The answer to this question is not a simple “yes,” or “no.” A religiously motivated person will have no problem instantly shouting “No!” to the question, at the top of his or her lungs. On the other hand, those of us who have actually read the Word and consider it’s teaching, will understand that while Jesus was fully God, He was also fully human. Humans make mistakes. Mistakes are not “sins” in the “I willingly choose to disobey the Father” variety. To come to a Biblical and healthy, as well as not heretical, understanding of this subject, we must consider a couple of things:
- When God calls us to be perfect, what does He mean by that? (Matthew 5:48)
- Is sinning and making mistakes the same thing?
In response to a question on Wm. Paul Young’s Blog, Ulrike Mccullagh wrote the following, in which she emphasized a special point regarding this subject.
“We seem to forget that when Christ set aside his majesty to ‘slip into humanity’ he also left behind what he ‘knew’ and had been involved with before the incarnation. For Jesus to be fully human, he cannot have been like our many versions of Superman or Super heros. He had to cultivate and tap into his relationship with the Father breath by breath, moment by moment and through this receive instruction and insight into the moment, the task at hand and into the future much like the prophets of old and much we ourselves now. I also believe like any good father, Jesus’ Papa would have said on occasion ‘Why don’t you try it out, work out how it fits together, how it works best for you’”
Like us, Jesus also had free will, He could have chosen to follow His own path, and not that of the Father’s, but instead, He denied His own temptations (Hebrews 4:15), and obeyed. But, is this what we are talking about here? That Jesus never made any mistakes of any kind? That He never accidently cut His finger while sawing a board, or cutting some cheese for dinner? That He never stumbled over a rock, or that He never uttered a word which bothered another person? If Jesus truly was tempted as I have been in my own life (which is what Hebrews 4:15 states), then He was TRULLY tempted.
When I consider Matthew 5:48, which calls for us humans to be perfect like God is perfect, I shudder a bit. On the one hand there is nothing, let me emphasize that again, nothing, that I could ever do in my lifetime, under my own power, with the abilities and skills which God Himself has given me, that can in any way possible even by the largest stretch of my imagination (and I have a great imagination), even come close to complying with the demand that I be perfect. Isaiah 64:6 make the point even clearer, when the writer utters the mournful statement, “All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” On the other hand, I also recognize that my “perfection” cannot be based or founded in me, but in Christ the Lord. Hebrews 12:2 answers the question for me about how I could ever even have a slight chance of being “perfect” as the Father is perfect. It is Jesus who will, and does, make me perfect in the eyes of the Father. I can be “perfect” like God through the shed blood of Jesus the Christ on the cross.
The next part of this question must be, “Does being ‘perfect’ like the Father, specifically mean that I must never make even a mistake in my life? I don’t believe that God makes mistakes, but in His Word (the Bible), He said, more than once, that He regretted having done something. Did He make mistakes? Didn’t He know that Lucifer would sin and become Satan? Didn’t He know that Adam would eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which, incidentally, He put into the Garden on purpose, right? Why did He have to ask Cain where his brother Abel was? Didn’t He know? Why did God flood the earth and kill all those humans, didn’t He already know they were going to sin? Why didn’t He stop them? And, there are many more examples in the Bible which seem to question whether God got it right. Did He indeed make some mistakes along the way? Is our existence some experiment of God’s? Is He learning how to get it right? All those things look like mistakes, but even if they were, none of them means that God sinned. Making mistakes is not the same as sinning.
If Jesus never made a human mistake, then He has no knowledge of what it means to be human, and He would be wrong to ask us to follow His ways, because He would know that we struggle complying with that command one hundred percent. If not making mistakes is the example, then I know, without a single doubt, that I will never pass the test, but, if Jesus was all human, just as He is all God, then I can rest assured that the human Jesus blew it sometimes. And, the Bible gives us some indications that this is true.
- John 2:1-12 tells of a story where Jesus’ mom invited him and his friends to a wedding she was attending. When they got there she told Jesus that the wine was running out. I guess she wanted to impress her friends by getting her son to get more wine, even though he was just an invited guest. When she made her request to him, His response began with the word, “Woman.” Instead of the more loving term “mother,” Jesus addressed her like she had no relationship to Himself. His mom must have gotten her feeling hurt.
- In Matthew 21:12-13, we are told of an incident in which Jesus gets angry and overthrew tables, knocked over chairs, and in anger yelled at the people who were in the temple that day.
- In Mark 11:12-14; 20-25, there is a story where Jesus, who was hungry spotted a fig tree in bloom. Knowing that a blooming fig tree would have lots of figs, Jesus went to the tree to get some of the fruit. When He found it had none, He cursed it.
- The politically correct people of today would have a “field day” with some other of our Lords behavior as well. He used epithets regarding the Pharisees, He made judgments about some people around him, He spoke badly of rich people, He told some people they were the children of Satan, and once He called a woman a dog (really!).
As a human, Jesus was fully human He had feelings as we do. He got angry (as we have already seen), but he also cried (John 35:11), and at times He was sad (Luke 19:41). Did He ever laugh? Well if you had to deal with those hard-headed disciples, I am sure you would find many moments of laughter. I am convinced He laughed at Peter lots of times. He used the restroom just like the rest of us (no disrespect intended), He had to take baths, and I believe His breathe sometimes didn’t smell any more fragrantly than ours.
So, with all this evidence from the Bible itself, was Jesus “perfect?’ Well, yes, as fully God, but, as fully man, well … it depends on how you define “perfect.”