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Communion Meditations (2019)

 

Complete

Hebrews 5:8-9

Originally scheduled for May 12

Let me start with an example. Suppose you run a construction business, and you’re in the market for a new truck. You very carefully list all the specifications that this truck must have — engine size, cab room, weight carrying capacity, etc. You search all around at the various dealerships to find the truck that matches your specifications. You finally find one that exactly matches what you’re looking for, and you go down and buy the perfect pickup.

But it’s not complete yet. It’s exactly the right color, but it doesn’t have your company logo on it yet. So you go to an artist to have it applied. Do you see the difference between “complete” and “perfect?” The reason I bring this up is to explain a passage in Hebrews:

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,

(Hebrews 5:8-9)

(other versions translate the word “perfect” as “completed.”)

The verse has often puzzled Bible students. You have to ask the question: how do you make God perfect? Isn’t he that way already? But Jesus is both God and man. And if you understand this word to mean “complete,” you see that the dilemma disappears. Jesus started out with us as a baby, and grew up. He was perfect, as God — but not yet complete as a man. So how was he perfected, or completed, for his tasks?

He was completed by suffering. Isaiah, in chapter 53, describes this quite graphically. The submission of Christ was to the will of his Father — which logically gave rise to the suffering he endured. The terror of the cross was overcome in the garden by submission to the Father.

Let’s look at that. Christ was failed by his closest friends who could not stay awake for an hour while he prayed. And it is very clear that he was deathly afraid of what was about to happen to him. He prayed fervently and frequently that this suffering could be avoided. But I would have you noticed something: as often as Christ prophesied his resurrection from the dead, there is no record whatsoever of his praying for it. As God, he knew about the resurrection. As man, he rightly feared a horrible death. He overcame that fear by his submission to the Father, so that the love of God might be spread to us in the grace of the Cross.

He suffered — for your salvation and mine. As you partake of communion this morning, remember what he went through. Communion is not only a reminder of God’s grace — it is also a reminder of Christ’s suffering.

 

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