Series: Easter 2024
March 29, 2024 | Don Horban
References: Hebrews 5:7-9Hebrews 2:10Hebrews 4:15Romans 5:192 Corinthians 5:21Philippians 3:9
Topics: New TestamentDeathRighteousnessLifeSalvationThe CrossObedienceRedemptionSufferingJesus ChristEasterResurrection

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Hebrews 5:7-9 - “In the days of his flesh, Jesus 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....”

Jesus never suffered to evoke our pity. So the question remains, is the suffering of Jesus pointless? Is it merely the fact of Jesus’ death that has redeeming significance? And the answer to those questions is no. The suffering of Jesus, both in His life and in His death matters to our Christian life today. There is deep, sturdy, precious meaning and accomplishment in the suffering of Jesus. That suffering found its climax on the cross, but it had its beginnings in a Baby who couldn’t find the comfort of a decent birthplace and a life that knew little but poverty, hard work, and later on, loneliness, rejection, and brutal agony.

Why this path of suffering? Why such a painful, bloody end to a perfect life? What was accomplished by the actual suffering of Jesus? I don’t just mean His final death. I mean the agonizing path that brought Him to His death.

The Bible says we benefit two ways from the suffering of Jesus:


Hebrews 5:8 - "Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.”

Hebrews 2:10 - “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”

Remember Hebrews 5:9 - “And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him....”

The background for understanding these verses is important. The very same letter to the Hebrews makes clear that Jesus never committed any kind of sin - not ever - Hebrews 4:15 - “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

So whatever else those two verses about Jesus “learning obedience” and being made “perfect” mean, they don’t mean there was ever a time when Jesus was guilty of any sin or moral impurity of any kind. In other words, Jesus didn’t learn obedience the way you and I learn obedience. And He was never made perfect the way you and I are progressively made perfect.

Whenever you and I learn obedience it involves unlearning disobedience. We are, hopefully, being increasingly made perfect as imperfections are cleansed in the blood of Jesus Christ. But Jesus never had to unlearn disobedience. He never had to have His own life cleansed from anything that was dirty or impure.

Then what exactly did Jesus learn and how did this perfect Him who was already morally perfect? Look carefully with me at these texts today because, in them, I have come to see truth that takes the suffering of Jesus (on the cross and before) and gives it profound application for my life.

First, here’s what Jesus learned. He learned in full measure the cost of obeying the will of God in a fallen world in a human body with a genuine human nature. Jesus had never experienced that. His will had always been perfectly joined with the will of the Father.

But that obedience had never cost Jesus anything. Before the Incarnation, Jesus had never been in an environment where there was opposition to the Father’s will. And Jesus had never experienced the limitations of obeying the Father from the framework of a finite human experience. He had never once experienced temptation.

The pre-incarnate Son had never experienced the downward drag of life in a fallen world. He had never experienced the agony of Gethsemane - where the writer of Hebrews says He “cried out with tears” in a way never experienced before the agony of the cross.

This is what Jesus learned. This is what was new. This was the fresh learning curve of the suffering of Christ as the Man of Sorrows. He became “acquainted with grief” in the way not possible in eternity past with the Father.

So, first of all, this is how Jesus “learned obedience by the things He suffered.” He learned obedience under the conditions of our finite, human existence. He learned obedience to the Father’s will on our terms. And this enabled Jesus to become a sympathetic High Priest instead of a condemning High Priest.

But what about the second issue? If this kind of obedience is what Jesus learned through His suffering, how did this obedience make Jesus “perfect”? - Hebrews 2:10 - “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”

The perfection described here isn’t moral perfection. Jesus wasn’t perfected in the sense of being cleansed of impurities. Rather, the perfection described is the perfection of being readied for a particular task - being made perfect (prepared) for a specific job. The text makes the nature of this perfection clear. Jesus was made perfect as the “founder of eternal salvation” through these sufferings.

Oh, there is a brilliant truth here for the discerning. Jesus’ suffering made Him perfect as a Savior. His suffering made Him perfect as our Redeemer. That’s because we need a Redeemer who was one of us. We need a Redeemer who is not ashamed to call us “brothers”(Hebrews 2:17). We need a Redeemer who has been where we’ve been - who saves us from our side as well as from God’s.

Let me expand on this truth in the second point of this message:


Remember where we are in this teaching. First, we saw that Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered. He was “made perfect” - prepared for His role to bring us salvation. Now,secondly, we’re seeing that Jesus completed the obedience that fulfills all righteousness.

Take time to ponder this priceless, life-giving truth:

Romans 5:19 - “For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous."

The phrase to note is “....so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Think of two important “p” words - pardon and perfection. There is only one place to begin when we come to the cross. Jesus Christ bore the just wrath of Almighty God. This is not harsh, legalistic teaching. This is a beautiful teaching. Jesus bore the wrath of God in His death on the cross. He bore it instead of me. You only grasp God’s mercy when you see the incredible, grace-filled beauty of that truth.

So Jesus’ death brought my pardon. But you and I both need more than just pardon. We need more than our debt canceled. What we need is real, solid, perfectly accomplished righteousness before God. And our texts today ring out the news that Jesus’ obedient lifebrought my perfection before God.

Study this carefully. Make sure you see the two transactions that took place in Christ Jesus on your behalf. Jesus’ death bore my punishment. Jesus’ perfect obedience to the law was imputed as my perfection. Both are necessary if I am to have any standing before the throne of God.

Remember, there are two reasons it is not abominable for God to pronounce the ungodly justified. First, the death of Jesus on the cross paid the debt of my unrighteousness. Second, the perfect obedience of Christ provided the righteousness I needed but didn’t have in myself. This is what the Scriptures mean when they say that “Through the obedience of the One (Christ) the many will be made righteous.”

Or, listen to the way Paul describes these two transactions in one verse: 2 Corinthians 5:21 - “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

There are two mighty transactions being finalized through both the painful obedience of Christ during His life and the sacrificial death of Christ on the cross. First, my sin and guilt are imputed to Christ Jesus in His death. He bears the just wrath of Almighty God on my behalf.

But there is more. Christ dying on my behalf only cancels my debt. And I need more than my debt canceled. I need to possess a perfect, accomplished, positive righteousness before the law of God. Christ lived a perfectly obedient life. He completely fulfilled the law of God in every way that I didn’t. And His perfect obedience before Father God counts. It counts on my behalf:

Philippians 3:9 - “....and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith....”

That righteousness Paul described - that I receive through faith in Christ - isn’t mystical righteousness. It isn’t “make believe” righteousness. It was actually produced in Jesus Christ’s obedient life right here on this earth. It’s real righteousness. It was hard- fought righteousness. It was hard-won righteousness. He accomplished it as a genuine human being. He accomplished it in the face of tremendous pain, suffering, rejection and opposition.

Everyone saw the shining, holy, pure, perfect life of Jesus right here on this fallen earth, under the worst possible conditions. Jesus suffered for it in this real, sinful world. And He did it perfectly. If Jesus merely died in my place, but didn’t keep the law of God perfectly, I don’t have perfect righteousness before God. And I must be perfectly righteousness before God because God is perfectly just and never grades on a scale. Close isn’t good enough.

Jesus’ perfect righteousness, imputed to you and me through faith, is why there is now “no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus....” The Bible never says we are free of condemnation simply because God loves us. God loves the whole world, but that won’t free it from condemnation. You and I can stand free of condemnation in Christ for one reason only, Jesus kept the law perfectly. He fulfilled all righteousness in His obedience to the Father.

That’s the basis for my assurance. That’s how I shut Satan’s mouth when He condemns me on the basis of my
own performance. I am clothed with the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.

O church, behold the love of God in Christ that both takes my guilt, granting pardon, and supplies Christ’s righteousness, granting His perfection! Ponder this. The kind of righteousness I need before the law of God must be accomplished right here in this fallen world - where I live - not somewhere up in heaven. And that is the righteousness Jesus provides through His own perfect, painful, costly obedience right here in this fallen world - right where I live.

The whole Bible pointed to this perfect righteousness supplied in Christ Jesus. Think of the whole Old Testament sacrificial system. A perfect sacrifice had to be brought. The lamb had to be without blemish. The best cuts of meat had to be prepared. And with every sacrifice offered - as the pile of bloody carcasses piled higher and higher - each perfect sacrifice only served to remind more vividly of the imperfections of the one offering them!

All of these sacrifices pointed to the One who was to come - the One who would be truly spotless and holy throughout His whole life, and then right unto death itself. Only this sacrifice provided the righteousness we all lacked. This sacrifice imputed perfected righteousness to all who put trust in His loving provision.

How good is that! Magnify the full provision of the life and death of Jesus Christ. This is truth to stand in and truth to glory in for the rest of your days.