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In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. [1]

(Hebrews 5:7-10)

Jesus, the Son of GOD, came to earth and suffered for us. Imagine that. Take a minute to think about it.

Jesus felt everything we, as humans feel. Anticipating His death for us, he cried in the pain of anticipation. He offered up prayers as He got ready for this awful sacrifice.

They were the prayers of a priest.   Jesus is now the most High Priest. Because He is GOD’s Son, God answered His prayers and honored His sacrifice for us. In GOD’s world, we are all now a nation of priests. We intercede, with Jesus, on behalf of all who are in need of Him.

Now get this, he was God’s very own Son. He didn’t have to do any of this for us. He came to earth and learned trusting-obedience by what he suffered. He didn’t have to suffer.

We sometimes wonder, why do we have to suffer? Well, we join in the ministry of Jesus by sharing in suffering, just as Jesus did.

  • By suffering, Jesus arrived at the full stature of his maturity.
  • Imagine the Son of God having to mature.
  • He did as a man on earth.
  • In that maturity and perfection, Jesus became our priest.
  • In his death and resurrection, he became the source of eternal salvation to all of us who obey him.

Every Old Testament high priest had to minister to people who were “ignorant, and … out of the way [wayward]” (Heb. 5:2). God made no provision but judgment for high-handed sins of rebellion. But He did make provision when people sinned through ignorance or weakness. An Old Testament priest could identify with the sinners, since he himself was a sinner. In fact, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest had to offer a sacrifice for himself before he could offer one for the nation!

You would think that one sinner would have compassion for another sinner, but this is not always the case. Sin makes a person selfish. Sin can blind us to the hurts of others.

  • Sin can harden our hearts and make us judgmental instead of sympathetic.
  • Remember how heartbroken Hannah, who was praying for a son, was accused by high priest Eli of being drunk?
  • And when King David was confronted with a story of a rich man’s sin, he had no sympathy for him, even though David himself was a worse sinner.

No, it is the spiritually minded person with a clean heart who sympathizes with someone who misses God’s goal [ a sinner] and seeks to help him. Because we are so sinful, we have a hard time helping other sinners; but because Jesus is perfect, He can meet our needs after we sin.

Our Master was prepared for His high priestly ministry during His days of ministry on earth. The phrase, “In the days of His flesh,” means, “In the days when He was on earth in a human body.” From birth to death, our Master experienced the sinless infirmities of human nature. He knew what it was to grow and mature. He experienced hunger and thirst, as well as weariness. He also faced temptations to sin and persecutions from the hands of sinful men.

How could the Son of God “learn obedience”? In the same way any son must learn obedience: by the experiences of life. We must remember that our Master Jesus, in His earthly walk, lived by faith in the Father’s will.

  • As God, He needed to learn nothing.
  • But as the Son of God come in human flesh, He had to experience that which His people would experience, so that He might be able to minister as their High Priest.
  • He did not need to learn how to obey because it would be impossible for God to be disobedient.
  • Rather, as the God-Man in human flesh, He had to learn what was involved in obedience.
  • In this way, He identified with us.

No matter what trials we meet, Jesus the Messiah is able to understand our needs and help us. We need never doubt His ability to sympathize and strengthen. It is also worth noting that sometimes God puts us through difficulties that we might better understand the needs of others and become able to encourage them[2]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Heb 5:7–10). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 292–293). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.