Truly Saved (2): How Jesus Was Made Perfect
Intro – A lecturer named Emily Kimbrough was once being introduced when a loud hissing sound came from off-stage. The MC excused herself to speak to a maintenance man beckoning from the side. She returned to announce, “Before we continue with the program I have some unhappy news. We will be delayed for a bit because there is a screw loose in our speaker.” Some of you may feel that way every Sunday! It’s for sure the disciples did in this case.
Luke has recorded Jesus’ claims to be Messiah and the confirmation of that fact by fulfilled prophecies and miracles spectacular in content and quantity. The disciples are beginning to get it as reflected in Lu 9:20, “Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” They implications are not all clear yet, but they get that He is Messiah and that He is even more – the “Son of the Living God” (Mt 16:16).
But while they are getting who He is, they do not understand what that means – altho they think they do! They’ve got the right phrase – Messiah, Son of the Living God – but the wrong definition – immediate deliverer. They are steeped in the Jewish tradition which totally ignored OT passages about the suffering Messiah and concentrated all its hope on Messiah as deliverer. So when Jesus says to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven”; “Bingo, Peter. That’s exactly who I am,” the apostles were riding high. The only question they had was, “When? When do we take over?”
They are expecting revolution; they get: V. 21, “And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” They’re thinking, “Our speaker’s got a screw loose? Messiahs don’t talk like this!” They couldn’t have been more surprised had He said, “Now that you get that I’m Messiah, let’s go out and commit mass suicide.” Messiah being killed didn’t compute.
Mt 16:22 says Peter rebuked Him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you. 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Perhaps the strongest rebuke to a Xn in the Bible. “Peter, you’re Satan in fisherman’s clothing! Get out of my presence. You’re nothing but a hindrance. Stand aside!” Strong language. And as a side note, notice how quickly Peter went from being commended by Jesus because of information he had that came from the Father, to being rebuked by Christ in strongest terms as being the tool of Satan. It can happen that fast, Beloved. That’s why Paul instructs in Eph 5:18, “Keep on being filled (controlled) by the HS” – keep on, all the time. Failure happens fast!
Now, let’s admit, this announcement by Jesus is a shock. It’s been hinted at. Simeon had told Mary, “and a sword will pierce through your own soul also” (Lu 2:35). But that is a veiled comment, probably unknown to the apostles. Jesus told them in 5:35, “The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” They would never have read the cross into that. But now, Mark says, “he said this plainly” (Mark 8:32). “I’m gonna die”. No more ambiguity. From here on, Jesus hammers the point home relentlessly. Matt 16:21, “21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” Jesus warned them, but it just didn’t compute. I mean, put yourself in these guys’ shoes for a moment. They’ve given up everything to follow Jesus – home, livelihood, everything and now He’s announcing that He’s going to Jerusalem to die! You probably wouldn’t be thrilled either.
And there is more strangeness in v. 21. Peter’s confessed Him as “the Christ of God” much to Jesus’ satisfaction. Yet in v. 21, “he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one.” Why tell no one? You’d think He would want everybody to know! Yet Jesus often forbids people to talk about Him. After raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead, “he charged them to tell no one what had happened” (Lu 8:56). After healing a leper “he charged him to tell no one” (Lu 5:14). After healing a deaf man, “Jesus charged them to tell no one” (Mark 7:36). Don’t tell. Why not tell?! The key is Mt 17:9. After the transfiguration Jesus told Peter, James and John, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” After that, tell everyone! The message is not healing; the message is not free food; the message is not simply that Jesus is the Messiah. The message is the cross and the resurrection. After that you go into the world and you tell everybody. But everything hinges on the cross and the empty tomb. In Lu 9 He’s saying, “Don’t tell that I’m Messiah bc I have to die and be raised first. That is the story. That is the gospel. Meantime, I don’t want people getting all excited about healings and deliverance from Rome. That’s not why I came. I came to seek and save the lost – to address man’s biggest problem man has, which is not physical impairment of domination by Rome. It is the guilt caused by sin. That’s what I’m after. That requires the cross and the resurrection. After that, tell everyone! That’s the gospel. That’s the good news!
Notice the word “must” (22). “The Son of Man must suffer.” “Must” is the Greek δει – it is necessary. Jesus is saying He must go to Jerusalem and suffer. Not maybe He’d have to suffer. Not possibly or probably He’d have to suffer. It was a written in stone necessity! Why? First, it has been prophesied. His death is detailed in Psa 22 and Isa 53 right down to the method – crucifixion. Psa 22:16, “They have pierced my hands and feet,” prophesied hundreds of years before crucifixion was ever utilized. Isa 53:5, “But he was pierced for our transgressions.” God said it; it must happen. Second, it was in the plan of God from before the foundation of the world. Did you know that? Jesus’ death was no tragic accident, no miscalculation of history, no Plan B, no unfortunate result of an out-of-control mob. Peter says, “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world” (I Peter 1:20). It’s a “must.”
But most of all, the death and resurrection of Jesus must happen to pay for sin, right? No death; no forgiveness. No resurrection; no hope. Peter says, “ knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (I Pet 1:18-19). How were we ransomed? By the blood of Christ. No death; no deliverance. Peter didn’t get it at the time, but he got it loud and clear later. True salvation requires Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s foundational. And it costs -- the Father, to the Son and me. To be truly saved – three questions. I. Who is Jesus? II. What did Jesus do? III. What Must I Do?
II. What Did Jesus Do?
“Who is Jesus?” The God-man. God clothed in human flesh. It cost the Father killing His own Son to provide a way that we can be truly saved. But it also cost the Son. Jesus is the King of all kings. But before He gets the crown, He He must go to the cross. We humans write sin off as no big deal. We minimize it. Lies become “spin.” Adultery becomes “an affair” – so cosmopolitan, don’t you think? Bitterness becomes “defending my rights.” Revenge becomes “evening the score.” We celebrate infidelity with infectious Broadway songs like “I Cain’t Say No” from Oklahoma or from Camelot, “The Lusty Month of May” which pays tribute to “going blissfully astray.” Blisfully? Sinning?
But we have been duped. Little or big, sin violates His holy character. It does unseen damage to our own soul. It is sin which is sends Jesus to suffer in Jerusalem. He must go if we are to have any hope. Listen – the moment sin entered the world the change of mankind being redeemed without suffering became extinct. The possibility of paradise without pain died an ignominious death the moment Eve took that first bite. Nothing worthwhile can ever be obtained without a cost attached. So Jesus is going to Jerusalem to pay the price for us to become truly saved. Luke uses 4 infinitives to describe that price – He must suffer, be rejected, be killed and resurrected. Today, the 1st.
A. He suffered
V. 22, “The Son of Man must suffer many things.” Fascinating phraseology. Instead of “I must suffer”, Jesus says, “The Son of Man must suffer.” “Son of Man was His favorite designation for Himself. To us it seems to designate His humanity. However, it is anything but. Jews of Jesus’ time knew immediately He was referring to Daniel 7 where Daniel has an end time vision. Look at Dan 7:13-14: “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days (this is God the Father) and was presented before him. 14) And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” In using that term, Jesus was claiming Dan 7:13 was about Him! He is the One who will have everlasting dominion. He is the One whom all people will serve. That is who He knows Himself to be! Ultimate, absolute power; it is over all and it is forever. That’s who He is. So His statement is startling: “The Son of Man (of absolute dominion) must suffer.” It is incomprehensible, but it is the price that He must pay if He is to free us from sin; and amazingly, He is willing to pay it. He must suffer -- and not just some thing, but many things. When we hear about Jesus suffering, our tendency is, rightfully, to think of the cross. But there were many reasons and many ways that Jesus suffered.
Because of His Holy Character -- Jesus suffered this all His life. John 15: 20) Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.” Jesus was persecuted all His life. Why? Because He was good. That’s all you have to do to be persecuted. Just be good. Try being the only kid in your school who won’t pick on the oddball. Persecution -- for being good. Do such a good job at work that the slackers look bad. Persecution -- for being good. Try saying “No” when the boss wants to cheat on the proposal, or your husband wants to understate taxable income. Or try leaving the group when the stories get a little dicey; you’ll find out about being persecuted for being good. It’s not hard at all.
And Jesus wasn’t just good; He was perfect. Mark 3:21 says His own family thought, “He is out of his mind.” Bro James had one of the toughest jobs in history. Everywhere He goes, Jesus has been there first, and Jesus is perfect. “James, why can’t you be like Jesus?” No wonder we find that awful account in John 7 where Jesus’ brothers, knowing He’s #1 Most Wanted in Judea, say in John 7:3, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” (Please understand, this is not a message of encouragement. They’re priming Him for the hangman’s noose). Why? 5 For not even his brothers believed in him.” You think that didn’t hurt for your own brothers to put you in mortal danger? Jesus heart was torn in two at their hatred – all because He was good.
Because of His Compassion – It had to kill Jesus to see sin tearing lives apart. When Lazarus died, Martha met Him in John 11:33, “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.” V. 35, simply says, “Jesus wept,” this despite knowing He was going to raise Lazarus. Matt 9:36 tells us, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” As He entered Jerusalem for the last time he cried out, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (Mt 23:37). Jesus suffered at human frailty like no other person. And He ultimately suffered in death. We’ll see that next week.
Why all the Suffering? Sure, death hurt, but 33 years of suffering? Why didn’t God just send Him to earth one day, have Him killed the next, and it’s over in a long weekend. Why the suffering? Heb 5:8, “Although he was a son (Son of God), he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” Fascinating, isn’t it? Two reasons for suffering. First, He learned obedience by it. Second, He became perfect through it. Are you in shock?
How could Jesus learn obedience? Had He been disobedient? No, the point is He learned to obey hard things by obeying lesser things first. It was a step-by-step process. How do you learn calculus? Get a course in the first grade and you’re good to go? Of course, not. You work your way up; that’s how Jesus learned obedience. Listen, the only way Jesus obeyed to the cross was by learning obedience through suffering. If you think the cross was easy, look again at Gethsemane. This was no weekend assignment. As a man, Jesus learned obedience by degrees. I learned to trust partners to rappel off cliffs by suffering thru 5 and 10 feet efforts. It was a process to get to 100 foot drops. And so Jesus learned to obey through suffering? It took 30 years of learning to get to cross-level obedience. See? He was never disobedient – but was increasingly obedient to harder and harder things.
Second, He was made perfect thru suffering. Was He imperfect before? No, but neither was He tested. Adam and Eve in Eden were innocent - not perfect. They were untested. Had they passed, they would have gained perfection thru the suffering of saying “NO” to temptation. “Perfect” is from the Greek τελιος which means complete or perfect. It speaks of something that has come successfully through a test. There is no perfection where there’s been no test.
My brother Jon loved model cars. Glued those little plastic models together and painted them. Now I couldn’t care less about model cars. Give me a ball and bat or a basket and I was good to go; model cars did nothing for me. So we go to the toy store. We see all these super cool model cars, and not a soul in sight. Easy pickings. But Jon thinks, “Wow, much as I want that model, I want Jesus more. He would never approve.” So, we walk. Now who is perfect with regard to stealing model cars? Who suffered the temptation, but walked away? Jon did? He was perfected through suffering. Me? I was just an innocent who didn’t care, didn’t suffer, and wasn’t perfected in anything.
Beloved, that’s what Jesus was up to for 33 years. Being perfected through suffering. He felt the pain of turning away, but the process made Him perfect. Why important? That’s what made Him the flawless lamb of God who could take away the sin of the world. Without temptation there is no suffering; without suffering there is no perfection; and without perfection there is no redemption. Now, after 33 years of preparation, He’s going to Jerusalem, to suffer, not to be made perfect, but because He is perfect to pay for our sin.
Conc -- Did Jesus have a screw loose? The disciples thought so. But Jesus knew, the way to the crown is by way of the cross. He knew the truth of Phil 2:8-11: “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Have you bowed the knee to this Son of Man who suffered for you? Are you truly saved by giving Him your heart and soul?
In 1863 a young Welsh mother left home with her baby to visit a neighbor a mile down a narrow roadway. A huge blizzard blew in and she lost her way. A search party found the young mother, dressed only in her undergarments, frozen to death. A frantic search for the baby found him alive and well, wrapped in all his mother’s clothing, hidden away as under a rock as protected from the weather as possible. She gave her life for her boy, and that boy grew up to be David Lloyd George – PM of England during WWI. But Jesus suffered much more to make you a child of God – greater than a PM. Have you accepted Him? Are you truly and thoroughly saved? Let’s pray.