I recently was in attendance at a Christian “retreat.” There were, among other things, several different speakers on as many different subjects. During these activities I heard one speaking of having sighed during a trying situation and likened this to an imperfection. I pointed out that Jesus sighed (see Mark 8:12), intimating that I saw nothing wrong with his having sighed. He said “yes, but Jesus was perfect” indicating that Jesus sighed because of their sin while he, the speaker, sighed because of his inconvenience. Another speaker proclaimed, “I’ll never be perfect.”
In view of this, what was I to take away from this Christian gathering? It would seem that I was to believe that Jesus was perfect hence His “sighing” was due to righteous indignation while we are not perfect (never will be) and hence our sighing is due to our imperfection. Our sighing is, in a word, sinful. If I am to accept that then I must retranslate, reinterpret, or just throw my Bible away. While I am throwing my Bible away I should throw reason away also. Somehow I just don’t think I want to do that.
Was Jesus perfect? Yes! When did the earthly Jesus attain this perfection? Was He, the Babe in the manger, perfect? Yes, but he was a perfect baby; not a perfect man. Was the twelve year old Jesus, found asking questions of the doctors in the temple, perfect? Yes he was a perfect boy, but not a perfect man. Then, when Jesus was about to be thirty years old, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. During these forty days He ate nothing and “afterward hungered.” He was then subjected to three temptations of the devil.
During a conversation with a preacher friend, many years ago, he said he believed that what Jesus was doing at this time was “settling His calling.” I have never found any reason to suppose that my friend was wrong. However, I believe there was more. Along with settling His calling He was being finally prepared for the task ahead. The temptations He encountered at this time were similar to the temptations he would encounter from His foes (and friends) during His earthly ministry. Before His temptation He had subjected Himself to water baptism at the hands of John the Baptist, whereupon the Spirit descended upon Him like a dove and a voice came from heaven saying, “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus has now had his ordination (water baptism) served His internship (his temptations in the wilderness) and now He was prepared to begin His ministry and fulfill His calling. Behold the perfect Man!
But Jesus “sighed.” I am now going to declare unto you that Jesus’s sighing was no different than yours or mine. There may be a very thin line between temptation and sinning but there is a difference. The third chapter of Mark tells us that Jesus went into the synagogue and there was a man there with a withered hand. He asked the Pharisees if it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath days. They did not answer Him. We are then told that he “looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts. Theologians (our teachers?) like to tell us that Jesus’s anger wasn’t sin because it was righteous indignation but anger is sin if we are angry because things don’t go to suit us. They make a distinction that does not exist. The scripture writer, the Apostle Paul, tells us to “be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:” Paul finds no fault with our anger but he does instruct us to not let that anger lay there and fester; we are to get it out of our system before we lay our heads on our pillows at night.
When Jesus came down from the mount of transfiguration he was confronted by a man with a lunatic son who had brought his son to the apostles for healing. He told Jesus that they could not cure him. Jesus responded, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.” Any honest person must see that the patience of Jesus was tried; He would have liked to have got out of this world and returned to His heavenly home. Again our beloved theologians want us to believe that the trying of Jesus’ patience was righteous indignation which is different from having your patience tried for being inconvenienced. The problem is that Jesus had his patience tried because He was inconvenienced. Why one is inconvenienced is of no consequence.
What was the cause of Jesus’s sighing? The Pharisees came to Him seeking a sign, “tempting him.” “And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? Verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation.”
Luke tells us that the twelve year old Jesus, “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” I find that that scripture needs no interpretation but means what it says, and says what it means. Jesus grew up and became a perfect man. He knew all human emotions that we know and experience. He was subject to the same temptations as we are. Why was His anger not sin? Was it because He had a just reason for being angry? Did He have a just reason for sighing that made His sighing alright? No! The reason for His anger or His sighing did not justify Him. Rather His perfection came from His control over His anger and the fact that the trying of His patience never caused Him to act irrationally. That is what all that forty days of fasting and those temptations were about. They cemented His control over His humanity.
Jesus grew to be a perfect man. We are instructed to do the same. We were not perfect babies, we were not perfect children, but we are to be perfect babes in Christ and perfect, little children in Christ (See 1st John 2:12-14.), and we are instructed to grow to be perfect men [or women]. We are to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Just how long and how far is this growth to proceed? We are to, “grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” This growth proceeds, “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Achieving this, we will then handle each situation of life just as Jesus would handle it.
Just how important is it for us to achieve this perfection? Well John the Revelator tells us that, “there shall in no wise enter into it [heaven] any thing that defileth.” Human imperfections defile, thus we must be rid of them if we are to enter the celestial city. Perhaps there will be a literal thousand year reign of Christ on earth and just maybe Christians who have not reached spiritual maturity will be able to achieve it then. I don’t know, but this I do know, we can and must achieve it. Thus by His grace I will hunger and thirst after righteousness until I am “filled.”
I will be perfect, by His grace, and you can be sure I am not going to expect God to wave a magic wand to make me that way.
And all the people said, “AMEN!”