“During His earthly life, He [Jesus] offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Though He was God’s Son, He [Jesus] learned obedience through what He suffered” (Hebrews 5:7-8 HCSB).
Our faith has run off the rails. Somewhere within western Christianity we’ve come to believe that God is more concerned with our comfort than our calling. We often forget that even Jesus learned obedience through what He suffered. That’s sobering.
What makes us think that we are entitled to live a life completely free of pain or difficulty? God did not spare His own son trials, pain, and sufferings. In fact, He used trials and suffering to teach His son obedience. God could have saved Him, but He didn’t. Jesus had a lesson to learn—obedience—so God allowed Him to walk through suffering.
Our faith often places us (mankind) at the center. We can be deceived into thinking God only desires us to be comfortable and happy. In that sort of economy, God exists for me. I am the subject, and He is the object. The Bible, however, does not view the world in such a manner. God is king. He makes the rules; we don’t. I exist to live for Him.
He has my ultimate best interest in mind, but His goal reaches beyond me. He receives the glory. He is the subject, and I am the object. He will teach me obedience—which is His ultimate desire for my life—through suffering.
We tend to equate our inconvenience with suffering. It’s not. We do not suffer when we are inconvenienced. The denial of my perceived rights does not mean I’m suffering. Our faith desperately needs a healthy theology of suffering, because through suffering Jesus learned obedience to His Father. His suffering did not mean God didn’t love Him. No, it meant His submission to His Father’s will, way, and rule.
The author of Hebrews continued, “and being made perfect.” How? Through His sufferings. Jesus “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him [God]” (Hebrews 5:9 HCSB). Jesus’ sufferings made Him perfect, and they made Him the source of salvation for everyone who obeys God. God can perfect us too through our sufferings, if we submit to Him. Moreover, our obedience to Him offers a conduit for others to come to Him.
Why should God save us from the lessons He taught His son? As long as our faith focuses upon ourselves, we will never mature, nor will we learn the lessons God has for us. If we truly follow Jesus, we too will submit to the lessons God seeks to teach us, even in suffering. Our refusal to do so indicates our ultimate rejection of following Jesus.
Father, You loved Your son Jesus dearly, yet You taught Him obedience through His sufferings. Lord, teach us too. May we submit to You and Your will in all we do and say, and in every circumstance. Amen.