"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous" (Romans 5:19).
Certainly the focal point of all history and the climax of Christ's earthly ministry was His sacrificial death on the cross. Christ knew from ages past what was in store for Him, and yet He was "obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8).
However, as we see in our text, Christ's obedience included more than His death, for He was perfectly obedient throughout His entire life. Indeed, it is a good thing, for any act of disobedience would have invalidated His sacrificial death. Animal sacrifices in the Old Testament (which prefigured the final sacrifice of Christ) had to be "without blemish" (Leviticus 22:19). But even a perfect animal was not enough (Hebrews 10:4) to satisfy God's justice and take away sins. "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things. . . . But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:18-19).
Christ's obedience, therefore, consisted not only of His obedience in death, but in His entire earthly life—from His incarnation, "I come . . . to do thy will, O God" (Hebrews 10:7)—to His childhood, "[Know] ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49)—to His healing and teaching ministry among the people, "I must work the works of Him that sent me" (John 9:4)—to His preparation for death, "nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22:42).
Now, in His obedience, Christ calls us to a life of similar obedience. "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him" (Hebrews 5:8-9). JDM