Immutability is a technical term I picked up in my doctoral studies that basically means “unchanging” or “unchangeable” which what this verse is about. Jesus Christ does not change. Yet, it is also true that Jesus learned.
In Hebrews 5:8 it is said that Jesus “learned obedience” from what he suffered. In Hebrews 2:10, it is said that Jesus was “made perfect through suffering.” From both we might infer that Jesus changed, from knowledge and experience before suffering to knowing what these things are. Immutable means that something cannot be changed, and yet here is One who seems to be changing before ours eyes.
Ok, before you start getting carried away with fears of Bible contradictions, first let’s consider He context of Hebrews 13:8. There, the author gives the warning about remembering the leaders and teachers of the faith. He says “consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Their Faith was on the finished work of Jesus Christ, whose work and effort is unchanging. The effect of His work is the same for everyone who believes in Him, and so everyone can live a life of of faith because He is the same Lord for all. Ok, that makes sense. But does this mean that the Lord Jesus is immutable, like God?
The fact that Jesus “learned” obedience through suffering doesn’t necessarily mean He changed. From our perspective as human beings, we see Him undergo this change from life to death to life again. We see Him suffering on the cross, following through with the plan designed from the beginning, which He has set out to do since the creation of the world. Nothing actually changed from God’s perspective. Jesus planned to suffer and die at the hands of men since before Adam sinned. That never changed.
What did change was the moment of decision in the garden. While Jesus’s divine nature never wavered, His human nature (which has been undergoing change all his life, from childhood to adulthood) was faced with choices which had the choice to obey or disobey the divine nature. Obedience was learned not in Jesus’ divine nature, which is immutable, but in His human nature. His human nature was tamed by His will to obey His divine nature.
Strangely, it is the same struggle we undergo daily. God equips is with His divine nature through His Holy Spirit, so like Jesus, we can tame our sinful human nature and teach it to obey Divine Will. We too learn obedience just as He did.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Thank the Lord He’s the same Lord today as He was for He Apostles.