Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hebrews 5:4-9 Jesus Learned Obedience

Why is it that some children learn lessons quickly, while others need to be taught over and over? If you have more than one child, or if you have siblings, you know that, even though the children of one family are all raised in the same home by the same parents, each child has a unique personality and learns life lessons in different ways. And some of us remain that way into adulthood. While many just need to read the sign, “Wet paint,” to know to stay away from the freshly painted fence, others feel compelled to approach the fence and come away with a wet hand!

Being the youngest of four girls, I studied my sisters, and, while I copied much of their behaviors, I also learned that there were some places I did not want to go, some consequences I did not want to suffer. Yet, that didn’t prevent me from blazing my own trails of disobedience - and then suffering my own consequences! Every one of us has the same propensity to sin. I’ve often heard this illustration used: you do not need to train a child how to disobey. They do it intuitively! You have to train them how to be obedient!

Our scripture passage this morning tells us that Jesus learned obedience when He became a man. This is why the Bible tells us He was tempted in every way that we are. The difference is that He did not sin!

While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God.  Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.  In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. (Hebrews 5:4-9)

When the Son of God left His glory in Heaven to come to Earth to save man, He willingly took on the limitations of men. He became fully man while still being fully God. Had He not been fully man, He would not have qualified to take our place in payment for our sins. So, as a man, He had to “learn” obedience. How did He do that. Our passage tells us specifically that he learned obedience from the things he suffered. It is in suffering that we learn how to obey God.

Think back to the wet paint. If you have a tendency to disobey (which we all do), then you will test the paint. When you experience the red paint all over your hand, you will learn to NOT touch wet paint. When you reach for the hot skillet without an oven mitt, you quickly learn from the blisters on your fingers that next time you’d better protect yourself. But more profoundly, when you are in the midst of deep suffering or loss, you learn to lean on your Father in a way that you never have before. Suffering changes your perspective.

People who have gone through excruciating trials will often say that the experience brought them to a much greater personal knowledge of God and His grace and love. Because of the suffering, they grew closer to God and their walk with Him became more intimate and real.

Jesus promised that we would have much tribulation in this world, but through His obedience to the Father, He has overcome the world. Please note the connection of the prayers of Jesus to His obedience: . . . he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God.

In order to be obedient as a man, Jesus committed Himself to His Father. He prayed and pleaded. This was no quiet, contemplative prayer. It was a desperate clinging to and relying on His Father in His great need to stay focused on the cross. His whole life’s purpose was to be obedient to the plan of the Father, so He drew on the strength of the Father to move toward the cross.

We, too, can learn obedience through suffering. Sometimes it is suffering we have brought on ourselves - through our own poor or rebellious choices. Sometimes it is suffering forced upon us by others - a financial loss or a divorce. And sometimes it is given us by God for our good and His glory. Whatever the source of the suffering you are in at this moment, rely on your Father to strengthen you in it, to transform you through it, and to use you because of it.

It’s good to be back in His Word!  

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