Let us pray: Dear Savior, the sin of our first parents was that they wanted autonomy from You and Your Holy Father. That same sin or refusing to bow our knee and our heart before You is the source of all our troubles in life. Today we thank You for coming and submitting to the Father’s will—totally—for us! We thank You for willingly going to the cross. We thank for freeing us from our prideful arrogance so that we can be free—free to trust You enough to give You our hearts and our lives. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR SUFFERING SERVANT!
TEXT: Hebrews 5: 7-9
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
Submission is a loaded word. The very idea of submission, of putting aside your autonomy and sense of control, is hard to swallow. We like to feel in control of our lives. We like being answerable only to ourselves. Having someone else tell us what to do or how to act seems repugnant. It seems almost unAmerican, doesn’t it? And yet, loving submission, not forced but loving submission, leads to all sorts of personal happiness. For example, when children lovingly obey their parents the family runs smoothly and the kids are kept away from a whole lot of pain and suffering. When spouses submit to each other out of love and mutual respect the marriage is strengthened instead of torn apart. In the final analysis, such loving submission causes you to recognize that others might know more than you do and that in the long run following their lead will bring joy, happiness, and mutual prosperity. Loving submission brings peace and harmony. It makes life easier and more enjoyable.
The same is true with our relationship with God. When we quit trying to impose our will on Him, but submit to His will for us, inner peace and joy results. True contentment with life results. In our lesson today we clearly see that:
SUBMISSION BRINGS LIFE AND FREEDOM!
I have a brother-in-law who likes to rib his wife with the words: “You ain’t the boss of me!” Actually, she is, and he knows it. But it gives him satisfaction to needle her a bit. Those words: “You ain’t the boss of me” could well serve as a summation for all our lives—especially when it comes to God.
All people are born with a prideful nature that hates being told what to do. We hate being told we’re wrong. We hate not being in control. As I mentioned in the opening prayer, this stems from the first sin of Adam and Eve. They thought happiness would result from imposing their will upon God. But, of course, the opposite occurred. In attempting to take control of their lives all that resulted was sin, more temptation, frustration, envy, and finally death. This was God’s punishment for such rebellion. Think about it. If you were all-powerful and created a living being, how would you feel when that being rejected Your love and told you that they knew more than you did?! How would you feel when that being attempted to impose their will on you? Yes, chaos resulted in creation when Adam and Eve did exactly that. And that chaos continues to this very day.
God, Who is all-loving, chose to remedy this unhappy situation. He chose to send us a Savior, One Who would restore the balance of creation. One Who would submit to the Holy Father’s will for us. That’s what the writer to the Hebrews is referring to when he says: “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.”
God the Father heard Jesus’ prayers in Gethsemane and elsewhere because Jesus didn’t fight Him. Jesus didn’t reject His plan for our salvation. Jesus didn’t say: “It’s too hard. It’s too painful. They’re not worth it. You’re wrong.” Instead, Jesus said: “Dear Father, You know best. I trust You. And so, I’ll go to the cross and give My life to save sinners.” Such loving submission pleased God. It showed respect. It honored Him. And as a result, God did hear Christ’s prayer and did save Him from death! You say: “How so? Didn’t Christ die?” Yes, He did! For you and me. He died to save us from our pride and to pay for our guilt born of our longing after autonomy. But Jesus also arose from the dead! He came back to life—for us! And thus we see that loving submission brought Him both life and freedom from the agony of the out-of-control human will.
“Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” Jesus suffered throughout His life. He suffered by leaving heaven and being born in a humble, cold, manger. He suffered by having to put up with envious brothers and sisters. He suffered by having people listen to Him and then reject what He had to say. He suffered the emotional pain of rejection and the physical pain of a beating and finally the crucifixion. But, that’s the result of human pride. It always results in suffering. And as our Substitute, Jesus shouldered our pride to free us from its death grip. In obedience to His Father He destroyed the death grip of our imperfect arrogance. And in the process Christ became our Savior.
When you fight with your spouse—everyone loses. When you fight with your boss—you lose. When you fight with your kids, or vice-versa, unhappiness plagues your home. When you fight with your friends—you’ll soon have no friends. And when you fight with God, your all-knowing Creator—not only will your soul die, your body will die, too.
What’s the antidote to such disharmony? Loving submission and obedience. For it alone brings freedom from envy. It alone brings appreciation of blessings. It alone brings life as God wanted it to be when He created us. Humbling yourself before God and trusting Him to run your life—that alone brings true joy. And by trusting in Christ Who has already walked that road for you, well, that’s what makes such joy a reality. So, as you approach Holy Week, keep this one thought in mind: Submission brings life and freedom! It’s all a gift to you from the hand of our Loving God through Jesus Christ! Amen