Identity, Security and Jesus
From Psalm 139 we learn that we don’t exist as an accident evolved from a cesspool millions of years ago, and we don’t primarily exist as a product of our families. The Bible tells us that God created us as objects of His love, and because of this, we ultimately belong to Him.
Jesus’ secure identity began with this same understanding. He knew from whom He had come, and knew to whom He would ultimately return. For Jesus, his identity was the link between his origin and destination providing security between those bookends and injecting power into his mission.
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;” John 13:3
“I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” John 16:28
Being fully human (just as fully God), Jesus manifested real human needs. He became hungry, grew tired, faced disappointment, endured temptation, experienced joy, desired intimate human relationships, etc. As fully human, He fully expressed His humanity in who He was. His “humanness” did not stand against the idea of holiness, but holiness for Him was gained through very normal human functions. As authentically spiritual and holy as Jesus was, He was also authentically human.
It is obvious therefore that along with all other human needs, Jesus would also desire to be pleasing to His father. As any son would, Jesus wanted to live in connection to His father and find the measure of fulfillment possible in that relationship- one that empowers confidence and action in living. This desire to be strongly connected to and approved by the Father was not unique to Jesus being God. Rather, it was natural for Jesus as being human. The relationship between Jesus and his Heavenly Father was truly amazing- even if seen only from a mere earthly and human sense.
Jesus had no doubts about His full acceptance and approval from the Father in heaven. At the inauguration of His public ministry during His baptism, Jesus hears from God what every son longs to hear from their Father...
“And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17
Notice the public nature of this announcement and the pride expressed in the words of the Heavenly Father. Before the crowd there, Jesus hears God His Father announce His full pleasure in his son. This validation before others met the very real human need within Jesus... that he would know that others knew His Father was pleased with Him.
Based upon that approval, Jesus often expressed to His disciples the deep confidence He had in connection the Father...
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Matthew 11:27
“On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” John 14:20
“...but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.” John 14:31
“But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” John 16:32
Jesus also reveals His profound intimacy with God the Father in the high priestly prayer from John 17...
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:20-26
Such was the authentic nature of Jesus’ relationship to his Father in heaven. This relationship would prove to be empowering to Jesus, giving freedom and confidence to express fully who He was. Joseph Girzone explains the power of the genuine connection between Jesus and God the Father, as well as the resulting health and wholeness it brought to the Christ...
"Obviously, to Jesus, that was His definition of a holy person, an individual who allowed their God-given uniqueness to grow within to full maturity and in the process of becoming a beautiful human being. As simple and ordinary and down-to-earth as He was, He was the holiest person who ever lived. But people could not recognize it. (In fact many saw him as very unholy) He was not noted for His attachment to religion and its practices and customs and the “traditions of the ancients” as He described them. Jesus’ attachment was to His Father, not to religion, and He was so secure in that love that He did not have to make it obvious. His intimacy with His Father was so finely woven into the fabric of His personality that it did not stand out as a caricature. Nor were the trappings of religion a part of Him. Nor did he wear special clothes like the scribes and Pharisees. What He wore had nothing to do with His relationship with God. He came to simplify the practice of religion, and His view of life was supremely healthy." (Joseph Girzone, A Portait of Jesus, page 18)
Everything that Jesus did flowed from this profound relationship. It provided a secure foundation and an innate fuel from which Jesus could lead others. His leadership was defined on the basis of this relationship causing him to know who he was, value who he was and be secure in who he was as sustained by the Father. This allowed him to be a whole and healthy individual, and then express leadership in courageous, compassionate, and credible ways.
Here are just a few examples how Jesus’ inner security allowed him to...
Serve Others (John 13:3-5); Express Selfless Compassion (Luke 7:12-15); Confront Conflict (Luke 7:12-15); Empower Those He Led (Luke 10:1-3); Stay True to Mission (Luke 9:51); Show Confident Decisiveness (John 1:42-44); Resist Temptation (Matthew 4); Maintain Perspective on Popularity (Mark 6:30-32); Remain Unswayed by Powerful People & Pressure (Matthew 27:12-14); Seek Only to Please His Father (John 5:30); Deeply Connect to Others (Luke 22:14-15); Steward His Power & Position for the Benefit of Others (Philippians 2:5-7); Understand His Purpose (Matthew 20:28, Luke 19:10, John 10:10-11, John 14:6).
God created each of us so that our deepest needs can only be truly met by Him and within His plan for our lives. Before knowing Christ, many of us sought our needs met in other places, achievements or people. We learned the utter inadequacy of anything in this world to satisfy and came to understand that we were created to be loved by God and to exist as His children. This was our true identity in Christ. But pressures of leadership can cause us to drift from the most basic sense of who we are. The success myths of our culture, the resurgence of inner needs once satisfied by faith in Christ, and our reluctance to be self-aware individuals cause us to betray our identity, forget our rightful place as God’s children, and substitute who we are with only a weak and volatile semblance.
But as secure children of God, we are now free to give our very best as empowered by the Holy Spirit. Free to express our gifts and who we are in every strain of life. Free to risk knowing that success or failure does not define us. Free to follow with our full devotion the Christ who has purchased our right to know God as our loving Heavenly Father.