Monday, February 13, 2017, 10:15 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “In Faithfulness He Leads Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Hebrews 4:14-5:9 (Select vv. NASB).
He Sympathizes with Us (4:14-16)
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
In the Old Testament times, and up until Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gave his life up for us on a cross, so we could be delivered from slavery to sin, the people of God had to rely on a human high priest to offer a sin offering for their sins, as well as for his own sins, once a year. He alone was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place behind the curtain (veil) to stand before God to make atonement for the sins of the people.
Yet, when God the Father sent his Son (God the Son) to the earth to take on human form, to suffer as we suffer, and to be tempted in like manner as we are also tempted, yet without sin, he sent him here to be the sacrificial Lamb for our sins, i.e. he became our sin offering, once for all. Yet, not only was he our sin offering, once for all time, but he was/is also our high priest who gave the sacrifice for our sins. Jesus Christ made the atonement for our sins so that we can be delivered out of slavery to sin, and so we can become bondservants of Christ and of his righteousness.
It was important for us that Jesus took on human flesh so that when he walked this earth he was fully God yet fully man. As man, he suffered and he was tempted to sin, and he felt what it was like to be weak, in his body, although he never sinned. Because of this he is able to sympathize with us in our weaknesses, i.e. he knows what it is like to suffer physically and emotionally, and he knows what it is like to be seriously tempted to sin. He knows, too, what it is like to be hated, rejected, abused, misused and persecuted because he stood for truth and for righteousness.
Thus, he feels what we feel, and he is compassionate towards us. This does not mean that he gives us a free pass to continue sinning, though. He hates sin because of what sin does to us and to our relationship with him, and that is why he died, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.
When Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, he became sin for us so that when he died our sins died with him. They were buried with him, too. And, when he was resurrected from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death on our behalf. When he died, too, the veil that stood between us and God was torn in two, thus making the way for us who believe in Jesus Christ to come directly into the presence of God. We can come to God in prayer with all our concerns, with all our sorrows, and with all our questions, and he is there to comfort, encourage, exhort, counsel and direct us in the way that we should go. He feels our pain, and he cares.
Because of all that Jesus went through for us, in becoming human, and in suffering like we do, then in dying for our sins, we can be encouraged to hold fast to our confession of faith. There isn’t anything we are going through that is too hard for him, or that he doesn’t understand or feel with great compassion and concern. He is completely sovereign and in control over all that he has made. When we are weak, he is strong. He will give us all we need to endure, to persevere, and to keep doing what he has called us to do, even when all looks hopeless, and when our human strength fails us.
He Learned Obedience (5:7-9)
In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.
Isn’t this interesting? Jesus Christ, God the Son, God incarnate, in his flesh struggled with the thought of what he would have to go through in order to be the sacrificial Lamb for our sins so that we could be set free from the control of sin over our lives, and walk in his righteousness. And, he cried out to God the Father, who could have saved him from it all. He said, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39). And, this says that he was heard because of his piety, or because of his reverent submission.
So, what do I find interesting about this? It is that this says God heard him because of his reverent submission, and yet God did not save him from having to die on the cross for our sins. I think oftentimes when we are going through difficult times, and we pray, and we make requests to God with crying (tears), we feel that if God hears us that he will surely deliver us. But, he doesn’t always. Sometimes his answer back to us is “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in your weakness.” Wow!
The other part that I find interesting about this is that Jesus Christ, God the Son, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – learned submission (obedience) from the things which he suffered. As man, he had to learn obedience. And, he learned it from the things which he suffered. And, God causes or allows us to suffer, too, because through suffering we learn to rely on him and not on ourselves. We grow in our faith and in our maturity in Christ. Through suffering we are being conformed into the image of Christ and we are being pruned and purified and made holy. So many times we try to avoid suffering, when in reality suffering is for our good, to make us more like Jesus.
Having been perfected through suffering, Jesus Christ then became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation. So, what does it mean when it says “to all who obey him”? Is this teaching works-based salvation? No! When we truly understand what it means to believe in Jesus Christ we understand that genuine faith, which is God-given, is divinely persuaded as to God’s will for our lives. In other words, faith in Jesus Christ is not something we muster up on our own. It is given to us by God because it is spiritual in nature, rather than from our flesh. Because it is of the Spirit, it submits to Jesus’ purpose in dying for us, i.e. that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. Repentance and obedience are both aspects of this kind of faith. And, it is what Jesus and his NT apostles taught, too.
Jesus didn’t die just so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died to transform us away from living to sin, and to turn us to God, to live to his righteousness. When we believe in Jesus with God-given faith, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24; cf. Ro. 6:1-23). Jesus died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave himself up for us (2 Co. 5:15). He died, too, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, for if we walk according to the flesh we will die in our sins (See: Ro. 8:1-14).
So, if someone is telling you that you don’t have to repent of your sins, and that you don’t have to obey Christ, not only are they lying to you, and giving you a false hope, they are totally missing the reason for which Jesus died and what our salvation is really all about. Jesus died that we might be delivered out of slavery to sin so that we might become bondservants of him and of his righteousness. This is what it means to be “born again” of the Spirit of God. Where we once lived to please our flesh, and to do what we want, now we want to please God and to walk in his ways and in his truth, not to earn our salvation, but because Jesus truly set us free!
In Faithfulness He Leads Me
An Original Work / March 20, 2013 / Based off Various Scriptures
(Ps. 26:3; 86:11; 91:4-5; 111:7-8; 119:73-76; Is. 25:1,4&9; 42:6-7; Hos. 2:16-20)
Teach me Your ways, Lord, and I’ll walk in them.
Give me a pure heart. I’ll fear Your name.
Your love is always, ever before me.
Continually I’ll walk in Your truth.
You will cover me with feathers.
Under Your wings I’ll find refuge.
My Lord’s faithfulness will be my
Comfort and my shield.
The works of His hands are faithful and just.
Trustworthy are all of His precepts.
Your hands have made me, and they have formed me.
Give understanding of Your commands.
I have put my hope, O Lord, in Your word.
Your teachings, O Lord, are righteousness.
Lord, in faithfulness You have
Afflicted me so I may learn of
Your unfailing love and comfort
And Your truthfulness.
You are my husband; You have betrothed me
In love, compassion and faithfulness.
O Lord, You are my God, I’ll exalt You.
In faithfulness You’ve done wondrous things.
You’ve been a refuge for those who’re needy;
A shelter in storms; shade from the heat.
This is the Lord, we trusted in Him,
Let us be glad and rejoice
In His salvation which He
Provided through the Lamb.
Open the blind eyes; free all the captives.
Tell them of Jesus: “Be born again!”