame's trappings. He never sought the approval of men, but always sought to please His Father. He led not only by Word, but also by Example.
His style of leadership was inconceivable to world leaders then, and it is equally inconceivable to most leaders now. Even so, He is the Example God says to follow.
To Be Continued...
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Leadership series.