Sermons on the Epistle to the Hebrews | Reverent Submission | Hebrews 5:5-10

Hands raised in prayer

Reverent Submission (Hebrews 5:5-10)

When I was a kid, Nannie and Papaw, my mom’s parents, got their grandkids anything they could afford for Christmas. We boys would get the Sears and JCPenney’s catalogs and mark everything we wanted. Obviously, we didn’t get everything we wanted, but we typically made out like bandits.

One year, I really wanted an aquarium; I knew Nannie would get it for me. Well, on Christmas Eve when we opened up gifts, I opened many things I wanted, but there was no aquarium. I was heartbroken. I was so disappointed that it was hard to act like I was happy. Well, it turned out that my parents had asked my Mamaw and Papaw in Indiana, my dad’s parents, to get me the aquarium; when they came in with a wrapped box that could only be an aquarium, I felt like a fool.

You don’t always get what you want. How many times have you prayed and prayed and prayed, only for God not to answer? How many times have you faced great disappointment in life? How many times do you forget that God not a “Cosmic Santa Claus” who sits enthroned in heaven to fulfill your every wish?

The author of Hebrews reminds you that Jesus prayed and prayed and prayed, but he did not get what he so desperately wanted. Instead, Jesus, through his suffering, learned obedience. In fact, “Prayer leads to obedience.

Scripture (Hebrews 5:7-10)

verse 7:

Jesus offered up prayer “with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death.” Jesus poured his heart out in the Garden the night before his crucifixion: Luke 22:41-44.

God heard those prayers because of Jesus’s “reverent submission.” That is one strange statement! Think about it—God heard Jesus, Jesus was submissive to God with great reverence, but God still did not do what Jesus asked.

verse 8:

Because God did not answer Jesus as the Lord desired, Jesus, although a Son, learned obedience through his suffering. Obedience is not an easy or pleasant lesson to learn; however, obedience is an important lesson to learn if we wish to be with God eternally: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 7:21).

verse 9:

Once Jesus had been made perfect—i.e., complete—he became the way of salvation for everyone who would obey him.

verse 10:

Jesus is a high priest in the order of Melchizedek—i.e., not a descendant of Aaron.


Prayer leads to obedience.” Therefore:

You must make prayer a part of your life.

When facing the cross, Jesus prayed. When you face trials in life, you need to pray. Christians must be a praying people:

  • “Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Lk 18:1).
  • “Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Eph 6:18).

Make sure you take time to pray.

You must remember that God sometimes says, “No.”

God told Jesus, “No,” and the Lord will sometimes tell you, “No.” Only because Jesus was told no was he able to learn obedience from what he suffered. If you want to learn obedience, God must sometimes tell you no.

To show that you understand God will not grant every prayer, you must always pray for the Lord’s will to be done. Jesus did so in the Garden: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matt 26:39). Make sure you always follow the example of Jesus and make the Lord’s will a vitally important part of your prayers.

You must remember that if God always answers your prayer as you want, someone else will be harmed.

Jesus’s prayers were heard “because of his reverent submission”—he humbly submitted himself to God. But because God refused his prayer and he went to the cross, Jesus provided a way of salvation for you. The text says that Jesus suffered “and became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” You can be saved because God told Jesus, “No.”

Sometimes when God tells you no, someone else benefits. When you pray for a job and you don’t get it, someone else benefits. When you pray for a loved one to be healed and he dies, if he’s in Christ, he benefits; were God to answer your prayer for a longer life, the person might would live in horrible pain and possibly even lose salvation. It may be that dying is better for the person than being healed. You must remember that you do not know all that God knows.

You must look for a way to obey God.

God refused Jesus’s prayer, but the Lord obediently went to the cross. When God refuses your prayer, how will you live? Will you follow the Lord and obey?

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.

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