Daily devotion

The path to Maturity

Father, help me to understand a difficult passage, and to please and obey you as I learn.

Hebrews 5:1-10

Human priest were appointed by God to carry out certain responsibilities. They represented the people to God. Jesus likewise was appointed by God to be our priest, but with a difference–he had no sins of his own for which to atone. Nonetheless, he is able to ‘deal gently’ with us, because he experienced temptation, just as we do. He was completely human.

Jesus learned the purpose of his life on earth from the scriptures. We read in gospels how he took time away from the crowds to pray, and those times are elaborated on here, as we are told that his prayers were offered ‘with fervent cries and tears. He wrestled with the scriptures, and in particular how they indicated his mission.

The phrase ‘he learned obedience from what he suffered’ is difficult for two reasons. One is that in Greek the words for ‘learned’ and ‘suffered’ are different by only one letter, and the pun on ‘learning/suffering’ was common in Greek literature. More significantly, both words have meaning slightly different from the English translation. In the New Testament the word ‘learn’ had acquired a special meaning of  ‘ learn from the Scriptures’, and in Hebrews the word ‘suffer’ always refer to Jesus death. So the phrase means something like ‘his obedience to the scriptures took him to the cross’. There is no suggestion that he had previously not known this, which English translations may imply. The phrase ‘once made perfect’ doesn’t mean that he was imperfect before, but that by his death he completely identified with the pain and grief that the Father experienced with the world he had created. He went to the cross with a full understanding of what he was doing. He went freely. He was no victim.

Let us learn the daily process of relinquishing our will to God’s will, with a maturation that moves beyond..the emotion-twisting pulls and poundings by the world.

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