Authority: Obedience to Death


In summing up Jesus’ present authority, the author of Hebrews cites Psalm 8:4-6, showing that he understands is that the original promise of dominion given to humankind through Adam has been fulfilled through Christ (Heb 2:5-9).

Elsewhere the author expounds the role of Christ as heavenly high priest by accentuating his humanity, “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/godly fear. 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 ESV).


When we see Jesus agonising in Gethsemane, “And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”” (Mark 14:36 ESV), we must not think that it is a fear of human consequences that is challenging his obedience, but fear of the awesome wrath of God signified by “the cup” (Ps 75:8; Isa 51:17, 22 etc.) which he must drink on the cross.

Christ’s authority can only reach perfection through a unique measure of suffering.

The knowing submission of Sonship itself must be sacrificed on the cross if Jesus is to be one with the Father as an obedient human being,

This was Christ’s reply to those who did not understand that he was sent by the Father; “So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”” (John 8:28-29 ESV).

The “lifting up” of the cross, especially in the theology of John, is the site of Jesus’ glorification (John 3:14; John 12:31-34; John 13:31-32; John 17:1). This will happen in a manner that is an absolute paradox to normal human ways of thinking, “For Jews demand [the authority of] signs and Greeks seek [the authority of] wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:22-25 ESV).

The absolute intensification of the authority of the indwelling of the Father can only come through the emptiness of the cross.

The horrible cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Mark 15:34) means that Jesus experiences Fatherlessness, and in experiencing such God-forsakenness is stripped of all sense of his authority as a Son.

In taking upon himself the sins of the world he loses all  sense of the divine indwelling (John 1:29; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:24).

Since “Guilt is absolute impotence with God.”  (P.T.Forsyth) Christ’s consciousness experiences total helplessness on the cross.

He is wholly emptied of all awareness of anything that is good in humanity; in “the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom 8:3) he has “become sin” (2 Cor 5:21).

This is the cost of carrying God’s wrath upon the sin of the world. The purpose of such emptying however is fullness.

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