Agonizomai: Heb 5:7-10 Christ - The Perfect Human Mediator

Friday, December 11, 2009

Heb 5:7-10 Christ - The Perfect Human Mediator

Heb 5:7-10 Christ - The Perfect Human Mediator

Heb5:7-10 In the days of his flesh, Jesus {Greek “he”} 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. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 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.

While Jesus is the eternal Son, he was also fully human. The life he lived he lived completely as a man, and by faith in the Father. We must not deny either his deity or his humanity - nor should we dwell upon the one at the expense of the other in an unbalanced way.

But it is entirely because he was fully human and living by faith that he entreated the Father in a completely human way. He prayed and supplicated; he entreated and asked with great yearning and passion. He was laying down for us the pattern we are to recognize and embrace for ourselves. Though we know who we are and we are assured of our relationship with God, we are not exempt from that sort of walking in our faith that seeks and receives all from God’s hand. Though Christ knew who He was and believed it utterly, though He knew why He had come and He knew that He would (inevitably) fulfill all righteousness as had been decreed from eternity - yet He walked in the means by which all this was to be realized. And those means involved supplication, tears, fear and suffering.

This is why the writer is able to say that Jesus learned obedience through the things that he suffered. It wasn’t that he was formerly disobedient and now had learned to submit - it was that he walked in experiential obedience in exactly the same way that we are commanded to do, but without ever slipping. True, Christ never had the disadvantage of having a sinful, Adamic nature; he was not "totally depraved" so as to be unable to please God. In his humanity, he was as Adam had been prior to the fall - which is partly the reason he is called "the second Adam". But the distinction must be drawn that he was God the Son having taken on human form and nature, yet without sin. He had no original sin because He was God incarnate. His human temptations and tribulations were all experienced exactly as we experience them as to his human nature, but as to his Personhood, he abode in the perfect will of God and could not deny himself.

Scholars have long debated whether Christ could have sinned. Some believe that if it was not possible then the incarnation was a sham. Some say that, as to his human nature he could sin, but as to his divine nature it was impossible. That is a logical contradiction to which I cannot subscribe because it separates the two natures of Christ, which we are not to do. We cannot begin to imagine the state of the mind of the incarnate God. But we can know this - that while he experienced the same things that we do, he did it without sin - and that this was ordained from before the world began. What God ordains inevitably comes to pass.

The answer to this conundrum is wrapped up in the mystery of faith. For there must be a sense in which Christ the omnipotent and omniscient God, in choosing to live by faith as a man, in a sense covered his own eyes from the secret decrees made in eternity so as to receive them by faith in exactly the same way that we do.

As to his "being made perfect" we must again be careful with the meaning that English language and custom convey to us. It is not that the eternal Son was ever imperfect but that, as the incarnate Son, He went through the process of maturing and so, fulfilled all that was necessary for Him to perfectly execute his office. In the milieu of time He became, by the work He performed in the flesh, the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him. In eternity he was decreed immutably to be so; in time He walked in it, becoming the de facto eternal High Priest of his people through the completion of His work.

By His people is meant "all those who obey Him." And the obedience here contemplated is that obedience that is born of, and borne by, faith. And by "faith" we do not contemplate "faith" to be an object of itself, but to be that reliance upon the one who has both been shown to be and designated Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, and who - by his finished work - is now the sole ground of our acceptance with God. Therefore, the obedience of faith is the means by which the fruit of Christ’s work is manifested in his people. "I am the vine and you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing." {John 15:5}; the fruit borne is not our own, but His.


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