By Reverend Mark Hunnemann
This is a brief reply, as one could easily spend an entire blog answering this question.
“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…” (Hebrews 5:8-9)
Does that imply He was not perfectly obedient early on? No!! What DOES it mean, then?
Though fully God, Jesus is also fully human. He lived a sinless life (Heb. 4:15; 7:26) and was always obedient to the Father. Nevertheless, Jesus acquired knowledge as a normal human would, and He gained experience (in His human nature)by living 33 years as a human being (Luke 2:40, 52), and He came to know experientially what it cost to walk in obedience in the midst of suffering.
In a manner appropriate to each stage of development (physically and psychologically), Jesus was perfect, and He grew in wisdom in His human nature. He was a perfect two year old…perfect four year old…perfect teenager…perfect young adult…and perfect up to His death at approximately 33 years old. He was perfect in ways appropriate for each stage of development as a growing human being.
No doubt, as Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, successive temptations and trials became more difficult to deal with. It was as He obeyed His Father in the face of lifelong temptations that Jesus “learned obedience.”…His human moral ability was strengthened as He grew.
As a child, Jesus did not lack any godly traits, but He was lacking in the full experience of having lived a perfect human life, as man—obeying the Father in everything. It is in this sense, that in His human nature, Jesus “learned obedience.”
Hence, our Lord is experientially aware of the trials and temptations that we experience. Though fully God, Jesus still retains His human nature/body in heaven. So, He is tender and sympathetic to all the struggles you are facing. Look to Him for comfort, as he knows what it is like to suffer as a human. And look to Him as your Savior if you have not already, for there is no other road to heaven, but through Jesus.
Lastly, and remarkably, the lifelong perfect obedience of Jesus provides the basis for eternal salvation. Justification consists of a double transfer. Our sins were transferred to Jesus on the cross, and His 33 years of perfect obedience is transferred to our spiritual bank account. It is the robe of righteousness that surrounds us, and the Father sees Jesus’ perfect life, as He looks at us, due to our union with the life of Christ. How can you look with detachment at such a great salvation? Let us rejoice at such a great Savior and salvation!
Mark Hunnemann is the author of Seeing Ghosts Through God's Eyes: A Worldview Analysis of Earthbound Spirits. It's also available in eBook format.