This is the communion lesson I gave at church this morning.
During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
There at the beginning of verse 9 is a curious phrase - 'once made perfect'.
How is it that Jesus, the Son of God, was made perfect?
Jesus was perfect before he came to Earth and he arrived here perfect, just as all babies are perfect. The Jesus we just celebrated last month, that baby in a manger, started like all other babies - pure, sinless, holy.
But human babies (as opposed to God babies) don't stay perfect. We quickly stray from that path. We sin, at first without knowing better, but eventually we know full well what we're doing. We all become prodigals, and so do our kids. We live our lives our way, convinced that we know what we're doing, though we do not. And we, and our children, prove this every day.
We are in a very real sense being made imperfect.
But Jesus lived the path we could not. When faced with choices to sin, he did not. Through 'prayers and petitions' and 'fervent cries and tears', he learned the obedience we refused to master.
In the process, he was made perfect.
The perfection he had before wasn't chosen or earned, it simply was. He had no opportunity for imperfection. So he had to come, he had to be tempted because it wasn't enough for Him to simply be perfect; in order to become our 'source of eternal salvation', he needed to be made perfect.
That's the real price of our sin - that a sacrifice that was simply perfect wasn't quite sufficient; it had to be made that way through suffering. In a very real sense, he had to earn it in order to offer it to us.
The above was the lesson as I delivered it this morning. A wise brother came to me after and said he liked it, but offered one small correction.
There perfection Jesus had at first was as God, the perfection he had to attain was as a human. It's not that the perfection he had was inadequate as much as it was incomplete.