Hebrew’s Study 5
Damon Runyon, born 1880, was a newspaperman. He is well known for a title he gave. James J. Braddock, a down on his luck boxer with hand injuries, took the heavyweight championship from Max Baer. The rags to riches story led Damon Runyon to title James J. Braddock, Cinderella Man.
So far, the emphasis of Hebrews has not been a Cinderella story. The title of this series is not rags to riches, but Jesus is Greater. Chapter 1 pointed out that he is greater than Moses, and Angels. His person is greater. His attributes are greater. His titles are greater. He is the great one of whom Psalm 8 prophesied. We see Psalm 8 fulfilled in Jesus as all things are put under his authority. However, today we shift. Today’s passage is all about the humiliation of Jesus. The Messiah had to enter into the estate of humiliation in order to glorify his people.
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9)
The key to unlocking this passaging is to realize that the Hebrews stumbled over the death of Jesus (vv.7,9). They pictured the messiah as a great general conquering all their enemies. They had no picture of the Messiah being mocked and crucified as a criminal. Jesus sought to teach his disciples that he must die. “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. (Matthew 16:21) His disciples would not accept it. “Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”” (Matthew 16:22)
In fact, his crucifixion (in the minds of the Jews) was an evidence that Jesus was not the Messiah.“Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”” (Luke 23:39) The supposition is that if Jesus was truly the Christ or the Messiah, then he would not be undergoing this terrible humiliation. They pictured salvation, that which the Messiah was supposed to bring, as deliverance from the Roman occupation and to a position of honor and prosperity.
I imagine that the Hebrews to whom this letter was written struggled over the same things. They probably said, “He tasted death? How could that be?”
The rest of the passage is answering that question.
“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,” (Hebrews 2:14)
The author admits that the Messiah was humiliated. The Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, being very and eternal God, of one substance and equal with the Father, did, when the fullness of time was come, take upon Him man’s nature.
- (v.14) He shared in flesh and blood.
- (v.17) Became like His brethren.
- (v.10) He suffered in His body.
- (v.14) Even to the point of death.
The Creator was made a creature. He was clothed with glory, but then wrapped with rags of flesh. He who is power had to flee from Herod’s power to Egypt and be subject to Roman power. The God who constructed the heavens and earth becomes a lowly carpenter.
Instead of this humiliation being something to hide, the author publicized the fact. Why?
HUMILITY IS THE SOFT UNDERBELLY OF GLORY
“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, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Hebrews 2:14–15)
On the surface was shame, but the deeper meaning was glory. Jesus entered into this humility in order to glorify His Father by glorifying His people. He was following the design of the Father.
Notice that now we are in a conversation about means and ends. The Father has an ultimate plan, “to bring many sons to glory “ In light of that goal, “It was fitting…” that the second person of the Trinity take upon Himself human nature, and remain obedient even in suffering. Thus becoming the perfect sacrifice without blemish.
God the Father was providentially working out the salvation of His people for His own glory.
Each act of humility was a means to the end design of the Father. The end design or goal was promised long ago–Genesis 3: “I will crush the head of the serpent,” and “He clothed them with animal skins…” The goal has always been salvation from:
- The guilt of sin and its penalty in everlasting hell.
- The state of righteousness regained.
- Reconciliation with God the Father.
- Removal of all actual sin nature and actual sins.
The Hebrews are now discovering the means to accomplish that goal. The Son of God took on human nature, destroying the devil’s power over death. Not in the sense of absolute power. The devil only has what God permits. Rather, the devil is the author of all death through his temptation of Adam and Eve. Since he inaugurated our present situation, he is known as the prince of power of this realm of death. Satan is given power to plague humanity with the threat of death. Christ Releases those in bondage to the fear of death. Death is a threat because death is a penalty.
Here is a great example of how our world blinds us. Death has been painted as natural and cessation of existence. The worst part is that the family misses the person who dies. Yet, the biblical explanation is that death is the entrance into the penalty of sin. All your life, you seek to ignore God, but there is a day that everyone sees, the day of death. God is gracious and warns you that this day is coming. However, every ache, every ailment, every story of another’s ache or ailment is a warning that death is approaching.
But Christ by taking the penalty upon Himself releases from that fear. Death was an enemy, but for the Christian, now has no sting. It has become a threshold to perfect and eternal happiness.
The Messiah had to enter into the estate of humiliation in order to glorify his people. Here are two main inferences or uses of this truth.
First, Christ has overcome Satan. This is seen by all those enslaved and blinded by Satan gaining their sight and accepting the truth about their sin and about their savior. Thus, the doors are open and the harvest is white for evangelism. This is the age to gather all of Christ’s children from world and into the Church. Go and make disciples.
Second, you are liable to make the same kind of mistake as the Hebrews concerning your salvation. The Hebrews were confused about Christ’s death because salvation was supposed to be a military campaign that resulted in earthly prosperity. Thus, when Rome remained in power, Christ became irrelevant and an obvious impostor. American Christians are confused and believe that Christ came to give you all of your American desires. Americans long for–power, prestige, wealth, fame, a name for themselves, and beauty.
For example, look at what you spend your time thinking about and striving after. College- for what? Work- for what? Marriage- for what? Jesus is not a means to accomplish your worldly ambitions. If you are disappointed in Jesus, then it is probably because you thought he was a savior of your ambitions and earthly desires.
Jesus is the captain of your salvation in the sense that he saves you from your sin. He pays for your sins. He makes you righteous before the Father and thus accepted or justified.
He progressively kills your sin now. The one ambition that you should have right now, is the death of your sin and your growth in love of God and neighbor.
Is that your life goal? Is that the goal for your family?
You know the title, “Captain of Salvation” as seen in verse 10 is an obvious allusion to Joshua. Christ stands at the Jordan of the promised land and as our great Joshua blazes the trail and bids us follow into prosperity. Not earthly prosperity, but the prosperity of holiness of life of love to God and neighbor.
“Man of sorrows what a name for the Son of God who came, ruined sinners to reclaim, Hallelujah! What a Savior!”
- Obedience to God has fallen on hard times. I suggest you read Sinclair Ferguson’s book. I will suggest this again in devotional 7. Might as well get started now.
- Are you ever disappointed in how Jesus superintends your life? This points to expectations. Where did you get those expectations? What are they? Does Jesus promise to fulfill those expectations?
- Gene Edward Veith wrote, God at Work. He emphasizes obedience in the context of calling. Here is a brief article he wrote on the same topic.