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Learned Obedience

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

I enjoyed my experience in bootcamp. That probably makes me a very strange person. The purpose of Army bootcamp is to train young men and women how to become soldiers. The skill sets involved in being a soldier are not normal competencies people show up already possessing. They are learned. Bootcamp is for developing and learning those skills.

One of those skills is learning to obey orders. The training in bootcamp includes learning about chain-of-command and following orders. Without this kind of structure and discipline chaos ensues. It is dangerous to everyone if soldiers do what they want instead of what they are told to do. The coordination of multiple forces and units in a combat zone requires that a comprehensive plan and strategy be executed meticulously by the soldiers receiving orders. That’s why soldiers are trained to obey. 

Our passage today shows us an aspect of Jesus’ character and development often overlooked. We know Jesus was God in the flesh. But we often impose His divinity onto His humanity as if He just zipped through things in life the rest of us have to struggle to learn. Like us, Jesus had to learn a language. He had to learn how to hold His head up, walk, and eat solid foods. Jesus was fully human, and as a real human, He learned, developed, and matured like we do. 

This is why the Hebrew writer says He “learned obedience through what he suffered.” Jesus didn’t breeze through the human experience. He endured suffering and struggles like us. This doesn’t imply only catastrophic things, but the difficulty of learning new tasks. If He worked with His adoptive father, Joseph, then He had to learn those skills. They didn’t come automatically.

The good news for us as Christians
is that our Savior knows
the trials we endure.
He knows what being human is like,
and offers Himself to help us, sustain us,
and give us grace as we live.

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Ask the one who learned obedience through His sufferings to help you to learn in yours today.

Reflection & Journal:
- What surprises you the most about the idea that Jesus matured and learned things in His humanity?
- How should we be encouraged by Jesus’ shared experience with our sufferings?
- What kind of things do we suffer and learn obedience from in our walk with God?

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