“Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God” – Hebrews ch10 v7
The message of the New Testament centres upon the death of Jesus on the Cross.
Jesus speaks of it, in all the gospels, as something that will happen
“Everything that is written of the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished; for he will be delivered to the Gentiles… they will scourge
him and kill him and on the third day he will rise” (Luke ch18 vv31-33- See also Mark ch10 v33, Matthew ch20 vv17-19).
He speaks of it also as something which must
“And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected…. And be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark
On the mount of transfiguration, Moses and Elijah come to talk to him about the “departure” which he was to accomplish
in Jerusalem (Luke
He complains later, “I have a baptism [his death] to be baptised with, and how I am constrained until it is accomplished
The climax of this train of thought is the declaration which John reports as the last word spoken on the cross-
TETELESTHAI- “It has been accomplished” (John ch19 v30).
So he taught his disciples that the purpose of his life was fulfilled in the giving of his life;
“For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark ch10 v45).
That is the significance of the statements at the Last Supper, when he described his body as “given for you”, and his blood as “poured out for
And therefore, of course, he went into these events giving assent to what was happening.
He was doing nothing to change the sequence.
His last chance of opting out came in the prayer at Gethsemane, which arrived at the conclusion “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt”
(Matthew ch26 v39).
The accounts of the crucifixion present even the final release of his life as a voluntary act;
He “gave up ”or “yielded” his spirit; “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit” (Luke ch23 v46).
John’s Gospel has additional material which tells the same story.
“I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (ch6 v38).
But that will includes his own death, for reasons of necessity;
“The Son of Man must be lifted up”, on the Cross (ch3 v14).
Therefore his obedience extends as far as giving up his life;
“I lay down my life for the sheep…
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.
No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.
I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father” (ch10 vv15-18).
So when his death is coming close, he responds with “For this purpose I have come to this hour” (ch12 v27) and “Shall I not drink the cup which
the Father has given me?” (ch18 v11).
We learn from Paul that the obedience of Christ came in two stages.
As the pre-existent Son, he expressed his obedience to the Father by allowing himself to become incarnate in human form;
“Though he was in the form of God… he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men”.
Then as the living Jesus, “found in human form”, he expressed his obedience in the same way that John described; “he humbled himself and became
obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Philippians ch2 vv5-8).
Thus his birth and his death were equally acts of obedience, in different ways.
That is the background of the teaching in Hebrews, that the Son “learned obedience” (ch5 v8).
“Learned obedience” does not mean that his previous condition was “disobedience”.
It means that his previous condition was “authority”.
It’s exactly the same point that Paul was making, when he said that Jesus was “in the form of God”, but took upon himself, in becoming man,
“the form of a servant” .
For the writer of Hebrews, the mission of Christ fulfils the declaration made in the Psalms;
“Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired, but a body thou hast prepared for me…
Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God, as it is written of me in the roll of the book” (Hebrews ch10 vv5-7).
I have argued, in the past, that the only kind of offering God ever wanted was the self-offering.
The essence of sin is our failure to offer ourselves to God in obedience, always holding something back.
But this failure is retrieved by the obedience of Christ as described in this passage.
Here the self-offering of Christ comes in two stages, the same two stages that we found in Philippians.
Firstly, the self-offering of the Son to become incarnate in human form.
The writer implies this, when he takes the Septuagint reading of the Psalm, “a body thou hast prepared for me”, rather than the Hebrew “thou
hast given me an open ear”.
In effect, the birth of Christ was his first visible act of obedience.
But “I have come to do thy will” also describes his human existence, up to the moment of his death.
His self-offering to the Father was that he would come to live on earth, speak to the world in his Father’s name, and take anything that came as a
However, the human reaction to this mission meant that taking “anything that comes” would result in his death.
And it must have been known in advance that this would be the case.
It would have been embedded in the foreknowledge of the Son, when he offered himself to be born on earth.
The human mind of Jesus may not have shared this awareness at first, but he clearly knew what to expect after that conversation with Moses and
Therefore acceptance of his Father’s will also entailed acceptance of his own death.
An obedience which fell short of that point would not have been complete.
“He who wills the end also wills the means”.
The self-offering of the Son was made, in full, when he conformed himself to the will of the Father.
The death of Jesus on the Cross was the unavoidable consequence of this obedience.
edit on 21-9-2018 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)