The Spur of Suffering

Those first readers were missing the point of their suffering.

Hebrews 5 (7)

Introduction

Chapter 5 provides a run-up to chapter 6, in which the writer will urge his readers neither to be stalled nor deterred in their obedience to Christ, but to bring their salvation to full maturity by persevering in love and good works. It also introduces a topic that will be more fully fleshed out in chapter 7, that of Melchizedek. The writer’s point in this chapter is to show us that even Jesus had to “learn obedience” through suffering. His faithfulness led to His being appointed an eternal High Priest. We should follow His example, teaching and encouraging one another to greater maturity in the Lord, not cringing, withdrawing, and drifting from our convictions.

Read Psalm 132.

Read and Meditate on Hebrews 5.

Think it through.
1.  The writer reminds his readers that Jesus suffered, and He suffered because He was determined to obey God. If we are reluctant to suffer, or if we’re trying to avoid suffering, are we following in the footsteps of Jesus? Explain. Weak and ignorant people go astray (v. 2), but Jesus understands and meets us at the point of our weakness as our eternal High Priest. How should that encourage us? Suffering helps to perfect our faith (v. 9). How so?

2.  Believers have a responsibility to teach and encourage one another. Can we fulfill this calling if we allow ourselves to drift from Jesus? Or if we’re only ever partaking of the milk of Christian instruction? When we’re feeding regularly on the solid food of God’s Word, we will be more likely to become skilled in using that Word to persevere in our calling as followers of Christ. How will that help us when we’re tempted to avoid suffering for Jesus or to draw back from our commitment to Him? How can we know when we are becoming mature in Christ? 

Meditate.
“But how do our ‘faculties’ become ‘trained’? By continual hearing and by experience of the Scriptures. For when we set forth the error of those heretics and you hear today and tomorrow and prove that it is not right, you have learned the whole, you have known the whole; and even if you should not comprehend today, you will comprehend tomorrow. ‘Who have,’ he says, their ‘faculties trained.’ You see that it is needful to exercise our hearing by divine studies, so that they may not sound strangely. ‘Trained,’ says he, ‘to distinguish,’ that is, to be skilled.” Photius (820-891 AD)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3.16

Keep me grounded in Your Word, Lord Jesus, and when the spur of suffering comes, help me to…

Pray Psalm 132.1-18.
Thank God that He is your resting place, that He is clothing you with His salvation, and that He can give you courage and perseverance in the face of all your enemies.

Psalm 132.1-18 (Finlandia: Be Still, My Soul)
Remember, Lord, we pray, in David’s favor
The hardships he endured, the oath he swore, 
The vow he made to Jacob’s mighty Savior:
“I shall not enter through my palace door; 
I shall not sleep, nor slumber my eyes favor, 
Until I make a dwelling for the Lord!”

The word throughout the chosen nation spread, 
To Ephrata, and in the fields of Jaar:
“Now let us go,” the faithful people said, 
“And worship where our Savior’s dwellings are!
Around His footstool let our worship spread; 
Come, gather to Him, all from near and far!”

Arise, O Lord, come to Your resting place; 
Your holy presence meet with us in might. 
Clothe us with righteousness in Jesus’ grace, 
And we will shout to Your divine delight!
For David’s sake, turn not away Your face, 
But look upon us in Your holy light.

Remember, Lord, the oath You swore to David; 
Do not turn back, do not deny Your Word:
“One of your sons, with your throne I will favor, 
And He shall keep My cov’nant evermore, 
And walk within My testimonies ever, 
Thus He shall ever rule as Israel’s Lord.”

God dwells among us, and He will forever, 
To meet our needs and clothe us with His grace.
He has to us sent Jesus Christ, our Savior, 
And made us His eternal resting-place.
His foes are banished from His presence ever, 
But we shall reign with Him before His face.

T. M Moore

A free PDF download of this week’s study is available by clicking here.

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God’s Covenant, from our online store. The studies in this workbook will show you how the parts of the Bible connect with one another to tell the story of God’s redemption and glory (click here). To learn more about Christ in His exaltation, order the book, The Kingship of Jesus (click here).

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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