For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from me, but I lay it down on my own initiative. This command I received from my Father. John 10:18
In the Bible, “lying down” and “laying down” are often used to mean rest or sleep. Laying down, however, has another meaning. While we “lie down” [ourselves], we “lay down” an object. Jesus laid down his life, which suggests that “his life” was something that was outside of himself. The verse expresses the complete control, volition, and freedom, with which Jesus was carrying out His Father’s command.
Charles Spurgeon, the great Christian writer, wrote that Jesus’s sacrifice was “always actively performed.” Jesus had no internal resistance because He was the embodiment of the Father’s command. We as humans have a tendency to see ourselves as passive sufferers of circumstances—things “happen” to us, and we argue, we whine, we complain, we pity ourselves. What does it mean for us to lay down our lives that we may take it up again? God has given us our lives with a degree of control: over our attitude, our perspective, and our hearts. These are the things we can lay down on our own initiative. After all, we cannot lay down what we do not hold in the first place.
Oswald Chambers, another evangelist, wrote, “It is much easier to die than to lay down your life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling of God.” For many of us, the decision to receive Jesus in itself was not a painful one, but most of us don’t die right then. We have to live out our lives with the ability to choose another way at any moment. That taking our lives back into our own hands at any time is a constant possibility renders laying it down a continuously active, Christ-honouring, decision.
On Easter Week, we celebrate Jesus’s death and resurrection on the cross. It is a reminder of the hope that we have: as we lay down our lives before Him, we are also resurrected with Christ. So:
- Thank God for sending His Son, Jesus, to suffer and die on the cross for you.
- Ask God to point to you areas in your life that need to be laid down at the cross.