[Image: Textures, 2012, JA Van Devender]
10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,
Converging lines are pleasing in images, I think, because the human soul longs for resolution. That's a bit much I suppose, but it is where I am this morning. My thoughts have been occupied over the past few weeks with the subject of Jesus' obedience. Theologians have long pondered the subject but it is one of those points of doctrine that becomes very personal very quickly. Arid over-analysis and endless parsing can breed a certain detachment toward the subject that is the very bane of piety. Yet, at the same time, the more we ponder our Lord and His "work of obedience" the more vistas open to our understanding and the more sparkling diamond points of insight can thrill our soul. When our hearts are warm, what we see are converging lines that focus on His perfection as our Sacrifice, Mediator and Redeemer.
One theologian (John Murray) pondered Jesus' obedience along the converging lines of its: (1) inwardness, - its willing, joyous yielding in delight to doing His Father's will, (2) progressiveness, how he "learned obedience" such that he was "perfected" in the progression of trials that He faced, (3) climax, in the unprecedented testing at Gethsemane and the Cross, and (4) dynamic, how His trials, tempations, deprivations and physical sufferings all melded into one obedient service which was sufficient to bringing many sons to glory.
Those are the converging lines of Jesus' obedience itself... the subjective, immediate, human/divine life He lead. Then there are the converging lines of God's purposes throughout all of the works of creation, fall, calling and sanctifying of a people unto Himself in which our Savior is intimately involved. He was obedient from before creation, in creation, in history, and throughout history, in bringing about all that the Trinitarian counsel undertook to accomplish for Their own glory and the manifestation of Their righteousness and justice. He didn't just "appear" at the proper time, nor was there any random happenings in the progress of history before His advent nor since. He was obedient in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and in the election of Rahab to be His ancestor. He was obedient to the cross that He predestined the hands of Herod, Pontious Pilate, the Gentiles and the people of Israel to do in fulfilling the purpose required in redemption.
This is obedience that stretches our minds to the edge of the chasm of incomprehension. Our obedience is so paltry... we are so quick to make excuses for it, in ourselves and in others. It's only human, we think, to disobey... whether driving our automobiles or maintaining our relations. Obedience, we think in our deepest, most secret place, somehow detracts from our own value, our own place, our own personhood. We think that obedience elevates the one obeyed over ourselves, diminishing us as it exalts the Other. Thus we may agree to obey... we may even enjoy some aspects of it... but underneath it all, obedience rankles and causes us to look for those ways where the obedience we render is peppered with little pockets of "self", of "doing our thing", of giving ourselves just a little room to feel smug.
The perfection of Christ's obedience, facing demands and a test of probation so far beyond anything we ever will encounter, stands in stark contrast to ours. It is the difference between filthy rags and pure holiness. I think it is here, seeing the converging lines of our own failures intersecting with His victorious success, that guards us against over abstraction and academic detachment.
We need all those converging lines to help us even begin to appreciate what He has done and is doing. His obedience continues, perfectly, to uphold, rule and preserve those for whom His perfect obedience is imputed as righteousness. He who was obedient even unto the cross, even unto willing subjection to His Father's wrath at our sin, even unto bearing the hideous weight of our sin in that wrath, will remain obedient to the task of bringing all His sons and daughters Home.
He cannot fail, because He has been perfectly constituted. He will not fail because His is the character of perfect obedience. It is what He delights to do.
He is worthy of worship.