"Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered," Heb. 5:8.
The testimony of the Bible is that Jesus Christ the Son of God at a certain point in history took on a body and lived as a man just like us. For 33 years he lived a perfect sinless life and as a result he became an acceptable sacrifice for all of our sins. No longer do we need to go to the Temple year after year and offer up sacrifices. The weakness of that system was that animals could never really take our sins away. But because Jesus has lived like us his death is able to forgive us all our sins - past, present, and future.
So when we read our passage from Hebrews 5:8 today it may help us to keep in mind that Christ wasn't learning how to be obedient by correcting his mistakes or by learning how to stop sinning. He was already sinless and he made no mistakes. What's really happening is that Jesus was fulfilling the perfect righteousness that he had to have in order to save us. He couldn't just have dropped out of the sky and spent a few days here being rejected and then crucified for our sins. There's more going on in Jesus' life than just getting to Calvary. He had to have the perfect obedience of fulfilling God's law over a lifetime. That's what makes him the unique Son of God. He did over 33 years what we can't do for a day, perhaps even for an hour.
The Father had great expectations for Jesus. He expected him to fulfill all righteousness by keeping the law at every point. That is the active obedience of Christ. Not only that, but he asked Jesus to endure his wrath for our sins. That's the passive obedience of Christ. And because of Christ's humanity he becomes our perfect substitute. He knew suffering, heartbreak, weariness, anger, joy, and every other human emotion you and I have had. But he knew all those things in perfection and without sin. This is why you cannot rest on any of your good works to please God for salvation. You cannot mingle some of your good deeds with a multitude of sins and expect God to accept you into the joy of his Kingdom. You must rely upon Christ alone because it's only in receiving his obedience by faith that you will ever be accepted by God.
Jarrod Belcher is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Williamson. He writes a weekly column. He can be contacted at email@example.com.