Hebrews 2:10 “For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”

The phrase, “perfect through suffering” stands out to me in this verse. Why did Jesus need to be made “perfect” and why did it include “suffering?”

Why Jesus Needed to Be Made “Perfect”

At first it sounds heretical –the idea that “he, for whom and by whom all things exist” could be made any more perfect than he already was. But here we must understand the idea of “perfect.” It is not being used in the sense of moral perfection (Christ had never sinned). Instead, it is another indication that Christ had submitted himself to being a human who grows. Luke 2:52 reminds us that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature.” He came into the world as a baby and grew, just like any other little boy, into a man. So the “perfection” that is being described in Hebrews is a developmental perfection, not a moral perfection. It is the ultimate example of how God has designed humans to grow naturally over time in wisdom and stature (i.e. Character). Another word that could be substituted for “perfection” in this verse is “completion” –as in the completion of maturation.

This really takes the pressure off of me as I am growing. Not every failure or fall is a result of sin –many times it’s just an indication that I’m still growing (picture Bambi taking first steps here…).

Even more, it adds perspective to parenting. Not every glass of grape juice spilled on the carpet or Thomas the Train track left in the doorway to trip over is an act of sinful rebellion. Don’t get me wrong, there is still plenty of sinning going on in my house –Father and Son alike. But, many of the “issues” we deal with are simply a matter of God’s divine plan for humans to grow over the course of time. Christ’s example reveals that learning and growing is not a sinful act.

God uses many elements in our lives to help us grow in wisdom and stature. The greatest influence God provides is parents. For better or worse, children grow up to be like their parents. How many times have you said, “I sound like my mom,” or “That’s something my father would have done.” I’m sure there were times when Jesus said the same thing referring to Mary or Joseph.

Of course there are other factors that influence our growth. Pastors, teachers, friends, experiences, successes and failures all play into the mix. But there is one factor that Hebrews 2:10 points out as the key to Christ’s completion of growth: suffering.

Why Suffering Made Jesus “Perfect”

If only we could see suffering from God’s perspective. What looks like unjust, unwarranted, unsolicited pain to us is actually a beautiful process of sanctification to God. There is no greater peace in the midst of suffering than to know that God is in control and has a purpose. Truly, no suffering in the life of a believer happens in vain.

When you look back on your life, you realize that it is the moments of suffering that tend to build character the most. Images of athletes enduring painful training and farmers enduring the labor of their toil are biblical word-pictures that describe the benefits of suffering.

This all leads me to ask, why did God create a world in which suffering leads to gain? Perhaps it is because, in His creative plan, He desired to give us reminders of the suffering of Christ on the cross. Every time we grow through suffering, it is a small picture of the ultimate suffering in which Christ both became complete and completed the work that makes our growth possible in Him. So it is only fitting, that if Christ suffered to grant us new life, we should expect to suffer as that new life is developed within us. Just consider these verses:

Philippians 1:28, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake”

Romans 8:16-17, The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

So perhaps, the key to suffering is to see it as a gift of God that allows us to identify with Christ’s sufferings. In this way, we rejoice both in Christ’s “perfect,” “complete” work on the cross and the work of growth that Christ is working in us on the road to “perfect,” “completion” in Him!

The next time suffering comes into your family’s life:

1)    Trust God. He has not forgotten you and your suffering is not in vain.

2)    Look to the Cross. Realize that Christ-likeness involves suffering. Anticipate a greater identification with Christ as a result.

3)    Be thankful that God is growing you.

4)    Guide your children to see their suffering in light of the Cross. Like it or not, this will probably not be the last time your children suffer. Why not give them an example of how a Christ-follower can magnify Jesus in the midst of suffering?