Paul tells us to have the same mind in us that was in Christ Jesus. That’s in Philippians 2 right before he describes how Jesus was an obedient servant even to the point of death. Obviously Christ lived a life perfectly without sin, and we will all fall short every day. Still the challenge is there and we are expected, by Jesus himself no less, to try.
Jesus said and did some things that we probably wouldn’t mind imitating. He was boldly outspoken on a few occasions, and at times silenced even his most vocal critics. He challenged the religious authorities, flipped tables in Temple, and in short answered to no man. The command to imitate Christ isn’t about walking on water or turning it to wine, but who hasn’t at least thought about it? Perhaps cursing the fig tree and calming storms are things we’d like to try.
Most of Jesus’s life as recorded by the Gospels is a little less Hollywood motion picture. Some Christians attempt to love the unlovable; the drunkard, the prostitute, the homeless and the sick. Perhaps we have visited those in jail, or given sacrificially of our resources. Some of what Jesus demonstrated and commanded his followers to do requires a grace that only comes from God.
But follow Jesus to the end. He is falsely accused and does not answer. He is whipped with 39 lashes, struck in the face and spat upon. He is nailed to the cross and hung to die, the slow miserable death of Roman crucifixion. The one that created water hangs dying the cross and thirsts. And what is his response? He prays for those crucifying him. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” It is the prayer of intercession. He is acting in his role as high priest, entering the presence of God on our behalf. How many of us could do that? Pay our taxes to Caesar, that’s one thing. Maybe give one’s own life for a friend. We are told to pray for our enemies, and maybe you have done that. Jesus asks forgiveness for the very ones driving the nails into his hands. We flip out if someone cuts us off in traffic. As he hangs on the cross, the crowd mocks him by saying “He saved others, he cannot save himself.” And for your sake and mine, he did not save himself. To do the will of the Father, he stayed on the cross. And it was for those Pharisees as well as the Romans he prayed for that day. THAT’S the Christ we are commanded to be like.