It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. (Hebrews 2:10)
Perhaps it seems odd to you to think about Jesus (referred to in the verse above as “the pioneer of their salvation”) as being made perfect through sufferings. Because we often think of Jesus as perfect already, why would the author see Jesus being made perfect in the process of suffering at the hands of sinners?
But life is by nature fragile and suffering comes with the territory. You want to avoid suffering then this is not the world for you. We are all vulnerable and fragile. We generally hope to stay above the fray and not find ourselves stuck in the midst of suffering. But it comes to each of us in our own ways – we hope not too often but we can’t be sure since life brings what it brings sometimes.
What the author of Hebrews knows is that perfection as a concept is not the same as perfection in reality. It is one thing to say “I am perfect.” It is quite another thing to actually be perfect.
Of course, none of us are perfect and we are tested most when we find ourselves struggling. How we process adversity and how we handle our pain helps us see ourselves in our most stark form. Anger, frustration, blame, shame and guilt all pile up on top of one another. We can erupt and lash out. We can retreat and hide. But either of those simply options serve to demonstrate that we are less than God’s desire for us.
When Jesus comes and faces suffering he discovers for himself whether the claims God has made about God’s nature stand the test of reality. Jesus’ willingness to submit to human sin and his willingness to be exposed to humiliation, pain and death show God and us that this is real – God’s perfect love can stand the test and we are loved unconditionally. God in Christ does not shrink from who he is – he demonstrates it and we see that God is more than a concept. God is a living and loving God.
The Bible does not see the perfection of Jesus as a moral category or even an emotional one where Jesus doesn’t get angry or sad or whatever. The Bible sees perfection defined in terms of costly and persistent love. Can God love in the midst of imperfection – and can we?
What Jesus shows us in his suffering also reminds us of who we are to be in the process of becoming. May our own struggles not diminish us, but be opportunities for us to love one another in the midst of the issues we face in life.