Ep.213: Suffer and Obey.

Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.

Hebrews 5 says
  [Jesus] offered prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears
      to the one who could save him from death,
            and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
  Though he was a Son,
      he learned obedience from what he suffered,
      and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation
            for all who obey him . . . (vv. 7-9). 

Here are two observations about this passage. 

First, the word “obey” occurs twice: Jesus learned obedience through suffering, and he saves those who obey him. I find it interesting that Jesus learned obedience, and that suffering was part of the lesson plan. We don’t talk a lot about Jesus growing and maturing and learning during his human life on earth. 

After pointing out that Jesus learned obedience, the Book of Hebrews says he saves those who obey him. This is not a description of instantaneous salvation by faith. It’s an invitation for us to learn and grow as Jesus did, to respond to our sufferings by learning obedience, and to receive the promise that he will save those who obey him. 

A second observation is that this passage presents prayer as a paradox. “Jesus prayed. . .to God, who was able to save him from death, and God heard him because of his reverent submission” (v. 7). From this verse, you might conclude, “God heard Jesus’ prayer and saved him from death.” 

Bad conclusion. Jesus prayed at Gethsemane that God would bypass the way of the cross. But that’s the very thing God, “who could save him from death”, didn’t do. 

This is the paradox of prayer. If we are on the path of salvation, obeying Jesus with reverent submission, God hears our prayers, as he did Jesus’ prayer. We are confident God is powerful enough to grant whatever we ask. But for reasons of his own, he often refuses to give what we ask, and sometimes he even gives us the opposite. 

Why bother to pray, then? Because prayer is part of our path of obedience. As we learn obedience through suffering, part of our pain is that God often lets the suffering continue, declining to release us from it or to fix the problems that cause it.

Let’s pray. 

Our father, after Jesus asked you to bypass the cross, you refused his request, and you made the cross the centre of his story. You place a cross at the centre of our story too, for Jesus told us to take our cross daily and follow him (Luke 9:23). Since he provides salvation for those who obey him, we must live the story of our cross, abandoning our fantasies of comfort and riches and pleasure.

Help us then to learn obedience through the things we suffer, as Jesus did. And bring us to eternal life with him.     


I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.