ArticlesPoetry May 25, 2015 Jesus Learned Obedience
Ifeoluwapo Eleyinafe Article by Ifeoluwapo Eleyinafe Creator and author,

To obey is an ac­tion. Hu­mil­i­ty comes be­fore any act of obey­ing. Hu­mil­i­ty means that you de­clare Je­sus to be King and His way to have pri­ma­cy (first and supreme) over your own. The Holy Spir­it is the only one that gives us the pow­er to be hum­ble.

Learn­ing What You Al­ready Know

To­day we will be talk­ing about a cu­ri­ous lit­tle verse that fol­lows from our pre­vi­ous dis­cus­sion about be­ing made new. He­brews 5:8-9 has presents some im­me­di­ate dif­fi­cul­ty for us. It says two things that seem con­tra­dic­to­ry. First it says that Je­sus learned obe­di­ence. This is what we will talk about to­day. This pas­sage doesn’t make sense be­cause Je­sus had nev­er been dis­obe­di­ent to God. From the be­gin­ning, He has been with the Fa­ther, His only Son. He is One with God and the Holy Spir­it. Gen­er­al­ly don’t have to learn what you al­ready know. So how then does He learn obe­di­ence? What does that have to do with the things we’ve dis­cussed pri­or to this?


To give in­sight into these vers­es, let us use Philip­pi­ans 2:5-8 for our light. This is a pat­tern for read­ing the Bible. He­brews 5:8 is al­ready doused in oil. Now let us use an­oth­er lamp to set it on fire. The struc­ture and the words of the Philip­pi­ans 2:5-8 fol­low the same pro­gres­sion as that He­brews 5:8-9. In Philip­pi­ans though it we find this word “hum­bled”. This is the key point in un­der­stand­ing how Je­sus learned obe­di­ence. Keep this hum­bling in mind and we’ll get back to it lat­er.

Part of the rea­son the He­brews verse is so dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand is be­cause of our own start­ing point. Just look at any par­ent rais­ing a child. Most of the time, the par­ent has to teach the child to obey. She has to teach the child to just do what she says. What then is the prob­lem? What keeps a child from obey­ing his moth­er or fa­ther by do­ing what he is told? Let us add an­oth­er wrin­kle we do not of­ten think of. No par­ent is fooled into think­ing that his young child obeys be­cause the child wants to. Gen­er­al­ly, to get the child to do what she is asked to do, the par­ent has to of­fer her some sort of prize for obe­di­ence or threat­en to take some­thing away when she dis­obeys.

Even God be­gins with us this way. He be­gan this way with Is­rael in Deuteron­o­my 11:26. But to tru­ly obey, one can­not de­cide based on re­ward and pun­ish­ment like a sailor de­cid­ing to low­er his sails de­pend­ing on the di­rec­tion of the wind. That would be dou­ble-mind­ed­ness. God has said that He de­sires true obe­di­ence comes from the heart 1 Samuel 15:22, 2 Corinthi­ans 9:7, Deut 30:10. So then to tru­ly obey God, you not only have to do what He says but you also have to want to do what He says. We obey not out of a de­sire for the re­ward but out of a de­sire to obey Him, a de­sire to be close to Him. So here is the de­f­i­n­i­tion of obey: do­ing what some­one else says with all your heart.

How To Obey

Now with the right mind­set, we can be­gin to talk about Je­sus and hu­mil­i­ty. By look­ing at Je­sus in Philip­pi­ans 2:6,8, we see there is a strange re­la­tion­ship be­tween hu­mil­i­ty and obe­di­ence and suf­fer­ing. For the quick and dirty, hu­mil­i­ty and obe­di­ence are what we call in­ex­tri­ca­ble de­pen­dents. One can­not ex­ist with­out the oth­er. Suf­fer­ing is the path of obe­di­ence and hu­mil­i­ty and we’ll about this lat­er. Now on to some ex­pla­na­tion.

Philip­pi­ans 2:8 in Philip­pi­ans says that Je­sus hum­bled Him­self by be­com­ing obe­di­ent unto death. One would have thought that hu­mil­i­ty comes be­fore obe­di­ence. In­stead, Philip­pi­ans teach­es that be­com­ing hum­ble is the process of be­com­ing obe­di­ent. Hu­mil­i­ty then is not a thing you pos­sess. Hu­mil­i­ty is like the sun. Sure the sun looks like a bright light stuck in the sky but pic­tures of its sur­face re­veal that the sun is not sta­t­ic or still. The sun is an in­ces­sant con­fla­gra­tion and it re­mains the sun only by be­ing con­stant­ly on fire. By al­ways be­ing on fire, the sun is nev­er the same and so in a sense, the sun is al­ways be­com­ing the sun. Sim­i­lar­ly, one can have hu­mil­i­ty but only by con­sis­tent­ly be­com­ing hum­ble. You can see the fires of hu­mil­i­ty by watch­ing the hum­ble one as he/she learns obe­di­ence. So to sum up: 1 Hu­mil­i­ty is both a state and a process. One be­comes hum­ble by be­ing hum­ble. 2 Be­com­ing hum­ble means be­com­ing obe­di­ent.

He­brews 5:8 gives the oth­er side by say­ing, “Al­though He was a Son, (_________) He learned obe­di­ence”. Well you can see there that I have put a gap be­tween Son and learn­ing obe­di­ence. That gap is to ex­plain what was re­quired be­fore a son can learn obe­di­ence. A son en­ters into the world with an ex­alt­ed po­si­tion. He is beloved by his fa­ther. Je­sus Christ, Son of God, has al­ways been with The Fa­ther. Fur­ther­more, He has al­ways obeyed His Fa­ther. So how did He learn obe­di­ence? The gap be­tween son­ship and obe­di­ence is hu­mil­i­ty. His Po­si­tion as Son is men­tioned to show that Je­sus had op­por­tu­ni­ty and oc­ca­sion to do what­ev­er He want­ed and no one could have ques­tioned Him. Yet He puts His priv­i­lege aside, and as Philip­pi­ans 2:6 ex­press­es, He did not count equal­i­ty with God a thing to be grasped. That thought, that mind (verse 5) is what lead to Je­sus learn­ing obe­di­ence. Only the hum­ble son, the son who has giv­en up his po­si­tion as king over his own life, can learn obe­di­ence. Hu­mil­i­ty, the act of sub­mit­ting to the rule of God, stands be­tween my po­si­tion and my obe­di­ence.

And now our equiv­a­lence is com­plete. Obe­di­ence is hu­mil­i­ty ex­pressed. Through obe­di­ence, I be­come hum­ble. Through hu­mil­i­ty, I be­come obe­di­ent. In the midst of these state­ments, there is a great deal of life.

Pow­er For Hu­mil­i­ty

So if you want to be­come hum­ble, the word says: Obey!. And if you want to obey, the word says: Be Hum­ble!. What does be­ing hum­ble mean? It means that in your life, you are not God’s equal. It means that you have cho­sen to or­der your life and deeds by His Words. There­fore, be­fore I can obey God, I must make Him my Ruler and my Lord.

But all this has been cir­cu­lar. I can’t obey till I be­come hum­ble and I can’t be hum­ble till I obey. How does one, so to speak, break into the cir­cle to get start­ed? How does one gain the strength to be hum­ble? Well as with every­thing else, it all be­gins with God. God grants hu­mil­i­ty through His Hum­ble Holy Spir­it Isa­iah 11:1-3. Through the Holy Spir­it, your de­light and de­sire be­comes obe­di­ence to God. Je­sus Him­self re­quired this bap­tism of the Holy Spir­it Matthew 3:16-17 be­fore His suf­fer­ing(...learned obe­di­ence through what He suf­fered) in the wilder­ness. The de­sire to obey God and the pow­er to put God on the throne is what marks the Chris­t­ian from oth­ers. This is the first thing ob­served in the per­son who be­comes a Chris­t­ian.

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