Jesus, Source of Eternal Salvation
February 3, 2019
Hebrews 5:7-10 - Jesus, Source of Eternal Salvation
This section proves Jesus is a better priest than human priests!
- Human priests were chosen and appointed by God.
- They performed acts of reconciliation, offering “gifts and sacrifices” as an outward sign of inward faith and repentance.
- Mediators not Judges – human sinners – like everybody else, consequently “gentle” toward fellow sinners.
Christ is better!
- He like these priests also took no glory for himself, being chosen, being appointed.
- He too came to reconcile man to God, this time not as a symbol or sign of reconciliation but the means of reconciliation!
- He offered himself.
Though affirmed as King he also came as a commoner.
- A fellow human being with a human spirit.
- Perfect, yes! But, fully human and consequently fully sympathetic.
Jesus’ sympathy to our human experience is nowhere summarized with this level of depth and passion as it is here.
The path of priesthood for Christ was not detached and religious but real life and earthy!
- Jesus’ priesthood models every Christians’ priesthood (cf. 1 Pet. 2:9).
His temple was dirty sin cursed world and his altar a rock he knelt by, his sanctuary was in his heart, his ministry was to and with friends, and his bloody sacrifice was himself, nailed to a chopped down tree.
- His hard life is the survival guide of your life’s journey.
- Hardship abounds and Christ is our compass, map, light, and guide to take us down the trail.
In a real sense, you do not know what’s coming around the corner.
- “If I knew how hard this next step in life was going to be, I never would have taken it!”
- Some of you, like me never imagined you would make your home in Alaska.
- Only in retrospect you see how God planned it for this or that end.
- Whether it is a re-location, health trial, or loss, God sets up each circumstance as the means to take us to another level.
- We grow by stages.
- Some of you, like me never imagined you would make your home in Alaska.
“How do you make heads or tails of this life application?”
- You are not the same person, you were a year ago.
- The Bible says you aren’t.
2 Corinthians 3:18 promises, as you “behold the glory of the Lord, [you] are being transformed into [Christ’s]…image from one degree of glory to another…from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
- What’s important to realize is that transformation isn’t happening while you sleep.
- It takes place through the crucible of human struggle.
- Moreover, struggles often come in increasing degrees.
- So, what you survived earlier in life becomes the training ground for the next challenge ahead.
Our text is the ultimate living illustration of a leader willing to do whatever he asks of his troops. Jesus models the life perseverance, of survival.
The 5 W’s often prescribed in journalism become an excellent study method for pulling out gold from the Bible.
Let’s do a study on Christ’s better priesthood, asking: “Who, What, When, Where, and Why?”
Skipping verse 7 for the moment, first look at the beginning of verse 8.
“Although he was a son” (v. 8).
- Christ’s Sonship or Jesus as God’s Son is a major theme in Hebrews.
- Jesus is better than angels because Jesus is a “Son.”
- He, as a “Son” (no definite article meaning qualitatively deity) deserved only honor, allegiance, respect, and adoration yet he was met with hatred!
- This means Jesus is divine!
- An eternal high priest uniquely related to God the Father.
- Jesus did not suffer or “learn through suffering” because he was a Son but “although” or “even though” he was a Son.
- Yes, Jesus is divine.
- Yes, Jesus is King (Ps. 2:7).
The distinction that Jesus is the divine Son of God (cf. 1:2, 5, 6 “firstborn, 8) from merely being a human son makes two important points.
- Jesus is the same nature as God. The Revelator of God! King and eternally the Son! (cf. Ps. 2:7)
- This being the case, “How then could the Son of God “learned obedience?”
- As a “Son” - Sons learn obedience through hard life experiences.
- Think of how God approaches our lives as a Father to sons.
ESV Hebrews 12:5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.
Though sinless, this concept nevertheless opens the door to see Jesus operating in his human nature, learning to obey his Heavenly Father!
Again, verse 8, “he learned obedience through what he suffered” (v. 8).
What does this mean?
- “Learned” and “suffered” form an aphorism with a rhyming play on words in Greek.
- “emanthen, epathen” similar to “no pain, no gain.”
- Jesus’ divinity/eternality does not give him automatic purity (in terms of internal and external righteousness!)
- Jesus “learning obedience through suffering” was authentic.
This does not mean he moved from being disobedient to being obedient.
ESV Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
- It does mean he moved from being untested to being tested and being proven.
“The gold of his natural purity was put in the crucible and melted down with white-hot pain, so that he could learn from experience what suffering is and prove that his purity would persevere.” [Piper]
- He actually “prayed” and “begged” and “cried” and “wept” as a means of survival.
- This was no “fake test” of Christ’s purity and everything in the universe hung on this test.
- This does not mean Jesus passed from disobedience to obedience.
- He learned obedience by actually obeying (though not exclusively) primarily out of his human nature.
- Operating this way, he was obeying in increasingly difficult situations as he grew and developed.
These “experiences” served as God the Father’s training program as he learned increasingly hard “obediences” going toward the Cross.
- Experiences were planned by the Father to prepare him for the greatest suffering that could possibly be experienced.
The greatest act of obedience required the deepest commitment of faith and hope in his Father, so it stands to reason that the Father had prepared Jesus for this moment through the series of tests described in the Gospels! [Ware]
Looking back to the beginning of verse 7, you see “when” Jesus “learned obedience through suffering” (v. 8).
“In the days of his flesh” means Jesus’ incarnation or time spent here on earth.
- The word “flesh” (not sinful flesh) denotes frailty and weakness while on earth, being fully human, “the man of sorrows.”
- Gethsemane comes into view but this is broader than Gethsemane.
- The text says, “days” of his flesh not limiting this to one experience.
Reading the Gospels it appears that Jesus learned to obey in lighter situations being both protected and provided for by the Father.
- Jesus was born, grew in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and man.
- He was found by his parents in the temple “learning.”
ESV Luke 2:46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.
- He was mocked by his half-brothers, expressed indignation, wept, felt compassion, felt courage, became incredulous, filled with exasperation over his disciples who could not stay awake!, and overcome with grief and desperation.
But, all of this in the context of real life, real experiences, with real people.
Christ’s “prayers and supplications” characterize his life of dependence on God.
- I think it is important to understand that Jesus genuinely modeled throughout his time on earth, what it means to “fight for faith!”
- What Paul told Timothy over and over again to do: “Fight the good fight of faith!”
- To persevere in faith!
- Perseverance is the big idea – theme of this entire book (cf. Heb. 12:1-2)!
We should not trivialized “prayers, supplications, with loud cries and tears” as these terms come with increasing passion!
- The idea of “loud cries” is likened to a sound that is not naturally human. Animal-like.
- I have heard weeping like this before.
Jesus, in his human-nature fought the good fight and struggled and wrestled to persevere, otherwise our passage describes mere theatrics and is disingenuous.
- Jesus prayed earnestly to do the Father’s will.
This leads us to the focal point and climax of Jesus’ desperation at Gethsemane!
The three synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke depict the apex of Christ’s “learned obedience.”
- Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42 and Luke 22:44.
- This is Gethsemane where Jesus’ agony was real.
Mark says Jesus was “deeply distressed” (Mk 14:33) with the idea of him being terrified or astonished with horror.
- Later Mark 14:34 quotes Jesus saying, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (v. 34).
- Christ’s sorrow was at a depth point that his physical life was threatened!
- Verse 35 says, “Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will’” (vv. 35, 36).
Jesus prostrate on the ground and in light of Hebrews 5:7, he was wailing! Luke 22 reveals a serious level of intensity!
ESV Luke 22:44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
- Jesus was praying like this while the disciples repeatedly slept!
What was He praying for and what did God “hear?” (v. 7).
- What did God answer?
- In light of redemptive history what Jesus prayed seems astonishing!
Christ repeatedly asked if possible for the “hour” and “the cup” to be avoided!
- What are these referring to?
- Some say, deliverance from Satan? Others say, “Jesus’ perseverance.” Others, that Jesus deliverance from physical death or him not staying dead.
- Others, that Jesus would not be separated from his Father.
- Others, that Jesus would not have to suffer and bear the world’s sins!
- Or, the millions of Hells being judged by God’s wrath.
- Which is it? All of the above!
Jesus is fully human!
- In his humanity he wrestled to persevere and fulfill his Father’s will!
- And, cried for escape!
- As a man he cried for escape, but as a man he yielded to God’s will!
“You see that death was not voluntary for Christ as far as the flesh was concerned, but it was voluntary, because by it, according to the will of the Father, salvation and life were given to all men” (Cyril of Alexandria – 5th Century Patriarch).
Christ death became voluntary!
- Saying, “Because Jesus was God, He could not sin!” - meaning his obedience is automatic misses Christ’s ministry to us altogether!
- His obedience was not anymore automatic then your obedience or mine!
- However, Christ passed the test of perfect obedience without ever sinning!
Christ’s prayer was “heard because of his reverence.”
- Through agonizing prayers, he was lead to fully and finally embrace his Father’s will!
The question of Why (our last “W”) is begged! Why is this so important?
The question “Why?” on the face is easily answered directly from verse 9.
Jesus, “being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (v. 9).
- So, Jesus was “made perfect” to become “the source” for “eternal salvation.”
- A + B = C right? The problem isn’t the math or logic but the defining the terms.
Why would Jesus who was and is always sinlessly perfect have to “become” anything?
The word “perfect” also means “mature” or “complete.”
- This points to a goal or an end.
- We understand that this does not mean Christ had to change his human nature from any degree of sinfulness to sinlessness.
- This is a kind of maturity that took place within a fully sinless human nature.
This is the outcome of “learned obedience!”
- Jesus being “perfected” was him in life moving from an abstract purity to concrete obedience.
- He learned how to please God as a child, a teenager, and an adult.
- Jesus’ perfecting obedience had to be worked out in everyday life and at every stage of his life.
This was a genuinely mature faith of Christ -- tracing Jesus’ sufferings to his full qualification as High Priest and consequently our Source of Eternal Salvation.
In verse 1, the all-important function of priests offering sacrifices once a year (or seven times a year – Day of Atonement/Passover) finds ultimate fulfillment in Christ.
- Our Lord now has become the Source – the Ultimate HIGH PRIEST – and Worthy Sacrifice for our eternal salvation!
- Salvation which comes only by faith in this JESUS!
- A faith that shows the conviction to obey!
- A faith that yields the fruit of Perseverance - like Jesus did!
This is the “obedience of faith”, a faith that sees Christ as a better high priest, the only high priest who is able to save eternally.
A priesthood “after the order of Melchizedek” (v. 10).
As stated before, Christ’s path of priesthood was not detached and religious but, real life and earthy!
- His temple was a dirty sin cursed world.
- His altar a rock, his sanctuary - his heart, his ministry - his friends, and his bloody sacrifice - himself, nailed to a chopped down tree.
- 1 Peter 2:9 says you are a “royal priest” just like HIM!
Is your path of priesthood religion or real life?
The way you face your next challenge will answer this question.
- Where are you on your path?
- Did you learn from your last challenge or is God still working on you in this one?
One time my wife and I had the privilege of hosting an African Preacher named Conrad Mbewe who is from Lusaka in Zambia.
He’s a great preacher and the U.S. evangelical world (World Mag, Desiring God, Gospel Coalition) has titled him, “The Spurgeon of Africa.”
What Judith and I found more interesting than Conrad though, was actually his wife Felistas.
She came with him, making her first visit to the United States, and Judith and I were able to take them out for a steak dinner.
They were great. We confided in them about a serious trial we had gone through which caused
Felistas rightly discerned from what we shared that we would have been simply running from our problems.
She wisely said, “Aren’t so glad you stayed, so that God wouldn’t have to teach you the same lesson at another church, that you needed to learn at this one!”
She was right! Another close friend put it this way.
“God will use any church (current situation) as his anvil to hammer out what he needs to in your life!”
This is “learning obedience!” There are no “small obediences!”
Each challenge is God’s training ground to prepare you for the next round.
Trust this process as you trust in your only Source of Salvation – the Better High Priest!