"In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering." Hebrews 2:10
All suffering is a mystery, especially that of the "sons of God." Why should the Omnipotent Ruler allow His children to endure so many trials? Gethsemane replies. Even the well-beloved Son of God, free from all sin, needed to be perfected for His work and triumph by the discipline of sorrow. It is less a mystery that we sinners should also suffer.
It was a "stumbling-block" to the Jews that the Messiah was despised and crucified. After the first exultation caused by the Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost; the humiliation of their Lord in His suffering humanity was a difficulty to many disciples, and a hindrance in winning converts. The argument of the writer to the Hebrews is that, although God had power to prevent such suffering, He not only allowed but ordained it, in order that the Christ might thus be fully qualified both to perform effectually His great work and to attain fully the higher glory the grief would win.
The gracious purpose of God is to bring "many sons to glory" by the agency of His Son, who is represented as the "Captain" or the "Author" of their salvation. He secures it by sacrificing Himself as the "Propitiation for the sins of the whole world;" by His High Priestly sympathy and intercession; by His perfected glory. It is essential that He be completely fitted in His Divine Humanity for the mission He undertook. As God He was always perfect. As man He was ever "holy, harmless, undefiled." But as regarded His office He needed to be qualified.
Thus the word here rendered "to make perfect" is frequently employed. "Though He were a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered; and having been made perfect, He became the Author of eternal salvation" (Heb. 5:8, 9), "completed, brought to His goal of learning and suffering" (Alford). "Solid food is for full-grown men" (that is, "perfect," Heb. 5:14, Marg. R.V.) completed, mature manhood, in contrast to childhood. "If there was perfection through the Levitical priesthood, what further need was there that another priest should arise after the order of Melchisedek? For the law made nothing perfect" (Heb. 7:11, 19). The legal system was incomplete. The Messiah was to be the fully qualified and perfected High Priest of the Church. "Gifts and sacrifices cannot, as touching the conscience, make the worshiper perfect—but Christ, through His own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption." By suffering death He was perfected in qualification.
Saints of old had not their condition in glory completed apart from the completed gospel. "They received not the promise (that is, its fulfillment), God having provided some better thing concerning us, that, apart from us, they should not be made perfect," that is, in relation, not to character but condition (Heb. 11:40). "Though they had already obtained so good a name through faith, they had nevertheless still to wait for something better. . . . The final blessing made known by the Gospel has become the joy of all the patriarchs in the heavenly world." (Delitzsch.) "You are come to the spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb. 12:23). Incomplete while in the flesh, their spirits have now entered on the fullness of the glory ordained until the Resurrection. In this sense, Christ was to be "made perfect through sufferings"; that is, fully qualified for His office. (Heb. 5:9, 14; 7:11, 12, 28 10:14; 11:40; 12:23.)
It "was fitting that" God that this completeness should be attained through suffering. It was not derogatory to His character or inconsistent with His purpose, but befitting the whole system of redemption, a reasonable and unavoidable sequence from the facts. If God brought many sons to share Christ's glory, it was fitting that their Leader should share their sufferings on the way to it, and so become perfect as their Savior. "In order to raise humanity from the depths of misery, in which it is so unlike its ultimate destination, to the heights of glory for which it is destined, God must first lead up His only Son to glory through deeps of human suffering, that thus by Him, the Son made perfect through suffering, He might make of us also, glorious sons of God. This is what was God-befitting in the work of salvation." (Delitzsch.)
It was not weakness, but wisdom, which ordained those sufferings. It "was fitting that God," as Ruler, that law should be honored—it "was fitting that God," as Father, that love should be manifested; it "was fitting for God," in bringing many sons to glory, to provide for them a Ransom, an Example, a Sympathizer; it was fitting for Him to bring their Captain to glory by the same path along which they must necessarily walk. Thus suffering was needed for atonement, for example, for sympathy, for High Priestly efficacy. "In all things it was fitting for Him to be made like unto His brethren, for in that He Himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to support those who are tempted" (Heb. 2:17, 18).
Suffering was also needed for His perfected triumph. As Divine Man, He was to be rewarded, exalted, and glorified. His former glory in heaven appertained to Him as Son of God. The glory of humanity could only be His by His becoming Son of Man; and, as Man, suffering was needed for the perfection of glory. Thus we honor patriots, philanthropists, martyrs, in relation to their sufferings. They would not be so honored had they not endured so much. Thus we behold "Jesus, because of the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He should taste death for every man." Because He suffered unto death He was crowned with glory, and because thus crowned He became competent for the salvation of all men, and His sufferings effectual in the case of every sinner who trusts Him. It is as the fully consecrated Priest, the victorious Captain, the King of Glory, that He is able to "save to the uttermost" the sons of God; and it was through suffering He thus became "mighty to save." "He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross. Therefore, also, God highly exalted Him."
Sorrow was the highway to joy. Gethsemane was the portal to Paradise. The cross was the ladder to the crown. He was "made perfect through suffering."
Abundant consolation is here provided for sorrowing sons of God. They may rejoice that He is sole Lord of the universe. There is no superior force to defeat His saving purposes. His control includes "all things," small and great—the daisy and the oak, the pebble and the mountain, the rivulet and the ocean, the glow-worm and the sun, men and angels, the poorest, the youngest, the most unworthy. If Christ suffered, it was not because His Father was unable to prevent it. So He "for whom and by whom are all things" is able to protect all who trust in Him.
There is comfort in the purpose of God. He is "bringing many sons unto glory." He does not adopt them and then forsake them as foundlings. They are new-born as heirs of an "inheritance that fades not away." The sonship precedes the glory, and is a pledge of it. They are "sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is the pledge of our inheritance." This promise is not the privilege of a few. God is "bringing many sons unto glory." Not many as opposed to all, but to few. It is provided for all, offered to all, accepted by a multitude "whom no man can number;" for whom "many mansions" are prepared. The purpose of God towards His "many sons" cannot be frustrated by any sufferings which they may endure. Their adoption as "sons," their call to "glory," their being "brought" along the way by their Father, should encourage them in the assurance that no afflictions on the road shall prevent them from reaching their home. "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"
There is comfort in contemplating the "Captain of our salvation." He is "Author" of it, by the sacrifice of Himself; as our Guide He leads us onward towards its full possession; as our Champion He fights for us; as our Commander He directs us what to do; as our ever-present Helper He enables us to say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me;" as our Forerunner He lights up the dark valley, bursts the tomb, and "opens the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers;" as our Intercessor he pleads our cause before the throne of God. How assuring that He, our Captain, has been made competent for this great work, that nothing is lacking in qualification! Our safety is bound up in His. His triumph is a pledge of ours. "Because I live you shall live also."
There is comfort in the fact that He has been made thus "perfect by suffering." Although He did not need suffering to purify from sin, we do. Our faith is more precious than gold, but, like gold, is mixed with dross, and needs the furnace. While thus called to suffer, let us be comforted by looking to Him who is the "Author and Finisher of the Faith," its chief Exemplar. Let us "consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself lest we be weary and faint in our minds." Every step of the painful path has been trodden by Him. The foes who threaten us have been vanquished by Him. Through all the obstacles that threaten to impede us He has forced a passage. As a company of Alpine climbers are attached by a rope to their guide, who shares all their toils and perils, showing and often making the way and always preceding them, so the Captain of our salvation is linked with all His followers, guiding, guarding, sharing. Can the "many sons" complain of the roughness of the road which their Elder Brother had to tread with bleeding feet and weeping eyes? If He, in whom the Father was always "well pleased," suffered, shall not we, who have so often grieved our Father?
If, following Him as our Captain, we must expect the suffering, we may be also sure of the glory. Like Himself, "we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom." The short night of weeping heralds the dawn of endless rejoicing. In suffering pain of body, anguish of heart, spiritual conflict and depression, we must not think it "strange," when not only all the "many sons" share the trial, but even God's well-beloved Son. His Father is our Father. What it "was fitting that Him" to appoint for Jesus we should welcome, rather than resent. "Shall we be gold and not be purified, children and not be chastened, Christians and not suffer," sons of God and not be perfected? Great privileges are linked with great trials. The mountain-summit has an exhilarating atmosphere, and commands extensive views, but can only be reached by contending with difficulties and enduring toil. Shall we not suffer these cheerfully when the mountain is the Mountain of God's Holiness, and the highway to His abode?
Shall we complain of the path which has such ending? Beyond all thought is the full meaning of the word, "An exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Should we pace the path merely with resignation? Should we not "go on our way rejoicing," in company with the many sons whom the Father is "bringing to glory?"
Blessed Lord! who did taste death for everyone, therefore for me, admit me among Your followers. They who receive You have the privilege to become the sons of God. I receive You penitently, gratefully, gladly, as my Savior and Lord! Make me, by Your Spirit, one of the many sons whom God, by You, is bringing to glory. Help me to trust, follow, obey, glorify You. Lead me in any path You see best; and if it be sometimes dark and rough, help me to rejoice that thus I am following You, and that each step leads me nearer to Yourself.
"My God, I thank You who have made