Learning Obedience

30 Aug
from Google Images

from Google Images

This is off the subject, but it speaks to the point I wish to make in the current theme of doing as Jesus did, or living out the Jesus Style.[1] Anyway, often when discussing the deity of Jesus with folks who don’t believe he is God (a god, perhaps, but not the God), I am told that he obeyed the Father, showing he was subject to him. How can God be subject to God? I reply to this by saying, “Of course Jesus obeyed the Father, because he took upon himself the form of a servant. Servants are obedient to a higher authority. If God became man (a servant), as a servant he would need to be obedient to the power higher than the status of the servant” (cp. Philippians 2:7-8).

Notice that in Philippians 2:8 that the One who became man (a servant) also became obedient, showing that in his original ‘form’ (i.e. God’s form) obedience was not an issue. God acts out of his inherent character, but man must build character. A baby has no moral fiber innate to its spirit. Integrity is a product of practicing a specific way of life. When the One who became Jesus exchanged his godly form for the form of a servant, he took upon himself the nature of man—a nature that needed to be educated.

If the One who became Jesus, became obedient (Philippians 2:8), how did that happen? We learn in Hebrews 5:8 that Jesus learned (G3139) obedience through those things he suffered (G3958). What does this mean? What it does not mean is that Jesus had to be ‘spanked’ into obedience. The Greek word used for learned is also used in Matthew 11:29. There the picture concerns two oxen under a yoke. The one ox learns to copy the more experienced ox by means of a yoke. The yoke teaches the younger ox how to keep in step with the older one. In other words, the younger ox images the steps of the older ox by means of the yoke. So, in context of Hebrews 5:8, the One who became Jesus learned obedience or became obedient through the yoke of suffering. This makes Jesus the younger ox in the imagery of Matthew 11:29. What does this mean?

We are told that no one had ever seen (John 1:18) or knew (Matthew 11:27) God, but the One who became Jesus has fully declared him (cp. John 1:18 & Matthew 11:27). Again in Hebrews 1:1-3 we are told that Jesus is the express image of God. Therefore, if we follow this logic, our God is a suffering God. The human nature of Jesus was taught to be like God through the yoke of suffering. Think about this for a moment. It wasn’t that Jesus didn’t know right from wrong (the Law), but, rather, he lived like God by choosing the way of suffering—rejection, being put at naught, dying the death of the cross etc. (cp. Philippians 2:8; Mark 8:21; 9:12). Why? We find Isaiah telling us of God’s loving kindness and mercies, showing how he had treated his people (Isaiah 63:7-8). Yet, God was distressed in all their afflictions (Isaiah 63:9). In other words God suffers along with his people! The Angel of his Presence (the One who became Jesus) saved them (Isaiah 63:9; cp. Philippians 2:7-8).

What does all this mean for us? God created us in his image (Genesis 1:26-27). If God is touched by the troubles of his people and suffers along with them (Isaiah 63:9), we who are his should do the same. We need to share in the suffering of our brethren who are heavily laden with trouble (Matthew 11:28; cp. Philippians 2:1-5). Obedience is not something that is done through law—you must not do this, and you must do that etc. Rather, obedience learned through suffering is a choice to share in the burden of others in order that they might find peace and consolation. It is choosing to burden ourselves, so the burden of someone else might be lighter. This is what the One who became Jesus did by becoming man (John 1:14). It is what God does throughout our lives (Isaiah 63:9). If we wish to be like God, we need to be like our brother also and share his load. If we love God, we will love our brother (1John 4:20-21). Love is a choice, and to image God—to be like him—is a choice. Jesus chose to take part in our suffering. To follow Jesus, to be his disciple, to take his yoke upon us (Matthew 11:29) is to choose to take part in the suffering of our brethren (Philippians 3:10).


[1] As I said HERE, this current theme about the person of Jesus is based upon the book: The Jesus Style by Gayle Erwin. They are my thoughts about his book. He may or may not agree with the impression his book has made upon me, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading what Gayle wrote and recommend his book to anyone who is looking for a good read about Jesus.


Posted by on August 30, 2015 in Jesus


Tags: , , , , , ,

5 responses to “Learning Obedience

  1. Carl

    August 31, 2015 at 10:11

    Hello Eddie, thank you for the response again. Yes I understand you, and I think you are right. I just have to contemplate it a little. However,even we are saved from the beginning, at present we still must learn the obedience then, just like Jesus had to. For me this is a reality, and my sinful nature is still here that I want to avoid following. I think you describe it like this in your present tense also. And the spirit is willing, but not the flesh, as Paul says. It is not me sinning, but the sin within me which do that. So, I have to think more about what you mean by “to learn obedience” then.

    Best wishes and blessings

  2. Eddie

    August 31, 2015 at 08:50

    Greetings Carl, and thank you once more for your interest in God’s word and my understanding of it.

    It is my belief that we are “justified” immediately upon receiving Jesus as Lord. All sins are forgiven immediately. Sin is no longer a consideration, but rather following Jesus. I don’t believe we need to “wait” until we attain a certain degree of righteousness by getting rid of sin in our lives in order to help others. Jesus is our righteousness, and we cannot become ‘more’ righteous than that. We begin by behaving in a manner that expresses the good we know. If someone is literally ‘hungry’ certainly we could see that some food would help him. If he is disposed to accepting help, and we are able to feed him, we can begin with that and share in our neighbor’s suffering. As the Spirit leads we can go on to deeper matters, but misunderstanding may occur even when precautions are taken. What is important is that we are ready to accept what the Lord shows us to believe and do through his Spirit.

    Concerning my link, it works. It should be in red just to the left of the word “click” with the words “The Three Tenses of Salvation” If not, click —> HERE

    Concerning Jesus and sin, he didn’t have to avoid sin. Sin had no place in him. He was never drawn by sin or the desire to sin. Therefore, sin was never a consideration. His three temptations were not presented in the sense that he might sin, but to show his power as Savior to keep us from sinning if we trust him. He was God in the flesh. As our Savior, we are able to escape the desire to sin by dwelling on, or speaking to him. We cannot speak to God or think about him and desire to sin at the same time. WWJD (What would Jesus do) is our guide to behave according to the will of God.

    Lord bless you Carl in all you think and do.


  3. Carl

    August 31, 2015 at 03:41

    Response to Eddie’s reply (I did not find the “reply”- link below his reply):

    Thank you Eddie, I shall look into the three tenses. Also thank you for the explanation how to share burdens and what type of burdens. However, what I meant by my question was how shall I be able to feel the compassion. This is meant only retorically of course, in theory. I do as I am motivated to according to the spirit. And that is how it has to be. It is not the meaning that we shall feel forced to do something that we imagine is right, I think. Even we like to help others, it is not even certain we do the right thing. Perhaps the person have not the need that we think he has. And so we might be in the danger of trespassing his or hers will or wish, and we might also come up with a wrong solution. In the case of practical solutions is no problem of course. Generally though, I think it is not for us to judge about others’ burdens. And we can always be of comfort by words showing that we we want to feel compassion, may be. However, generally, as I see it, we ourselves, must be helped first before we can help others. And it is only Jesus which can help us becoming saved from ourselves. After that the Spirit may make us motivated to help someone with their faith to become healed of what they are suffering and by showing the compassion many can be strengthened in their spirit. Otherwise I feel that many misunderstandings may occur concerning deeper conflicts of burdens contra faith, though.

    So, therefore I am still of the attitude that the yoke must first be taken away, by showing the will to be obedient, and then we can be able to share the sufferings of others, not the opposite, I think. This is how I understand it from earlier learnings, and from my personal experience. The obedience is learnt by our comitment to healing our sinful nature. To me this can occur by Jesus showing us our sins specifically, so that we can repent of them and ask of forgiveness. After that we will be in the process of overcoming them by a continuous repitition of judgment until we are healed. Because just a thought is enough that we have repeated a sin. And we can become confused in the mind often also. It can take various amounts of time from person to person of course. However, generally it will continue until we die, to greater or lesser extent at which point all the sins are just deleted in the glorification, as I understand it.

    Could it also be that Jesus from birth was able to see all the sins that He could have thought in His mind and that He could have done in speech or in action? However, He, as God, could be able, through suffering and prayers, to foresee everything and thus be able to avoid even thinking a little bad thought. He knew all the weeknesses He might have given in to, but avoided them through sufferings and prayers.

    I believe He has suffered much to avoid sinning. Thereby, being obedient to the smallest things, and overcoming His own sufferings, He could take upon Himself all others’ sufferings also. We also have to suffer for our sins, but Jesus makes it much more easy, because our burdens are light for Him, and He can point them out for us so that we can see them.

    Sorry, I have the habit of using many words, and the meaning of the comments is only to see if the differing views can be combined in some way or if they are just different ways of seeing the same things.

    Best regards and blessings and the same to you, Eddie, thank you

  4. Eddie

    August 30, 2015 at 13:44

    Greetings Carl, and thank you for reading and for your question. It is always my pleasure to discuss the word of God.

    Justification is ours through faith in Christ. It doesn’t come by obedience to the Law (cp. Galatians 2:16). The business of salvation often gets confusing, because it comes to us in three phases. There is a past, a present and a future tense to salvation. I have written about it in a blog entitled “The Three Tenses of Salvation” — click on the link for a more detailed analysis.

    Concerning sharing the burdens of the brethren, read Matthew 25:31-46 where Jesus talks about the judgment of the sheep and the goats. It involves feeding the hungry, giving a drink to the thirsty, shelter for the stranger, clothing for the naked and visiting and comforting the sick and the prisoner. These all have their literal and their spiritual application. For example, an encouraging word is often food to those who are depressed, a refreshing remark or a helping hand is often viewed by people overworked as a drink on a hot day. Shelter can also be protection for those in danger. Standing between the abused and the abuser can be seen as shelter/protection. Sometimes people are so abused that they feel naked before the world — worthless. Building such people up, restoring their confidence can be seen as ‘clothing’ them. Visiting the sick, can be visiting or spending time with the sinner who doesn’t know Christ; and visiting the one in prison can be someone who is so weighed down with responsibility that he simply feels trapped and his life is going nowhere. Sharing ourselves, our strength, our hearts, our resources with these folks is doing as Christ has already done for us. Love is the only commandment we are asked to obey. If we love others, we’ll have no trouble meeting any other requirement of man or God.

    Lord bless you Carl, and may his Spirit abound in you in all you think and do.

  5. Carl

    August 30, 2015 at 12:47

    Hello Eddie, I try to follow the logic. At present I have a little difficulty seeing it. Immediately I was thinking that perhaps it is the other way around. That trying to follow the law causes the suffering. How can I choose to share the burdens of the brethren? I believed that by accepting Jesus as the saviour, it causes us to be be able to overcome the sinful nature, and thus become justified in Him. In this process of justification our own burdens become lighter by letting Jesus take the yoke for us, For Him the yoke is easy. And then when our own yoke is taken away, we also get the ability to see the burdens of other people around us. I guess it must be the Holy Spirit within us then that can make us feel the compassion for other’s burdens and also thus be able to share of them.

    Thank you and blessings

%d bloggers like this: