jesus learned obe­di­ence

To obey is an action. Humility comes before any act of obeying. Humility means that you declare Jesus to be King and His way to have primacy (first and supreme) over your own. The Holy Spirit is the only one that gives us the power to be humble.

Learning What You Already Know

Today we will be talking about a curious little verse that follows from our previous discussion about being made new. Hebrews 5:8-9 has presents some immediate difficulty for us. It says two things that seem contradictory. First it says that Jesus learned obedience. This is what we will talk about today. This passage doesn’t make sense because Jesus had never been disobedient to God. From the beginning, He has been with the Father, His only Son. He is One with God and the Holy Spirit. Generally don’t have to learn what you already know. So how then does He learn obedience? What does that have to do with the things we’ve discussed prior to this?


To give insight into these verses, let us use Philippians 2:5-8 for our light. This is a pattern for reading the Bible. Hebrews 5:8 is already doused in oil. Now let us use another lamp to set it on fire. The structure and the words of the Philippians 2:5-8 follow the same progression as that Hebrews 5:8-9. In Philippians though it we find this word “humbled”. This is the key point in understanding how Jesus learned obedience. Keep this humbling in mind and we’ll get back to it later.

Part of the reason the Hebrews verse is so difficult to understand is because of our own starting point. Just look at any parent raising a child. Most of the time, the parent has to teach the child to obey. She has to teach the child to just do what she says. What then is the problem? What keeps a child from obeying his mother or father by doing what he is told? Let us add another wrinkle we do not often think of. No parent is fooled into thinking that his young child obeys because the child wants to. Generally, to get the child to do what she is asked to do, the parent has to offer her some sort of prize for obedience or threaten to take something away when she disobeys.

Even God begins with us this way. He began this way with Israel in Deuteronomy 11:26. But to truly obey, one cannot decide based on reward and punishment like a sailor deciding to lower his sails depending on the direction of the wind. That would be double-mindedness. God has said that He desires true obedience comes from the heart 1 Samuel 15:22, 2 Corinthians 9:7, Deut 30:10. So then to truly obey God, you not only have to do what He says but you also have to want to do what He says. We obey not out of a desire for the reward but out of a desire to obey Him, a desire to be close to Him. So here is the definition of obey: doing what someone else says with all your heart.

How To Obey

Now with the right mindset, we can begin to talk about Jesus and humility. By looking at Jesus in Philippians 2:6,8, we see there is a strange relationship between humility and obedience and suffering. For the quick and dirty, humility and obedience are what we call inextricable dependents. One cannot exist without the other. Suffering is the path of obedience and humility and we’ll about this later. Now on to some explanation.

Philippians 2:8 in Philippians says that Jesus humbled Himself by becoming obedient unto death. One would have thought that humility comes before obedience. Instead, Philippians teaches that becoming humble is the process of becoming obedient. Humility then is not a thing you possess. Humility is like the sun. Sure the sun looks like a bright light stuck in the sky but pictures of its surface reveal that the sun is not static or still. The sun is an incessant conflagration and it remains the sun only by being constantly on fire. By always being on fire, the sun is never the same and so in a sense, the sun is always becoming the sun. Similarly, one can have humility but only by consistently becoming humble. You can see the fires of humility by watching the humble one as he/she learns obedience. So to sum up: 1 Humility is both a state and a process. One becomes humble by being humble. 2 Becoming humble means becoming obedient.

Hebrews 5:8 gives the other side by saying, “Although He was a Son, (_____) He learned obedience”. Well you can see there that I have put a gap between Son and learning obedience. That gap is to explain what was required before a son can learn obedience. A son enters into the world with an exalted position. He is beloved by his father. Jesus Christ, Son of God, has always been with The Father. Furthermore, He has always obeyed His Father. So how did He learn obedience? The gap between sonship and obedience is humility. His Position as Son is mentioned to show that Jesus had opportunity and occasion to do whatever He wanted and no one could have questioned Him. Yet He puts His privilege aside, and as Philippians 2:6 expresses, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped. That thought, that mind (verse 5) is what lead to Jesus learning obedience. Only the humble son, the son who has given up his position as king over his own life, can learn obedience. Humility, the act of submitting to the rule of God, stands between my position and my obedience.

And now our equivalence is complete. Obedience is humility expressed. Through obedience, I become humble. Through humility, I become obedient. In the midst of these statements, there is a great deal of life.

Power For Humility

So if you want to become humble, the word says: Obey!. And if you want to obey, the word says: Be Humble!. What does being humble mean? It means that in your life, you are not God’s equal. It means that you have chosen to order your life and deeds by His Words. Therefore, before I can obey God, I must make Him my Ruler and my Lord.

But all this has been circular. I can’t obey till I become humble and I can’t be humble till I obey. How does one, so to speak, break into the circle to get started? How does one gain the strength to be humble? Well as with everything else, it all begins with God. God grants humility through His Humble Holy Spirit Isaiah 11:1-3. Through the Holy Spirit, your delight and desire becomes obedience to God. Jesus Himself required this baptism of the Holy Spirit Matthew 3:16-17 before His suffering(…learned obedience through what He suffered) in the wilderness. The desire to obey God and the power to put God on the throne is what marks the Christian from others. This is the first thing observed in the person who becomes a Christian.

“But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowl­edge.”
- 1 John 2:20

Wanna reach out and ask me some ques­tions? Or do you want clar­i­fi­ca­tion on some­thing writ­ten here? If so, write me a let­ter. I’d love to hear from you and I’ll respond. I bet your hon­est ques­tion will pro­duce insights that will ben­e­fit other read­ers.