Author’s Note: This post was intended for a previous day, but did not actually make it out of the draft bin–and I wondered why I had to few hits. So, belatedly, here is the post for the Tenth Day of Lent, belated and with my apologies.
For the Tenth Day of Lent we return to the Epistle to the Hebrews and look at a seemingly obscure piece of the passage, Heb. 5:1-10:
5:1 For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. 3 Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,
“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;
6 as he says also in another place,
“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”
7 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. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
One of the more compelling desires within us as persons is to know that we matter. It is a significant affirmation of our worth and dignity as human beings to have others, especially those deemed to be important, acknowledge us. For many, this drive takes the form of being in the company of famous or important people; if we cannot have any special status of our own we want to be seen in the company of someone does have it–hence the photo ops and autographs we seek, by which to declare to our friends that we do indeed matter.
More important than this, however, is the feeling that we have been listened to. It’s not just our being present with someone who is important, but that the one of importance has extended to us the dignity implied by taking the time to listen to us. It says that our ideas and concerns are significant; it says we might have something to say that is worth hearing. That sense alone is more valuable than having the ideas themselves accepted.
I think this idea comes into our approach to prayer as well–we want to know that God is truly listening. And the measure of whether or not He is listening cannot be dependent upon things turning out the way we have desired. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in the experience of our Lord himself. Recounting the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, our text says the Jesus “offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death”–and that he was heard. In spite of the fact that the Father did not spare Jesus the horrific pain and suffering of the cross for which Jesus begged, he was heard. Not only so, but he was heard, not spared, after coming to precisely the place he was at through being obedient, being prepared for exactly that moment.
Many of us identify with Jesus’ plea for a different outcome from that which appears inevitably before us. May God grant us the faith to believe that we have been prepared through our faithfulness not for escape, but for a greater outcome than the moment can possibly reveal to us. We have been heard.