Will you turn with me, please, in your Bibles to the 2nd chapter of Hebrews. Hebrews chapter 2, verses 9 through 18 is our text this morning. For you that may be visiting with us, I might say that we believe in a ministry that is a teaching ministry. We endeavor at our services to study the Word of God. Each service we take a passage, usually going through a book. But because it is Christmas Sunday we have left our normal series in John’s gospel to study a particular portion in the book of Hebrews chapter 2. As we begin, let’s bow together in a word of prayer.
Our Father, we would ask that our hearts would be sensitive to your Holy Spirit as He teaches us, that we might see and understand these truths, God, that we might be able to focus again on who Jesus Christ really is. Father, we do not desire that any human be glorified, but that the one who speaks be lost in the truth itself. Father, speak by Thy Holy Spirit to our hearts. We pray and give You the glory in Jesus’ name. Amen.
On the first Christmas Eve, the very first Christmas Eve, earth was a oblivious to what was happening, but heaven wasn’t. The innumerable holy and elect angels were waiting in anticipation, waiting to break forth in praise and worship and adoration to the birth of a newborn child, a child that meant that God had sent forth His salvation. And on that first Christ Eve there was a farewell going on in heaven. The Son said goodbye to the Father, and the conversation that the Son had with the Father, at least a part of it, is recorded for us in the 10th chapter of Hebrews.
Jesus is speaking to the Father and this is what He said that first Christmas Eve: “Wherefore” – verse 5 – “when He cometh into the world,” – that is Christ – “He saith,” – that is Christ speaking to God – ‘Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not,’ - in other words, God was not satisfied with just animals and blood sacrifice – ‘but a body hast Thou prepared Me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure.’ Then said I,” – Christ continuing – ‘Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God.’”
Christ, on that first Christmas Eve said goodbye to His Father. He said, “Father, I realize that You’ve not been satisfied with the blood of animals, but that You have prepared a body for Me that I might go into that world and be the final and ultimate sacrifice, and I will do it because I come, as it is written in Old Testament to do Thy will, O God.” And so Jesus Christ bid farewell to His Father and began a journey that was to end thirty-three years later on a cross, and then through a resurrection, to be glorified and exalted and restored back into heaven to the glory that He knew before He came.
Now, the body of Christ was divinely prepared by God to be the instrument which was to bring God to men, and which was to be the perfect sacrifice for sin. And so Jesus came with all the fanfare of heaven as angels waited to sing their praise and shout their praise and shout their praise, and there wasn’t any fanfare on earth. Earth was oblivious. God was being manifest in the flesh: heaven knew about it, earth didn’t. The Holy Spirit had taken nine months to accomplish His work. He had on those nine months fashioned in the womb of Mary a body, a body like no other body, a body that was to be inhabited by the second person of the Trinity, a body that had now become ready, and the time was ready that Mary should be delivered. The fullness of time was come when Jesus would be made of a woman, and thus that body came, and with it came the second person of the Trinity.
And every Christmastime we all stop and rather mindlessly acknowledge the birth of Christ; and maybe people acquiesce to the fact that He was God to some degree or another. But the issue is not that He came, the issue is why He came. And so many people seem content to stop with just the fact that He came as if there’s some kind of redeeming fact in that. They never bother to find out why He came.
This morning we want to answer the question: “Why was Jesus born?” Why did He come; to present God? Yes. To teach truth? Yes. To fulfill law? Yes. To offer His kingdom? Yes. To teach those who did not understand about God? Yes. To reveal love? Yes. To bring peace? Yes. To heal the sick? Yes, et cetera. Those are secondary reasons why He came.
There is really one primary reason, one primary plan, one primary purpose. Jesus came to suffer and to die, that’s why He came. Bethlehem only happened so Calvary could happen. He was only a baby so He could be man and die. He only lived in order to die. Those soft baby hands fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb were made in order that nails might be driven through them. Those chubby feet, pink and unable to walk, were one day to walk a hill and be nailed to a cross. That sweet head with sparkling eyes and eager mouth was formed in order that someday men might crush into it a crown of thorns. That tender body, warm and soft, wrapped in swaddling clothes, would one day be ripped open by a spear to reveal a broken heart; and that’s exactly why God made that body. Jesus was born to die.
Man was meant to have dominion over everything, but he fell in sin and he lost his dominion. When God created Adam it was great, everything was going great; and then man fell and he lost his kingship. Man should be a king, man isn’t; man is a slave – weak, witless, bound to sin – and into this situation came Jesus. He bid farewell to the Father. The angels who waited in anticipation finally broke forth in praise and adoration, and even the shepherds in the fields heard them, because He came to suffer and He came to die in order to make man what man could never be without Him, in order to make man the king of the earth. He died to recreate men into a creature that God had always intended man to be. He died to make a man what man was meant to be, but without Him could never be.
Now, our text deals with the coming of Christ and His death, and I want us to see in it five things that Jesus was because He died, five things that Jesus was because He died. First, He was our substitute; second, our salvation captain; third, our sanctifier; fourth, our Satan conqueror; fifth, our sympathetic High Priest. All five of these things were the goals of Jesus Christ. He came to be our substitute, He came to be our salvation captain, He came to be our sanctifier, He came to be our Satan conqueror, He came to be our sympathetic High Priest. He could be none of those at all if He did not die, and thus was He born to die.
First of all let’s notice that He came to be our substitute, verse 9. But we see Jesus who is made a little lower – and there is a reference to time. “He was made for a little while lower.” The word “little” can have a time significance, and it does here. “He was made for a little while” – or a little time – “lower than the angels,” – for what reason, and indicated by what thing? – “for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”
Now, there is the first and greatest reason why Jesus came. He came to die. He came to die for every man. In other words, He came as a substitute. The Old Testament said, Ezekiel quoting, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Paul said, “The wages of sin is death.” Now sin, by virtue of the justice of God, is punished by death. If I then sin, I will die. If I bear my own punishment and I die, I die physically, spiritually, and eternally, and am sentenced to an eternal hell without God.
God looked into this world and He saw men. He saw men who were going to die because of sin; and He said because of His love, “I will not, I will not allow all men to die in their sin. I will send someone else to bear their punishment, to die their death.” And thus did Jesus come. He came to be my substitute. And when He was nailed on the cross, He died for me and He died for you. He died my death, paid my penalty.
See, that’s the only alternative God had. Either He punishes you for your sin, and me for my sin, and that’s eternal punishment in hell; or else He substitutes someone else in our place, and they pay our penalty. And that’s exactly what Jesus came to do: be our substitute, the exalted second person of the Trinity, the divine Son of God. God in flesh humbled Himself, came to earth to die my death, to provide for me an escape from eternal hell. The sinless One became sin, the living One died, the perfect One became the punished One; and not because He deserved, but because I deserved it, and He was my substitute.
Now, I want you to notice this verse. There are five clauses that detail His substitutionary death, and I want you to see them. First clause says, “We see Jesus who was made for a little time lower than the angels.” This is a fantastic truth. Jesus Christ, for all eternity past and all eternity present and all eternity future, was not and is not and never will be again lower than the angels. He is, by His very essence as God, higher than angels.
In verse 4 of chapter 1 of Hebrews, it says, “Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Christ was by nature better than angels, and this is proven by God’s attitude toward Christ in verse 5. “For unto which of the angels said God at any time, ‘Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?’ And again, ‘I’ll be to Him a Father, and He shall be to me a Son?’” God never said that to any angel. God said that to His Son, Jesus Christ, who was better than angels.
In verse 6, “And again, when God bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, He saith, ‘And let all the angels of God’ – do what? – ‘worship Him.’” He’s better than angels. “He says,” – in verse 7 – ‘You angels are ministering spirits.’ But” – verse 8 – “unto the Son He saith, ‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.’” And in verse 13, “To which of the angels said God at any time, ‘Sit on My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool’?” No angel. God never said that to any angel.
Jesus Christ is better than angels by His very nature; He’s God. “But for a little while” – verse 9, chapter 2 – “He became lower than angels.” Creator of angels, the head of angels, the Lord of Hosts, the one who before His incarnation had been worshiped by angels, for a little while became lower than angels for our sakes – sinful, rebellious, vile, wicked men who did not want God and did not know God; and for our sakes, Christ became lower than angels. You see, man could not gain the dominion he had lost by himself; and Jesus had to come to man’s level, his sinful level, to pick man up and lift him to His level. And so Jesus for a little while was made lower than the angels.
The second statement that I want you to see in this verse tells us something else about His substitution. It says, “For the suffering of death.” Now, the word “for” is dia, and used in many different cases and many different ways in the Greek. Here it can mean through or by; and I take it to mean that and would read it this way – this is the primary meaning: “Jesus was made a little lower than the angels through the suffering of death, or by the suffering of death.” In other words, the greatest proof that Christ was lower than angels was that He died. Now, it’s true that He was made lower than angels in order to die. It’s also true that He was made lower than angels, and that is shown to us, because He died. Dia here carries the weight of “because.”
Now, what do you mean by that? Just this: Jesus did something no angel can ever or will ever be able to do. Jesus came to this earth to do something that angels can’t do. Jesus came to die. Angels can’t die, that is reserved for mortals. And when Jesus died He proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that, indeed, for a little time He was made lower than angels. The depth of His humiliation extended to death something angels couldn’t even do.
Notice, please, that it says, “The suffering of death.” When Jesus died it wasn’t just an easy gentle passing from this world, it was excruciating agony and torture on a cross. He suffered in His death. And, you know, no creature was capable of this, only Jesus Christ could be our substitute. It had to be someone who was totally man to pay man’s penalty, and totally God to have victory over death. He had to be the perfect combination of total God and total man. Christ undertook a work that was far above the power of angels. He undertook a work that no angel could ever do, far beyond their capacity; and yet to do it, He became lower than angels. And higher than angels is God, and lower than angels is man. And Christ was at the same time higher than angels in His power, lower than angels in His humiliation – the perfect combination.
Then it tells us the purpose of His humiliation and His substitution at the end of verse 9, “that He should taste death for pantos every man.” Jesus came to die for you, and He tasted death. He drank the bitter cup at Calvary; He drained it to the last drop. The death He tasted was a total death, every possible angle is involved. The death He tasted was the curse which sin brings, for He bore your sin. The death He tasted was the penalty of the broken law. The death He tasted was the full manifestation of the power of the devil thrown at Him. The death He tasted was the full expression of the wrath of God coming upon Him because of His bearing sin.
Listen, in every possible aspect, Jesus Christ gathered up death and tasted every bit of it for us, and He was guilty of nothing. He was without sin, but He tasted it for every man. He was our substitute; and by Christ tasting death and being my substitute, I am free from the bondage of God’s justice, which must bring death, and I am liberated to experience God’s grace and God’s love. And thus does the Bible say, “He bore our sins in His own body. He became sin for us who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” And all God asks of you is that you receive that same Christ, that you acknowledge that, indeed, He did die for you, that you believe He died for you, and that you receive His death in your behalf and Him as your saving Lord.
Then you see in this verse also a phrase that indicates the cause of His substitution – this is tremendous. Down near the end of verse 9 it says, “that He did all this by the grace of God.” Do you know why Jesus came? Not because you and I asked for Him or deserved Him, but because God graciously designed it, didn’t He. Salvation comes from God: the free lovingkindness, the absolutely undeserved and unmerited grace of God. We don’t earn it. We didn’t do something so that God says, “Well, you’re so great you deserve My Son.” No. Solely and only and singularly on the basis of His sovereign good will did Christ come to this world. Why, do you realize that not anybody in this universe could have brought Christ and taken His life if it hadn’t have been in the sovereign design of God? In John 10:18, Jesus said, “No man takes My life from Me. I” – what? – “lay it down of Myself.”
In Romans 5:8, Paul says, “But God commendeth His love toward us,” – how? – “in that, while we were yet sinners,” – what happened? – “Christ died for us.” That’s God’s love. You didn’t deserve it; I didn’t deserve it. You didn’t ask for it; I didn’t ask for it. God freely gave it. You don’t beg for a gift. God gave His Son, and His love was overwhelming. He looked at sinful man, He saw the inevitability of death and hell, and He said, “My love will not leave that as the only option,” and He sent His Son to die in your place. And when you receive Him as your Savior and Lord, and accept His death in your behalf, you are free from the penalty of death. Christ is your substitute, and He came only on the basis of the grace of God; we did nothing to deserve it. And even when He got here, men didn’t want Him and they killed Him. But that didn’t stifle God’s grace.
Then we see one other phrase here that tells the results of His coming and His substitution. It says, “He was crowned with crowned with glory and honor.” You know, when Jesus Christ finished His task God gave Him glory, God exalted Him. Paul says that, “He became obedient, even to the death of the cross.” And then he says, “Wherefore” – on the basis that is of what Christ did – “God hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of every knee should bow.”
Jesus humiliated Himself and God exalted Him, crowned Him with glory and honor. Look at that verse again. That verse says Jesus Christ died for you, your substitute. And God thought so much of what Jesus did that He highly exalted Him and gave Him a name above every other name in the universe.
Listen, my friend: God thinks a lot of Jesus Christ. Do you know that? God thinks an awful lot of Jesus Christ. And anybody that comes along and disparages Jesus Christ is in danger of the wrath of God. For if God holds Christ in such esteem, what must be the consequences to someone who does not?
And let me add this thought. Who do you think you are not to give Christ the glory He deserves? God did. If you don’t, you have concluded that you are superior in judging the qualities of Christ to God, and that’s a tremendous undertaking on your part. If God esteems Jesus Christ, if God exalts Jesus Christ, who are you to do less?
Now, I want you to look at another thing in this chapter, and looking at verse 10. In verse 10 we see the second thing that Jesus Christ became. First of all, He became our substitute. Don’t go away mad. First of all, He became our substitute. That is, He died our death. Secondly – now get your mind back into the Scriptures – verse 10, He became our salvation captain. Jesus Christ is not only our substitute – that is, bearing our punishment – but He is our salvation captain.
I want you to see this in verse 10, and I want to show you how wonderful this is: “For it became Him,” – verse 10, that is God; now it’s talking about the Father. “For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things,” – God’s the beginning and the end of everything – “in bringing many sons unto glory,” – that’s what God’s design is, isn’t it, to bring sons to glory, to capture men for heaven; that’s His design; and in doing that, it became Him – “to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”
Now, Jesus became our salvation captain in His death. I want you to see the word “captain” there. Translated “captain” is the word archēgos, archēgos. The word archēgos mean pioneer. It means leader. It means author. It means trailblazer. And archēgos translated incidentally in Hebrews 12:1, “Looking unto Jesus, the author, you know, of our faith,” that’s archēgos. It means anyone who begins something that others follow in. It could be somebody who beings a family that others are born into. It could be somebody that founds a city where others come to live. It could be somebody that blazes a trail that others follow. Anybody who starts something and leads out is an archēgos.
And here the writer of Hebrews is saying that Jesus Christ is our perfect trailblazer that leads the path to glory, so that God, by making a perfect trailblazer, can gather up His sons, and they can follow their captain into glory. It pleased God who does all things for His glory, who made all things for His glory to the end that they might give Him glory. That’s what the first part of the verse means. It pleased Him to make this captain perfect, so that He could blaze the trail into the Father’s presence, and bring along with Him all the sons that God had designed to enter into glory. He’s our perfect trailblazer.
Over in chapter 5, verses 8 and 9, it says, “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered;” – watch this – “and being made perfect, He became the author” – or the archēgos – “of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” Jesus Christ is the perfect leader. Through death He not only was a substitute, but a perfect leader, a perfect trailblazer.
You say, “What do you mean by that?” Just this: there is no way to get to God apart from Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way. No man cometh unto the Father” – what? – “but by Me.” No other way. And, you see, the way to God is blocked by sin, isn’t it? A man and his sin can’t just walk into God’s presence: no, impossible. We cannot enter into God’s glory. We can’t get to heaven on our own merit. Somebody has to blaze the trail. And the only way to ever open up God’s presence to us is to get rid of sin. Right? Once sin is taken care of, we can enter His presence.
So Christ came, died, paid for our sin, and thus opened up the trail so that we could enter the presence of God. You see how He’s the trailblazer? And He had to die to do it. You look what it says: “He was made perfect through” – what? – “suffering.” See, there’s no way that Jesus could arrive in the world and say, “Listen, everybody. Follow Me, we’re going to God.” No, you can’t.
There’s no way you can get into the presence of God when there’s unpunished sin. And, you see, that’s why He had to suffer to be the perfect leader. He couldn’t lead us to God unless He had paid the price of sin. Through His suffering, He became the perfect archēgos, the perfect pioneer, the perfect leader, the perfect trailblazer. And only by dying for us could He open the path; and He opened it wide so that many sons can come to glory by following Jesus Christ. He paid for sin.
You know something; do you realize that in three hours on that cross, in three hours Jesus paid the penalty of sin that it’s going to take all the souls of all the ages an eternity, and they’ll still never have it paid? Did you know that? Did you know that people are going to spend eternity in hell – godless people, Christ-less people – an eternity in hell paying the penalty of sin? Do you know that Jesus Christ gathered up an eternity of punishment and paid it all in three hours and walked away from it a risen Savior. Now that’s power, my friend, that’s power.
The cross was a masterpiece. God exhibited a solution to the problem which no human intelligence could every answer, the problem of, “How does God communicate mercy and grace to a sinful people?” He brought mercy and justice together at the cross. Christ paid the penalty, bore an eternity of judgment in three hours, and yet He was not destroyed. Oh, what a powerful person. And thus He became our perfect archēgos. He opened up the trail.
I remember reading some years ago a story of a Swiss patriot by the name of – strange name – Arnold Winkelried, and Arnold, we’ll call him, Arnold was – if you go to Switzerland today you’ll see statues of Arnold, because he’s a very, very famous Swiss patriot. Switzerland was a buffer state. It never really had any identity of its own, except that everybody in Europe who wanted to fight a war went over to Switzerland to fight it; and they got tired of being the battlefield for everybody’s armies. And nations would be, you know, in conflict, and they’d say, “Well, we’ll meet on Switzerland’s soil and we’ll have a war,” and the Swiss people were a little tired of it. So they decided they were going to put up resistance.
There was a great army moving down from the north from Germany, and they used to march in what they call a phalanx, which is about a mile or two-mile long string of men all shoulder-to-shoulder, and all the troops behind them. And the frontline men have shields, and they march like a sidewinder across the mountains in this great long string, and all the other artillery and things are behind them; and they came sweeping toward this village. Well, Arnold gathered the peasants and they got together a Swiss army, and they decided they’d stop this army if they could. They began to think about strategy, and they knew it was only one way to do it, and that was to break the phalanx and infiltrate it, and destroy it from the inside. And so as it approached the little village where they were gathered; and all they had was pitchforks and shovels and sticks and staves, and that was it.
As that phalanx moved close to that village, Arnold, with a cry of glory to Switzerland, started running, and he ran right at the middle of the phalanx. And as he ran, he gathered into his chest the spears and the arrows that were shot at him. He broke through that phalanx and didn’t make it through but a few yards until he collapsed dead. But right on his heels not a yard behind was the whole Swiss army that went in and routed that great European army and drove them back in that one day. It would have been a tragedy if Arnold had run all that way, broken through the phalanx, fallen dead, and all the other Swiss had been sitting back saying, “Oh, Arnold. Had a good heart, he did. Meant well.” But they were on his heels.
You know something – listen, my friend: Jesus Christ has done the same thing. He ran right into the battalions of hell. He gathered all the arrows and spears that wrath and judgment from God could send at Him. He gathered them up and He burst through, and all He asks you to do is follow Him and claim the victory. He’s the perfect archēgos. He’s blazed the trail. The victory’s there, it’s yours. And so we see our substitute and our salvation captain. He became that because He died. He was born for no other reason.
Third thing. Oh, this is so thrilling it just blesses my heart. Third thing is in verse 11 through 13. Thirdly, He became our sanctifier, our sanctifier. Verse 11: “For both he that sanctifieth” – that is Christ, that’s talking about Christ; He’s the one that sanctifies. Sanctify comes from a word hagiazō, to make holy. “He that makes holy and they who are holy are all one; for which cause He is not ashamed to call them” – what? – “brethren.” I tell you, that’s one of the most thrilling, just fantastic concepts.
And I want you to see this; just unbelievable. You know what this tells us? Just listen to this: Jesus Christ is holy, and He is capable of making you and I holy. We are the holy ones in verse 11. He is holy, and they who are holy are one through His death. Now, listen to this: “Through His death and our faith in Him, believing and receiving Him as Savior, we are declared holy.” Did you get that? That is positional truth. Before God by your faith in Jesus Christ, you are holy if you know Christ.
Now, the practical end of it is you ought to act like it. There’s still sin in our lives; but positionally before God, we’re holy. You say, “How does that work?” Listen, when Christ died on the cross, how much of my sin did He pay for? Every bit of it, all of it. That means God cannot hold me responsible in terms of judgment for any sin. That’s why Paul says, “There is no judgment to them who are in Christ.” It all was on Christ at the cross. God therefore says, “Positionally because of your faith in Christ, you are holy.” He’s paid for every sin you’ll ever commit.
Now, we know that’s not license, because love doesn’t let it be, does it? But do you know that if you know Jesus Christ you’re holy, you’re holy. What is holy? Perfectly righteous. Now, that’s positional truth. God looks at you and says, “You’re righteous. You are holy.” Did you know that? Why even the Corinthians who were all messed up in terms of their practice, He says, “Now are you holy.”
They were holy, hagiazō to make holy, to be holy. From it comes the word hagios, which means holy ones or saints. We’re saints. We are holy before God. There’s never a sin recorded against us, never; we’re holy. He that sanctifies or makes holy and they who are holy are one.
Did you know the fact that because you are holy, you’re one with Christ, because He’s holy? You say, “Are we the same holy that He is?” That’s the only kind of holy there is. You don’t say, “Well, I’m Holy Number 1. No, I’m Holy Number 49. No; well, I’m Holy Number 184.” No, there’s not degrees of holy. Holy is holy, without sin. Positionally, if Christ has paid for all my sin and bore it all, God’s records declare that I am holy. That’s an exciting truth, isn’t it: positional holiness in Christ. Listen, He took my sin, and gave me His righteousness. He took my iniquity, and gave me His holiness. Oh, what a fantastic truth.
Look at Hebrews 10:10 and I’ll show you this truth. Listen, this is thrilling truth, Hebrews 10:10. Christ came, took on a body, died a sacrificial death to do the will of God, right, to be our substitute, salvation captain. Now, the will of God designed this, verse 10: “By which will” – that is the will of God – “we” – all believers – “are made holy” – or sanctified – “through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Did you read that right?
How are you made holy? Through going through the 89 motions, reading your Bible, being super pious? No. You were made holy through – what? – the offering of Jesus Christ’s body. How many times? For how many people? All. You became holy by virtue of the sacrifice of Christ, not by Christian activity. You don’t make yourself holy, my friend.
Oh, we endeavor, we strive to become more like Christ. We strive in practice to be what we are in position, don’t we? But positionally, you were made absolutely holy by His death in your behalf when you received Him as Savior. Now, beloved, that’s secure. You can’t take away holiness. It can’t be marred.
Verse 14, listen to this, 10:14, “For by one offering” – now watch it. What offering was that? Verse 10, the offering of what? Of His body. “For by one offering He had perfected” – for six months; – is that what it says? – “forever, forever, forever them that are made holy.” Listen, if you’ve ever been made holy, you’ve been made holy forever.
Dear people, do not believe that once you have received the imputed holiness of Jesus Christ there is anything in this universe that could ever take it away; there isn’t; there is not. You have been perfected forever through the offering of His body; and if you could lose it, then Jesus didn’t do it right. Listen, He made you positionally holy with the same kind of holiness that he knows. There’s only one kind; what a tremendous truth. Does that help you to understand who you are in Christ?
And then I love this. Oh, does this bless me. So holy are you that Jesus is not ashamed to call you – what? – brethren. Boy, I thought about that, I couldn’t believe it. You mean Jesus would actually walk up and put His arms around and say, “John MacArthur, I’m not ashamed to call you My brother”? And I began to think about that and it got to me, because I’ll be real honest with you; I have been in my lifetime, more times than I’d like to think about it, ashamed of Jesus Christ. Have you ever been ashamed of Him? I have. And you know something; I have nothing to be ashamed of. Why should I be ashamed of Jesus Christ; and yet I am.
You know something; He has everything to be ashamed of in me, doesn’t He, everything. Man, I blow it. You know, He’s never ashamed of me, never. You know why? Because positionally I’m holy, and He says, “Brother, do you know there’s no hierarchy among brothers. There is no hierarchy in that verse, is there: “Brethren.”
You know you’re one with Christ, the same holiness. His righteousness is yours. His holiness is yours and mine. Oh, what a fantastic thought: “We are one.” Isn’t that what He prayed for? Remember in the garden, He said, “Father, I pray that they may be one as We are one: I in You, You in Me, We in them”? His prayer got answered.
Oh, I remember after His resurrection Mary Magdalene came over and she was going to touch Him. He said, “Don’t touch Me.” I love this. John 20, verse 17, He says, “Don’t touch Me yet. I have not ascended to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.”
You say, “What’s so important about that?” Just this: He drew a parallel between a woman who was a professional prostitute and Himself, saying, “We both share the same God, the same Father. We’re brothers.” That’s something. That’s something. That’s the kind of holiness that Jesus Christ imputes to that one who believes in Him.
I’ll tell you, that thrills my heart. Oh, the apostle Paul talks about it in Romans 6, doesn’t he? “We’re crucified with Christ. We die with Him. We rise with Him.” Absolute identification with Jesus Christ.
May I say this: All men are not brothers. Some men are children of God, and John tells us some men are children of the devil. All men are not brothers. And I also add this: All men are not brothers with Christ, only those who are children of the same Father. Those who receive Jesus Christ become brothers with Christ.
Oh, thrilling thought. Such grace that He should call me brother without shame. Boy, when I hear truth like that, I’ll tell you it shames me. I think that’s the most thrilling truth in all the Bible is that positional truth that keeps telling me who I am in Christ, because sooner or later, you start acting like who you are.
Then in verses 12 and 13, the writer of Hebrews takes two Old Testament passages, which prophesied that Christ would call us His brother. Psalm 22 is in verse 12. He quotes Psalm 22. This is nothing new. Psalm 22, Christ speaks to the Father and says this: “I’ll declare Thy name unto My” – what? – “My brethren.” This is Old Testament truth.
The Messiah was going to call men His brothers. “In the midst of the congregation” – translated church there – “will I sing praise unto Thee.” In other words, “I’m going to be in the midst of other people. I’m going to be one of them and call them brother.” That’s an Old Testament prophecy, it’s nothing new. See, with Jewish readers He’d want to explain that this was nothing new.
Then in verse 13, He quotes out of Isaiah, chapter 8, where Christ again speaks and He says, “And again I’ll put My trust in Him, I and the children whom God hath given Me.” See how He identifies with other believers? See? “Together we’re going to trust God,” He says. “I’m going to take care of the brethren you give Me.” That’s Old Testament truth. Christ calls us brother and without shame.
God, help me to act like what I am. And so the Christ of God eternal, the second person of the Trinity, the holy sinless archēgos, the one whom angels adored became less than angels to suffer and die to be my substitute, to be my trailblazer to heaven in God’s glory. And He even stooped to call me brother, fellow son of God, joint heir; and He did it without shame, because He had made me holy in His own holiness. Can you resist that kind of love? I can’t. So our substitute, our salvation captain, our sanctifier.
Very quickly, verse 14, our Satan conqueror. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood,” – that is the children picked up from verse 13, we believers, human beings; we partake of flesh and blood; we’re fleshly, human beings – “He also Himself likewise took part of the same;” – He became what we are – “that through death He might destroy him that had power of death, that is, the devil.”
Now, the one thing that Satan has over man is death. Satan knows that the wages of sin is death. And if he can keep a man living in sin until he dies, he’s got him forever. And Satan’s great power is death, and somebody had to destroy that power. Somebody had to shatter death. Satan knew that if he could hold on, and still knows if he can hold on to men until they die that God can’t get them. For God has designed salvation to be in a man’s lifetime, not after. And so Satan uses the power of death. Endeavors to trap men and keep men until they die, and then God can’t touch them. This is Satan’s hold on men. They couldn’t escape death, they couldn’t escape the inevitable penalty of sin; Satan knew it. And if Satan could just hold men there, God couldn’t get them.
Now, somebody had to break this power, and it had to be a man. Some man had to conquer death, destroy Satan’s weapon; and that’s exactly what Jesus did. You see, it says in verse 14 that through death He did it. In other words, in order to destroy death, a man would have to die and rise again and leave the trail open for others to die and rise again; and that’s exactly what Jesus did. He came out of that grave, He exploded out of that shackle of death, and then He said, “Because I live” – what? – “ye shall live also.”
Listen, my friend, Jesus died and rose, and thus He destroyed Satan’s power of death, and He left a way open for you. He became a man to die as a man, and have a man’s victory over the grave. But He had to be God at the same time to have that victory. He shattered death’s grip, and so we say, “O death, where is thy sting? Grave, where is thy victory?” There’s no victory in death. Why, death is just passing from this world into God’s presence for those who love Him. Death; we don’t even experience it, because Christ shattered it. He came to die to destroy death that you might live.
Lastly, He was our substitute, our salvation captain, our sanctifier, our Satan conqueror, and our sympathetic high priest. Verse 16: “For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels, but He took on the seed of Abraham.” He didn’t become an angel, to die for angels; no. There’s salvation for angels. He became a Jew, Abraham’s seed, a human being, in order that He might identify with other men and die for men. He didn’t come to redeem angels, He came to redeem men.
Verse 17: “Wherefore” – now mark this next phrase – “in all things it behoved Him to be made like His brethren,” – He was like we are in every way, every way. Why? – “that He might be a merciful” – that is understanding us – “and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. And for in that He Himself hath suffered being temped, He’s able to help them that are tempted.” In other words, when you go to Jesus Christ to share your heart He can say, “I know, I know; I’ve been there.” Sympathetic high priest.
A high priest ministers between men and God, see. And you know what the perfect high priest would be? Somebody who experientially knew the mind of God and experientially knew the mind of man. And isn’t that exactly what Jesus Christ was? He was God in fact, and man in fact, the perfect mediary.
Listen, in all things, He was like we are. He was hungry. H was thirsty. He was overcome with fatigue. He slept. He was taught. He grew. He loved. He was astonished. He marveled. He was glad, sad, angry, full of indignance and sarcasm. He was grieved. He was troubled. He was overcome by the anticipation of future events. He exercised faith. He read the Scripture. He prayed all night. He sighed when He saw a man who couldn’t speak. Tears fell from His eyes when His heart ached inside. He was like His brothers in all things except for sin and sickness. And so He was a perfect high priest. Totally by experience He understood God. Totally by experience He understood man. He was the perfect one to bring the two together, perfect sympathizer.
Chapter 4, verse 15 of Hebrews: “For we have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities;” – no. He can, can’t He. “He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” He’s sympathetic. We can touch Him with our feelings and He’ll know and understand. “Let us therefore” – verse 16, because He’s sympathetic – “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” We can go boldly and say, “Christ, I want to share this with You; and I know You understand, because You’ve been there.” Perfect high priest.
Oh, what a Savior, what a Savior. Mighty God, adored of angels, yet the all-tender man. One far above, yet our brother in holiness. One with divine attitudes, yet feeling our needs and our emotions and our passions: our substitute, our salvation captain, our sanctifier, our Satan conqueror, our sympathetic high priest.
Take another look at the manger, would you? Take another look. Who art Thou, precious little babe, nestled in the hay? God I am, come to earth this day. Why didst Thou come, sweet little babe, nestled in the hay? To die I came, the price of sin to pay. Whose sin, tender little babe, nestled in the hay? Your it was, that brought Me down today.
Let’s pray. God, we know ours it was that brought You down that day. And, God, our hearts are filled with praise and thanks for that unspeakable gift of Jesus Christ. O God, I beseech You. If there are some here this morning who have never met Jesus Christ, who know nothing of the true meaning of Christmas or of life or of anything else for that matter, that today might be the day when they come to know Jesus Christ, and love Him as we do.