Summary: how Christ obeyed and how we obey
April 6, 2003 Hebrews 5:7-9
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up 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. Although 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.
The Premier of Australia said that when the Great War broke out, the Australian Commonwealth at once offered to do what they could to back Great Britain. They asked what was the most useful thing that they could do, and the reply came-"Build us ships: we want ships." The Australians did not build ships. Instead, they began to till the fields, sow seed, and reap harvests to send food to the motherland. Grain was gathered, put into sacks, and brought down to the water’s edge to wait for the ships. But the ships never came. The mice got in, and then found their way into towns and villages and cities, carrying disease with them-a disease that attacked the eyes of many and blinded some. And all the time Great Britain said, "Ships! ships! ships!"
All they had to do was "obey." But it seems that "obedience" is a lost art today. Kids don’t mind their parents. Employers don’t like to listen to their bosses. Patients won’t listen to their doctors. Wives don’t want it in their vows. It is probably considered worse than a cuss word to tell someone to "obey". Even kids will say, "you can’t tell me what to do!" It seems that we associate obeying someone with slavery. However, "obey" is NOT a dirty word. It does NOT mean INFERIORITY. It is something that God encourages. So today we will attempt to -
Learn the Lost Art of Obedience
I. Was found by Christ through reverence
Jesus once said of the Pharisees, These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. (Mt 15:8) Even though on the outside the Pharisees seemed to be obeying God, on the inside - something was wrong. The peculiar thing about Christianity is you can have two people doing the exact same thing - but one will be blessed by God and one will be cursed - just like with Cain and Abel. More important than the actual action is the motive. So before we get to the art of obedience, we have to go one step back.
Several weeks ago we had a young man come into worship as a visitor, and he did a rather peculiar thing. When he entered into worship, he bowed his head and said a prayer. His attitude in approaching the throne of God was one of humility. That seems to be the sense of Jesus’ approach to His Father while he was on earth. He did it with "reverent submission." That word is also used in Hebrews 12:28 which says, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. In context, the writer was talking about how Moses approached God on Mt. Sinai where there was a burning fire, storm, darkness and gloom. Moses was shaking in his sandals and the people were also terrified. With the coming of Christ, a new kingdom had come - one that was even more glorious than that of Moses - an eternal kingdom. In light of the fact that God is in charge of life and death - that our eternities are in his hands - the last thing we want to do is to take Him lightly. We would rather be "devout" - remembering who we are and who God is.
The life of Jesus gives us an illustration as to what "reverent submission" is all about. What does it say Jesus did that showed reverent submission? He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death. The word for "petition" can mean "an olive branch." Strong says that when a person was in need, "they would implore holding an olive branch entwined with white wool and fillets, to signify that they came as suppliants." Maybe that’s where the white flag concept came from. Even though He was God, Jesus approached God the Father as someone that he needed desperately throughout His life. In his humility, He wasn’t using all of His powers. So he needed God’s help to keep the devil at bay, to stay strong, and to do what God told him to do.
Notice also HOW Jesus showed reverent submission in his prayer life. He prayed with LOUD CRIES and TEARS. He was not too proud as to cry to God for help, and even to sorrowfully beg His Father for help. When Jesus was in Gethsemane, he prayed so earnestly to God for help that his sweat came out like drops of blood. And finally, when Jesus was on the cross he cried out, "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me." Before he died his last words were a loud cry, "father, into your hands I commit my spirit."