23 Oct 2020

“For you have need of endurance..” (Hebrews 10:36)

The endurance referred to in Hebrews 10 is not the practice advocated by the teaching of stoicism. The stoic championed self-sufficiency and the ability to ‘press on’ with stiff upper lips; stoicism upheld the teaching that it is beneath human dignity to give way to feelings of sorrow, pain, grief, regret or any kind of hurt. It believed that if you regularly act as if you did not feel distress, you will increasingly become the sort of individual who does not feel distress. And stoicism looked up to such a practice as a kind of heroism. In reality, it is a kind of heroism of self-sufficient and self-glorifying pride.

The opposite is seen in the obedient, dependent heroism of Jesus, the perfect Man, who “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” (Hebrews 5:7). Yet He ended His prayer in Gethsemane, facing the reality that He was not to be saved from death, and accepting the Father’s will as the good will which has been agreed upon and accepted by the three Persons in the Trinity long before the beginning of creation.
Accordingly, Jesus, strengthened through His prayer, walked straight to Calvary and the Cross, and “learned obedience” – that is, learned both the practice and cost of obedience “through what He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). He was shamed, mocked, scourged and He died on the cross, in an agony that is beyond the depth of our understanding.

Holy endurance of this Christlike sort is an expression not of pride but of humility; not defiant self-reliance, but of ready obedience; not stiffed-upper-lipped fatalism in an uncaring world but of resolute, though often pained and aching submission to a loving Lord and God. Christ asks us to go through what He went through before, so that we may share His glory and joy in eternity! Resurrection and exaltation come after crucifixion.