May 12, 2014
The name Jesus of Nazareth tops every leadership short list, and is included in every serious conversation about influential characters. Over two thousand years have passed since he walked the earth, but his example of dedication to his purpose still inspires many leaders to greater levels of success.
At the tender age of twelve, Jesus stayed back alone in Jerusalem to engage the doctors of the law in conversation. He later explained His reason to His anxious parents: “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my father’s business” (Luke. 2:49 NASU)? Mary was not sure what all those words meant but, it was clear to Jesus that He was a man on a mission.
At Jacob’s well in the Samaritan city of Sychar, his laser-like focus is again evident in conversation with a woman. Amidst the uncomfortable weariness of His journey, He challenges the social conventions and racial segregation that are reflected in the woman’s words to Him: “The Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9). Ethnic hostility is not new, but between these groups it was long and bitter. The tension was kept alive by periodic incidents along the stream of time. In Jesus’ way of thinking, this had been the reality for too long. It was time to change it. At the risks of insults, misunderstanding and disfavour even from his apostles, he pursued His purpose and gathered a harvest of love and hospitality in the unlikely fields of Samaria.
When Jesus was asked about the reason for a man being born blind, He answered, drawing connections between the man’s visual challenges and His purpose. Rather that reiterate the standard view that sickness and impairment were rooted in sinful actions, Jesus instead explained that the reality of the man’s misfortune provided an opportunity for God’s power to be manifested and His ministry to be authenticated. His hands, constantly “put to the plough” revealed His awareness that the clock was always winding down on His time on earth; and that the night of death, in which none could work, was rapidly approaching (John 9: 4).
Moreover, in the waning weeks of His earthly ministry, when God’s purpose would point him toward Calvary, Jesus was even more committed. On His way there he would experience betrayals, denials, and abandonment from His most trusted disciples. Anticipation of drinking the bitter dregs of crucifixion would deeply trouble His soul, but His commitment to His father’s purpose prohibited him from requesting deliverance (John 12:27). His words, “it is finished” speak of His knowledge of and commitment to His life’s purpose to the very end. The writer of the book of Hebrews provides some insight into Jesus’ thinking and resultant tenacity toward His purpose. He says: “Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2b). All the benefits that would come to humanity through His suffering and death were on His mind. These made it worthwhile.
Since Jesus alone, by His sinless life, qualifies to be our propitiation, we are certain that God’s purpose is not for us to die for the sins of the word as He did. Admittedly, Fathers, doctors, business men and church leaders have less important roles, but they can nonetheless learn from Jesus commitment to His purpose. Like Him, our joy and ultimate fulfilment is wrapped in the package of purpose. This is why we are exhorted in Scripture to run our races with our eyes fixed on Jesus (Heb. 12: 2-4). No one has had a higher mission, faced a greater danger and showed a deeper commitment. His unparalleled commitment still motivates many.