Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. Hebrews 5:8
I wonder if I’ve been realistic when I’ve thought about Jesus’ perfection. I’ve always viewed Jesus as an adult in ministry. He was One who certainly had instant access to righteous thoughts and behaviors. He listened expectantly to His Father and never struggled with what He was asked to do. But how do I connect that picture with the scripture that says Jesus was tempted in every way that we are tempted? The two concepts are both true but to marry, there needs to be an adjustment.
There is a pregnant moment between an offense and a sinful response – whether a thought or a behavior. The offense happens, then comes the temptation, and then comes the pregnant moment of decision when the heart decides how it will respond. To ‘learn obedience’ is to learn how to handle the pregnant moments within that temptation time period. That’s where Jesus achieved victory. That’s where my victory lies.
Think of Jesus as a child and let’s consider a few pregnant moments.
- He’s a toddler. He’s happily playing with a new wooden toy Joseph carved for him. A sibling or a friend takes it away from him. Mary encourages Jesus to share it. If Jesus were tempted as we are tempted, there is a pregnant moment where Jesus is encouraged by Satan (not His own nature – since He is holy) to hoard it, not share it. He’s like me. Temptation says, “The toy is mine. My father made it for me.” But Jesus chooses to share.
- Jesus is outside playing with his friends and is having a good time. Mary yells from down the street that it’s time to come and help His father with the chores. There is a pregnant moment where He is tempted to ignore His mother’s voice. He’s having too much fun. But Jesus chooses to obey.
- Jesus is a teenager and sees a group of friends plotting to cheat. He speaks up to expose their sin. They turn on Him and He is beaten up and bruised badly. There is a pregnant moment where He is tempted to disown their friendship and find a way to get revenge. Anger is hot and His body is sore from their beatings. Jesus moves through the temptation successfully and chooses a righteous reaction.
None of this was easy for Jesus. None of these pregnant moments are easy for me. As I think of Him in the throes of temptation, having to learn obedience, I am very aware that Jesus is my refuge when my temptations are too great and I fear that I will choose to sin. He knows. He is the perfect confidant. He is the One who lives to pray for me day and night – that I will learn obedience. He, from the inside of me, gives moment-by-moment grace to move successfully through the temptation phase to victory.
Open my eyes to Your struggle with Your humanity. You are a refuge for a soul in distress today. Amen