WONDERFUL THING IN THIS PASSAGE – It’s human nature to want to be like someone we admire. As Christians, we’d do well to let that someone be Jesus. And if we must emulate someone below Him, let our sole criterion for choosing that person be that he or she is more like Jesus than anyone else we know. Paul gave us that limited option: “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).
However, Jesus warned His followers that imitating him might be a little less glamorous than imitating some of the cooler rabbis around. He was a wandering preacher inviting people into an invisible kingdom. Neither the message nor the Messenger would be popular. And if you decided to follow Him, you need not expect to have it any better: “A disciple is not above his teacher, or a slave above his master. It is enough for a disciple to become like his teacher and a slave like his master” (Matt. 10:24-25).
If you don’t have higher ambitions than that – If it’s enough for you to be like Jesus, today’s chapter provides some profound insights into what the Person you want to resemble was like:
“Christ did not exalt himself to become a high priest, but God who said to him, ‘You are my Son…You are a priest … During his earthly life, he offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was the Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered. After he was perfected, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Heb. 5:5-9).
WONDERFUL THING IN OUR LIVES – If you want to be like Christ…
It’s OK not to exalt yourself – Even when you deserve it. And it’s OK not to need others to admire you. God will elevate you when He knows it’s best for you and for others and for His kingdom. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you” (1 Pet. 5:6-7).
It’s OK to be desperate before God – Hebrews 5:7 describes Jesus’ impassioned pleas to the Father in Gethsemane when He faced imminent arrest, torture, and execution. He wasn’t indifferent to His plight, but “offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death.” He did this unashamedly within earshot of His disciples (Luke 22:41-44). You don’t have to always “keep it all together.” Even God’s Son knew when His humanity was not enough and He had to have the Father’s help.
It’s OK to suffer – There are some things you can learn no other way. “Although he was the Son, he learned obedience from what he suffered.” Suffering doesn’t necessarily mean you’re far from God or that He’s displeased with you. With our calloused hearts, there are some vital lessons that are only learned the hard way.
It’s OK to be resolutely obedient – That’s one clear mark of “eternal salvation.” Fear being disobedient much more than you fear being legalistic. Jesus said, “The one who has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me” (John 14:21). The person living in the Spirit loves to find a new command to obey – Not for one more thing to add to a list of dos and don’ts but for the pure thrill of obeying his Master in some new way.