MOMENTS WITH THE MINISTER: The cross - our teacher
“Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” Hebrews 5:8
As I write, it is Holy Week, and on Friday, (the day this article comes out in the paper), it will be Good Friday, the day we remember the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We often think of the cross as the payment for our sins, and surely it was. We think of that place that made us clean, not because of the place, but because of the person hanging there. He was no ordinary man, but the sinless, perfect Lamb of God that came to remove our sins by His suffering. He was a son first and foremost; the son of His Father. He came to do the will of His Father. From the very young age of 12, Christ told His parents, “I must be about my Father’s business”. The Son was always in perfect communion with the Father. He always obeyed the Father, and always desired to do His Father’s will and did so perfectly. There was never an ounce of rebellion in Him. And as we read this verse, we might come to the wrong conclusion that if Jesus had to learn “obedience” through what He suffered, then He must have been deficient in some knowledge, or somehow not be perfect in every way. But we would be wrong. If there was any deficiency it would be that which He came to the earth to learn - He made Himself one of us, took on the form of a servant, became a reproach, and learned obedience through the things He suffered. God sent His Son, not just so His Son could experience being human, and punch that event off His bucket list, but His love and obedience was perfected, tried in the fire of the cross, and it was shown to be pure and without flaw.
No man knows what He is really made of until He meets true suffering. Suffering often separates the sheep from the goats, the weak from the strong, and the chaff from the wheat. In the parable of the seed, it is the third seed that is choked out by the cares and worries of this life. In the life of Peter, it is the threat of suffering that causes him to deny Christ 3 times before the rooster crows. In the early missionary journeys of Paul, it was John Mark who deserted the little band of missionaries probably because of the suffering they were encountering with each city they visited and preached the gospel in. Suffering always is a great teacher, but only if you can endure it, persevere through it, and hold fast to Jesus while it all rages ‘round you.
During this pandemic, many of us have understood suffering in a way we never thought possible. Death had not previously touched so close to us, as it has so often in other third world countries around the world. We were caught off guard here in America, and weren’t ready to suffer as some places had already become accustomed too. Christians, in an effort to save their own lives, got creative and did church online. Fear, a sin, that used to never before make Christians stumble was the main reason they chose to avoid church now. Fear of what? Death and suffering, fear of losing their loved ones, fear of the unknown, fear of abandonment in death those who need them. We thought we trusted God as sons and daughters, but a virus showed us we did not trust Him as fully as we thought. We learned our deficiency was actually in our faith in God. Suffering can teach us quite a bit about ourselves if we let it. This Easter, I pray you will allow the message of the cross to wash over you again differently than it did a year ago. Now you are year wiser, and a year older. You have walked through something that had the potential of really teaching us what it means to learn to trust in God and love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. To trust Jesus when He is on the cross is not as hard as when you are on the cross. But perhaps some of you have learned obedience through what you suffered this last year. Maybe, just maybe, the suffering we experienced taught us how to be more faithful as sons and daughters of God. The cross is not just meant to save us, but also meant to shape us into the image of Jesus. Carry it well, my brothers and sisters, until we see Christ’s beautiful face.
Brian Taylor began his ministry as a young man on the foreign mission field of Togo, West Africa serving with the International Mission Board of the SBC. He spent almost a decade serving as a music and youth minister in the Panhandle of Texas. He loves preaching and pastoring on the south side of Sherman. He has been married to his wife Sarah for 17 years, and they have five children. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.