Good Grip

Hebrews 5 continues talking about Jesus, our high priest, who sympathizes with our weaknesses.  Other high priests could be compassionate since they were weak like those they ministered to; they also needed sacrifice to repair their relationship with God.

Jesus was not fallen; He wasn’t subject to a nature that is prone to sin.  He was tempted but didn’t sin.  Jesus learned obedience, not through resisting sin and sometimes failing, but through suffering for the weakness and failing of others (Heb. 5:8).

Hebrews 5:7 says Jesus cried out to the one who could save Him from death and was heard “because of His reverence.” The word “reverence” is eulabeia, which more literally means “good holding on,” “good grip,” “well-receiving,” or “holding onto good.”  Jesus was heard because of His good grip.

This, perhaps, evokes Jacob wrestling with God.  Jacob sought the Lord because He feared Esau would kill him.  He wrestled with a man until daybreak, when the man asked Jacob to let him go.  Jacob refused to let go until the man blessed him.  The man blessed him and changed his name to Israel (Gen. 32:28).  Then Jacob realized he wrestled with God and saw Him face to face but was delivered.

Jesus held onto God through the suffering and death of the cross.  God heard Him because of this and raised Him from the dead.  As a result, Jesus was perfected—not in a moral sense but perfected as the source of salvation.  

“Perfected” can be translated “complete” or “mature.” To be the source of salvation, Jesus had to hold to the good of God’s purpose all the way into the grave.  He had to shed blood, without which is no forgiveness (Heb. 9:22).  He had to die in order to destroy the devil and his power of death (Heb. 2:14).  Unless He held to God’s good purpose in these things, Jesus would’ve been incomplete as a source of salvation.

This harkens back to chapter two: “For in bringing many sons to glory, it was entirely appropriate that God…should make the source of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10).  The eternal Son of God is untouched by our weakness; He is untested and can’t sympathize; He can’t suffer, bleed, die, or save us.  Only by sharing our flesh and blood, by sharing in that which can be tempted, bleed, and die, could He be our high priest and save us.

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