Lesson 4: Humility

For thus says the High and Exalted One, whose home is eternal, whose Name is holy: I dwell in a high and holy place with those who are humbled and broken in spirit, so I can revive the spirit of you who are dejected, revive the heart of you who are contrite.

– Isaiah 57:15 (TIB)

Devotion: Read Hebrews 4:14-5:10. The writer encourages us to remain faithful because Jesus understands our plight and is our mediator with God. He faced the same trials as we do, only without sin. Just as the high priest in the Temple is selected to represent the people before God and seek their forgiveness through animal sacrifices, Jesus is humanity’s high priest appointed by God to offer himself. This leads us to an understanding of Christian submission.

We often think of submission as a negative situation being forced upon someone of lesser standing or strength. But when it arises from humility, submission is a witness to the world. Humility is knowing and accepting our true place before our Creator and choosing to accept God’s authority over us. Far different from submission to earthly powers, yielding to God is a sign of faith and trust. To whom are you forced to submit? Do you think of submission to God as a positive or negative? Is there a link between spiritual maturity and readiness to submit to God?  

Personal Worship Option: Read Psalm 22. Jesus offered up “prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears” (Hebrews 5:7); so should we. Spend time in prayer, seeking to be completely honest about your life, fears, enemies, suffering, and longings.

Dig A Little Deeper:

4:14 Jesus is the fulfillment of the Levitical priesthood. Unlike others priests who fill that role until death, resurrection allows Jesus to continue interceding for us in the presence of God.

4:15 Jesus’ sinless life can make him seem unapproachable. The writer celebrates Jesus’ empathy for humanity, encouraging us to pray confidently. Mercy and grace are available to us. Are you pleased with your prayer life? Which do you need more: instruction or commitment?

5:5 Jesus did not seize the title of high priest. Like other priests, God selected and named him a priest. Psalm 2:7 and Psalm 110:4 are cited as evidence of his selection.

5:6 Psalm 110 answers another question about Jesus’ priesthood. As a member of the tribe of Judah, he cannot be part of the Levitical priesthood. The writer addresses this issue by tying Jesus to Melchizedek (Gen 14:17-24), a priest also not part of the tribe of Levi.

5:7 This passage refers to either Jesus’ general prayer life or to his specific prayer in the garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:36-39).

5:8 “He learned obedience” means Jesus could only demonstrate his full submission to God’s call by being placed in a position where that obedience was fully challenged.

5:9 “Perfect” may cause some to wonder if Jesus is sinful at some point, but nothing in Hebrews suggests that meaning (4:15). Most likely, “having been made perfect” means 1) “after his flawless act of submission on the cross” or 2) “after completing his calling with perfect obedience.” Either interpretation works with the next phrase, which suggests Jesus becomes an eternal source of salvation. Perfection is a term the writer uses to refer to heaven or heavenly attainment. (6:1, 7:11)

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