Faith & Insight: Once made perfect
Concerning Jesus, the author of Hebrews wrote, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”
The author isn’t suggesting Jesus was ever imperfect or the sinless one had ever sinned. There’s more to the meaning of perfect than meets the eye.
The Greek word usually translated “perfect” can mean complete, whole and mature. In the film, “Remember The Titans,” Julius reminds his teammates, who find themselves down at halftime in the championship game, “this team is perfect.” He challenged his teammates to walk off the field after the game as a perfect team and complete a perfect season. They did.
In 1956, Don Larsen pitched a perfect game in the World Series for the New York Yankees. It became a perfect game only after the 27th consecutive out had been recorded.
It wasn’t that the Titans were imperfect before the final victory. It wasn’t that Don Larsen was imperfect before the final out. However, the Titans’ final victory had to be won and Don Larsen’s final opponent had to be retired and then their efforts could be stamped “perfect.”
So, it was for Jesus, who came to give his life as a ransom for many. Until his death on the cross, his redeeming work was incomplete, imperfect, but from the cross he cried out, “It is finished,” and, “Into thy hands I commit my spirit!” His work was now complete, perfect. He finished what he set out to do.
Too often, as Christians, we consider perfection as abstaining from certain things — acts committed in violation of God’s word. Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
James reminds his readers if one knows the right thing to do and doesn’t do it, it’s sin. In other words, sin involves acts of omission, too.
It has been said Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven. In one sense, they’re perfect — cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God and clothed with Christ and his righteousness.
Like Paul, I’m confident God who begins a good work in us, will complete it. We fix our eyes upon Jesus and follow him. One day we will be like him and every day we will be a bit more like him. Search God’s word. Find his will for your life and live it. Grow up in Christ. Fight the good fight. Run the race with endurance. Honor God and love your fellow man. Like Christ, finish the course a winner. Perfect!
Ken Haskins is pastor of First Christian Church in Carson City.