“Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5:8-9).
This often quoted passage was written about Jesus’ qualifications to serve as high priest over God’s people in this last age of mankind. He had come from heaven, this unique Son of God, and had lived on the earth completely as a human being. He had “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,” Philippians 2:5-8. In this lowly state of being human he “learned” in the sense that he experienced the meaning of obedience to the will of God by becoming the willing sacrifice for the sins of mankind.
The perfection of Jesus relates to “the bringing of a person or thing to the goal fixed by God.” (Vincent’s Word Studies). It was God’s purpose to bring Jesus to this point of complete obedience to his eternal will. That included his death on the cross, making him the source of salvation to all who believe in him. This obedience also qualified him to be our high priest, standing as our intercessor with God, representing our interests in heaven.
The perfection of Jesus is suggestive of much more about him than just his qualification as high priest. There are many ways in which he was/is perfect.
He was perfect in life in that he had no sin. Being sinless, he is our example – our model.
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:21-23).
How can he be our example in sinlessness? How can we as human beings live up to the standard he set? After all, he was God, wasn’t he?
We must remember that he overcame sin by the same means available to you and me. He did not use his divine nature to overcome. There would have been no temptation had he used divine ability to do so.
“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” (James 1:13).
In repulsing the advances of Satan in his temptation in the wilderness he used the word of God as the power to do so. “It is written” he responded to the temper. (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). He didn’t yield to temptation. We don’t have to yield. We are expected to use the same means to resist temptations and trials that come to us today. If we use the means God has provided we will not sin. God does provide the means of escape from temptation.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Jesus was also perfectly obedient to the Father.
“And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8).
His obedience went to the ultimate extreme. He left heaven, emptied himself – as someone has said of all but love – and became the obedient servant of God and of man. Through his obedience he procured salvation for all who obey him. He also became the supreme example of obedience for you and me.
Jesus not only led a perfectly sinless, perfectly obedient life, he did so by his perfect faithfulness. Because he remains faithful – we can continually trust in him knowing he will never deny God nor go back on his word.
“The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:11-13).
When he promised, “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20), we can rest assured that he will be with us. When he says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5), we can take that to the bank! And because he is faithful we can be faithful. We can be like him. We may never achieve the perfect faithfulness which characterizes him, but we can share in it insofar as we become like him. We can and must grow in our own faithfulness. But even though we may be unfaithful, he will remain faithful – he cannot deny himself.
Not only is Jesus perfect, he is also the perfecter of our faith. That which we are to believe for salvation has come from him and through him.
It is he whom we are to trust for our salvation.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
“Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Hebrews 12:1-3).
We are not required to believe in some supposed latter day prophet nor in anyone’s church organization, creed or dogma. The only thing anyone was ever asked to believe is that Jesus is the Son of God. Peter preached Christ crucified, buried, resurrected and exalted on the day of Pentecost and 3,000 people responded in faith in Christ. In the 8th chapter of Acts Philip preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ and the Samaritans believed and were baptized – even Simon the sorcerer. He told the Ethiopian nobleman the good news about Jesus, who in response to hearing this was baptized as well.
It is Jesus, who through his perfect life and perfect sacrifice saves us from our sins. But for him to be able to do that we must have a complete trust in him that he is who he said he is and that he did what he said he would do. When we have this kind of faith/trust we will strive to obey him with as perfect an obedience as possible.
Do you believe in him? Have you obeyed him? If not, why wait any longer? Let this perfect Jesus be the Lord of your life.