During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him … (verses 7-9)
These few verses plunge us into the depths of Christ’s passion. In Gethsemane he cried out in great agony to the Father to take the cup of suffering and sacrifice out of his hands – yet, he said, not what I will but what you will. It was a statement of obedience.
On Golgotha he cried out, time and again, with tears and prayers and petitions, expressing physical agony (“I am thirsty”) and spiritual trauma (“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me”) and trusting submission (“Into your hands I commit my spirit”). All of it in the throes of obedience.
Do we fully appreciate the agony our Lord endured? How can we even begin to plumb its depths? “Loud cries and tears” is not a description I usually ascribe to him – and yet, it seems likely it's just the surface of the abyss of his suffering.
In the Garden he sweated drops of blood. In the Roman barracks he was whipped mercilessly. On the road he crumpled under the weight of the cross. Later, his weight cruelly borne by the cross itself, he cried out, “It is finished,” with such passionate strength that it caused the Roman Centurion, who had witnessed many such deaths, to sit up and take notice.
All of it for me. All of it for you. All for love of the Father. All for obedience’s sake.
When the text says “although he was a son” it alerts us to the fact he didn’t need to do this. His rank precluded it. As Son of God, the glory of heaven was his right and his home. And yet, as faithful Son, one with the Father, his choice from all eternity was always to submit to the Father’s will. There was never a question. So, embracing that will to the full, he entered the rescue plan, reverently submitting to his Father with entire obedience, even though the suffering to be endured would stretch beyond anything we could even think to imagine.
In the process he plumbed the depths of obedience in an entirely new way – in a way that only the eternal Son ever could. In this sense he was “made perfect” – he brought obedience to completion. That completion has spilled over onto us, for he has become our “source of eternal salvation” – his suffering has effected an eternal difference in our lives. We are redeemed, ransomed, rescued. Praise his name.
But the overflow continues. In learning obedience through his suffering, he has prepared the way for us, also. He teaches us obedience from his own. “Since, therefore, Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking” (1 Peter 4:1). His suffering obedience becomes ours, teaching us to obey him as he obeyed the Father.
May we truly arm ourselves with this perspective from our Saviour himself. May we enter into the perfection of his obedience, willing, also, to suffer as we do.
Lord Jesus, you are the faithful Son. You learned obedience in the midst of suffering. You have extended salvation to me as a result. Praise your name. Strengthen my hand, to suffer in obedience also. Strengthen my will, that I not back away. Draw me into your reverent submission. To your glory. Amen.
Reflect: Is there an area of obedience the Lord has placed before you that will require suffering to some degree? How can you “arm yourself”to fully enter in?