The Way of Sorrows

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 5:7-10)

Here we see Jesus— described in terms of his human nature, his divine sonship, and his high priesthood— learning obedience through suffering and achieving salvation for his people. His true humanity is evident in the “loud cries and tears” that marked his prayers in Gethsemane. The Father had affirmed his sonship at his baptism and transfiguration. But the writer has his priesthood especially in view here. For it was as a high priest that Jesus “offered up” prayers and then offered himself to God in the power of the eternal Spirit, without blemish, once and for all, as a sacrifice for sins, to effect the salvation and sanctification of his people (Heb. 7:27; 9:14,28; 10:10– 14)

Every phrase in that last sentence is important: Jesus was a high priest, charged with the responsibilities of both intercession (offering prayers) and sacrifice (offering himself). He discharged these duties in the power of the eternal Spirit— the same Spirit by whom he was miraculously conceived in the virgin’s womb, and the same Spirit who descended upon him when he stood in the muddy waters of the Jordan. Indeed, “the Spirit was the constant companion of the Son,” and he would now strengthen the Son in his greatest work.

But there’s more. Jesus did not simply offer himself, but did so without blemish. His was the perfect sacrifice— the one spotless, acceptable offering. He also offered himself “once and for all,” in a single satisfactory sacrifice, never to be repeated again. He offered himself to God, whose glory and honor was his great aim, whose will was his very meat and drink. And he offered himself as a sacrifice for sins, to effect both expiation (the removal of sins) and propitiation (the appeasing of wrath). His purpose through it all was to save and sanctify his people: to rescue them from wrath and to consecrate them, in and through his own holy sacrifice to God.

Nothing should move us to abhor our sins and adore our Savior’s love more than these meditations on his sorrow in Gethsemane. Jesus’ agony in the garden reveals both the horror that awaited him in the cup and the cross as well as the unfathomable love that kept him treading the lonely Via Dolorosa— the way of sorrows.

From With Jesus: Finding Your Place in the Story of Christ by Brian G. Hedges

Shepherd Press