Lesson Number 3
JESUS CHRIST MADE LIKE HIS BRETHREN
"For it became him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the author of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, In the midst of the congregation will I sing thy praise. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold, I and the children whom God hath given me. Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, he also himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily not to angels doth he give help, but he giveth help to the seed of Abraham. Wherefore it behooved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted" (Hebrews 2:10- 18, ASV).
One of the fundamental thrusts of Scripture relates to the humanity of Christ Jesus. The fact of Christ's manhood is basic to our understanding of both Him and His great salvation. This teaching is a potential stumbling block. If not perceived correctly, Jesus will be demeaned, and the sinful condition of men will be minimized. Properly seen, the humanity becomes a commentary on the commitment of God to save His people. It is one of the most arresting considerations of Scripture, unveiling the heart of God, the commitment of Jesus, and the depth to which sin brought mankind. No believer can afford to be deficient in this matter. An inadequate understanding of this aspect of the Savior will induce sleep. It will disarm you, and make you vulnerable to the devices of the devil.
The Son, worshiped by angelic hosts, "has been made for a little while lower than the angels." This remarkable descent was done voluntarily (Heb 10:7-9), in order that "by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone" (Heb 2:10, NASB). He could not die as God! He must become "the Man" to do that! He identified with us in order that He might drink the full dregs of death, both in His body and in His spirit.
It would not be enough to experience the separation of the body and the soul. He must endure separation from God, which was the ultimate curse of sin. The death He "tasted" was the separation from God. That is something that will not be tasted again by those in Him.
It is well to remember WHY Jesus "tasted death for every man." First, death is the appointed consequence of sin--any sin and every sin (Ezek 18:4,20; Rom 6:23). Second, men could not recover from death, the Son of God could. Because He died vicariously, or in substitution for us, and not for His own sin, God would bring Him back from the dead. He would, Hallelujah, rise again! He would recover from the curse, crushing the head of the serpent in the process. Never forget, He did this as our Representative! As Isaiah put it, "Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him" (Isa 53:4-6, NASB). Blessed truth, that warms the heart, clears he understanding, and stimulates spiritual life! May it never grow old to you!
BECOMING TO GOD
Now we come to grips with the greatness of this truth. There is such a poverty of understanding within the professed church of this truth that it is staggering. The hallmark of the New Covenant is, "FOR ALL SHALL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM" (Heb 8:11, NASB). Yet, myriads of people claiming identity with God are woefully ignorant of His Person. This condition is not unique to the twentieth century, or to our area of the world. It existed when the book of Hebrews was written.
Even though conversion brings us into oneness with the Lord (1 Cor 6:17), Satan successfully diverts the attention of men from God to themselves, or an institution, or even to lesser things. Because of the aggressiveness of our adversary, those who fall asleep spiritually begin to drift away from the moorings of spiritual understanding and confidence. It becomes necessary, therefore, to once again stabilize them with an understanding of their Savior, and the God that sent Him.
Our text says Jesus becoming lower than the angels for a little while was becoming to God! That is, it was appropriate and fitting for Him to send the Son into the world to suffer death for every man. He was acting in strict conformity with His character. The Father did not depart from His Godhood in sending the Son to die a humiliating death for a fallen race! This was, in fact, an expression of His Person. In this remarkable act, we see more of God that in all the creation.\
It reveals more of Him that can be seen in the casting of Adam and Eve out of the garden, the flood of Noah's day, or the confusion of Babel in the plains of Shinar. More of God is perceived in the vicarious sacrifice of Christ than in the extensive revelation of Himself to Moses, and to the people at Sinai! Once God is comprehended to an acceptable degree, the sending of Jesus to die makes sense!
Unlike men, God never acts of out harmony with His character. An evil man, from one perspective, may occasionally do something good (i.e. Balaam giving a remarkable word about God--Num 23:19). A good man may also do something wicked (i.e., David sinning with Bathsheba and having Uriah killed (2 Sam 11:3- 14). But God has never acted our of keeping with His character! He has no fits of anger, or times of insipid tolerance. When He has compassion, it is because He is compassionate! When He executes judgment, it is because He is a God of judgment! If He pours out wrath, it is because He is a consuming fire! Looking at it from another perspective, you can look at what the Lord has done, and come to find what He is like. His works are like an index to His Person! O, what wonders are unfolded concerning His Person when we look at the sending of Jesus into the world, to "taste death for every man"!
THE DIVINE OBJECTIVE
But we must look deeper into our text. The aim behind the sending of Jesus must be seen. He came to die--that He "by the grace of God, should taste death for every man!" He did not come into the world to make it a better place to ive--although that will result wherever He is embraced! He did not come to eliminate poverty and illness--although His Presence has an impact upon these unfortunate realities. He certainly did not come into the world to institute a superior form of earthly government, or to stabilize an existing one--although He does have an impact upon this arena! It is essential to remember the mission of Jesus did not revolve around human experience, but the settled will of God. He came into the world to die!
His other activities were secondary to that appointed mission. Jesus spoke clearly of this matter when He walked among men. As He approached His death He said, "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour" (John 12:27). Again, He said, "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father" (John 10:17-18).
The seriousness of the human condition is accentuated by this mission. Without His death, nothing would be remedied! Mankind could not be saved imposed by Divine power.. It required a death--an undeserved, but necessary, death! The alienation from God inducted by man's fall could not be resolved by a Divine fiat! The world's were summoned into existence by God's Word. Humanity is reconciled through the death of His Son! That is why Jesus came into the world. In His death, He brought an end to the Adamic order, terminated the reign of Satan, and satisfied God!
CROWNED WITH GLORY AND HONOR
Lest we forget Christ's sojourn in the earth and appointed death is the end of the matter, the Spirit reminds us He is "crowned with glory and honor." Jesus is "crowned", i.e., crowned already "with glory and honor." The Spirit also declares this in Philippians 2:9-11, where He affirms our Lord is "more highly exalted." So far as humanity is concerned, the reason for that exaltation is clearly stated: "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow." There is more glory to come to Jesus surely, but he is already at God's right hand (1:3).
But this is more than a mere theological statement. The purpose of Scripture is not realized by the formation of doctrinal statements, as important as they may be. Mind you, we do not deride attempts to precisely state the accomplishments and current ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. Care must be taken, however, to avoid a heady view of Christ that has no impact upon the heart. Our impression of Jesus will impact upon our life--our purpose for and focus in living. The exaltation of Christ, from this perspective, becomes a source of confidence for the believer. We will find the enthroned Savior is fully able to bring us to glory. Upon the throne, He can be effected by the feeling of our infirmities. His glorification is ensures the effectiveness of our faith and the possibility of our faithfulness.
THE WAY TO PERFECTION
Our text states "It was fitting that God . . . should make the Pioneer (Captain, KJV, Author, NIV) of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (Heb 2:10). Here is something that reveals the nature of God-- the assignment of Jesus to "suffer." What a large word this is! At the last supper, Jesus said, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer" (Lk 22:15). After His resurrection, the Savior told His disciples is was "necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things" (Lk 24:26). The word "suffering" refers more to the inner man than the outer man. An unconscious person, for example, does not "suffer" under excruciating difficulty as much as the one that is conscious and perceptive. With Jesus, it went further than this. The impact of being forsaken by His Father transcends the capacity of our understanding. Too, being rejected by those He came to save registered heavy upon the heart of the Savior. Who is capable of discerning the force of these words upon the heart of the Savior: "The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed . . . " (Luke 9:22).
However, we must not allow our thinking to stop here! There was a Divine purpose that mandated the suffering of Christ! The Father "perfected" the Son through this suffering. This does not mean Jesus was imperfect. This verse does not use the word "perfect" in the sense of 1 Peter 5:10. "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." With us, perfection involves the subjugation of a wayward nature and spiritual maturity. With Jesus, perfection related to His High Priesthood.
The Father was giving His people into the hands of His own Son. His purpose involved "bringing many sons to glory," and that job was given to the Son. God knew the difficulties related to getting these "sons" to glory, or into His presence. In all of their weaknesses, they would face an adversary with 100% success in deceiving the world (1 John 5:19). Even after becoming "the sons of God," these people retained sinful inclinations in the lower part of their nature (Rom 7:18,21). Their journey to the glory would take them through enemy territory, with strong delusions and debilitating distractions. The way would be long, and the heat of trial would be fierce! They could not make in their own strength--they would need help from heaven!
The Word of God speaks frequently concerning the Father giving believers to the Son. A reminder of these statements will prove refreshing to your spirit. "And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day" (John 6:39, NIV). "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word . . . I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours . . . Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am . . . " (John 17:6,9,11, NIV). "And again He (Jesus) says, "Here am I, and the children God has given me" (Heb 2:13, NIV).
Hear with what confidence the Son spoke on this matter. He is in perfect unity with the Father in this project of salvation, and is fully capable of bringing us all the way home. "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one" (John 10:27-30). Here is a passage of Scripture grossly neglected in many congregations. Too often, struggling believers are told what it does NOT mean, rather than being reminded of the reality it affirms. There is no ambiguity in the text! "My sheep hear . . . I know them . . . they follow Me . . . I give unto them . . . they shall never perish . . . neither shall any man pluck them out . . . no man is able to pluck them out . . . " It is difficult to conceive of anything being stated more strongly and clearly! If you have wondered about whether or not you will make it to the end of the race, put your faith in Christ! His work is to get you there. Your work is to "believe on the Son" (John 6:29). Do not imagine this will make you slothful, or that faith dulls your capacity to understand or your desire to obey! Such suppositions are imaginations, to be cast down and taken captive for Christ (2 Cor 10:5-8).
How is it the Son could speak with such confidence concerning the safety of His sheep? Is He going to save us by raw power, trampling over our opponents, and blazing a trail for us in the background, without any involvement from us? I am afraid many think so. But this a wicked imagination, to be cast down and brought into captivity to obedience to Christ (2 Cor 10:5-8). This salvation will be accomplished through our sensitivity to the Son. It will be realized as we become perceptive of His Person and present ministry. It will also be effected by a Savior that has experienced our situation in the world.
In order to qualify the Son to bring the sons home, the Father mandated that He live with handicap, in the enemy's terrain. He would be "tempted in all points" like those He was to save (Heb 4:15). He would have to "put His trust" in God (Heb 2:13), call out to God with "strong cryings and tears" (Heb 5:7), and "learn obedience" (Heb 5:8). He would live under the weight of restraint (Luke 12:50). If He wanted deliverance, He would have to pray for it--just like you (Matt 26:39,53; Mk 1:35; Lk 5:16; 22:44; Heb 5:7).
The purpose of all of this was to make Him a High Priest suitable for us. It would not do for us to have a high priest like Aaron. He was "the saint of the Lord" (Psa 106:16), but could not bring us to God! Moses was "faithful in all his house" (Num12:7; Heb 3:5), but he could not bring us to God! Both of these godly men failed. We needed a "Captain" Who had not failed--ever! He had to be one that had passed through the fire with Divine resources, and knew how to get them to us! We had to have a Leader heard consistently by God, and Whom God would honor! The Father provided us such an One in the Lord Jesus Christ! He equipped the Son for His mission (bringing many sons to glory) by sending Him into thearena in which they lived--without the prerogatives of Deity (Phil 2:5-8).
This is the point the Spirit is making when He affirms the Son did "become poor," even being "crucified through weakness" (2 Cor 8:9; 2 Cor 13:4). Those perceiving the extent of Christ's humility will be constrained to live for Him. In that humiliation God has underwritten the faith of His "elect." Their labor is "not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor 15:58) because of their High Priest. There is no required resource He is not disposed to give them. Their is no trial in which He does not identify with them. There is no temptation that is not accompanied with as way of escape, that they may be able to bear it (1 Cor 10:13). God's people have a High Priest precisely adapted to minister to them during the challenges of the faith-life. This is accomplished because of our Savior's identity with us.
The Spirit affirms it is becoming to God to have instituted this arrangement. It reveals His propensity to save humanity, as well as His wisdom in providing an adequate Savior and High Priest. By doing things this way, the Father not only ensured our deliverance from sin, but our entrance into glory as well. Praise be to God!
HE IS NOT ASHAMED OF US
How does the Lord Jesus feel about you? That is a critical question. His heart is tender to those God has given to Him. Often they do not know it, but that does not change the facts in the case. In order to assist them in the good fight of faith, the Spirit declares the Son's attitude toward believers. Hear His words, and allow them to rejoice your heart. "For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren" (Heb 2:11, ASV). Some of the other versions reveal the power of this text. "Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers" (NIV). "For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters" (NRSV). What a marvelous affirmation! The One who sanctifies, or makes holy, is the Son of God.
The ones who are made holy are those in the Son. Both the Son and the sons have a common origin--the Father. We should not balk at this. The Spirit has already told us God begat the Son; i.e., "this day have I begotten Thee" (Heb 1:5). God is declared to be the "Father" of Christ Jesus, Who is His "Son" (1:5b). Some sophists insist this declares the Son of God to be a created personality. But this is a delusion. The Spirit testifies that His "goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Mic 5:2). He is "without beginning of days," as typified by the written record of Melchizedec (Heb 7:3). Isaiah referred to Him as "everlasting Father" (Isa 9:6). John affirms He was "in the beginning," and was "with God and was God" (John 1:1). Let no one place the Lord Jesus on the level of angels, which had a Divine genesis! In the capacity of a kindred Redeemer, the Son was begotten of God. The Father "sent" Him into the world (1 John 4:14), sustained Him in His ministry (Isa 42:6ff), and raised Him from the dead (Acts 13:30), and exalted Him (Phil 2:9). In all of that, our God is the Father of Christ. Think not to question this!
Jesus was not ashamed to speak in this manner, and we should not be reluctant to receive it. "My Father . . . " (Matt 10:32; 11:27; 12:50; 16:17; 18:10,19; 20:23; John 5:17; 6:65 . . . etc.). In the role of our SANCTIFIER, Jesus is "of God." The Father appointed Him to this role (Heb 1:2; 5:4), sent Him to accomplish, upheld Him in the work, and placed Him at His own right hand in the heavens. All too often, the Father is left out of contemporary preaching--but the Spirit will have nothing to do with such exclusions!
As our Sanctifier, He makes us holy, and suitable for Divine employment. Holiness, or purity, is not an end of itself, but a means to an end. The objective is to be a "worker together with God" (1 Cor. 3:9). As our Sanctifier, Jesus accomplished this task. He removes our transgressions from us, thereby separating us from defilement. He then dispatches the Spirit to inscribe the Law of God upon our hearts, and place it within our minds. In all of this, He is our Sanctifier! God is His Father in this capacity, having initiated the process of our salvation in its totality.
The sanctified also owe their status to the Father. They are "the sons of God" (1 John 3:1-2). They owe what they are to the Father! It was He that placed them in the Son (1 Cor 1:30)! He is the One that washed, sanctified, and justified them (1 Cor 6:11). They have, in the very precise sense of the term, been "born of God" (1 John 3:9; 4:7; 5:1,4,18). The redeemed are "His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works . . . " (Eph 2:10). Everyone one of them can join with Paul in saying, "By the grace of God, I am what I am" (1 Cor 15:10).
It is this condition (being of God) that allows the Son to not be ashamed to call us brethren. It is not because of our moral attainments. Nor, indeed, it the lack of shame associated with our Scriptural expertise. It is our common Father that makes the Son unashamed of us. O, you must see this truth! Hear the words of Jesus, uttered as He prepared to return to the Father. "I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God" (John 20:17, NIV). And to whom were these marvelous words spoken? It was not to Paul, the Apostle that "labored more abundantly than they all" (1 Cor 15:10). It was not to Peter, who was used to open the door of faith to both Jews and Gentiles. Who, then, was it? It was to Mary Magdelene, out of whom He had cast seven demons (John 20:1-17; Mark 16:9)! What qualifications did she have to present?
What wonderful achievements did this woman have to offer? Her chief qualification was the work of Christ! She had been delivered from Satanic dominion by the Lord Jesus Christ! We do not even know when it occurred! The account is not even found in Scripture--only the affirmation that it took place (Luke 8:2; Mark 16:9).
Dear child of God, Jesus was not ashamed to claim the Father of Mary Magdelene as His own. He was not ashamed of her, and He is not ashamed of you! Can you believe that? Your Father in heaven is His Father also! This is a truth that must get into the heart and soul of God's people. Their minds must be able to entertain this thought without fear. If this is the way Jesus views us, how ought we to view lone another? If He is not ashamed of us, let nothing entice you to be ashamed of Him!
Because of the criticality of this teaching, the Spirit aggressively seeks to convince us of its truth. He does not merely state the case, but reveals to us from Scripture, that Jesus is really not ashamed of us. The unreserved acceptance of this affirmation will build confidence in the heart. It removes a the inclination to place a high estimation on our personal achievements, and constrains us to place the higher value on the Person of Christ.
I Will Declare Thy Name
Hear the remarkable words credited to Jesus. "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises" (Heb 2:12). This is a quotation of Psalms 22:22. To what does this refer? This alludes to Christ's exposition of the Father to His people. He once declared, "no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him" (Matt 11:27, NIV). This teaching is the declaration of God's name--the proclamation of His Person. The objective of the declaration is to acquaint us with the Lord.
"Thy Name" does not refer to an appellation, but the delineation of Divine nature, or character. You may recall that God once declared His name to Moses. That declaration is arresting. Allow me to rehearse that proclamation to you. "Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, 'The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation'" (Ex 34:5-8, NIV). What was it God revealed when He "proclaimed His name"? He revealed Himself, giving Moses a more thorough acquaintance with Himself. He did not declare His titles, but His Name--His Person!
He is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness--that is what God is like! You may never have perceived Him in this way, but that IS what He is like! He faithfully maintains love for multitudes, forgiving all manner of sin. Yet, He cannot merely overlook sin, or leave the guilty unpunished--that is what He is like! This was God revealing Himself at Sinai!
Jesus declares the name of God from a higher mountain--Mount Zion! He unveils an even loftier view of the Father, bringing us into closer proximity to His Presence. Time forbids us to provide details on this aspect of our subject. I have every confidence in your ability to ferret out many good things regarding our Lord's proclamation of the name of the Lord. Suffice it to say, more is involved that receiving mercy and forgiveness, although that is marvelous. Not only is He "slow to anger," He is quick to bless those that walk in the light. He will show them, His covenant, and tell them His secret (Psa 25:14). He can "fill" them "with all joy and peace in believing," through the Spirit causing them to "abound in hope" (Rom 15:13). He can "open the eyes" of our "understanding," so we can understand the hope to which we have been called, how great His inheritance is in the saints, and the exceeding greatness of the power that is for us (Eph 1:18-20).
A peace that "passes understanding" can be yours (Phil 4:7), together with a "joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Pet 1:8). Ah, child of God, how much more can be said on this grand theme! You do well to focus on the Son of God. Jesus is not merely delivering an academic discourse to us. He is acquainting us with the Living God- -bringing us into joyful familiarity with the incomprehensible God.
I Will Put My Trust in Him
Here is one of the most remarkable statements concerning our Lord. The spirit of this expression is found in 2 Samuel 22:3 and Isaiah 8:17. "The God of my rock; in Him will I trust: He is my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower, and my Refuge, my Savior; Thou savest Me from violence" (KJV). "And I will wait for the LORD . . . I will even look eagerly for Him" (NASB). When Jesus was among us, He lived by faith. He trusted in God! In this, He identified with the people He came to save. In trusting in God, our blessed Savior was "not ashamed" to call us "brethren."
Faith has always been sparse in the earth. Jesus indicated that the last days would be marked by an unparalleled scarcity of truth faith. "However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). Let all who seek the Lord determine to live as He did--by faith. He was not ashamed to be identified with us, let us zealously avoid being ashamed of living like Him!
The Children God Has Given Me
"Here am I, and the children God has given me." This is quotation of Isaiah 8:18. Once again, observe the use of Scripture. This is not a sound academic approach to Scripture. It does not honor the contextual view of the Word. Isaiah was speaking of his own sons, Shear-jashub and Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Isa 7:3; 8:3). One might argue that Isaiah spoke of his own sons, while the text speaks of Christ's brethren.
The emphasis, however, is not "children," but "God has given me." In Isaiah's case, God gave him children. In Jesus' case, the Father gave Him brethren. Because we have already addressed this subject, it will suffice to recall our Lord's Gethsemane prayer. "I have revealed You to those whom You gave Me out of the world. They were Yours; You gave them to Me and they have obeyed Your word . . . I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those You have given me, for they are Yours" (John 17:7,9 NIV). See, He was ashamed of the ones given to Him by His Father. His lack of shame certainly was not owing to the advancement of the disciples--or of you. It was because God gave them to Him. He loves His people, and is pledged to bring them to glory. He will strengthen them, feed them, and lead them. There is no resource they require to please the Father and overcome the world that He will not provide for them. Their responsibility is to abide in His love, live by faith, and walk in the Spirit!
ELABORATING ON THE REASON FOR CHRIST'S ENFLESHMENT
This is a hallmark doctrine of Scripture! It is not intended to be a battleground for theologians, but a refuge for believers. There has been unnecessary consternation concerning the incarnation. The Spirit now opens the Divine reasoning behind the remarkable condescension of our Savior.
Sharing with the Children
"Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same" (2:14, NASB). Here we enter into the citadel of Divine purpose. God "foreknew" the "children," and sent Jesus in their form to save them. This term ("children") is not a generic term for all mankind. This is a word for those within God's favor. The term used here denotes an infant, one not yet mature. It is paidi,a (pahee-dee'-on), and means, a childling (of either sex), i.e. an infant, or (by extension.) a half-grown boy or girl; figurative, an immature Christian:--(little, young) child, damsel. Places where this word is used, and is translated "children" or "child," include, Matt 18:3; 19:13,14; Mk 10:13,14; Lk 11:7; 18:16; John 21:5; 1 Cor 14:20; Heb 2:13-13; 1 John 2:14,18.
From the standpoint of the "children" themselves, they have nothing to offer. It is Divine favor that makes them what they are. God knew them before they knew Him! As it is written, "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren" (Rom 8:29, NASB). Do not let this verse offend you! It is perfectly consistent with the rest of Scripture. " . . . Who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity" (2 Tim 1:9, NASB). Remember, God is motivated by His own will, not by the human condition. This is expressly stated in God's Word. "In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will" (Eph 1:11, NASB). In his letter to Timothy, Paul declared the Lord's view of things. "Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, The Lord knows those who are His, and, Let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness" (2 Tim 2:19).
When Paul was in Corinth, the Jews rejected him, resisting and blaspheming. It was there that Paul declared he was going to the Gentiles--and he did so in stern words. "And when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, Your blood be upon your own heads! I am clean. From now on I shall go to the Gentiles" (Acts 18:6). While many of the Corinthians did believe, together with Crispus, leader of the local synagogue, it did not look too promising. However, God is not moved by appearance, but by His Sovereign will. That very night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision. "Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city" (Acts 18:9-10). It certainly did not look like the Lord had a lot of people in that city--but He did. What is more, He knew who they were, and madeprovision for them.
In a much larger way, God provided for the "children" He knew from the foundation of the world. Considering this arresting truth, some have embraced "limited atonement," a doctrine that teaches Jesus' blood was shed only for a select few. But this is not the point of our text, nor is it a true teaching. As the Lord is wont to do, He is considering the "end from the beginning" (Isa 46:10). This text finds the Father providing for Himself more than for the children. Mind you, He IS providing for the children, but that is not the crux of the matter. Because those that He was "bringing to glory" were "flesh and blood," it was necessary for their Savior to also be "flesh and blood." Salvation could not come from an angel, even though they are mighty enough to expel Satan from heaven (Rev 12). Men could not be reconciled to God by a Divine fiat in which sin was spoken away. Such a procedure would not have allowed God to remain just! No! When the Son came "in the likeness of sinful flesh" He cleared the way for the Father to be both "Just and Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus" (Rom 3:26).
This principle is seen in the triumph of David over Goliath. He fought for the people of Israel. His triumph became their's. God used David to deliver Israel from the Philistines! So it is with the Man Christ Jesus--the Son of God. One Person fought the battle for the race! One Man gained the victory for the race! A single Individual fulfilled the good pleasure of God, freeing Him to bless His offspring. It was becoming to God to make His Son like His brothers--the ones He would save. Jesus volunteered to take upon Himself the human nature because the Savior must have something in common with those to be saved. The point of commonness could not be sin; that would disqualify Him as a Savior. He had to come into the arena of conflict like His brothers. His life must be lived in the crucible of conflict, yet be totally free from sin. A "Man" had to overcome the devil, triumph over death, and please God. He had to do it as the Representative of the human race. God needed a Man to save our race! The full reason will be unfolded in our text.
Salvation involves more than the deliverance from the guilt and power of sin! The people are to be "conformed to the Image" of God's Son (Rom 8:29). That requires an active Savior! The Law of God will be written on their hearts and placed into their minds (Heb 10:16). The saved are to overcome the world, deny ungodliness, and perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord (1 John 5:4-5; Tit 2:11-13; 2 Cor 7:1). That requires a Good Shepherd! The daily conflict of believers must be addressed, with strength and Divine resources being dispensed appropriate to the battle. That requires an Intercessor who "ever lives to make intercession" for them (Heb 7:25). These requirements cannot be fulfilled by someone unlike us. Nor, indeed, will the needs of God Himself be served by one unable to identify with our situation! Christ's death and consequent reign in behalf of the saints demanded that He be identified with us experientially! Jesus traveled the entire range of human experience because He was appointed to carry us through life to glory!
Destroying the Devil
How glorious is the affirmation! "Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil" (v 14, NKJV). The devil has always targeted "the children." It started with Adam and Eve, and it continues to this day. We see the work of the "old serpent" in the murder of Abel, the cyclical conduct of Israel, and the sins of great Jewish kings. To this day, he is involved un constant aggression against the saints of the Most High God. How graphically this is depicted for us in the Revelation.
"And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child. And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, in order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood" (Rev 12:13-15). Few professed believers appear to be aware of the ferocity of Satan's attacks against them. For this reason, they do not perceive the remarkable achievements of Christ. He is not their theological epicenter because they are ignorant of the situation in which they find themselves. The role of godly preachers and teachers is to proclaim Divine provision to them.
The dreaded reign of death had to be thwarted, and Satan had "the power of death." The devil is said to have the power of death, not because he can kill and destroy men at will, but because he introduced sin, which brought death into the world (Rom 5:12). He was "a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44), which is how he executes his power. To implement his work of death, he tempts men to sin, and then accuses them of it, frightening them with the prospect of death. In all of this, it is only by divine permission he inflicts death. One has said, "Satan daily urges us to sin." How true! O that men were more aware of his perversive efforts!But Jesus came to frustrate the devil in the entirety of his work. Through death--something within Satan's power--our Savior "destroyed him that had the power of death." Darby's version says "annul him who has the power . . . " The NASB says "render powerless him . . . " The word translated "destroy" is ka- tar-gasa. The word does not bee annihilate, or utterly remove. Etymologically, it means, to be (render) entirely idle (useless), abolish, cease, cumber, deliver, destroy, do away, become (make) of no (none, without) effect, fail, loose, bring (come) to nought, put away (down), vanish away, make void.
The destruction is a nonphysical one. What is destroyed, in this case, is replaced by something superior; i.e., light destroying darkness. But this is only the language side of the equation. There is more to the destruction of the devil that an etymological view!
In Scripture, words transcend lexical definition. Words like "faith," "love," "Lamb," "glory," and "hope" have been expanded by the Holy Spirit far beyond the confines of the "original language." This does not demean a linguistic approaches, it only emphases they are only introductory, not exhaustive. "Destruction" speaks of the loss of all utility or usefulness. It speaks of the frustration of purpose or intent. "Destruction" is the opposite of "sanctify," which speaks of use. This is a prominent word in the Gospel. The Spirit declares that "the body of sin" has been "destroyed" in order that we might serve sin no longer (Rom 6:6). We are apprized "the Law could not disannul" the promise of blessing God made to Abraham (Gal 3:17). Our Savior, Jesus Christ, has "abolished death," the enemy that stalked the human race (2 Tim 1:10). The "enmity, even the commandments contained in ordinances," has been "abolished"in order to bring Jew and Gentile together in Christ (Eph 2:15). Notice, what was destroyed, in a sense, still remained. "The body of sin" was destroyed, yet we still struggle against it. Death has been destroyed, but we still must die. The "commandments contained in ordinances" have been destroyed, yet you can still read and ponder them.
In the same way, Satan has been "destroyed," but we still are "tempted" (1 Cor 7:5) by him, and must "resist" him (1 Pet 5:9). Satan has been "destroyed" in the heavenly places, where we have been raised "together" with Christ (Eph 2:6). In the realm of faith, the devil is impotent! Thus Peter writes, "Resist him, steadfast in your faith" (1 Pet 5:9). Believers are invincible as they "abide in Him" (John 15:5-10; 1 John 2:28). Satan is invincible if we do NOT "abide in Him," walking in the light, by faith, and in the Spirit. To put it another way, the devil is impotent in heavenly places. He is omnipotent in "the flesh" and "this present evil world."
This circumstance is pictured vividly in The Revelation. In this apocalyptic Gospel, the demise of Satan is traced to the triumph of the Son of God. How wonderfully it is stated. "And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. And the dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him" (Rev 12:7-9).
This series of events follows the birth and exaltation of Messiah (v 4-5), in spite of Satan's aggression to thwart both the birth and the exaltation. Following our Lord's enthronement at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, Satan's days in the higher realms are numbered. He had occupied that place as an accuser. This is seen in the Divine narrative of Job's trials (Job 1:6-9; 2:1-3). Now, however, there remained no place for him in that domain. With violence and authority, he is thrown down to the earth. What is the response of heaven to this eviction of the evil one? We are not left to conjecture!
"And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death" (Rev 12:10-11). The response of heaven is loud! The harmonious notes of joy and expectancy penetrates every word. We can learn from the shout something of the involvements of Satan's expulsion. It is clear from the "loud voice" that an epoch has occasioned Satan's fall. Salvation has come! The power, kingdom, and authority of the Lord's Christ is now accomplishing that salvation. Prior to this, salvation was a prophesy, but now it is a reality. "The day of salvation" (2 Cor 6:2) has come, and heaven is glad! Those that once were enslaved to Satan now overcome him. They do so indirectly, and not by their own strength.
The "blood of the Lamb," now taken within the holy place, is something with which the devil cannot contend. Those who trust in the efficacy of that blood fly free from the snare of the fowler! Their transformation is so dynamic, that even the "word of their testimony" enables their triumph over the evil one. Regeneration has changed their focus. They are now "waiting for" God's "Son from heaven," and thus they "love not their lives," even "unto death." SATAN HAS BEEN DESTROYED, and thus were triumph over him!
In Christ's death the head of the serpent was "bruised" (Gen 3:15). He broke the power of death that was wielded by the "old serpent." Paradoxically, He accomplished this through death itself. Jesus inflicted a mortal bruise upon Satan in His death, which occurred at His weakest point. As it is written, "He was crucified because of weakness" 2 Cor 13:4). Yet, in His "weakness" He struck the death blow to the our adversary! Be sure of this, what Jesus did to Satan in His death set a downward spiral in motion that will end with the devil in the lake of fire. It is not possible for him to recover from that bruise--and it was delivered in "death," over which he had designated power! Principalities and powers that once appeared invincible have been plundered by the Savior, and it took place in the cross (Col 2:15). If this mighty victory was accomplished by the DEATH of Christ, what will be accomplished by His life? How poignantly the words are spoken by the Spirit. "For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life" (Rom 5:10, NIV)!
Could not God have "destroyed" Satan without Christ's death? This may appear a foolish philosophical question, but it is not. Those who insist on living on the surface of truth do not ponder such things, and thus they cannot derive the full benefit that comes from it. Our text affirms Jesus was sent in the body to die, that Satan might, through that death, be rendered powerless. Who is the individual daring to affirm this was one of several options open to the Father? Do not imagine this was done as a mere intellectual novelty. The devil could not simply be spoken away! More than a rebuke--even a Divine rebuke--was needed to render him powerless. Permit me to look at this more closely.
Satan's Accusatory Capacity
Satan is primarily an "accuser of the brethren." In this capacity, he has been banished from heavenly places! As it is written, "the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night." Prior to the death and exaltation of Christ, there was a basis for Satan's accusations. Sin had not been expiated, and thus men remained under the weight of transgression. The prophets spoke of a time when a sin-bearer would come, but until Jesus, there was none. Isaiah promised that the Lord Himself would lay upon the Savior "the iniquity of us all" (Isa 53:6). Translated literally, the text reads, "made the iniquities of us all to meet on Him." When He died, sin was localized upon the Son. It is as though it existed nowhere else. The Father gathered sin in its entirety, from every quadrant occupied by men, and placed it upon the Son. The very thought is staggering! Paul, in delineating this Divine act, said of it, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf" (2 Cor 5:21, NASB). Peter wrote of the fulfillment of that prophesy. "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross" (1 Pet 2:24). There, on the cross, in the Person of His Son, God cursed sin, judging it once and for all! In a vivid description of this cursing the Spirit says, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us . . . " (Gal 3:13, NASB). The largeness of this subject does not permit us to treat it exhaustively at this time.
Suffice it to say, God has dealt decisively and thoroughly with sin through His Son. "Now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself" (Heb 9:26b). The singularity of that appearance confirms the accomplishment of the stated objective! Sin has been "put away" by the sacrifice of Christ! Satan was "bruised" in that act because, as the author of sin, his end was secured. He was cast out of heavenly realms because of the effectiveness of Christ's sacrifice, which removed the basis for accusation. With sin expiated, accusation nullified, and God satisfied, Satan has thus been "destroyed." His designs have been frustrated for all that are in Christ. He cannot implement his will against those that are "cleaving to the Lord with purpose of heart" (Acts 11:23).
Until the vicarious work of Christ was accomplished, Satan's purpose against men could not be thwarted. To put it another way, as long as there was a basis for his accusation against men, he could not be "destroyed," or rendered impotent. This should not be difficult for you to receive. Consider that right now, Satan freely "works in the children of disobedience" (Eph 2:1-2). He still can take men captive at his will if they are not living in Christ (2 Tim 2:26). Only the shield of faith can quench his "fiery darts," or "flaming arrows" (Eph 6:16). The reason those in Christ can "overcome the wicked one" is because they are living in the realm where he has been rendered powerless. However, he cannot be overcome in any other realm--not a single one! Lest this reality escape your attention, permit me to say it again. Jesus assumed the nature of those He came to save because there was no other way to save them. Satan's power against them could not be neutralized until He was defeated on his own turf, so to speak, by a member the race he had deceived. The sins of the people he accused had to be removed--utterly removed. Were it not for this situation, Jesus would never have come to earth! It is my settled persuasion that this truth has not registered upon the heart and mind of the average church goer.
Deliver Them All
"And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Christ's death accomplished two things in this regard. First, it accomplished the destruction of the devil. Second, it freed those who had been in bondage all of their lives. It is most remarkable that nether of these glorious accomplishments are often mentioned from the pulpits of the land. There is a thoroughness to this deliverance that is refreshing to the soul. Several translations say the deliverance was for "all them" (ASV, RSV, Darby's). That is the intent of the verse! The accomplishments of Christ's death reached as far as the effects of the fall! There is deliverance for everyone! Hallelujah!
The Spirit fastens, however, on the "fear of death," which stalks the human race. Of old time, people stood in fear and dread of death. The Law thundered the thread of death from Sinai, constraining the people to make some effort to obey God, feeble though it was. Even David wrote of times when "the terrors of death have fallen upon me" (Psa 55:4). The day Adam and Eve fell from Divine favor, fear took hold of our race. Do you recall Adam's words when confronted with a seeking God? "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid . . . " (Gen 3:10, NIV). That fear, because it forbade us to draw close to God, enslaved us to sin. There is no freedom away from God, yet that is where fear places those dominated by it. If men seem "without fear," and that certainly is the case, it is only because they are not aware of the Lord. Fear can slumber no longer when confronted with an offended God!
Notice, our text does not say Jesus delivered us from fear--although He surely did that. He came to deliver US! He came to "deliver THEM who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." Think of the craftiness of our adversary in this regard. He has promoted philosophies and activities designed to obscure the fact of death. People drown themselves in pleasure--some form of self- gratification. Is it any wonder that our part of the world is deluged with forms of entertainment. It has even crept into the religious world. People do not know they are in bondage because they never really confront the stark realities of life. This is bondage to the "elements of the world," or to lower forms of knowledge that bring no real advantage. Those subjected to this bondage are incapable of entertaining a proper view of God, life, or death. They are confined to the of profitlessness and vanity. They are in bondage to sin, and are dominated by guilt. They require deliverance, but it can come from no one but Christ Jesus. They cannot think their way out of bondage, nor can they work themselves out of it. Astute minds and multiple skills cannot extricate them from the dilemma of bondage! No wonder it is such good news! Jesus died and was exalted to deliver "all of them!" He could not speak them out, He had to bring them out!
Finally, consider bondage in relation to the Law. It was believers propensity to Law-keeping that occasioned the writing of this Epistle. Law is a harsh taskmaster. Do your recall the confession of Paul? "And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me" (Rom 7:9-11). O, what a dreadful bondage is that! It causes us to be enslaved to sin because it defiles our conscience, causing us to run from the presence of the Lord.
Help To The Seed of Abraham
"For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham" (v 16). What a provocative passage! The NIV reads, "For surely it is not angels He helps, but Abraham's descendants." The NRSV reads, "For surely it is not with angels that He is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham." And who are "the descendants of Abraham?" These are believers who, like Abraham, believe God. As it is written, "Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham" (Gal 3:7). This is a proclamation of the commitment of Christ to believers. I realize He died for the sins of the world, but that is not the point of this text. The Spirit is speaking to people that have chosen to place Jesus into the background. They had given heed to subtle teachers that offered them techniques instead of godly teaching, and procedures instead of precious promises. The angels are called "holy angels" and "elect angels" (Matt 25:31; 1 Tim 5:21). They are faithful in the execution of God's will in every aspect. Yet, the Lord Jesus is not "concerned" with them! He does not despise them, to be sure! But He did not demean or humble Himself for them! He did not divest Himself of Divine prerogatives for the angels! It was not for angels that He "humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross!" He did not agree to be "cursed" or "made sin" for them! No! It was for those who, like Abraham, "believe God!" For them He came down! For them He trusted God! For them He suffered! For them He died! For them He lives at the right hand of God!
Do not take this for granted! I have grown weary of the doubt that is articulated by our generation. Too often I hear speaking of being angry with God, wondering is He is there, doubting that He cares for them. They are baffled by the circumstances of life, and find it difficult to believe heaven is interested in them. All of this is evidence of Satanic influence! These thoughts are the fiery darts of the wicked one, and are sisters of unbelief. God has told us of Christ's commitment to save us. If "works" were the basis of receiving His help, He would given it to the holy angels, for they are faithful in maintaining good works!
Instead, He took upon Himself our nature, lived where we lived, and fought in our behalf! From henceforth, let no person question the commitment of Christ to their salvation! He is solidly behind believers, having submitted to be made "lower than the angels" in order that they might be brought home to God.
For the first time in all the Bible, Jesus Christ is here called our High Priest! "For this reason He had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted" (v 17-18 NIV).
The NASB reads, "Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things." There were no other options--no other way to bring us home to God! If Jesus was going to save us, He had to be properly equipped to do so! It is essential that we see the emphasis of this text. It is rarely taught in our day. The thrust of the institutional church is "evangelism," winning the lost. None but a fool would oppose the rescue of men from death in trespasses and sins! But that is not the central work of Christ. His High Priesthood is not in order to the conversion of men, but to the perfection of believers! This is a revolutionary thought, and worthy of much meditation. When Jesus came, He had the seed of Abraham in mind, not ,merely the offspring of Adam! When God equipped our lord, He equipped Him to be a High Priest! His largest and most extensive ministry is in the behalf of believers. Keep in mind, this is His "service to God." Even more than meeting your need, He has met God's need in order that He might receive us. No wonder the Spirit said, "Christ also accepted us to the glory of God" (Rom 15:7).
A Merciful and Faithful High Priest
Ultimately, Jesus was made like His brothers in order to an effective ministry in their behalf; i.e., "a merciful and faithful High Priest." In order to arrive safely in the presence of the Lord, we require heavenly resources. We sorely need "mercy, and grace to help, in the time of need." How will we receive it? It will be from our High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ! How wonderfully this is stated. "For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted" (v 18). The temptation of Jesus has been a source of controversy with some teachers. Some choose to believe Jesus could not be tempted, because, say they, He was God. They forget, however, that Jesus "emptied Himself" of the prerogatives of Deity to assume identity with us. The temptation of Jesus was so strong, the Spirit declares He "suffered, being tempted." In the temptation in the wilderness, "angels came and ministered unto Him" (Matt 4:11). In Gethsemane His bodily constitution broke down as He agonized under the tug of temptation. It was then that "an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him" (Luke 22:43). The strength of Christ's temptation transcends our capacity to comprehend it.
Why did Jesus suffer such agony? After all, this was the Son of God! Was this necessary in order to expiate sin? Yes it was! The offering of Christ for sin required that He be put through the fire of testing. Not only must He be free of sin, His sinlessness must have stood the test of trial. There is more. Suffering in temptation qualified Him to be both a merciful and faithful High Priest for His people. Now He is able to "succor" them--to nourish them through the time of temptation and testing. He can get heavenly resources to us in the hour of trial! If, in David's day, the Lord could prepare a table for His people in the presence of their enemies (Psa 23:5), can you image what He is capable of preparing for us, now that a thorough atonement has been made?
Child of God, a place has been prepared that enables the people of God to survive the assaults of Satan! Jesus told John to tell the churches about this. "And the woman fled into the wilderness where she had^ a place prepared by God, so that there she might be nourished . . . " (Rev 12:6). You are not required to manage your temptations! The Lord Jesus will see to it that you are not tempted beyond your ability--but that is not all. He will also "nourish" or "succor" you through the temptation. He will do it mercifully and gently. He will be tender with you, because He knows the stresses related with temptation. Faithfulness is found in all of His strengthening. Those that trust in Him will find His mercies are "new every morning." I implore you to trust in your High Priest. He became like you so He could carry you through the difficulties of life. You will make it to glory if you lean upon Him! You can count on Him to come through with consolation. God prepared Him for the ministry, and He has eagerly entered into it. How becoming this is of God!