Jesus Had a Choice (Hebrews 5:7-8)
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:7-8)
On this side of the cross we are used to hearing about Jesus' sacrifice for our sins so we forget this important truth, Jesus had a choice.The choice to redeem mankind, or let mankind pay the price for Adam’s choice in the garden. Adam chose death, suffering and sin over God. As result, he plunged the entire world into this pattern of life and we were subjected to the destructiveness of un-regenerated man. Mankind needed someone to intercede which is why Jesus volunteered for the role as Savior of the world (I Corinthians 15:22; II Corinthians 5:19; I Peter 1:20; I John 2:2).
God is big on giving choices and letting us choose for ourselves. He does not force His will on us. In the same way, He did not force His will for redeeming mankind on Jesus. He gave Him the choice. This is beyond comprehension because God and Jesus are one and the same. They exist in a triune being of perfect love and unity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three distinctly different entities yet one in the same. II peter 3 tells us that God is not willing that any should perish and desires everyone to come to repentance (II Peter 3:9). This means that Jesus holds this desire as well. Hebrews 1 tells us that "The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being..." (Hebrews 1:3a). Meaning He is the exact image and picture of God. Everything God is, Jesus is. Everything God desires, Jesus desires. God's will is Jesus' will.
The plan was Jesus from the start. As he submitted to God's will, He became the lamb slain from the foundation of the world (I Peter 1:20). Jesus undertook this role before there was even a world to redeem. Then at the culmination of history He was made manifest in the flesh to complete this work once for all. It was a choice. No one took Jesus' life; He willing laid it down for us. John tells us, "The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18).
The grace of God is more profound when you consider that Jesus could have backed out of this arrangement at any time. During His time on earth, Jesus could have said one word and God would have honored it. In the garden when Jesus was betrayed, Peter cut off the ear of the of the High Priest's servant. Jesus responded in this way, “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26:52-54). Jesus understood the choice and knew God would honor and respond to His decision at any point in time. Which is why he submitted to God and learned obedience through this type of suffering.
Jesus' suffering was more than the physical aspects of being crucified. His suffering far exceeded this because he had the entire weight of sin, sickness and death placed on him and then he was completely and totally separated from the presence of the Father. It took an act of obedience for a holy God to undergo this type of suffering. This is the point the writer of Hebrews is highlighting in this passage. The Amplified Bible puts it best, “In the days of His flesh [Jesus] offered up definite, special petitions [for that which He not only wanted but needed] and supplications with strong crying and tears to Him Who was [always] able to save Him [out] from death, and He was heard because of His reverence toward God [His godly fear, His piety, in that He shrank from the horrors of separation from the bright presence of the Father]. Although He was a Son, He learned [active, special] obedience through what He suffered” (Hebrews 5:7-8 AMP). The price Jesus paid was extremely high. He was removed from the very essences of God the Father and literally became sin, the very thing he abhorred, so that we could be righteous in God's sight (II Corinthians 5:21).
When looking at the accounts of Jesus in the Garden to Gethsemane right before his betrayal we see how the anticipation of being separated from God affected Jesus. Yet during the entire time he readily submitted to God's will in spite of what He was facing. Mark's account is extremely insightful, "He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:33-36). Jesus knew that on request God would save him from this horrible death and from taking the weight of Adams choice on himself as mankind's representative. In the same way, He knew that God had chosen Jesus as the first and only way to redeem mankind. So Jesus actively submitted to God's will and plan so that it would be finished.
Jesus completed everything that He was instructed to do. He fulfilled every scripture written about the promised Messiah. John records, "Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit" (John 19:28:30). What an amazing picture of the love God has for us. Mark gives us more detail on what happened, "It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last" (Luke 23:44-46).
This act of obedience perfectly equipped Jesus for His role as our eternal high priest, he accomplished everything God desired and became the source of eternal salvation for everyone who puts their trust in Him (Hebrews 5:9; 7:25). Jesus has been exalted to His rightful place as Lord and will remain in this position eternally. "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 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" (Philippians 2:8-11). This confession of Jesus' lordship brings glory to God because it was His desire from the beginning that we would be reconciled through Jesus. And Jesus honored God's request.
Jesus had a choice and He chose us. God still offers this choice today. The work of salvation has been accomplished and now it is freely given to us as a gift through faith in Jesus. It is His desire that we accept this gift, but God does not make us choose him. "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God" (John 1:12-13).