The Free Obedience of Our Substitute


“Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, [and] one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.”

(John 10:16-18)


            Let me show you three things from these words, which fell from Him of whom it is written, “grace is poured into Thy lips.”


The Father’s Command


The Lord Jesus Christ speaks of Himself here not as the eternal Son of God, but as the Good Shepherd, the Mediator, the Surety of His people. He says, “This commandment have I received of my Father.” With those words, He declares that His death as our Substitute was arranged by the Triune God before the world began (Psalm 40:7; Hebrews 10:7-10).


The death of Christ was not accomplished by the arrangement of men or by the arrangement of hell, but by the arrangement of the Triune God (Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:18-20). The death of Christ at Calvary was accomplished by the arrangement of an eternal covenant, sovereign providence, and infinite love (John 3:16; Romans 5:6-8).


The Savior’s Obedience


The Lord Jesus Christ laid down His life voluntarily, as an act of free obedience to His Father. No man forced Him to die. God the Father did not compel Him to die, or take His life from Him. Oh, No! Our Savior died voluntarily, by His own will. Yes, our Redeemer’s death was accomplished by His own will. “He poured out his soul unto death!”


It is true, as we have seen, “it pleased the Father to bruise him. The Father cried, “Awake, O sword, against One that is My Fellow. Smite the Shepherd! Yet Christ took the cup of wrath in His own hands. The Son of God fell willingly upon the sword of justice.


Our Savior died by His own will! The Son of God laid down His life for the satisfaction of Divine justice as the Substitute for chosen sinners, for the glory of God, because of His great love for his elect. Moreover, He laid down His life that He might take it again by His own resurrection power and reign forever as our Redeemer-King upon “the throne of grace” (Romans14:9; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 4:16).


The Father’s Love for Christ


Our Savior says, “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life.”   I  know  of  nothing  in heaven or earth so sweet to  meditate upon  and so impossible to write or peach about as the Father’s love for His darling, dying Son. Hear it again. — “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life.” God himself never saw anything in all the world so lovely, so infinitely worthy of His love, admiration, and honor as the death of His dear Son upon the cursed tree for His people. — “Herein is love!


Because of this great act of love, because of this great act of Christ’s free obedience to the Father as our Surety, the Father has given his Son everything! (Read Isaiah53:4-12; John 3:35; 17:2.)


Four Lessons


There are several practical lessons to be drawn from our Savior’s obedience for every child of God in this world.


  1. Though God’s child may suffer greatly in this world, often carrying a heavy cross and having the Father’s face hidden from him, yet he is the darling object of his Father’s love. Never did the Father more fully love His Son than when He was heaping upon Him the fury of His wrath!
  2. God honors those who honor His Son. The only way a sinner can honor the Son of God is to trust Him. God honors those who trust his Son.
  3. The only way of access to the holy Lord God is Christ. Our only worthiness of the Father’s love and approval and acceptance is Christ (John 17:22-26).
  4. God loves His people! The Father gave His Son to die for us! The Son laid down His life for us. The Spirit now sprinkles us with the blood of Christ and declares us “Redeemed!”


Believer, gaze steadfastly upon your crucified Redeemer and realize that “Ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.









Don Fortner



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