June 18, 2006

Obedience Learned

Our discussion today concerned being loyal to Christ the King. However, a cited scripture sent me off on an entirely new train of thought, and I decided I'd post my ramblings here.

What inspired me was reading Hebrews 5:7-9. Here it is, from the Living Bible.

"Yet while Christ was here on Earth he pleaded with God, praying with tears and agony of soul to the only one who would save him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his strong desire to obey God at all times. And even though Jesus was God's Son, he had to learn from experience what it was like to obey, when obeying meant suffering. It was after he had proved himself perfect in this experience that Jesus became the Giver of eternal salvation to all those who obey him."

To my mind, "praying with tears and agony" refers to the moment in the garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus asked that "this cup" (referring to his imminent death as a blasphemer) be taken from him. We can see how distressed he was by what Luke reported. (Luke, being a physician, recorded the medical details. Modern medical knowledge has revealed that while bloody sweat is very rare, it can happen.)

"Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him, for he was in such agony of spirit that he broke into a sweat of blood, with great drops falling to the ground as he prayed more and more earnestly."

But God denied his request, and it was at this moment that Jesus "learned obedience." In submission to his Father's will, he acquiesed to the manner of his death.

This was remarkable. Consider for a moment all the billions of years Jesus and God had spent together. Of course, Jesus was always obedient. So why did Paul say that he 'learned obedience'? Simply put, because his obedience came under test and in adversity. This is a little bit different from obeying when it isn't hard, and when everyone applauds you for doing so.

With this in mind, this scripture (also in Hebrews) packs a lot more punch.

"This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, since he had the same temptations we do, though he never once gave way to them and sinned." (Hebrews 4:15)

No, Jesus never sinned...but I would wager that moment in Gethsemane was a pretty close thing. After all, he could have refused to die as a blasphemer, or die at all for that matter. Yet, as much as he hated what was about to happen, he submitted himself to it.

I also think these verses dispute the idiocy of the Trinity. If Jesus was part of a Godhead, why would he have to learn anything at all, much less obedience? Wouldn't he already know everything, if he was omnipotent? Also, if he was coequal and coeternal, who would he have to be obedient to? It's only if Jesus, as the Son, is inferior to the Father (i.e., not the same person) that obedience is needed.

At any rate, there's my ideas, for better or worse. Do with them what you will.

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