Jesus, His Prayers, and God’s Perfecting Process
April 3, 2015 Year B (Good Friday of Holy Week)
Sometimes my prayers don’t get the answered the way I want because God wants to teach me and change me through obedience.
In this section, the writer of Hebrews recalls a time during the life of Jesus when He prayed for deliverance from the cross. This prayer was given three times in the Garden of Gethsemane just before He was arrested.
Matthew 26:39, Mark 14:36
In this account, the writer wants us to know that these were prayers and appeals from Jesus. God did not answer them in the way that Jesus wanted in the flesh. Instead, God answered them perfectly through Jesus’ death on the cross.
Matthew 27:46, Matthew 27:50, Luke 23:46
God heard those prayers in the garden and on the cross. In the garden, Jesus prayed to get away from the cross. God told Him no. On the cross, Jesus prayed that God would get Him through the cross.
Now obviously God did not forsake Jesus on the cross. He delivered Him through the cross. At the end, Jesus gives up His spirit. The body died. The spirit lived. God raised the body to join the spirit on Easter. This is how God “saved Him from death” (Hebrews 5:7).
At the same time, Jesus had to be obedient through the process. He had to suffer on the cross. There was no half-time break for Jesus on the cross, where He could step aside and catch His breath, while the angels entertained the crowd. No, when Jesus was nailed to the cross, He stayed there, not because He was nailed there, but because of obedience and love.
“After He was perfected” – what does that mean in Hebrews 5:9? Jesus was sinless, but He had to show complete obedience to the Father. Don’t ever think that it was easy for Jesus to be obedient to the Father while He was here on Earth. It was hard. Even though God was by His side the entire time, it was still was hard to obey.
As noted in The Epistle to the Hebrews by Westcott (131):
This perfection was seen on the one side in the complete fulfilment of man’s destiny by Christ through absolute self-sacrifice, and on the other in His exaltation to the right hand of God, which was in the divine order its due consequence.
In contrast to Aaron as a priest, Jesus was perfect. He became perfect because from Heaven’s point of view, Christ’s work was complete.John 12:27 was a prayer that was not answered so that Jesus might be “brought safe out of death into a new life.”
There were many opportunities for temptation.
He could have stopped the guards in the Garden and demanded worship when He healed the servant and they were bowing down to Him.
He could have demanded worship from Pilate and the entire Roman legion when He was being questioned.
He could have replied with one word to the high priest that there was only one true High Priest and that this one true High Priest demands your submission.
He could have told someone else to carry the cross the entire time for Him as a substitute instead of being the substitute for us.
He could have avoided much of the pain of the cross by taking the drug they offered Him at the beginning of His suffering.
He could have said “No” to taking on the sin of the world while yet on the cross.
While on the cross, He could have asked angels to take Him off at any time.
He could have even demanded worship by everyone around Him while He was on the cross.
He didn’t do any of that. Instead, He obeyed His Heavenly Father. This was the perfecting process – the model of obedience that we should have. As a result of Jesus’ obedience, we receive eternal salvation. We benefit from His submission to His Father (Hebrews 5:9).
From conception to the cross, Jesus was completely obedient to His heavenly Father. God rewarded Him for it (Hebrews 5:10). While on Earth, He was the prophet, after the cross, He became the high priest, soon He will be the king.
What can we learn from this? We learn that obedience is hard but it is worth it in the end. Hard work has its rewards.
We learn that God’s answers to our prayers may take us down a path that we may not want sometimes. Yet, to be obedient, we have to submit to God’s ways.
God will reward us for our obedience. It may not be in the same category and quality that happened to Jesus. However, God will reward us for our prayers.
Prayer: As I reflect on this Good Friday, I want to thank You for what Your Son did by going to the cross. Thank You for His obedience. This obedience teaches me to be obedient.