When Wayne and I first married and moved to Alabama, we went to the northern part of the state to cut down the perfect Christmas tree. We had visions of a scene right out of a Hallmark movie. Our first disappointment came when we realized that even the northernmost part of Alabama is too far south for our favorite Christmas tree type: Fraser Fir. Our second disappointment came when we arrived at our house after hours of deliberation and the long ride home. As you can probably guess, the tree was too big for our house. The not-so-perfect tree became even less desirable when we cut off some of the bottom AND some of the top to make it work! While it might be an understatement to say the tree had its weaknesses, we made the best of our situation, added lights and ornaments, and Christmas went on!
In this passage, the author of Hebrews mentions that Jesus was perfected. But what does that mean, since Jesus was never lacking or even in need of a sprucing, like our Christmas tree? We need some clarification. How is it that Jesus, being made perfect, “became the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:9 ESV)?
The author reminds us that Jesus has always been faultless (see Hebrews 4:15, 7:26, and 9:14), so “being made perfect” cannot be in reference to some type of movement from sinfulness to sinlessness. If we read carefully, we can see that “being made perfect” from verse 9 is synonymous to “learned obedience” in verse 8. In His earthly life, Jesus proved Himself obedient when His faith was tested, especially through suffering. In other words, Jesus went from untested obedience into suffering, and He remained sinless in the midst of great tribulation, which proved His obedience. He was proven perfect!
Therefore, we praise Jesus this Advent season and all times of the year, for He is the only one who can endure suffering perfectly, and His is the only name by whom we can be saved. Take a moment to thank Jesus for His faithful obedience to the Father and His grace to provide salvation for us weak sinners in need of a perfect Savior.
Hebrews 5:1-10 (ESV):
1 For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. 3 Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. 4 And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.
5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,
“You are my Son,
today I have begotten you”;
6 as he says also in another place,
“You are a priest forever,
after the order of Melchizedek.”
7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.