Read Hebrews 5
1 Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor on himself, but he receives it when called by God, just as Aaron was.
5 In the same way, Christ did not take on himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him,
today I have become your Father.” 6 And he says in another place,
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.” 7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Warning Against Falling Away11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
In Hebrews 5 we are encouraged to obedience, even in our suffering, because Jesus serves as the perfect model of growing our faith. In Exodus, God appointed Aaron and his descendents as priests and provided extensive detail for sacrifices to account for the Hebrews’ sins. Now, in the book of Hebrews, there is Jesus! The high priests in Exodus were sinners, too. While they were doing their best as ordained by God, they fell short of serving as adequate role models for the people. But Jesus! Jesus encountered the same temptations we, as humans, encounter and “He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.”
Based on this scripture, we are to follow Jesus’ model and learn obedience when we suffer. We see suffering all around us and experience it ourselves. How do we learn obedience from all this? According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, obedience is “submissive to the restraint or command of authority: willing to obey.” So, as Christians, we should be willing to be restrained by or commanded by God. Obedience is the practice of living as Jesus modeled, especially in our suffering. Suffering offers the most visible (and most difficult) opportunities to practice our faith.
So how do we answer the call to obedience? We look to Jesus. We study Him as our perfect, eternal model, and we do what He did and what He tells us to do. If we are spending time with God, reading His word, watching Jesus through the stories of the gospels, hearing how He works in our friends’ lives, then we are much more likely to behave like Him. He is the only model to follow. Everyone else falls short: the high priests of the Hebrews, the professional athletes of today, the politicians we vote for, our best friend, everyone. Our only hope is to obey the only adequate (and perfect) model of Jesus.
- When you suffer, do you respond by learning obedience? Or do you respond by avoidance or by rebellion?
- Who do you tend to model? Who or what do you watch? How does their behavior influence your own?
- In what ways are you currently suffering? How can you learn obedience through this suffering?
Did You Know?
Hebrews 5 gives us our first reference to Melchizedek (with more to come in Hebrews 7). Melchizedek was the very first high priest referenced in scripture all the way back in Genesis 14.