by Tom Wacaster

Have you ever noticed how many times the word “must” is used in reference to some felt necessity on the part of our Lord? Here is a small sampling: “But he said unto them, I must preach the good tidings of the kingdom of God to the other cities also: for therefore was I sent” (Luke 4:43). “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and the third day be raised up” (Luke 9:22). “Nevertheless I must go on my way to-day and to-morrow and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33). “But first must he suffer many things and be rejected of this generation” (Luke 17:25). “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down for to-day I must abide at thy house” (Luke 19:5). “For I say unto you, that this which is written must be fulfilled in me, And he was reckoned with the transgressors: for that which concerneth me hath fulfillment” (Luke 23:37). “And he must needs pass through Samaria” (John 4:4). There is more, but I think you get the picture.

Here is one more for your consideration. It is in Luke 2:49: “And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? Knew ye not that I must be in my Father’s house?” It is in this passage that we get a glimpse of our Lord when He was a mere 12 years of age. His mother and father had been to Jerusalem for the Passover, and when they started home somehow Jesus was left behind. I do not find that hard to believe. I once left my daughter at church, drove the short distance home, and it was not until someone from the church building called that I even missed her. We had taken two cars to church that morning in anticipation of some guests coming for lunch right after services. I presumed she rode home with her mother, and her mother presumed she would ride home with me. Still, this passage in Luke 2:49 intrigues me. One thing that interests me is that these are the first recorded words spoken by our Lord. Notice one word in that response of our Lord to His parents: “Must!” From the few references mentioned above you can see that He used that word on several occasions. Sometimes it was “I must.” Other times He would say “The Son of man must!” Do those words not suggest some kind of constraint? Oh, yes, indeed they do! I think Jesus recognized the moral and spiritual constraints to which He had willingly submitted – not because He had to, but because He wanted to. It was not something He did – it is what He was! When it comes to those words, “I must,” consider the following.

First, I see in the life of Christ the must of obedience. It seemed to come naturally with Jesus. He was subservient to the Father’s will in every situation, and in the face of every obstacle He encountered. Jesus stands before us as the example of obedience, for it is in His footsteps we are to follow (1 Pet. 2:21). His obedience grew out of a heart so in tune with the Father that submissive obedience became as easy as breathing. I came across this quote some time back. Written by James Hastings, it touches on the point now under consideration:

Religion is meant to make it a second nature, an instinct – a spontaneous, uncalculating, irrepressible desire to be in fellowship with God, and to be doing His will. There is no obedience in reluctant obedience; forced service is slavery, not service. Christianity is given for the specific purpose that it may bring us so into touch with Jesus Christ, that the mind which was in Him may be in us; and we too may be able to say, with a kind of wonder that people should have expected to find us in any other place, or doing anything else. As certainly as the sunflower follows the sun, so certainly will a man, animated by the mind that was in Jesus Christ, like Him find his very life’s breath in doing the Father’s will.

Can you, dear brother and sister, say without hesitation that “I must be about my Father’s business” as did Jesus?

Second, I see in the life of Christ the must of duty. Before you accuse me of contradicting what I said in the first point, let me assure you such is not the case. The must of duty focuses on our sense of responsibility. Too few in our generation want to accept any responsibility. It is always “someone else’s fault, not mine!” It seems to me that folks in Portland, New York City, Minneapolis, (or any of the big cities now under siege) have missed the concept of responsibility. Our entitlement mentality (supported and encouraged by liberal politicians) has produced a nanny state that is being consumed with growing debt and lawlessness. The must of duty is inseparably linked to the must of obedience. This is because obedience recognizes a superior authority and accepts the duty that goes with that recognition. Why do you think our Lord said, “I must work the works of him that sent me” (John 9:4)? It is because the must of obedience compelled our Lord to accept responsibility and fulfill His divine duty as our Savior. That quite naturally leads to the next point.

Third, I see in the life of Christ the must of love. Why do parents sacrifice so much for the good of their children? This is not the dummy question for the week. You know the answer. It is because love compels them to do so. Without the must of love, the duty and obedience we render would be void of any value. Is that not what Paul taught us in the opening three verses of 1 Corinthians 13? “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing.” Why did Jesus leave heaven, come to this earth, and die for our sins? It was because of the must of love.

Finally, I see in the life of Christ the must of sacrifice. A man may sacrifice in the absence of love, but it is impossible for a man to love without sacrificing. “The Son of man must be lifted up” (John 3:14). That our Lord “must suffer many things, and be killed” (Mk. 8:31) was a message communicated to the disciples on numerous occasions. There is a certain sense of sadness in these words of Jesus. I do not think Jesus was reluctant to sacrifice. This is because of the love He had for lost humanity. Nor do I think He was attempting to shirk His duty. As one author noted: “He must die because He would save, and He would save because He loved. His obedience coincided with His pity for men, not merely in obedience to the Father, but in compassion for the necessities of sinners.” Our Lord’s ‘must of sacrifice’ demands that we likewise die to self. Unfortunately, as an unknown author noted, “People will argue for religion, write for it, fight for it, die for it – anything but live for it.” I will close with the following observation. There is a song in our hymnals that most of my readers probably know the lyrics by heart. One of the stanzas reads thus: “Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands by soul, my life, my all.” That, my friends is the ‘must’ for which our Lord felt, lived, and died.

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