He learned obedience through what he suffered. (Heb. 5:8)
The suffering of Christ was not limited to the hours He hung on the cross. It actually began at His incarnation when He laid aside His divine glory and assumed a human nature subject to the same physical weaknesses and infirmities we are exposed to.
He was born into a poor family in a nation under the heel of a foreign empire. His first crib was an animal’s feed trough. During His three years of public ministry, His brothers did not believe in Him and on at least one occasion mocked Him (John 7:1-5). He was misunderstood, criticized, and harassed by the Jewish religious leaders. In the words of Isaiah, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3, NIV).
In Galatians 6:7, Paul stated a universal moral principle: A man reaps what he sows Sin has consequences, both spiritual and temporal. Jesus, in a sense, reaped what we have sown. His entire life was one of suffering obedience and obedient suffering. Of course, His suffering reached its climax on the cross, but even there we see His perfect obedience when he prayed the night before: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39, NIV).
Jesus actively obeyed even in His death, when He “offered himself without blemish to God” (Hebrews 9:14), functioning as both high priest and sacrifice. Further, even before His death He said, “I lay down my life for the sheep…. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:15, 18). In that sense Jesus obeyed as actively on the cross as He had throughout His life.