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In the Days of His Flesh
October 10, 2010, 23:14
Filed under: Christian, Thoughts

[7] In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. [8] Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. [9] And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, [10] being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:7-10 ESV)

This verse is one that has continually encouraged me since I’ve graduated from college and had to face many truths about myself. I wanted to do a quick in-depth bible study on it to solidify some of my thoughts.

+ “In the days of his flesh…” Jesus was, without a doubt, a man at one point. What does this mean? This means that he was subject to all of the same limitations, frustrations, desires, and weaknesses that we inherently experience as humans. What does it mean to be in the days of flesh? It means physical weakness. It means temptation to satisfy our loneliness by clinging onto people or daydreaming about being fulfilled through lust or romance. It means finding satisfaction in status or material things, impressing people.

Our flesh longs to be satiated. We long for transcendency, sufficiency, and attention… yet we attempt to satisfy it through the immediacy and tangibility of the flesh when we were made in the image of God, to only be fulfilled by God who is our living water of eternal life . Therefore our flesh is what we must fight, since we know the good that we ought to do, but cannot. Our flesh is the source of our sin, we fight against it a losing battle so long as we depend on ourselves.

+ ” Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears,” The word “supplication” derives from the Latin supplicātus- he who begs on his knees, submissive, suppliant (from the verb supplicāre). It is a physical act as well as a spiritual one – thus the act of supplicating in prayer is one of submitting both the body and the spirit in prayer to God. The prayer formed in the mind and heart is accompanied by a parallel action in the mouth and the body, devoting all parts of the self in address to God. Loud cries and tears are embarrassing, they are exposed, they are outright. Am I raw and honest in my prayers to God, clearly addressing my need with the proper attitude?

The flesh is such that even Jesus needed to offer up complete, desperate prayers the first part of healing occurs when we truly acknowledge the power of the flesh, and our helplessness against it. we know that Jesus understands the forces with which we fight and pities our enslavement to it. He understands it and its power, which is why he prays and anguishes as he does. Do I approach my sins and my flesh with the same sort of desperation? Knowing that I am nearly helpless against it, save for my convictions that are so weak that I even need to ask God to intervene for me.

+ “to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” There is no point in praying to a God who cannot save, or who cannot actually effect change. The prayer in part depends not on the tone or the desperation with which we are offering, but it depends on that entity, that being to whom it is being offered. After all, anything can be prayed to, or the object of supplication or desire. We too often lay our sacrifices at the wrong altars, altars that are temporary and indeed cannot “save us from death.” So many people nowadays sacrifice everything, family, friends, other relationships, investments, commitments, uprooting their own families and affecting other people, because a perceived career opportunity opens up. Somehow in today’s day and age this has been deemed completely normal. Abandoning all relationships except that one romantic relationship is now somehow seen as a right, a natural consequence that ought to happen. People run through each others’ lives, damaging and scarring others in the race to the top or to one-time self-fulfillment… so many things offered at the altar of self.

But are these altars able to save us from death? The resounding answer is no, no, and no! Despite the right career or the right spouse, death and time stop for now one, makes no exceptions. Ultimately they are not worth our supplications and prayers. These altars are not worthy of our stress, yet too often they are the main source of anguish in our lives as we strive to hold on and offer some of ourselves on the altar of God, some part on the altar of self.

With reverence in supplication, to the right and proper entity, God is able to save us from death (the helplessness of our flesh) in the same way that he saved His Son. Not an ephemeral altar, but an eternal one built upon the eternal character and promises of God. And miraculously, if we believe in the truth of Jesus’ death and Resurrection, then it actually can save us from death! Is there anything else in all the world that is worth our attention and our lives? All else is waste and  folly.

+ “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” The suffering is not pointless. Jesus was not made flesh just so that he could feel pain, but for a couple of reasons. One is so that Jesus could complete the symbolism of being the substitute for our sins, making the promise and the sacrifice real – if Jesus did not experience everything that we experience, then we would not be able to claim His blood as our salvation. The sacrifice would be incomplete, and it would not be valid. Only through suffering through the experience of the flesh could Jesus’ sacrifice be made fully manifest. And by being human, and fleshly, Jesus was ultimately destined to experience separation from God, as Tim Keller puts it, cosmic separation from God, being cut off from the one source of life and truth. He did this so that He could provide an example for us of complete obedience to God, even to death, with the promise of resurrection and eternal life.

Second, to display the nature of true love. True love elevates, disciplines, does what is hard and often unbearable in order to mold and shape a person to the best and highest form possible. Love from the Father, the creator of life and purpose, means subjecting our flesh to suffering and obeying because we know that this world is passing away… Another favorite verse of mine is I Corinthians 13:12 – “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” One day we shall not see truth through this clouded and tainted body that twists and distracts us from true vision. One day, then, shall we know fully God’s love for us, and we will no longer be burdened by sins incurred from our wayward hearts. Oh Lord, let that day come when we’ll be perfected in your presence.

“Whoever things that in this mortal life a man may so disperse the mists of bodily and carnal imaginings as to possess the unclouded light of changeless truth, and to cleave to it with the unswerving constancy of a spirit wholly estranged from the common ways of life – he understands neither What he seeks, no who he is who seeks it.” (St. Augustine)

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