Chapter 51 Benefits Derived From His Sufferings

Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him that was able to save Him from death, and was heard in that He feared; though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered (Hebrews 5:7, 8).

We must enter here with reverent step. These prayers and supplications of our Lord’s were directed to Him who was able to deliver Him out from death, and it was this in which He was heard. The mercy of resurrection was promised Him and this was the object of His tearful prayers.

His Conduct Under His Sufferings

There could never be sufferings comparable with our Lord’s. The terribleness of them was not so much in the body but in His holy soul. If we would be more intimately knowledgeable of those sufferings then we must go to the Redeemer’s prayer-book—the Psalms. The Psalms lead us into an inner closet where the heart of our Lord is laid bare. Who can tell what the Saviour endured? How fearful are the words of Moses—“He that is hanged is accursed of God” (Deuteronomy 21:23). Moreover the prince of evil had power to slay our Lord’s body, for, said He, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53). We do well to read Psalms 6:1-6; 22:21; 30:7-10; 88:1-7—all of which are the lamentations of the Messiah.

But in all these infinite sufferings our Lord was obedient. Indeed, we are told, He “learned obedience.” Obedience was something which in times eternal He knew not, Himself being the supreme and sovereign God. It seems a difficulty with some that the Lord should have to learn anything. It would seem to be dishonoring to His Godhead to suggest it. But this is not a reference to knowledge or information concerning suffering or obedience. It refers to what is experiential—the having to obey Another. It was fellow-feeling which was to make Him a fit High Priest on behalf of His people.

This was an indispensable and solemn lesson (John 6:38). To do the will of the Father who had sent Him was at times very grievous to flesh and blood. It was the path of ignominy, pain and sorrow, leaving Him exposed to the assaults of Satan and to the violence of wicked men. A cross and a bloody grave, the curse of God and the malediction of men were to be His lot, but His conduct under these sufferings was one of spotless obedience and unexampled love. Though nature bled at every pore, as it were, yet our Lord turned not aside till the whole will of God was accomplished in Him.

The Benefits Derived from His Sufferings

First, there was personal benefit. To become a faithful and merciful High Priest, full of sympathy and understanding, it was necessary for our Lord to experience everything which His people are called upon to endure in their conflicts with sin and Satan (Hebrews 2:17). The difficulty of abiding faithful in arduous circumstances is very great as we all do know. Though our Lord knew everything from a speculative manner yet He was to know trial experientially and He could not know this but by being reduced to a suffering condition. This therefore was a benefit which our Lord derived. He learned by such sufferings to be tenderly sympathetic with His afflicted people and so to the more speedily succour them when imploring His help with strong crying and tears. If we are to bear reproach, suffering, and persecution for His name’s sake and by the Father’s appointed will we are not to suppose God to be a hard Master. God forbid! Our Lord Himself has passed through all human circumstances of trial and it is what these have made Him which brings us so much comfort in sorrow—cheer in despondency—strength when we are ready to faint in the path of obedience.

Secondly, there was official benefit. The priests of the Old Testament economy were consecrated to their office by the blood of their sacrifices, but our Lord, by His own precious blood. This gave Him the right to impart salvation to believing hearts. Such believers are “those who obey Him.” The Lord in saving us transforms us into His own image and so makes believers like Himself—“obedient unto death” (Philippians 2:8). He was “made perfect” (exalted to glory) to do this, and so to become “the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.”

This office of High Priest is a conferred and official dignity. It was indeed a meet reward for all He had suffered on our behalf. It was most fit that He who had died for man should be the Author of man’s salvation. This is something which our Lord appreciates in that it is said of Him—“For the joy that was set before Him [He] endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). Love esteemed it “all joy” to be enabled to save and to bless.

How sweet the name of Jesus sounds
In a believer’s ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast;
’Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

Dear Name! the Rock on which we build;
Our Shield and Hiding-place!
Our never failing Treasury, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

Jesus, our Saviour, Shepherd, Friend!
Prophet, and Priest, and King!
Our Lord, our Life, our Way, our End!
Accept the praise we bring.

—John Newton