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,
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.