He Learned Obedience (Hebrews 5:8)
The secret of true obedience is a clear and close connection to God. All our efforts to achieve complete obedience will fail unless we can live in constant communion with Him. By consciously remaining in God’s holy presence, we can successfully resist disobedience.
God’s Word explains, “Though [Jesus Christ] was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). Why was that necessary, and how does it help us? Everything He suffered taught Jesus obedience—“And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9).
Suffering requires a surrender of the will, and Christ had to suffer in order to be completed so that He could be our high priest. He himself was obedient unto death, and He became the author of eternal salvation to save those who obey Him. On earth, Christ was a student in the school of obedience; now that He is in heaven, He teaches obedience to His disciples on earth. In a world where disobedience reigns until the stroke of death, the restoration of obedience is in Christ’s hands. Just as He did while He was on earth, He is still working to support and strengthen us. He teaches and works within us.
Let us take some time to think about what and how He teaches. Perhaps we recognize how poorly prepared we have been to study in this school, where the only thing on the lesson plan is obedience. Teachers, textbooks, and students are as essential to the school of obedience as to a regular school; let us examine how these three elements look in this context.
The Son of God learned obedience. Now, as our teacher, He shares with us His own obedience to His father. Jesus came to earth at the instruction of the Father. Day after day—indeed, every moment of His life and work—He lived in constant communion with the Father, receiving His instructions. He said, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do…for the Father…shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these” (John 5:19–20). In John 14:10 He says: “The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.” This reveals the relationship between dependence, communion, and effectiveness, showing us how important it is for the Son to listen to and watch for what the Father says and demonstrates.
In the same vein, it is necessary for us to always receive our instructions and guidance directly from God Himself. We are to obey His voice because He is our God. Scripture rarely tells us to “obey the rules.” It is far more common for God to say, “obey Me” or “obey My voice” or “listen to My voice.”
Military commanders, school teachers, and fathers cannot use rewards and threats of punishment, no matter how clearly stated or effective, to ensure a true obedience of the heart; instead, they inspire obedience through their personal influence, by leading a life that inspires love and enthusiasm. The Father’s voice sparks joy and grants strength for true obedience.
Let us learn the lesson that the Lord wants to teach us. He learned obedience by observing the Father and listening to His words at all times. We can only learn obedience if we, like Jesus, always walk with God and listen to His voice. Pray earnestly for God to grant you the desire to give up everything in exchange for the joy of the Heavenly Father’s presence!
There is only one textbook used in God’s school of obedience. When Christ had a lesson to teach or someone to convince, He would use the Word, and from the beginning to the end of His public life, He lived out the Word of God. “It is written”—this was the sword of the Spirit with which He defeated Satan (Matthew 4:4); “that the Scripture might be fulfilled” was the light in which He bore all suffering (John 19:24); and after His resurrection, He used the Word, starting with Moses and the prophets, to explain to the disciples everything pertaining to Him (see Luke 24:27).
The only textbook in God’s school of obedience is the Bible. We should study it with the simple desire to learn what is written about God’s will so that we can fulfill it.
The Holy Scriptures were not written just to give us knowledge, but “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17).
By studying the Scriptures, you will be equipped to do Christ’s will, and will learn what He has to teach you about the Holy Spirit and about God’s love, will, and character.
A sincere student places his full trust in his teacher, giving him as much time and attention as he demands. We can only learn obedience from Christ by surrendering our will to Him, fully trusting Him, and making His will our highest priority. This is the only way we can move forward.
The art of obedience to God is foreign to our human nature, so we cannot be surprised if we need more time at the Master’s feet—in prayer, patience, and contemplation. Unfortunately, most people are not willing to do this.
We can learn obedience from Jesus! With Him, who learned obedience as our Savior and who teaches obedience as our Master, we can lead a life of obedience. Let us ask God to show us how to obey at all times. We will become true students, giving our whole hearts and all of our time to Christ, and He will teach us how to keep His commandments and remain in His love, just as He kept His father’s commandments and remained in His father’s love.