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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Willing Obedience

I haven't blogged in awhile, having work piled up to the gills, but as I was out walking Sweetie, I thought on the scripture in the book of Hebrews that talks about obedience--particularly Jesus' obedience to God's will. Oftentimes I reflect on the passage that speaks of Jesus qualifications as our high priest and king. We feel this deep sense of gratitude and relief knowing that he suffered and was tested in all things (but without sin) so that he can be a compassionate and understanding high priest who pleads on our behalf. Never can we whine that he just can't relate to our suffering.

Here's an interesting fact that you may not have considered: Jesus suffered excruciating pain on the cross. We can't even imagine how horrific that pain .must have been. Not just the physical pain, but as Hebrews 12:2 states, he suffered the shame and humiliation of dying a criminal's death, carrying with it the curse or scourge meant for us. The word excruciating comes from the Latin words: ex--from, and crux--cross, or "from the cross." That word was created as a result of Jesus' suffering, to describe that pain, and we use it today without even realizing this word's origin!

So--back to obedience. Hebrews 5:8 says that "Jesus learned obedience from the things he suffered." That phrase always rattles around in my mind, the heavy implications touching my heart. Jesus learned a lot of things as a human on earth. Who would ever think he needed to learn obedience? And how does suffering teach us obedience? So, I ponder that when I am going through a tough time, I don't question and lose faith. My task is to remain obedient to God, no matter what. Jesus learned obedience by being faithful. Surely it was easy to be obedient when all went well, but when he was put under this extreme trial, he learned by doing. He saw what it felt like to remain true and steadfast under fire. We learn something when we go through an experience, so too Jesus learned obedience through suffering.

Other scriptures drift into my mind: "Become obedient as small children (1 Pe 1:14)....He (Jesus) became obedient to the point of death (Phil 2:8)... Hypakoe (Greek) translated as obedience also means submission. Jesus submitted to the point of death--submitted to God's will for him. If we read the next verse at Heb 5:9 we see that Jesus' obedience made him perfect. Telios (Greek) does not mean perfect the way we understand it today. Perfect, in this sense, means complete. Until Jesus suffered and learned obedience through that suffering, he was not made perfect. Something was missing, or incomplete. For him to be the perfect mediator and savior, he needed to learn this important lesson. So although Jesus was a perfect, sinless human, God determined he was not yet perfect until he suffered. Now he is complete and "completely able to save those" who exercise faith in him.

These are just some thoughts milling through my mind. I am glad, so glad, to know Jesus understands my times of anguish. That he is compassionate. I so want to fall into those loving, caring shepherd's arms and be comforted. Someday I will. I wish I didn't have to wait a minute longer. But there are some things I still need to learn--and obedience through suffering is one of those things. I firmly believe one of our main reasons for being here on earth is to learn that compassion that results from obedient suffering. All the trials we go through here will make us complete and perfect, as God keeps working to transform us into the likeness of his son. Amen to that!

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