Hebrews 5:7-9 WHO IS JESUS CHRIST?
Who is Jesus Christ? These next two weeks you will hear a lot about him. Next Sunday is Palm Sunday. Then comes Good Friday. Then comes Easter. This is that time in the year when you hear people talk about Jesus Christ. Unlike Christmas, Easter has escaped the intense commercialism that might sweep away its true spiritual meaning. Unlike Christmas, when school children sing about a fat man and snow, no one really knows what to sing or to do, when Easter arrives. After buying some candy and painting some eggs, most people wonder, “Is that it? What is the deal with Easter?” And so many are left to talk about Jesus Christ, and who he is.
Who is he? Everyone believes he existed. Unless you are completely uneducated, you at know that there was such a man named Jesus. Secular histories, unconnected with the Bible, talk about a Jewish teacher named Jesus who lived in the early first century who upset a lot of people. He existed. But after that, opinions go in different directions about who he was. Was he really the Son of God? Was there more significance to his death than what meets the eye? Did he really rise from the dead?
You know the answers to these questions. This morning, we want to get rid of any doubt you might have in your mind about who Jesus Christ is. This is the fifth Sunday of the Lenten season, and we have used our Sunday services to rid ourselves of weaknesses and sins in our hearts. Today, if there’s any doubt in your heart about who Jesus is, any confusion, then it is my prayer this morning that the words we study will help you understand more clearly who Jesus , this person you are going to hear so much about in the next two weeks.
Our text for today, taken from the book of Hebrews, chapter 5, talks about the identity of Jesus Christ. To help us remember the content of this section, think of it this way - “the two S’s.”
S #1 is from verse 7: “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.” There’s our first S: submission. Who is Jesus? He was the Son of God, and he submitted to the will of his Heavenly Father. This verse describes Jesus praying to God with loud cries and tears. The picture here is the Garden of Gethsemane. Shortly before he was arrested, Jesus looked into the future and he could see what lay ahead of him – he could see all the suffering and death. It was a terrible thing. And all of it was optional.
Why do you think God keeps you from seeing your future? Perhaps it’s because if we knew that something bad was going to happen, we would lose our minds worrying and stressing over it. What if God let you see into your future, and you found out that you were going to die a slow and gruesome death tomorrow morning? It would be a terrible thing, to know that.
That’s what Jesus went through right before he suffered and died for our sins. He could see what lay ahead of him. And it wasn’t just the physical suffering that made him recoil. It was the spiritual suffering – he was about to have all the sins of the world placed upon him. He was about to have God the Heavenly Father punish him for the sins of all mankind. Jesus could see this in his future, and it was a terrible thing.
He could have bypassed the suffering, if he wanted to – all of it was optional. After all, he was the Son of God. At any moment he could have said, “No, I won’t lower myself to that level. I won’t do that for the human race.” But he knew that this was the only way to save people from total destruction. And so he submitted to the Heavenly Father, as it says, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.” He submitted to the betrayal, to the arrest, to the all-night trials, to the beatings, and finally, to the crucifixion. When you ask yourself, “Who is Jesus Christ? Why is he suffering on a cross?” Think of the word “submission.” Of all the words that describe Jesus Christ, perhaps one of the best is the word “submission.” This is how he took your sins away.
There is another “s” in this section that I would like to focus on for today. Verse 9: “And, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” The Greek word for “made perfect” actually means “to complete” or “to finish.” Once Jesus completed his suffering, what happened? He became the source of eternal salvation. There’s your other “s” - source.
What would life be like if you were an Iraqi civilian living just north of Kuwait, if you had no clean water to drink? I don’t think you and I can really relate to that. What if there had been some sort of disaster in this part of the country, and all the drinking water had been contaminated? What if there were no stores to buy things from? What if there was no way of transporting water in? There was literally nothing clean to drink. What would you do? Would you drink dirty water just to survive, even though you know it would make you terribly sick? Or, would you drink nothing?
Spiritually, this is the situation of the world. A terrible disaster has taken place in our world, and that disaster is called the fall into sin. As a result, everything good, everything spiritual, has been contaminated. There really is no place a person can find eternal salvation in this world. Millions, all over the world, are dying of spiritual thirst. Where can I find relief from guilt in my life, people wonder. Where can I find a sense of purpose? How can I learn more about this God whom I will someday meet when I die? How can I change my life for the better? Where can I go for these things? You can look all you want, you can try various kinds of religions and meditation techniques and philosophies, but none nothing on this earth can provide you with what you really need. Everything is contaminated with sin. Instead of making your soul better, the spiritual options of this world only make your soul worse. Lack of water in southern Iraq is a picture of the lack of salvation that exists in our world today.
But then, as you know, something big happened - if you follow the news, you know that a pipeline was built that began in Kuwait and reached across the border and up into the area where people need water. That one pipe became the source of water, and essentially, the source of life, for all those people who were suffering.
Something big happened when Jesus submitted to all of his suffering. After he completed everything and rose from the dead, he became the pipeline, the source, of salvation, for all who obey him. That is the second “s” to think about when asking yourself, who is Jesus Christ? He is the source of eternal salvation.
In him, you find relief from your guilt, a sense of purpose, an understanding of who God really is. In him you find the strength and motivation to change your life for the better – he changes it for you. He is the source of all these things, “the source of eternal salvation.” “Source” is the second “s” to think about as you ponder in your mind who Jesus Christ really is.
Who is Jesus? To many, the story of Jesus might seem quite sad, and quite trivial. A traveling Jewish teacher, unpopular with the religious establishment, is put to death by a tyrannical government. He taught the world to be nice, and to this day, we are all trying to be nice.
But there must be more! And there is. When you realize to what extent he submitted to the Heavenly Father, when you realize that he is the source of eternal salvation – that changes everything. It changed the lives of 11 men – his disciples, from doubting cowards to courageous witnesses. It changed the lives of millions of people that have learned about Jesus over the years. May his life and death and resurrection – all these things that happened for you – may they change you as well. Amen.