Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;Hebrews 5:8 (KJV)
Obedience – Yeshua learned obedience. Do you see the implications here? There are years of Yeshua’s life that are unaccounted for in the Scriptures. Those years were most likely filled with the similar activities of other Jewish boys. He attended Torah school, He learned and practiced Jewish traditions, and was taught the details of what it meant to be a part of God’s people. Christ wasn’t just born with all this knowledge. He had to learn obedience by learning Torah.
Most of Christianity today imagines Yeshua born as God in the flesh. While that sounds majestic, that paradigm tends to take away from the humanity of Christ. We don’t imagine God having to learn obedience. In fact, there’s no requirement that God should be obedient to anything or anyone at all. But if we can remove ourselves from that paradigm and accept that Christ, the Messiah, was a man, then we can understand how He had to learn obedience.
The word is hypakoē in the Greek. According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, it “always implies religious decision.” Hypakoē is tied directly to the process of being religious, and for a Jewish boy, that meant adhering to Torah and all the commandments of God. If I asked, why was Christ sinless? The answer isn’t because He was God. And it’s not even because He was the Son of God. Divinity has nothing to do with it. Christ was sinless because he obeyed the laws of God. And He did all that while living as a human man.
LXX usage shows how strongly the sense of hearing is present in obedience (Genesis 22:18; Jeremiah 13:10). Yeshua didn’t just rely on his own experience and intuition to pull Him through life. He relied on obeying the voice of God. He relied on listening to the Torah being read out loud in the synagogue every Sabbath. This is how He learned obedience.
So what does this mean for us? When tempted in the desert, Christ states that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). The words He’s referring to that actually came forth from God’s own mouth are His laws. These are the commandments, statutes, and judgments of the Old Testament. So what this means for us is that we have this same opportunity that Yeshua had! We can choose to listen to the point of obedience by learning Torah just as He did. And then applying the law to our lives just like He did.
We are no less human than Christ was when He walked on the earth. We too are sons and daughters of God. Yeshua paved the way for us to live. He showed us that humanity can be obedient to God and conform our lives to His word. He proved it could be done. Don’t let other men get in the way of becoming completely human; becoming an obedient creation of God that enacts His will through active participation and commitment to the laws as an example to others.