So are the Days of His Life (Hebrews 5:7-10)
“As sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” That cliché has been part of our vernacular since November 8, 1965, when NBC first broadcast the daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives. The idea behind Days was a soap opera about a family of doctors and what was taking place in their lives. The program was to be a lens through which others could see their own families. While I’m not here to condone the gratuitous sex, divorce, alcoholism, and other ills soap operas often portray, it is so very true that the days of our lives are “as sands through the hourglass.”
We are constantly reminded of how short this life really is. Unfortunately, it isn’t at all uncommon for this church to be ministering to a family who has lost a loved one to death. Scripture reminds us of how temporary this life is. “Who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow?” (Eccl 6:12). “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (Js 4:14).
Jesus existed from eternity-he is, therefore, without beginning or end-but, the days of his life on this earth were quite short. Our Lord walked this earth for 33-maybe even 34 years-before he died, arose, and ascended back to the Father. Most of us here this morning have walked this earth longer than did our Lord. But, as the author of Hebrews makes obvious, Jesus did much in “the days of his life.”
What the Lord did during the days of his life is extremely important. As we mentioned a couple weeks ago, the Hebrew Christians seem to have been reluctant to believe in a God who had become flesh. The author of Hebrews spends a great deal of time in the first few chapters of the book, therefore, explaining the absolute necessity of Jesus’ incarnation. We could not be where we are had Jesus Christ never walked upon this earth.
The Hebrew Christians were also concerned about Judaism. They believed that Christianity just wasn’t as good as Judaism. They were being greatly tempted to give up on Christianity and rejoin their Jewish brethren in Old Testament worship.
As the author speaks of the days of his life, he touches on both those themes-he shows the purpose of Jesus’ incarnation and he shows Christianity to be superior to Judaism. This morning, we wish to examine the days of his life and compare Jesus’ earthly existence with our own.
Crying Days, v 7
“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.”
While on this earth, Jesus had an active prayer life. “Rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, [Jesus] departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mk 1:35). Jesus “would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Lk 5:16).
The fact that Jesus prayed so much really begs the question: “If the Son of God needed to pray fervently, how much more fervently do we need to pray?” Jesus “told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Lk 18:1). “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Col 4:2).
Medieval society so valued constant prayer that many people made substantial donations to monasteries so that monks and nuns, largely freed from manual labor, could become “professional” pray-ers on behalf of the rest of society. In fact, many of the monks and nuns lived an institutional life of prayer, praying day and night. While I don’t condone the monastic life, those monks and nuns knew something important: prayer is vital to life.
How much do we really pray? Do we begin and end the day with prayer? Could the days of our lives be characterized by prayer?
While Jesus’ entire life was indeed characterized by prayer, the thrust of this text certainly seems to be on the prayers he prayed in Gethsemane and from the cross. Jesus prayed in great agony from both the Garden and the cross. In the Garden: “Going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will'” (Mk 15:35-36). From the cross: “Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last” (Lk 23:46).
Jesus prayed to the One who could save him from death. Since Jesus was praying to be delivered from death, it only makes sense that he would pray to the One who had the power to deliver him. We dare not forget that when we pray we are praying to the One who has the power to help us! “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever” (Eph 3:20-21). God has the power to answer every single prayer we bring before him.
Jesus was heard because of his reverence. What an utterly amazing statement! It seems that we sometimes have the mistaken notion that if God doesn’t answer according to our desires that he doesn’t care or he hasn’t heard or maybe we’ve sinned or we didn’t pray hard enough. We can’t think anything like that about Jesus, for he was heard because of his reverence.
In the case of Jesus, God was able to do great things by refusing Jesus’ request. All of us here can avail ourselves of eternal life because the Father said, “No.” The Father has given Jesus glory he could never have had without the cross: “Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:8-11). We do not know what great things God may have in store for us when he refuses to do what we ask, but let us be a crying people!
Complying Days, v 8
“Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.”
Jesus is the unique Son of God; he is the Son of God in a way that we are not children of our parents. Obedience is expected of children: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Eph 6:1).
However, the author of Hebrews implies that Jesus’ Sonship should have exempted him from obedience. Notice that the author says “although he was a son . . . .” How was Jesus not expected to obey the Father? When he was on this earth, Jesus needed to obey the Father. About his baptism, he says to John, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matt 3:15). When he was tempted by Satan, Jesus refused to yield and sin against his Father.
However, Jesus did not need to come to this earth! “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:5-7). Jesus was not required to come to this earth, but he did so out of great humility and awesome love.
As a son, Jesus learned obedience through suffering. Jesus, of course, was greatly obedient to the Father: “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Pet 2:22). If Jesus was perfectly obedient, how did he learn obedience? He experienced obedience on this earth. He knew about obedience before his conception-he had required obedience. But, he had never lived it for himself. By taking up human flesh, Jesus Christ endured the same temptations, heartache, and suffering we endure. Therefore, he can be a merciful and faithful high priest: “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). We never face a temptation, a trial, a heartache that Jesus himself has not endured.
Jesus learned this obedience through suffering. I find it intriguing that the first recorded temptation of our Lord occurs after 40 days of fasting, after a period of serious suffering for the Lord. An important point here is to notice that again good came from the Lord’s suffering.
How obedient are we to the Father? We have an obligation to be obedient unto him. “We must obey God” (Acts 5:29). “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 Jn 5:2-3). Notice verse 9: “Being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” Salvation is not a gift that God gives indiscriminately. Rather, salvation is a gift that God gives “to all who obey” his Son.
During the Vietnam War, Captain Ray Baker, flew for the Strategic Air Command. The Air Force trained him, along with all the other pilots, to run out of their barracks to their planes at the sound of a buzzer. He couldn’t begin to remember how many times he had dropped his utensils during dinner and bolted to his bomber. He was then permitted a furlough to spend some time with friends and family in California.
When he arrived, his family took him to his favorite Mexican restaurant. Everything was going great until Captain Baker jumped up without warning and ran out of the building into the parking lot. Catching up with him when he finally stopped running, his nephew asked him in total puzzlement, “Where are you going?” “I was looking for my plane,” was his bewildered reply as he searched the horizon for the B-52. “But what prompted you to run out here?” the nephew asked. “I heard the buzzer,” the Captain replied. The nephew then realized that directly above their table was a buzzer the kitchen used to call the waiters to pick up their meals.
Do we give the Father unquestioned obedience like Captain Ray Baker did the United States Air Force?
Causing Days, v 9
“And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.”
Through his suffering, the Lord Jesus was made perfect. The verb “perfect” in Greek refers to bringing something to completion. The idea is that through the cross, Jesus brought to completion his work of salvation for the souls of men.
He, thus, became the source of eternal salvation to the obedient. The word “source” or “author” (King James Version) refers to causation, to a source. As an author causes a work to be completed, the Lord Jesus caused eternal salvation to be completed.
We, likewise, can cause people to have eternal life. Of course, we aren’t the source of eternal life-Only Jesus can save the souls of men. However, if we never speak a word to others about Jesus, they will die in their sins. Ezekiel 33:7-9. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (Jn 15:1-2).
One of the most memorable times in my preaching occurred shortly after RJ was born. Around the corner from where I lived was a lady who was a wayward Christian. I often visited with her mother in the nursing home and she often expressed a desire to see her daughter restored to the Lord. I kept planning on going to see this lady to talk to her about her soul. Finally, I decided one week that I was going over to see lady. When I had written both my sermons for that week, I was going to go see her.
I finished both of my sermons and I thought, “I’ll go see her tomorrow.” The next morning-the day I was going to make that visit-a member of the church called me to tell me that she suffered a fatal heart attack during the night. To this very day, I think, “What might have happened had I made that visit the day before?” She might not have listened to a thing I had to say and she might would still be in torment; yet, it’s quite possible that she would have been restored and now with the Lord.
Let us not shirk our responsibility in teaching the Gospel of Jesus! The cost to the souls of men is simply too high!
Calling Days, v 10
“Being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.”
Jesus was called by God to be a priest. That Jesus is a priest in “the order of Melchizedek” means that he, like the priestly-king of Salem before him, was not a descendent of Aaron. But, notice that God called Jesus to be a priest. He did not decide to be a priest on his own, but God called him to be a priest. It was the Father who gave Jesus his priestly ministry.
God is not calling us to be priests “after the order of Melchizedek,” but the Lord is calling us to ministry. The Lord has given each of us talents that he expects us to use in his service. In the Parable of the Talents, we read of the master, “To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability” (Matt 25:15). “As in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them” (Rom 12:4-6).
Have we answered the call of God? Not some miraculous call, not some audible call, nothing of the sort. But, have we answered the call God gave us when he gave us talents? Are we serving the Lord? Are we serving his church?