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. Although He was a son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:7-10)
Jesus is our High Priest. He represents us before God. He offers up the ultimate sacrifice, Himself, on our behalf. He sympathizes with our weaknesses.
But does He really understand?
I think of Proverbs 14:10:
The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.
There is an "aloneness" in our own heart. No one can fully enter into what we feel. There is anxiety, discouragement, depression, feelings of inadequacy, shame, guilt, isolation, and struggles with our own thought life that plague us. And we can feel like no one truly understands or cares.
But Hebrews argues that Jesus does understand.
How do we know?
Because He fully entered into our humanity. He didn't enter this world in a HazMat suit. He came in human flesh and experienced the emotions and pains that we experience.
The Garden of Gethsemane is the prime example.
In the Garden, Jesus was encompassed with sorrow, even to the point of feeling like He was going to die from the sheer intensity of His emotions (Matthew 26:38). His stress was so enormous that apparently the blood vessels under the surface of His skin burst open and He sweated blood (Luke 22:44). He was in severe agony. He begged God three times to take the prospect of drinking the cup of His wrath away from Him if there were any other way for man's redemption to be accomplished (Matt. 26:36-46).
And while He was in the biggest emotional and spiritual battle that any man has ever experienced, His closest friends couldn't offer Him a bit of comfort. In fact, they fell asleep while His soul writhed in pain.
Jesus gets it.
He understands the anxiety, the stress, the pain, the sorrow, the agony, the feeling of being alone and abandoned.
He truly knows, understands, empathizes, weeps with us, intercedes for us.
And He doesn't fall asleep.
So why did God allow His own beloved Son to go through such agony? Shouldn't a loving Father swoop in and rescue His Son from such pain?
Because Jesus had to experience the fullness of life on this sin-cursed earth and the full intensity of the battle against sin in order to be our merciful High Priest.
He actually learned obedience through what He suffered.
What?! How could the omniscient Son of God learn something? Isn't that an oxymoron? The learning omniscient One?
He learned what it meant to suffer as a human being. It was an experiential learning that He could not accomplish apart from taking on human flesh.
And in the midst of intense suffering, He continued to trust God. He ultimately reached the place where He said, "Not my will but Yours be done."
Pain. Surrender. Trust. Obedience.
It is a difficult path but Jesus already walked it.
He understands me. He knows me. He loves me. And He leads me.
Going before me and walking next to me…
As a good Shepherd…
Through (not around) the valley of the shadow of death.