Lent 2012: Day Thirty-Three

Hebrews 5:8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.

Walked home with a friend after church this morning and he said something that’s stuck in my mind: Jesus died because we needed it, not because the Father required it. And we did need it. What he meant was that Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t to appease wrath, it was to show us what his vision was worth, and how much it meant. And it shows us immeasurable love, and strength. A relationship.

The verse from Hebrews has spoken a lot to me today. I was thinking and reflected with a fellow ordinand Tracy and with Fr David, that there is a huge gap in the history of Jesus’ life between 12 and 30. What was he doing in those 18 years, and why weren’t they mentioned?

I think, because it took 18 years for Jesus to come to terms with who he was. And I think the writers of our four Biblical Gospels wanted to emphasise his divinity, and so didn’t dwell on it. And that’s fair enough, Jesus was different, but he was also a truly human being. (Did you know that what we have of the Gospel of Philip suggests he married Mary Magdalen?) Matthew and Luke talk of Jesus’ birth, Mark starts with Jesus’ baptism with John the Baptist, and John starts with “In the beginning was the Word”. Luke is the Gospel which records Jesus teaching in the temple as a young boy. Mary and Joseph were worried as they did not know where he was, so there seems also to be the element of them coming to terms with who Jesus is. The final verse of Luke’s second chapter is, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour.” Jesus’ early years are a wonder.

I often find the Book of Hebrews a rather challenging read. I find a lot of the Bible challenging. But I find that today I can make some sense of chapter 5’s verse 8.

He learned obedience through what he suffered. Not meaning that he learned to obey because God’s wrath would have descended if he hadn’t, but that if he hadn’t he would have been denying who he was, and would have made a hell for himself. That doesn’t mean Jesus wasn’t free, we have many choices to make, but it means that part of life has to be a giving, a listening, a following. Jesus learned to follow God and trust God and in some way understand and connect with God through suffering… because he learnt what pain was, and he learnt what love was, that love was worth fighting for (in a non-violent, giving way). Jesus learnt what he needed to be true to.

He learned. Jesus wasn’t born a man with complete knowledge. He was born a child, as we are, and grew. And continued to grow all his life. And as God guided him through the wilderness spaces and helped him to become someone sacrificial and the very best a human being could be, we are called to follow Christ and be redeemed, rescued from our faults and sadness to become stronger and more and more loving. Rescued not from a disease that made us eternally bad people, but rescued from the pain that comes with being free human beings. There are two sides to love, as there is the lion and the lamb. We have to understand them both, they both must exist, before love can lay down in peace and straight-forward compassion (heaven!).

It’s tricky stuff this Passiontide isn’t it? But it doesn’t have to be depressing. It can be sad,  but it isn’t just sad. Jesus was a visionary, and he still lives. He was passionate about love and about people. And he was resurrected, and now God’s Spirit is in us and his presence in our lives bring us ever closer to meaning. To love. Life is hard sometimes, but it is a privilege. And it is beautiful.

Henri Nouwen’s phrase comes back to me again and again. The Wounded Healer…

Hebrews 5:8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.

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This entry was posted in *Favourites*, Bible (passages and study), Christianity, Deep Thinking, Love and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Lent 2012: Day Thirty-Three

  1. paul deakin says:

    a stunning blog, nice one. 🙂

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