11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. – 2 Corinthians 5:11-15
How is Jesus perfect? This question is relevant to our salvation because God the Father does expect perfection. He just doesn’t expect it from us. God the Father knows that we are not perfect and that we are sinners. This is why He sends Jesus to us. This is why Jesus keeps God’s law perfectly. This is why Jesus dies on the cross and is resurrected from the dead: because we are not perfect and because we are sinners. So, what does the Bible tell us about the perfection of Jesus and how it applies to us?
The Bible equates Jesus’ perfection with His sinless-ness. If the Prophet Isaiah’s song of the “Suffering Servant” is about Jesus (see 52:13-53:12), then He (Jesus) is sinless, even though He is treated like a sinner: “…he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth” (53:9). Jesus, the sinless Son of God, is “born of the Virgin Mary” (the Second Article of the Apostles’ Creed) in order to take away sins. An angel of the Lord says this to Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). How does Jesus save his people from their sins? Not just by suffering and dying on the cross, but also by keeping God’s law perfectly. An illustration of this is the story of Jesus being tempted by the devil in the wilderness (see Matthew, chapter four). Of course, Jesus cannot sin. Because He is God, He is not able. Because of His divine nature, Jesus has “the inability to sin” and not just “the inability not to sin”, like Adam in the Garden of Eden. This theological belief in the sinless-ness of Jesus, and the importance of it to our salvation, is summarized by the Apostle Paul: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The perfection of Jesus is clearly illustrated in the biblical imagery of Jesus as the sinless sacrifice who brings peace with God to sinful mankind. When Jesus is born, the angels sing to the shepherds: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14). Who are the “men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14)? All those who receive the benefit of Jesus’ sacrificial death. When Jesus rides into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the people shout: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9)! This is a shout of victory from Psalm 118, where the people are thanking God for saving them (see Psalm 118:25-26). In another version of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the people shout: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest” (Luke 19:38)! This version contains the word “peace.” Jesus brings this peace to us as the sinless sacrifice. When Jesus rides into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He is showing Himself to be that sacrifice.
The Bible compares the perfection of Jesus to the sinfulness of others. For example, in the Old and New Testaments, priests and high priests perform sacrifices. The Book of Hebrews compares Jesus to these priests and high priests. These priests and high priests are sinful and, when they offer sacrifices for the sins of the people, they must offer sacrifices for their own sins, too. Not so with Jesus: “Such a high priest meets our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself” (Hebrews 7:26-27). The Bible says that this sacrifice by the sinless Jesus reconciles us to God: “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:18). One of the possible meanings of the word “reconcile” is “to make peace.” This is what Jesus’ sinless sacrifice does for us. This is what the perfection of Jesus means to us: peace with God.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:16-21