“In the days of His flesh, He offered up prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.”
This verse refers to Christ’s prayer on the Cross as recorded in Psalm 22. Psalm 22 contains Christ’s prayer request for resurrection (Christ perhaps quoted as a prayer the entire Psalm). Christ was praying this prayer during the time when He was offering Himself for our sins. We have two priestly functions occurring simultaneously: 1) offering a sacrifice for sin, “Himself” and 2) offering prayer for resurrection from physical death (Christ, as a priest, represented Himself before God the Father).
The physical death of Christ came because His work on the Cross was finished. So when He was bearing our sins that was spiritual death because God the Father was judging all of the sins of the human race, past, present, and future at that point. Once the objective of paying for sin was accomplished, the Lord Jesus Christ departed from this earth. But there is another objective that had to be fulfilled and it had to be fulfilled at the right hand of the Father. So Christ had to be resurrected, He had to ascend and had to be seated at the right hand of the Father. Once this was an accomplished fact, it became necessary for Him to function and to fulfill a ministry that not one of us would ever be able to fulfill for ourselves: High Priest of the Church.
It was God the Father’s purpose to raise Jesus Christ from the dead. The Greek word for save is “sozo,”which means to be delivered. The type of deliverance is specified by the context. The Father answered Christ’s prayer of deliverance by raising Him from the dead. It was God’s purpose to make the Resurrection a part of the Strategic Victory of the Angelic Conflict. Not only was our salvation provided but this is what “broke the devil’s back.” Christ’s resurrection, ascension and session completed the first stage of the strategic victory and shortly after started the Church Age with a new type of priesthood — the Royal Priesthood — and makes our tactical objective, spiritual maturity. This is where we have the capacity by means of doctrine and God pours out grace blessings. And under the Royal Priesthood it is God’s objective that we live like royalty. The Royal Priesthood demands royal living.
Piety means respect for the authority of someone over you. A high priest must have respect for the Person of God the Father. Christ respects the Father and His plan. He respects the plan of the Person to whom He offers the prayer. His petition was heard because of his recognition of divine authority. Remember that Christ voluntarily placed Himself under the authority of the Father while on earth.
Let’s not forget the Doctrine of Kenosis. Christ voluntarily restricted the function of His deity. This doctrine takes its name from the Greek word “kenoo,”which means to deprive oneself of a rightful function. This doctrine explains how Christ, the Creator of the universe, could leave Heaven and become a man. II Corinthians 8:9 tells us that even though Christ was rich, for our sakes He became poor. This is kenosis.
“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through the things which He suffered.”
Jesus Christ is coequal and coeternal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He voluntarily subordinated Himself to the Father’s plan of salvation. This means He also deprived Himself of the exercise of His divine attributes. At no time did Christ “empty Himself” of His deity. He was never less than God. He simply restricted the use of His divine attributes voluntarily. (Colossians 2:9) Jesus was born as a man and had to learn the Scriptures the same way that we do, under the control and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was the One who empowered Him and sustained Him throughout His life on earth. As a man, Christ suffered in the same ways that we suffer but much greater, of course. This suffering meant that Christ was learning to obey the plan of God while being sustained by the power of the Holy Spirit. The ultimate humiliation was suffering the divine judgment from God for our sins. (Matthew 24:36; John 8:56, 16:14; Philippians 2:8)
Christ glorified the Father by executing the Father’s plan, not by glorifying Himself. However, the limitation of kenosis ultimately glorified Christ because He was able to execute the plan perfectly, without sin. As a testimony to the fact that God was completely satisfied with the Son, Christ is now seated at the right hand of the Father. His impeccable life was our prototype to demonstrate to us the fact that we too can execute God’s plan through the power of the Holy Spirit. (John 19:30; Philippians 2:5-8)
“And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.”
This verse records the result of Jesus Christ learning absolute obedience to authority. The result was the Cross where Christ fulfilled His priestly function in offering Himself a sacrifice for our sins. He had to learn discipline to authority or there would be no salvation. It is always hard for people to realize that if Jesus Christ had not been the most disciplined person, the most obedient person who ever lived, He would not have gone to the Cross and offered Himself for our sins. This required the greatest of self-discipline and the greatest respect for authority in all of human history. Furthermore, it was contrary to every impulse, every desire, and every part of His human soul. Nevertheless, He did it. The Lord Jesus Christ went to the Cross under the strictest system of discipline. The Father was the absolute authority; His plan was also the authority. In obedience to the Person of God the Father and in obedience to the plan of God the Father, Jesus Christ went to the Cross. It was the strictest system of discipline in all of human history.
The phrase and having been made perfect is not a correct translation. The Greek word for perfect is “teleioo,” which means to execute a command perfectly, to execute fully, to complete, to bring something to completion, to accomplish a goal or to reach an objective. It means to complete the process of training through the suffering and the discipline of the previous verse. So the best possible translation is: “and having completed the disciplinary training.”
The whole life of our Lord was one of disciplinary training, of extreme self-discipline. Every temptation to sin was also an issue of self-discipline. His objective was the Cross and His objective was to reach the Cross in sinless perfection. If He had succumbed to one temptation and sinned, He would have acquired a sin nature, and He would have been a sinner in the same way that Adam became a sinner. But the Lord Jesus Christ went through 33 years of intense discipline and it reached its culmination on the Cross where He obeyed a command to bear our sins. He knew how horrible it would be and yet He was sustained by His respect for the Father’s authority, His respect for the plan of the Father, by the power of the Holy Spirit, by Bible doctrine in His soul and by the extreme self-discipline of His own soul.
He learned discipline in childhood, He learned it through doctrine, He learned it through temptation, He learned it through testing, and He learned it in relationship with other people. He was true humanity and could have lived His life without sin and fulfilled His objective without ever losing sight of it. He executed God the Father’s plan of salvation by offering Himself for our sins on the Cross. The Cross was the fulfillment of His training course. The obedience to the Cross on the part of Jesus Christ was offering Himself; our obedience is to believe in Jesus Christ, to receive Him as personal Savior by faith.
In fulfilling the plan of salvation Jesus Christ came to the Cross under obedience that required all of His ability to stay and bear our sins. When we approach the Cross it must be by faith alone because He did all the work for us. Christ not only saves us but will give us blessing and prosperity exceedingly abundantly above all we could ever ask or think if we will execute His plan for us.
Christ was designated as a high priest in eternity past as a part of the divine decrees and He was commissioned as a priest to go to the Cross and perform a sacrificial ritual. Instead of a spotless lamb, He offered Himself as the “spotless lamb” for the sins of the world. Our King-Priest Jesus Christ was qualified to offer Himself because He was a royal priest and He was a qualified sacrifice being without sin. Now at the right hand of the Father, Jesus Christ functions not just as a priest but as our High Priest. And, as our High Priest, He constantly makes intercession for us.
During the Age of Israel, Jehovah (Jesus Christ) dwelt in the tabernacle or temple as God’s Shekinah Glory (His presence). In the wilderness He appeared to Israel as a cloud by day and as a pillar of fire at night. He also appeared as a bright light over the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. The presence of the pre-incarnate Christ guaranteed God’s temporal and eternal blessings to the nation of Israel. (Exodus 25:21-22; Leviticus 26:11-12; Psalms 91:1; Hebrews 9:5)
During the Church Age, the Shekinah Glory of God (Jesus Christ) indwells the believer, guaranteeing temporal and eternal blessings. It is no longer necessary for Christ to appear in a cloud or as a pillar of fire, since He has revealed Himself in the Person of Jesus. The Shekinah Glory of God “became flesh and dwelt among men.” (Hebrews 8)
The Lord Jesus Christ indwells the believer in order to glorify Himself in the life of the believer. As with the indwelling of the Father and the Holy Spirit, we must allow Christ to glorify Himself through our lives. We do this as we abide in Him (fellowship) and His Word abides in us. The word for abide in Greek is “meno” and means to dwell, to remain, to continue in, or to tarry. Abide means “to be at home with.” When Bible doctrine is dwelling in you and you are in fellowship with Christ, the potential exists to glorify Him through your life. (John 15:1-14) The indwelling of Jesus Christ is unique to the Church Age in which we live and should be a point of gratitude to God. (Colossians 1:27)
The Shekinah Glory Who indwells you is there to bring you confidence in God. The word for confidence in Greek is “hupostatis,” the same word used for the Hypostatic Union of Jesus Christ. The literal meaning is substance, essence, foundation or endurance. Jesus Christ is the very essence of God; He is the foundation of everything that we believe as Christians. His indwelling of the believer gives us confidence, and knowledge of Bible doctrine is how the believer learns about this confidence. There can be no confidence in this life or in the one to come until the knowledge of God’s Word is gained through persistent study. (Hebrews 11:1)
Confidence in God brings the believer hope, but the word “hope” in the Scriptures means confident expectation. Through the study and application of Bible doctrine the believer increases this confident expectation, for this life and for the eternal state. It is this reality of “hope” that gives the Christian a personal sense of destiny, which means knowing who you are and what you have as a result of being in union with Christ. This is not an emotional “feeling,” but an absolute truth based on your relationship with the indwelling Christ. Our confidence is not in self or others, but rather in Christ. This means that confidence for the advancing believer comes from Divine Viewpoint Thinking and not from Human Viewpoint Thinking. Taking advice or needing the approval of a person or persons who have no divine viewpoint will lead you to wrong answers and wrong decisions. If you truly have confidence in God and the doctrine in your soul, you will avoid any relationship that is contrary to His Word or that would distract or influence you negatively.