“In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God…should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.” (Heb. 2:10)
In what sense did Jesus need perfecting? In context, we are not talking about Jesus in some vacuous sense but about the author of salvation bringing many sons to glory. The eternal Word was inadequate as a savior. The eternal Word—not identified with Adam, but only with the Father, not joined to man’s sin, but only to holiness—could not save. He could not mediate a new covenant between God and man when He was only God. A mediator must represent both parties (Gal. 3:20). As eternal Word, Jesus was incomplete, not in Himself, but in relation to the great salvation planned by God. It was only when this Word became flesh and dwelled among us that many sons could be brought to glory. Only a Word able to bleed could atone for sins for “without shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins” (Heb. 9:22). Only a Word able to die could defeat death and “destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). Only a Word “made like his brothers in every way” and able to suffer temptation could become a merciful high priest, “able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:17, 18).
“Perfect” in this verse can also be translated “complete” or “mature.” Christ the eternal Word was self-contained, and was not lacking anything but He was not lacking as a seed is not lacking. We might say that the only thing a seed lacks is growth or fullness. “Unless a seed is falling into the ground and dying, it is remaining by itself, a single seed; but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit” (John 12:24). The eternal Word would have remained by Himself, the only Son of God, if He had not fallen into the earth (incarnation) and died (crucifixion); only by dying could He then, through resurrection, bring many sons to glory (much fruit).