The life of Jesus entailed more than just passive obedience (“forensic and judicial righteousness” (114)), but active obedience. Jesus lived a life of love and worship and, in doing so, subdued our humanity that had turned away from God in rebellion.
a) Jesus’ life of utter dependence upon the Father in prayer
Humanity was created for relationship with God. As such, prayer is an essential element of our existence. Jesus fulfills this from the side of God and man. When he prays in the garden, “not my will but thine be done,” he is redemptively offering a prayer of obedience out of human disobedience.
This prayer life of Jesus was recognized by the powers of evil as a redemptive act and was challenged through many temptations which Jesus resisted. Jesus’ life of prayer was the heart of his “atoning obedience” (119) which actually “penetrated our life and recreated the bond between man and God” (120). We are able to pray to our Father in the name of Jesus because Jesus draws us into his prayer.
b) Jesus’ life of obedience in his Father’s house
When Jesus stayed in the Temple at twelve years of age, we see him in his true house, while at the same time submitting to his earthly parents. In doing so, he chose to live a life of subjection and bondage while remaining obedient to his true Father. His earthly humanity is a house of bondage for two reasons: it is estranged from God, and the judgment of the Father is upon it. Still Jesus persevered and rescued it, bringing the house of bondage into the Kingdom of God.
Jesus lived God’s words to Abraham: “walk before me, and be perfect.” He did what the first Adam could not do, living a perfect life in our creaturely humanity. The devil tempted him to be precisely who he was: “the might omnipotent Son of God” (124). Jesus chose the cross instead.
Jesus chose to be baptized among the other sinners and received the Spirit. In doing so, he received the Spirit into all humanity.
c) Jesus’ life of perfect faithfulness to the divine word, and perfect reflection of the divine glory
Jesus’ life—the perfect union of divine-human faithfulness—perfectly reveals the glory of God precisely because his life, lived out of our human weakness, is identical to his nature as God. “He was the very God he imaged and reflected in his human life” (127). We now have access to the Son-Father relationship through the true Son’s incarnation.
In that life-act of the historical Jesus, the Son of God so clothed himself with our humanity and so subdued it in himself that he converted it back from its resentment and rebellion to glad surrender to the holy will of God. (115)
In Colossians 3, the new life we have in Christ is described as something we wear. It’s true clothing for the new humanity. Here, Torrance describes the other side of the equation. For us to wear Christ, he had to first wear our worn out ragged rebellious clothing. Like a wild animal, Jesus wore our clothing and subdued it. As we are in Christ, our humanity finds its true purpose.
Ninety percent of all that Jesus taught about prayer was concerned with petitionary prayer, the prayer of the child asking gifts of its Father. (125)
This quote has challenged my thinking on prayer. So many things I’ve read about prayer detail contemplation, thanksgiving, and practicing presence—as if our needs and petitions are somehow secondary. Jesus, living the perfect life out of our humanity needed petitionary prayer. How much more do I?
The words used to describe the reaction of men and women to [Jesus] are the words that are used to describe an earthquake … The very presence of Jesus, his very existence in the midst, the historical and human encounter his life itself afforded, struck men and women with amazement, astonishment, wonder, awe, fear. (128)
Wow. What a powerful use of language. To encounter Jesus elicits the same effects as encountering an earthquake!