Why the obedience of Jesus matters for us

Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. — Hebrews 5:8

Obedience gets a bad rap in some corners in this age. After all, if you are an assertive, goal-oriented person in the Western World, obedience is not one of the virtues that ranks high on your list. A quick search with Google of news stories about obedience brings up warnings to avoid “blind obedience” when it comes to the president or else a series of stories regarding pets.

Yet, when we look at Jesus and his death, we are told in verses like the one above that he learned obedience through his sufferings. Does that mean he had to learn to stop disobeying? No, because the Bible again and again teaches that he was sinless. In I Peter 2:22 it says Jesus “committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.” He wasn’t getting rid of some imperfections. Instead, Hebrews 2:10 gives some insight behind what his sufferings were accomplishing:

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.

Rather than making Jesus into a more perfect person, God was making Jesus into a more perfect sacrifice for us through the things he suffered. Even though Jesus was perfect and God, he still was human. And we can see that he experienced everything as we do when he lived on earth: hunger (Matthew 21:18) anger and grief (Mark 3:5) and pain (Matthew 17:12). The ESV Study Bible concurs on this view: In saying that Jesus was made perfect, the author is not suggesting that Jesus was sinful  but that as he lived his life, his maturity and experience deepened, yet always with full obedience to the Father. As a human being, he needed to live his life and obey God (which he did perfectly) to become the perfect sacrifice for sins.

In Fifty Reasons Jesus Came To Die, John Piper puts the perfect obedience of Jesus into perspective:

If the Son of God had gone from incarnation to the cross without a life of temptation and pain to test his righteousness and his love, he would not be a suitable Savior for fallen man. His suffering not only absorbed the wrath of God. It also fulfilled his true humanity and made him able to call us brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:17). (Page 25)

So, we can rejoice in the obedience of Jesus to His Father. Through it, we were not only given a perfect sacrifice for our sins, but we were also given a special closeness to him that goes beyond advocate. He can understand and sympathize with our situation like no one else can.

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