articlesqa March 30, 2016 a perfect man
Ifeoluwapo Eleyinafe Article by Ifeoluwapo EleyinafeCreator and author of

Let us come back again to our main verse He­brews 5:8-9. Verse 9 be­gins by say­ing that Je­sus be­came a source of eter­nal sal­va­tion through this process of be­ing made per­fect. If Je­sus is not ful­ly hu­man (and even now in Heav­en is still ful­ly hu­man), He could not have been made per­fect. What does it mean then for a man to be made per­fect? What does it mean for Je­sus to be made per­fect? In the next ar­ti­cle we’ll dis­cuss how through this process of per­fec­tion He be­comes the im­pos­si­ble: a man who is (and even now in Heav­en is) the source of Eter­nal sal­va­tion.

Per­fect Na­ture And Per­fect Ac­tion

There are many things that can be said are per­fect about a man or a woman. Per­haps they have a per­fect ap­pear­ance (what­ev­er that is). Per­haps they have a per­fect in­tel­li­gence. Yet the more we talk about this word per­fect, we re­al­ize that we only use it as a su­perla­tive, an ex­ag­ger­a­tion. We use it all the time but only as a wish, as a de­fi­ant de­c­la­ra­tion. If you look close enough, flaws be­gin to man­i­fest in that very thing just de­clared to be per­fect. So for the Bible to say that Je­sus was made per­fect is even more ridicu­lous and im­pos­si­ble. Is the Bible claim­ing that by some process, Je­sus be­came flaw­less?

Well, not quite. Our de­f­i­n­i­tion of per­fect and God’s de­f­i­n­i­tion of per­fect are not the same. We de­fine per­fec­tion as the ab­sence of vis­i­ble flaws. Should flaws ever be re­vealed, we can now say that the ob­ject was im­per­fect. Be­cause of the fall, we can only de­fine per­fec­tion out of a knowl­edge of good and evil (see Cre­ation and Fall, Temp­ta­tion by Bon­ho­ef­fer). 2 Cor 5:21, He­brews 4:15 does re­veal that Je­sus was per­fect be­cause the flaw of sin was not found in Him. Yet this is only one face on the coin of Bib­li­cal per­fec­tion. The oth­er face is re­vealed in Gen­e­sis 17:1. Walk be­fore me and be per­fect. So Bib­li­cal per­fec­tion is de­fined neg­a­tive­ly by the ab­sence of sin but also de­fined pos­i­tive­ly by a walk in time and space be­fore God. One can­not ex­ist with­out the oth­er.

Christ had a per­fect Na­ture. He was not born with Adam as a fa­ther and so He did not in­her­it Adam’s pride­ful op­po­si­tion to God Philip­pi­ans 2:6. Yet as Kierkegaard would say (see The Con­cept of Dread), this was not enough. No mat­ter how you start out, sin en­ters this world the same way faith en­ters this world: by a leap. Sin is a leap away from God. Faith is a leap to­wards God. Start­ing out with a per­fect na­ture is not enough. Adam start­ed out with a per­fect na­ture and he leapt away from God and kept walk­ing away from Him. This is sin. There­fore, a per­fect na­ture is not enough to ful­fill God’s com­mand to Abra­ham. One must also per­form the per­fect move­ment of faith by leap­ing to­wards God and walk­ing in His Pres­ence. This is ex­act­ly what Je­sus did.

Love And Bas­ket­ball

Let us look at this a dif­fer­ent way. Let us as­sume that Michael Jor­dan is the per­fect bas­ket­ball play­er. He had the per­fect body, co­or­di­na­tion, strength, speed and even a per­fect de­sire to play the game. Yet we could not call him a per­fect bas­ket­ball play­er till we ac­tu­al­ly watch him play the game. Even though he has the per­fect na­ture for bas­ket­ball, he still has to go out and play. He still has to win the game by shoot­ing the bas­ket­ball at the right time and in the right way to get the ball into the bas­ket.

Bib­li­cal­ly speak­ing, the only game in life is to walk be­fore God. Je­sus was Per­fect in Na­ture but as we have said be­fore, we live in time and space. Be­cause we are in space, there is a pos­si­bil­i­ty of **not** be­ing in the Pres­ence of God. Be­cause we live in time, there is a pos­si­bil­i­ty of be­gin­ning in His Pres­ence and yet end­ing by walk­ing away from Him. As crea­tures of God, we are all born to walk be­fore God. Yet as chil­dren of Adam, we are born with a de­sire to walk away from God. Je­sus was per­fect then not only be­cause He had the Na­ture which is a per­fect de­sire to walk be­fore God Isa­iah 11:3. He was per­fect be­cause in spite of all the pos­si­bil­i­ties of er­ror in time and space (aka temp­ta­tion), He walked be­fore God and was per­fect.

So to sum­ma­rize, per­fec­tion is the re­la­tion­ship, the union of per­fect na­ture and per­fect ac­tion. A per­fect na­ture de­sires to walk be­fore God and a per­fect ac­tion is the ful­fill­ment of this de­sire. By be­ing born of Adam, we de­sire to rebel against God. Yet we can­not blame Adam for our choice to ac­tu­al­ly walk away from His Pres­ence. Je­sus de­sired to obey God and He also ac­tu­al­ly obeyed the com­mand­ment God spoke to Him while He was still in Abra­ham. “Walk be­fore me and be per­fect.” Je­sus al­ways walked be­fore God and there­fore He also had the sec­ond as­pect nec­es­sary for per­fec­tion: per­fect ac­tion.

The Per­son Of Je­sus

Now what God said to Abra­ham in Gen 17:1 may seem a lit­tle vague. Now maybe we un­der­stand the depth of Abra­ham’s faith be­cause this com­mand was enough for him. Nev­er­the­less God has helped us in the form of the Ten Com­mand­ments. To walk be­fore God and be per­fect is to obey the Ten Com­mand­ments. Je­sus per­formed these Com­mand­ments from God per­fect­ly. Not only did He per­form them, He com­plete­ly ful­filled them Matthew 5:17. The Phar­isees and Sad­ducees that came be­fore Him were only suc­cess­ful in mak­ing the bur­den of sin heav­ier upon the peo­ple Psalms 38:4. But by ful­fill­ing the Law, Je­sus gave His dis­ci­ples a bur­den Matthew 11:28-29 that gives rest. We know this preach­ing as the Ser­mon on the Mount (Matthew 5-Matthew 7).

What then are the com­po­nents of the law? Rough­ly speak­ing, The Ten Com­mand­ments de­fine the bound­aries of Eden. That is, these com­mands de­fine and make right an in­di­vid­ual’s re­la­tion­ship with God and an in­di­vid­ual’s re­la­tion­ship with oth­er peo­ple. When these re­la­tion­ships are uni­fied, we have some­thing called a per­son. Yes yes, I know. Maybe you have a sud­den urge to reread the para­graph from the be­gin­ning cause you’re won­der­ing what I just said. You may have nev­er head this be­fore and I could be hi­jack­ing a word for my own pur­pos­es but it makes sense to me. So I’ll say it again. You can­not de­fine a per­son di­rect­ly (just try it for your­self). A per­son is the in­ter­sec­tion (think Venn Di­a­gram) of his re­la­tion­ship with God and his re­la­tion­ship with oth­er peo­ple. Be­ing a right(eous) per­son is about hav­ing the right re­la­tion­ship with God and hav­ing the right re­la­tion­ship with oth­er peo­ple. To go even fur­ther, you can­not real­ly be your­self when there is an ab­sence or de­fi­cien­cy in ei­ther of these two re­la­tion­ships. There­fore, the Ten Com­mand­ments are not God’s way of re­strain­ing us. They are God’s way of shap­ing us into the per­fect per­sons.

Now Je­sus says some­thing cu­ri­ous in John 9:4 which is con­sis­tent with what He said in John 4:34. He came do the work that God set be­fore Him. I have just fin­ished say­ing that to walk be­fore God and be per­fect is the same as ful­fill­ing the Ten Com­mand­ments. I also went fur­ther to say the Ten Com­mand­ments are the blue­prints for build­ing a per­fect re­la­tion­ship with God and a per­fect re­la­tion­ship with oth­er peo­ple. In oth­er words, the one who ful­fills God’s Com­mand­ments builds him or her­self into a per­fect per­son. Je­sus came to do the work God set be­fore Him. In time and space, His Work was to be per­fect­ly re­lat­ed to God and per­fect­ly re­lat­ed to oth­er peo­ple. The Work of Je­sus then was to build Him­self into a per­fect per­son Psalms 40:6-8, He­brews 10:5-7. This has (I can’t think of a bet­ter su­perla­tive so I’ll say...) uni­verse-al­ter­ing im­pli­ca­tions which we’ll dis­cuss in the next ar­ti­cle.

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“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” - Colossians 2:3