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Volume 8, Issue 4: Stauron

To the Cross, To Honor

James Nance

Then the Jews answered and said to Him, 'Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?' Jesus answered, 'I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me'
(John 8:48-49).

God has commanded us to demonstrate honor to those over us: to parents, church elders, rulers, and to the Lord Himself. In so doing He has given us a high task, but He has not left us to our own devices. Honor, like worship, is a positive command, and thus is governed by the regulative principle. We must not invent our own standards of honor, and then think we have obeyed if we live up to them; we must show honor biblically.

Biblical honor is demonstrated in attitudes, actions, and words. The attitudes of honor are respect and deference, the actions of honor are trust and obedience, and the words of honor are titles, among others. For example, children are to honor their parents with a respectful, deferential attitude: letting them speak first, giving them the place of honor at the table, and considering their needs above their own. They should obey them when they give a command, and trust that their commands are for the best, without questioning or grumbling. And when fathers so command, a most respectful response includes a title: "Yes, sir."
Given this, we can see immediately why Jesus told the Jews in the passage above, "You dishonor Me." Their attitude toward Jesus was not one of respect, but contempt. The Jews hated Jesus: they scoffed at Him (John 8:57), contradicted Him (and so contradicted themselves; cf. vv. 39, 41), tried to stone Him (v. 59), and eventually put Him to death. They neither believed nor obeyed Him (vv. 45-47). Nor did they honor Him with the titles others properly gave Him--Rabbi, and Lord (cf. John 13:13)--but they resorted to insults, calling Him the worst things they could contrive: Samaritan, and demon-possessed. When in His triumphal entry into Jerusalem He received honor from His followers who called Him the King, the Jews could not endure it, but demanded that He rebuke His disciples. "But He answered and said to them, `I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out'" (Luke 19:40).
The standards of biblical honor are perfectly demonstrated in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus honored His Father. His preferred title was "My Father," or "Father," though He also frequently gave Him the title, "The One Who sent Me." At other times He called Him "My God," or simply "God." Some who would deny Christ His deity and so abuse the Scriptures point this out, saying "How can you say that Jesus is God? Can God have a God?" What they do not acknowledge is the honor that Jesus showed His Father as a man. Jesus is fully man, and as a man He respects and honors His God. Also as a man He did not seek His own honor (cf. John 7:18), preferring the more humble title "Son of Man" rather than that by which we rightly honor Him, "The Son of God."
Honor is also seen in trust and obedience. Jesus regularly reminded both His disciples and the Jews that He did not seek His own interests, but those of His Father. "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work" (John 4:34). In perfect honor He never sought His own, but rather said, "I can of Myself do nothing . . . because I do not seek My own will, but the will of the Father who sent Me" (John 5:30). Indeed, the foundation of our security in Christ is in the honor He shows His Father, "For this is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day" (John 6:39).
Without doubt, the greatest act of honor Jesus showed His Father was to go to the cross. Jesus went to the cross to honor His Father, showing Him deference, trust, and obedience. In anguish of spirit He deferred His own will to the will of the Father. "Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? `Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. `Father, glorify your name'" (John 12:27-28). To honor the Father, Jesus had to take upon Himself the greatest of dishonors: the death of a crossthat ignoble, ugly, cursed death, on which He was truly (though not permanently) forsaken by the One whom He died to honor, the One who had previously honored Him, saying "This is My beloved Son" (2 Peter 1:17). But in honor Jesus trusted the Father to save Him from death, "and He was heard because of His godly fear" (Heb. 5:7). And in honor "He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Phm. 2:8).
If the Son of God Himself, the second Person of the Trinity, humbled Himself to honor the Father, how much more should we, who are mere men, seek to honor God in our worship lived out into our lives, and to honor those men God has placed over us. "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps."

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