7 who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
Not only does Christ hold the office of priest but He qualified in other areas for the priesthood as well. He was especially able to empathize with others who go through trial. He was no stranger to trial Himself. The experience of verses 5 and 6 served as the validation for Christ’s suffering as a human being.
who, in the days of His flesh [humanity],
Christ existed before and after His earthly life. “Flesh” here means the human nature of Jesus.
when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears
Jesus expressed vehement cries and tears at Gethsemane about the cross and at the cross. Jesus’ anguish related to His personal resurrection after death.
to Him [the Father] who was able to save Him from death,
Our Lord was saved from death in that He was raised from the dead. His prayer was not that He would be saved from physical death but that He would be delivered out of death—that He would be raised from the dead.
and was heard because of His godly fear,
The Father accepted Christ’s cries and tears because they were presented with “godly fear” or reverent submission. Our Lord’s prayers were heard because He submitted Himself to the Father’s will.
though He was a Son,
Christ’s relationship to the Father as Son did not preclude Him from suffering as a man. This harks back to verse 5, where Psalm 2:7 was quoted. Christ possessed every requirement, both divine and human, for the priesthood. As a human He learned “obedience.”
yet He learned obedience
Obedience is the subjection of one will to another; it accepts the desire of another person. Jesus completely fulfilled the Father’s will during His humanity. In doing so He learned something; He learned how to obey the Father under duress. This was strictly in His humanity, not in His deity.
by the things which He suffered.
The word “by” indicates the means by which Jesus learned obedience. He grew in obedience by extensive suffering. He did not passively suffer; He obediently suffered.
Jesus had to suffer with men in order to suffer for them.
The Father did not exempt Jesus from trial. He needed to learn human empathy through suffering. The incarnation gave the infinitely perfect Son the experiential knowledge necessary to identify with the believer. He fully knew the human condition by His experience as a human being. He learned obedience from what He suffered.
Jesus learned obedience that He might support those who are tempted (He 2:18). He was a compassionate and empathizing High Priest. He was a person who experienced humanity in the true sense of the word.