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Jesus’ uniqueness was completely unselfconscious. He didn’t need to draw attention to it. It was a fact so obvious to him that it didn’t need emphasizing. It was implied rather than asserted.

  • Everyone else was a lost sheep; he had come as the Good Shepherd to seek and to save them.
  • Everyone else was sick with the disease of sin; he was the doctor who had come to heal them.
  • Everyone else was trapped in the darkness of sin and ignorance; he was the light of the world.
  • Everyone else was a sinner; he was born to be their Saviour and would die for the forgiveness of their sins.
  • Everyone else was hungry; he was the bread of life.
  • Everyone else was dead in wrongdoing and sin; he could be their life now and their resurrection in the future.

All these metaphors express the moral uniqueness of which he was clearly conscious…

It is this paradox which is so amazing, this combination of the self-centredness of his teaching and the unself-centredness of his behaviour.

  • In thought he put himself first; in deed last.
  • He exhibited both the greatest self-esteem and the greatest self-sacrifice.
  • He knew himself to be the Lord of all, but he became their servant.
  • He said that he would one day come to judge the world, but he washed the feet of his friends.

This utter disregard of self in the service of God and man is what the Bible calls love. There is no self-interest in love. The essence of love is self-sacrifice. Even the worst of us is adorned by an occasional flash of such nobility, but the life of Jesus radiated it with a never-fading incandescent glow. Jesus was sinless because he was selfless. Such selflessness is love. And God is love.

John Stott, Basic Christianity (IVP Classics)

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2 thoughts on “The Self-Centered Selflessness of Jesus”

  1. the Old Adam says:

    The unselfconsciousness of Christianity is so often wiped out by preachers telling us that we need to do this or do that.

    It’s works the opposite and makes us focused on ‘self’.

    The freedom of the Christian is that God in Christ Jesus has freed us from all that self-ascendant religion. Freed us for the neighbor.

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Trevin Wax

​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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