Hebrews 5:1-10 (NRSV)
Chapter 5Every high priest chosen from among mortals is put in charge of things pertaining to God on their behalf, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Verse 2He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is subject to weakness; Verse 3and because of this he must offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. Verse 4And one does not presume to take this honor, but takes it only when called by God, just as Aaron was. Verse 5So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, "You are my Son, today I have begotten you"; Verse 6as he says also in another place, "You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek." Verse 7In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Verse 8Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; Verse 9and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him,
Verse 10having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
“Obedience” in the United States seems almost to have become a dirty word for much of the 21st Century, particularly during this time of COVID. Our hyper-individualistic culture often chafes at the idea of sacrificing our own personal liberties for the greater good. And yet, we have been forced to remember that our neighbor’s health and safety is often directly linked to our health and safety. As a society we continue to fail to obey our shared social contract, the CDC guidelines, and most importantly, God’s neighbor-loving commandments. The good news is that it is not our obedience that frees us, but Christ’s obedience. Not our perfection, but God’s perfection. This gracious gift pulls us away from the tyranny of our own self-interest and becomes an invitation to find the freedom of obedience to the way of love.
God, we thank you that you obey when we cannot obey. We thank you that you can love when we are unable to love. Drive us away from our selfish desires and move us into a new way of living that is grounded in your liberating presence. Amen.