Jesus went “on unto perfection” (Heb. 2:10; 5:9; 6:1). We noted before that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2). How did Jesus run the race? Many imagine that Jesus continued to be 100% God on earth and 100% man at the same time. Jesus was God when he was on earth in the sense that he created all things (Col. 1:15-18); however, God has all wisdom. When Jesus was born in the form of man he did not have all wisdom. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52).
Jesus could not have had all wisdom when he was born as a man because he grew in wisdom after he was born physically.
Second, when he came to earth he was no longer in the form of God. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:5-7). Jesus was not 100% God in the sense that he took on the form of man and was no longer equal to God in form.
God cannot be tempted with evil, while Jesus was tempted in all points as we are. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (James 1:13). “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Jesus was not 100% God in that God cannot be tempted but Jesus was tempted in every way.
Jesus was made our high priest because he was able to become like his brethren in all things. “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17). Jesus was made like his brethren in ‘all things.’ He had to be tempted so that he could run the race ahead of us. Like his brethren, Jesus “…learned obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 5:8).
Jesus ran the race ahead of us. He attained perfection in the same pathway God has set out for us.
First, Jesus fulfilled the Father’s purpose by going on unto perfection. The Father was the one who made Jesus perfect. “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10).
Jesus was made perfect by suffering all of the temptations that we must also endure (Heb. 2:18). That was the same way that Jesus learned to obey. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Heb. 5:8). The trying of our faith is our pathway and Jesus “…was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
Jesus did not suffer for us so that we don’t have to suffer. On the contrary, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Pet. 2:21).
Jesus suffered for us so we would know how to run. This is the very mind that with which we are directed to be armed. “For as much then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin” (1 Pet. 4:1). We are to have a mind that is determined to suffer when it is necessary to obey God the way Christ obeyed Him.
Not just any kind of suffering produces spiritual growth. The Lord designated certain kinds of suffering that lead to the perfect man. “For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently?” (1 Pet. 2:20). We do suffer when we are disciplined for doing wrong, but that is not the kind of suffering that causes spiritual growth. “…but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God” (1 Pet. 2:20).
It is only the suffering of Christ that makes us grow, not the suffering of diseases, physical maladies and ailments, etc. Paul testified that his suffering was the suffering of Christ. “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ” (2 Cor. 1:5).
Jesus’ suffering was of a special kind. Peter describes the suffering that comes when one had a froward employer (1 Pet. 2:18-9). Suffering patiently when we deserve it does not help us grow. It is when we do well, and patiently suffer for it, that we can grow. Jesus left us an example that we should follow in his steps. When did Jesus ever suffer for his faults? He never did anything wrong to be worthy to suffer. Thus, when Jesus suffered, he suffered for righteousness sake. This is the kind of suffering that the prophets endured.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you (Matt. 5:10-12).
This is the point that Peter made immediately after he described how we are to walk in Jesus steps. “…Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Pet. 2:22). If he did not sin and never had guile in his mouth, when did he deserve to suffer? He suffered when he did not deserve it.
He knew the pathway and was not pleased that his disciples did not recognize it. “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26).
The prophets of old “…inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Pet. 1:10-11).
Yes, Jesus was made perfect by the things which he suffered through running the same race that is set before each of us (Heb. 2:10, 12:2-3) and is thus set forth as our example to follow (1 Pet. 2:21).
Jesus ran the race ahead of us! He won. Will we?