If someone gets 100% on an exam, is there still a way he can do even better? Now, I am not talking about extra credit or the silly idea that someone can give you 110%. Is there such a thing as better than perfect, though? Yes, if that perfection extends beyond just himself to others in his class.
There were plenty of times when I was in school that I would have gladly accepted someone else’s exam score, especially if that score were 100%. Of course, that is not how school works. You get the grade you earn on the exam, and if you happen to get 100%, you got a perfect score. Nothing beats that, right? What if something could beat that?
If you knew there was no way you could do well on an exam, let alone get a perfect score, but you were allowed to have someone take the exam for you, how great would that be? Your representative takes your place, and you receive the score he earns. What a deal!
Of course, in a much more significant way, this is what Jesus Christ does for us when we call on His name in repentance and faith. Unlike an exam for which you and I might prepare in school, though, we cannot get a perfect score before the holy God of the universe. Only Jesus can because only He is perfect. He fulfilled the Law of God perfectly when He lived a perfect life and did everything the Father asked of Him.
Not only did Jesus do everything perfectly, though. He is our perfect representative if we place our faith in Him. That is why His perfection is even better than perfect – because His perfection extends to all who turn to Him.
The Old Covenant that God made with His people is not flawed. What He made is already perfect, but the reality is that none of us can hold up our end. None of us can be perfect like we need to be. “But Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry, and to that degree He is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been legally enacted on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6). A better covenant? Better than perfect? How can this be? Well, this is because it is better for us.
The perfect Old Covenant cannot save us from our imperfection, our sin, because God did not design it to do that. Rather, it was simply a “shadow” of what was to come in and through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Our perfect Representative, Jesus, ushered in a covenant that is even better than perfect because this superior New Covenant is better for us. Jesus not only took and perfected the exam; He also took the punishment you and I deserve for failing the exam. The good news of the gospel is that, if we turn away from our sins and trust in Jesus’ sacrifice for our forgiveness and eternal life, God looks at us and sees the perfection of Jesus. It is as if we never sinned, as if we lived a perfect life, as if we were perfect. This is better than perfect because Jesus’ perfection is given to us (if we believe).
On Sunday morning, Lord willing, I will be preaching from Hebrews 8 on how “Jesus Provides the Better Covenant.” Do you trust Jesus alone to make you right with God? Have you embraced the good news of the superior covenant?