HEBREWS, Part 4

The One True Man, 2:10—18

The teacher so far in his letter to the Hebrews, has given two reasons for the Incarnation. First, the Son of God became the Son of Man in order to restore man’s original purpose as the ruler of his domain. The first Adam failed in this purpose, and therefore no human being since has been able to fulfil Genesis 1:26—

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

When Jesus came as the Second Adam, He did not sin; He succeeded where the first Adam failed, therefore, in time, God’s original purpose for man will be restored.

The second reason for the Incarnation was so that the Savior could taste death one time for all men. Jesus would die the kind of death reserved for all sinners so that redeemed sinners would never have to experience it.

The third reason for the Incarnation is given in verses 10—13: He came so that He might bring many sons to glory.

1. Jesus and His family, 2:10—13

In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says,

I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the assembly I will sing your praises.”

And again, I will put my trust in him.”

And again he says, Here am I, and the children God has given me.”

In verse 9, the author stated that Jesus suffered the pains of death for everyone. In verse 10, he describes precisely who “everyone” includes: sons and daughters, the saved. It may seem odd that something is described as being “fitting” for God to do, but the way of salvation is not arbitrary, but totally befitting the character of God. Since all things were created for Him and since through Him all things exist, then it makes sense that God would do anything in keeping with His character to save what He has created. Therefore, all the sufferings and humiliation of His Son did not take happen by chance; they, in fact, proceeded from His eternal purpose for man.

It’s important to note that the subject of verse 10 is God. The plan of salvation was His. It was not Jesus’. The suffering and death of Jesus was not the Devil’s idea. It was God’s.

Jesus is referred to “the pioneer” of our salvation. The ESV calls Him “the founder” of salvation, and the KJV says that our Savior is “the captain” of our salvation. What does this say about Jesus? Simply this: Jesus went ahead of us. God made Him experience awful suffering to bring about our perfection. It was God’s will for Him to suffer in order to bring about the salvation of “many sons and daughters.” When the Son completed His assigned task, He became the founder of our salvation. He alone was given the responsibility of leading the elect out of a life of bondage to sin to a life of eternal happiness. Or, as Theodore Epp once wrote:

Christ was not content to be crowned alone with glory and honor; He desired to bring many to share His glory with Him.

The “perfection” the writer refers to does not mean that Jesus was ever imperfect and that His work made Him perfect. It simply means that Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man, completed His work. The eternal purpose of the Incarnation was finally accomplished.

In verse 11, the writer to the Hebrews links the Savior to those He came to save. It was God’s eternal purpose to identify as many sons and daughters with His Son in glory; and through the great Incarnation of the Messiah, He so identified Himself with mankind that He could consider them HIS brothers and sisters.

But this incredible union between the saved and their Savior is not something new to the New Testament! In another stroke of genius, our teacher quotes a couple of Old Testament verses that actually anticipated the glorious Incarnation:

I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. (Psalm 22:22)

I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in him. Here am I, and the children the LORD has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the LORD Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion. (Isaiah 8:17, 18)

The quote from Psalm 22 is a direct reference to the Messiah, and the two quotes from Isaiah are indirect references. In those verses, the prophet Isaiah identifies himself with the very people who have rejected the Lord and rejected him as a messenger from the Lord. Isaiah chooses to identify himself with his people in spite of their rebellion. The writer to Hebrews, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, takes Isaiah’s verses about himself as a foreshadow of Christ’s identification with people, sinners, who are in rebellion against God.

2. Jesus’ 6-fold purpose, 2:14—18

Jesus not only identified Himself with human beings in the Incarnation, but He managed to accomplish no less than six significant things.

a. To destroy the devil, 2:14

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—

The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was a divine judgment on Satan. But make no mistake about it, this world and the world system is, at this present time, Satan’s territory. Remember, we have not been restored to our original purpose yet. Ever since the Fall, mankind has been living on Satan’s land. He is the prince of the power of the air, the god of this age. He is a defeated foe, but he is still on the loose, “seeking whom he may devour.”

This is why any and every worldview apart from a biblical worldview ultimately opposes the plans and purposes of God. This is why believers, when they live lives wholly committed to Jesus Christ, sometimes feel out of place on this earth. Christians, for the time being at least, are “strangers in a strange land,” often living under hostile rule.

But this verse makes it plain: Satan has been defeated by Jesus Christ. He has not been annihilated, but his power was broken—annulled, legally canceled. The Incarnation actually lured Satan into defeating himself by using own weapon! By killing Jesus, the Devil forfeited all his legal rights, for he killed the only One he had no claim on, the only One who had never sinned. And by His resurrection, the power of death was decisively broken. The first Adam gave Satan the advantage by selling the human race into slavery to Satan. The glorious Second Adam overturned Satan’s advantage and He rescued the human race from its slavery.

b. To deliver those in bondage, 2:15

...and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

In human experience, man’s fear of death is related to Satan’s power of death. With the end of Satan’s power, comes the end of man’s fear of death. And this is such a pitiful kind of bondage. It causes man to do all kinds of strange things to try and extend or preserve his puny life. But because Jesus Christ is able to deliver all people from all judgment, He can remove the fear of death. Anybody who has ever experienced the New Birth has an assurance that at the very moment of physical death, they will be ushered into the presence of the Savior. The apostle Paul described the Christian’s conundrum like this:

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6—8)

c. To become our great High Priest, 2:16, 17a

For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God…

The Incarnation was essential, not only so Jesus could become the Savior of all mankind, but so that He could become a High Priest for those He came to save. As a Savior, He delivers us from the power of Satan; as a High Priest, He delivers us from the condemnation of God.

A priest is a mediator between God and man; he represents God before men and represents men before God. Since Jesus Christ is the Son of God, He is eminently qualified to represent God before men. And as the Son of Man, through the Incarnation, He is eminently qualified to represent men before God!

Because our Savior is the perfect Son of God and the perfect Son of Man, He is completely merciful because He understands the pain, the miseries and the temptations all men face because He Himself faced them in their full intensity. And He is a faithful representation of God; He is able to manifest God’s perfect faithfulness to us.

So the Incarnation was absolutely necessary to provide the kind of High Priest we needed to represent us in our desperate need before God.

d. To make propitiation for sins, 2:17b

that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

The phrase “make atonement” may not be the best rendering of hilaskesthai, which means “to propitiate,” not “to make atonement,” and means “to put away God’s wrath.” When we sin, we make God angry, which is not to say we “make God mad.” God’s anger is holy; it is not His temper in action. God never “blows His top.” When we arouse God’s anger, we become His enemy. Part of our salvation involves ending God’s wrath towards us. The way this verse is written in the original language makes it clear that the work of Christ ended God’s wrath directed at His people only; that is, only those who have confessed Christ and are living for Him are living wrath-free! Unrepentant sinners are living under God’s wrath, and one day will experience it first hand.

e. To help those who are tempted, 2:18

Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

The sufferings Jesus endured enable Him to help others. Jesus didn’t just suffer on the Cross; He suffered His whole life. There is no temptation you can face that Jesus hasn’t already faced. Being who and what He is, Jesus’ temptations must have been horrific in nature. And Jesus faced the full force of every temptation because He never yielded. Human beings almost never face temptation’s full force because we give in. But Jesus never gave in. He fully identifies with what you are going through.

For many of us, defeat begins when temptation begins. Most of us are good at not giving into the temptation to commit murder. Most of us are good at overcoming the lustful thoughts that flow through our minds on a daily basis. But what about the temptation to despair? Or to get really, really mad at somebody? What about the temptation to become depressed or discouraged? What about the temptation to worry and fret? All those things have the potential to become sinful. What about temptation to not go to church or to not pray because you’re too tired? Or what about the temptation to compromise your testimony because of a decision you want to make that may not be what God wants for you?

Jesus understands what we all go through. Though our temptations come from within from our own sin nature, and from without from the adversary of our souls, Jesus understands our weaknesses, He understands the full power of temptation, and is able to help, if we would but ask. He is able to deliver completely.

(c)  2011 WitzEnd

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