5:1-10 The High Priest must be a man, a partaker of our nature. This shows that man had sinned. For God would not suffer sinful man to come to him alone. But every one is welcome to God, that comes to him by this High Priest; and as we value acceptance with God, and pardon, we must apply by faith to this our great High Priest Christ Jesus, who can intercede for those that are out of the way of truth, duty, and happiness; one who has tenderness to lead them back from the by-paths of error, sin, and misery. Those only can expect assistance from God, and acceptance with him, and his presence and blessing on them and their services, that are called of God. This is applied to Christ. In the days of his flesh, Christ made himself subject to death: he hungered: he was a tempted, suffering, dying Jesus. Christ set an example, not only to pray, but to be fervent in prayer. How many dry prayers, how few wetted with tears, do we offer up to God! He was strengthened to support the immense weight of suffering laid upon him. There is no real deliverance from death but to be carried through it. He was raised and exalted, and to him was given the power of saving all sinners to the uttermost, who come unto God through him. Christ has left us an example that we should learn humble obedience to the will of God, by all our afflictions. We need affliction, to teach us submission. His obedience in our nature encourages our attempts to obey, and for us to expect support and comfort under all the temptations and sufferings to which we are exposed. Being made perfect for this great work, he is become the Author of eternal salvation to all that obey him. But are we of that number?
7. in the days of his flesh—(Heb 2:14; 10:20). Heb 5:7-10 state summarily the subject about to be handled more fully in the seventh and eighth chapters.
when he had offered—rather, "in that He offered." His crying and tears were part of the experimental lesson of obedience which He submitted to learn from the Father (when God was qualifying Him for the high priesthood). "Who" is to be construed with "learned obedience" (or rather as Greek, "His obedience"; "the obedience" which we all know about). This all shows that "Christ glorified not Himself to be made an High Priest" (Heb 5:5), but was appointed thereto by the Father.
prayers and supplications—Greek, "both prayers and supplications." In Gethsemane, where He prayed thrice, and on the cross, where He cried, My God, my God … probably repeating inwardly all the twenty-second Psalm. "Prayers" refer to the mind: "supplications" also to the body (namely, the suppliant attitude) (Mt 26:39) [Bengel].
with strong crying and tears—The "tears" are an additional fact here communicated to us by the inspired apostle, not recorded in the Gospels, though implied. Mt 26:37, "sorrowful and very heavy." Mr 14:33; Lu 22:44, "in an agony He prayed more earnestly … His sweat … great drops of blood falling down to the ground." Ps 22:1 ("roaring … cry"), Ps 22:2, 19, 21, 24; 69:3, 10, "I wept."
able to save him from death—Mr 14:36, "All things are possible unto Thee" (Joh 12:27). His cry showed His entire participation of man's infirmity: His reference of His wish to the will of God, His sinless faith and obedience.
heard in that he feared—There is no intimation in the twenty-second Psalm, or the Gospels that Christ prayed to be saved from the mere act of dying. What He feared was the hiding of the Father's countenance. His holy filial love must rightly have shrunk from this strange and bitterest of trials without the imputation of impatience. To have been passively content at the approach of such a cloud would have been, not faith, but sin. The cup of death He prayed to be freed from was, not corporal, but spiritual death, that is, the (temporary) separation of His human soul from the light of God's countenance. His prayer was "heard" in His Father's strengthening Him so as to hold fast His unwavering faith under the trial (My God, my God, was still His filial cry under it, still claiming God as His, though God hid His face), and soon removing it in answer to His cry during the darkness on the cross, "My God, my God," &c. But see below a further explanation of how He was heard. The Greek literally, is, "Was heard from His fear," that is, so as to be saved from His fear. Compare Ps 22:21, which well accords with this, "Save me from the lion's mouth (His prayer): thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns." Or what better accords with the strict meaning of the Greek noun, "in consequence of His REVERENTIAL FEAR," that is, in that He shrank from the horrors of separation from the bright presence of the Father, yet was reverentially cautious by no thought or word of impatience to give way to a shadow of distrust or want of perfect filial love. In the same sense Heb 12:28 uses the noun, and Heb 11:7 the verb. Alford somewhat similarly translates, "By reason of His reverent submission." I prefer "reverent fear." The word in derivation means the cautious handling of some precious, yet delicate vessel, which with ruder handling might easily be broken [Trench]. This fully agrees with Jesus' spirit, "If it be possible … nevertheless not My will, but Thy will be done"; and with the context, Heb 5:5, "Glorified not Himself to be made an High Priest," implying reverent fear: wherein it appears He had the requisite for the office specified Heb 5:4, "No man taketh this honor unto himself." Alford well says, What is true in the Christian's life, that what we ask from God, though He may not grant in the form we wish, yet He grants in His own, and that a better form, does not hold good in Christ's case; for Christ's real prayer, "not My will, but Thine be done," in consistency with His reverent fear towards the Father, was granted in the very form in which it was expressed, not in another.