Contemplating the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ is confusing. I do not claim to have it all figured out. No one does. Even the angels are looking into this Gospel that Jesus accomplished (1 Peter 1:12). Angels are smart and have been around a long time and have seen things I can’t imagine. Even they don’t quite get it!
It often seems in the passages where the Bible explains it more, it just gets more confusing. Here’s an example from Hebrews 5:7 speaking about Jesus:
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared
It would be my opinion that we’re talking about Jesus prayers in the Garden right before His betrayal, beatings, and crucifixion. That’s where He prayed with crying and tears. He prayed to His Father who was able to save Him from the brutal death awaiting Him.
Then there’s this: He was heard in that he feared. Now that’s; wow.
How exactly was He heard? Typically when we think of God hearing our prayer we associate that with us getting our request. Jesus’ prayer was, “Let this cup pass from me.” He prayed to the One who could “save Him from death.” Clearly, Jesus’ main request was to avoid the coming death.
But Jesus was not spared that death. Jesus was betrayed, beaten, and crucified. So, in what sense was He heard? Does it just mean God audibly heard the words and nothing more? God was listening, God heard it, His ears worked?
Well, if you know the totality of what Jesus prayed, He added, “nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.” That was His essential request. And God’s will was for Christ to go through with the betrayal, beating, and death on the cross.
So, Jesus was heard in that He feared, but it didn’t appear to do Him much good! But actually, it was His fear for God His Father that made Him add, “Nevertheless not my will but thine be done.” Christ knew what He Himself wanted, but also had fear (most modern translations soften it and say “respect”) for His Father enough to know that what His Father wanted was best.
Most of us think God hearing us means we will get what we asked for, but that’s not the best way to think of God answering prayer.
If we come to God in prayer with the proper fear, the fear His Son even had for Him (even though “I and the Father are one” and all that Trinitarian stuff was true), then we will know that what we want may not be the best thing. We are free to share our requests with Him, in fact we’re commanded to do so (Philippians 4:6), but we also know our thoughts and perspectives are limited and fallible. I’d rather have God’s will be done than mine. If you fear God, you’ll desire that too.
So, what good did it do Jesus to pray and have His Father hear Him if He had to still go through what He desired to avoid? The next verse seems to answer that:
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him
Here’s another mind blowing aspect of the divinity and humanity of Christ: He learned! I thought Jesus knew everything? How could He learn? The word “learn” here means to learn by experience. It’s not a theoretical understanding, he lived it and knows the very depths of what obedience entails.
Then we’re told that Jesus was “made perfect!” Goodness, it just keeps going with unbelievable statements. The word “perfect” means complete. He finished everything the Father had lined up for Him to do. Everything was accomplished, which is why after His ascension He was seated at the right hand of the throne of God. He has the place of ultimate honor, praise, and delight, all because He did His Father’s will. He did His Father’s will and not His own, because He feared the Father.
I imagine this holds much importance for us and our approach to God in prayer. We’re not here to tell God what to do, to name it and claim it, or be presumptuous. Our prayers are to be offered in the fear of God, knowing that He knows better than we do since we do not know what to pray for as we ought. Most of our requests are based on our fleshly interest and comfort. It seems as though some of what Christ was praying for in getting out of His coming death may have been based on this comfort idea, although certainly had more than that going on.
Anyway, I will probably end up saying blasphemous things if I keep going. This is one fascinating passage that deserves our attention, not only for what it says about the divinity and humanity of Christ, but also about our own human approach to our divine Father.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
–I john 5:14-15