Turn in your Bibles to the second chapter of Hebrews. For our study tonight, we’re going to be looking at verses 9 to 18. The title of the message is “Our Perfect Savior.” Hebrews 2:9 to 18.
Now, we’re continuing in our study of the book of Hebrews. We find ourselves at this point right here in chapter 2. And verses 9 through 18 are a beautiful description of Jesus Christ as the perfect savior. And I just and pray tonight as we study these verses – and we will not take the time to delve totally into every concept obviously, but as we study them, that those of you who, as me, are believers, will find yourselves drawn again to the perfections of your savior. Those of you who may not have received Jesus Christ, might find yourselves irresistibly drawn to him tonight, because you see him in all of his beauty.
A recent newspaper article hailed the arrival of the Son of God in the world. According to the article, the savior of the world, the Son of God, is a 13-year-old Indian guru whose name escapes me. Which is perhaps not such a great tragedy. He is being called by his followers “The Son of God.” He is really nothing new because he merely takes his place in a long line of would-be saviors of the world, of would-be Son of Gods, would-be Messiahs, going back to men like Theudas who tried to split the waters of the Jordan River and didn’t make it; Simon Magus, who tried to prove himself the Son of God by flying from a building. The flying was okay; the landing was miserable. Right on down to more modern-day men like Hitler, Father Divine, and someday finally an ultimate individual to make that claim, known in the scripture as the Antichrist.
But unfortunately for them and fortunately for us, none of them has ever made it. There is only one savior. There is only one perfect savior. That is Jesus Christ. And thus did Peter say, “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Jesus Christ alone is the savior.
Now, how is it that we know that Jesus Christ is in fact the perfect savior? Why should we believe that? What qualifies him? Well, the answer to that is given very beautifully in verses 9 to 18 of Hebrews chapter 2. A very complete answer that tells us why it is that Jesus Christ claim to be the perfect savior, is valid.
Now, just to give you a brief summary of what we’ve studied in Hebrews, let me remind you that the Holy Spirit is writing. We do not know to human author. The Holy Spirit is writing this letter to Jews primarily. That does not mean that it isn’t for all of us. But primarily in His mind is the Jewish frame of reference. He’s writing to the congregation of Jews located outside the land of Israel, very likely, second-generation Christians, in that did not know Christ but were witnessed to by apostolic missionaries. Some of them were saved; some of them were not. Some of them were intellectually convinced but had not accepted Jesus Christ as yet because they were hanging onto their Judaistic heritage and weren’t willing to make the necessary sacrifice of excommunication.
And so to them He writes, to prove to them that Jesus Christ is in fact the Son of God, that He is the mediator of a new and better covenant than the old covenant. And to the Christian Jew, He is saying, “Let of all of the ritual, of all of the trappings of the old covenant, for the new totally supplants it and replaces it.” To the unconverted Jew, He is saying, “Accept Christ because He is the mediator of a new and better covenant through His blood.”
Now, in order for the Holy Spirit to prove to the Jew that Christ is the mediator of a better covenant, He must then prove to the Jew that Christ is better than all of the issues that go along with the old covenant. And we learned already that the old covenant was mediate today men by whom? Angels. Therefore, the Holy Spirit must prove to the Jewish mind that Christ is superior to angels, which He proceeds to do, as we have already seen in the opening chapter and also in the beginning of chapter 2. He says that Christ is better than angels. And since the angels mediated the old covenant, Christ is therefore a better mediator and is covenant therefore a better covenant. And there is no reason at all to hang on to the trappings and the ritual of Judaism when one has come, mediating a new and better covenant. That’s His message to the Jews.
But even after the presentation as it’s come already in chapter 1 and into chapter 2, there are some lingering questions, because throughout this passage He has been attempted to prove that Jesus is better than angels. And the problem that is hanging in the brain of the Jew is this problem: How could Jesus be better than angels if in fact Jesus was a man, and on top of, that he died, for angels never die and they’re certainly higher than men? So the theological problem that they face is kind of the relating of the humanity of Christ and the death of Christ to the superiority of Christ over angels, who do not die, according to Luke chapter 20 verse 36.
And of course, as we saw in chapter 2 verse 9 last week when we began our study, where we’ll pick it up tonight, it says, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower, and we determine from the Greek that “little lower” is a time connotation, that what is it saying is that He was made or that He became or was made less, not created, poieō, but made less. He was made less for a little time, so that His nature was not lower than angels, but an incarnation for a little period of time. He became less than angels. And that’s of course the answer. Christ is by nature greater than angels. Only for a little time to accomplish a specific purpose, He became less than angels.
But that answer is expanded in this particular passage, as we’ll go through it tonight, because it really doesn’t – just that verse alone doesn’t answer the whole question. The second question that the Jews always were stumbling over, was the problem of the death of Christ, not only that if He was superior to angels, how could he die, but if he was anointed the God and the Messiah, how could he be the victim of death? And this is why whenever the Word of God was preached to Jews, as in Acts 17, it was needful that they them why Christ had to suffer, Acts 17:2 and 3. That’s the whole point of the message, because as Paul said to the Corinthians, the cross to the Jews is what? A stumbling block.
So they were still hanging on these two questions that found real problems in this particular view. How could Jesus be greater than angels if angels never die? How could he be this perfect savior if He Himself was killed? And this was the lingering question. And so it is in this passage, verses 9 to 18, that the Holy Spirit defends the incarnation, that He tells us why it is that Jesus did for a little time become lower than angels, and what He accomplished in doing that. And this is so very, very important.
And He also tells us this, that in fact He was made lower than angels in order to die. Did you get that? In other words, His death was the reason that He was made lower than angels, for what it accomplished. Those soft baby hands fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb were made to take two great nails. Those chubby feet, pink and white and without step, were to walk a hill and be nailed to a cross. That sacred head, with sparkling eyes and eager mouth, was made to wear a crown. That tender body, wrapped in swaddling clothes, would be ripped open by a spear, to reveal a broken heart. And for that reason did He come. As we saw this morning, the death of Christ was no accident, was it? It was God’s destiny. Jesus was born to die. And so it is not that Jesus loses His dignity by being lower than angels. It is that He becomes lower than angels for a very distinct and definite purpose, which He accomplishes.
And we saw last week what it was, didn’t we? You remember, I told you there were three phases to man’s relationship to God, and to angels, and to the world? When God created man in innocence, He gave him dominion over the earth, did He not? Man sinned, and what happened to him? He immediately lost his dominion. And Jesus Christ came to doing to remove the curse, so that man could regain his dominion. So there was a very definite purpose in Jesus coming to die. He came to restore the crown. And if He was going to restore the crown to men, He had to come as a man. And if He was going to remove the curse that was on man, He had to take the place of men. So He had to be a man. And even though He was lower than angels, He accomplished something that no angel could ever accomplish. He accomplished the restoring of the crown to men.
Now, in our text as we see this unfold, I want you to see five particulars, five perfections that His humanness and His death brought about. Through Jesus becoming less for a little time, He became our substitute, our salvation captain, our sanctifier, our Satan conqueror, and our sympathizer. What a perfect savior. And do you see the genius of the Holy Spirit at this point, to show that not only is the death of Christ not hard to explain if he’s greater than angels, but it’s the purpose for His incarnation. First of all, because Jesus was incarnate, because for a little time He was made lower than the angels, He became our substitute. That’s verse 9. But we see Jesus, who was made for a little time lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that He by the grace of God, should taste death for whom? Every man. That is the substitutionary death of Christ. He died in your place and in my place. This is basic to the Gospel.
Here is the first and foremost reason for the incarnation, the first and foremost reason for He who is better than angels becoming for a little time less than angels: that He might taste death on the behalf of every man. He came to die in my place, to be my substitute. The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel said, “The soul that sinneth it shall” – what? – “die.” The Bible lays down that principle again in the New Testament. The wages of sin is death. Sin brings death. Death is inevitable where there is sin. And so God, as He views man, has an option. Either He lets man die and pay for his own sin, or He allows a substitute to take the punishment of man and die in his place. And in fact, that’s was His design. In sending the second person of the Trinity, God humbled Himself, came to earth to die in my place, a substitutionary death.
And this is so important, because this is just the doctrine that modern-day liberalism and modern-day theology will not adhere to. They say Jesus died as an example of dying for a cause, that He died as an example of a martyr, this, that, and the other thing. He died as a substitute for your death and my death.
Now, this has many, many ramifications. And you’re familiar with its significance. But let me just take this verse apart for just a minute and show you the key clauses. First of all, we see in verse 9 is humiliation, when it says, “He was made or became less for a little time, lower than the angels.” A man was originally created for a time lower than angels. So if man was created originally lower than angels, then Jesus Christ, if He’s going to come and die a death for man, must become what man is, right? That’s the whole story of the incarnation. It is God becoming what man is, in order to substitute for man’s death, and therefore free man to life with God. That’s the simplicity of the Gospel. The whole concept though is stunning. It’s staggering. To realize that the creator of angels, the head of angels, the lord of hosts, the one worshipped by angels, should for our sakes, for a little time, become lower than angels. That’s humility.
And after having done that, notice in verse 9, He was lifted up to glory and honor. And so first of all, we see that he was humiliated for our sakes. Secondly, we see the extent of this humiliation when it says in verse 9, “He became a little lower than the angels for the suffering of” – what? – “of death.” He came to do precisely what no angel could ever do. Angels cannot die. But Jesus came to die. He went so far beneath angels, that He did something they could never do.
Now, you’ll notice that it also says there, “For the suffering of death.” His death was not only dying, but it was a suffering kind of dying. And this term “suffering” indicates that Christ’s exit from the land of the living will not be calm and peaceful, but it will be accompanied with outward torture and inward agony.
The third thing we see here is the purpose of His humiliation. The purpose of it was that He should taste death for every man. And I love the idea of tasting there, because as you well know, the Bible tells us that He tasted it and drank the bitter cup to the complete bottom. Every bit of it, He bore for us. And the death that He tasted was the curse of sin. As I told you this morning, what Jesus felt dying on the cross would be the total agony of every soul in hell for all eternity, put together and suffered in a few hours. All the punishment for all the sin of all time. That was the depths of his death. He was guilty of nothing; He suffered for everything, because He was our substitute.
In Galatians 4:4, Paul says, “But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His son, made of a woman, made turned law.” Why? “To redeem them that were under the law.” God sent His son, God incarnate, to redeem men. This to the depths of death, to be accomplished. In verse 15 of 2 Corinthians 5, it says, “And that He died for all” – did you hear that? – “that they who live should not henceforth live under themselves, but under Him who died for them and rose again.
And so Jesus Christ in His death, purposed to die as a substitute for every man. And it is only by the Son tasting death as a man, that I am free from death. You might make it analogous to the king’s taster. Historically, kings have always had somebody who tasted their food before it ever got to them. And the cup of poison that belonged to us was drained to the dregs by Jesus Christ before we could ever touch our lips to it. He substituted His own death for ours and released us to live with God.
Not only do we see those things, but we see not only the extent and purpose of His humiliation, we see the motive of His humiliation. And my, what a statement it is. Again we see it in verse 9, that He by the grace of God. Do you know what moved Jesus Christ to suffer for us? What did? What’s the one word? Grace, grace, the greatest word there is. Grace. Do you know what grace is? It’s free lovingkindness. When we didn’t deserve anything, when we deserved – let’s say this. When we didn’t deserve what we got but deserved what we didn’t get, we got what we didn’t deserve and didn’t get what we did deserve. You can untangle that later. That’s grace. You say, “What prompts grace?” Love. God’s great unbounded love prompted a gracious deed in our behalf. And solely on the basis of His own good pleasure, and solely on the basis of His sovereign will, did Jesus die, not by the hands of men alone, not by the deed of Satan alone, but by the determinant counsel and foreknowledge of God, He died for our sins.
Jesus made the statement, “No man takes my life from me” – John 10 – “I lay it down of myself.” The Bible says here, “In His love, not that we loved him, but that” – what? – “He loved us, and sent His son to be the propitiation” – or the satisfaction – “for our sins.” He was the substitute.
Then we see one other thing in this verse, and that’s the results of His humiliation. He was crowned with glory and honor. Oh, what a fantastic thing it is to realize that after Jesus had accomplished this task of substitutionary death, He was exalted to the right hand of the Father, and there He sits on a throne through which He reigns and will reign forever and ever and ever.
In Hebrews chapter 5, it talks about – verse 4, “And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not Himself to be made a high priest, but that He said unto Him, ‘Thou art my Son, today have I begotten Thee.’“ In other words, Christ didn’t glorify Himself; God glorified Him. And so Jesus was crowned by the Father with glory and honor. Philippians 2 says that He was highly exalted, and God has given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. Ephesians chapter 1 verse 21 tells us that Jesus Christ has been set over all principalities and powers. He’s been set over all might and dominion, and everything that is and is to come. And so the result of His humiliation was His exaltation.
And so the writer says to the Jewish reader, “We do not apologize for the cross. We do not shove it under the rug. For the cross magnifies the Lord.” The fact that He was a man, the fact that He died was no problem, for that was not the natural thing for him to do. He condescended to do that. So far from Christ humiliation and death being something of which we are ashamed, it is something for which we glory. And so Jesus is a worthy substitute. And He became that perfect substitute by becoming a man. If He had not become a man and died for us, we would die in our sins.
The second thing that Jesus Christ became in perfection because He was humiliated and came into the world, was our salvation captain. Not only our substitute, but our salvation captain. Verse 10, “For it became Him” – that means it agreed with his nature. “For it agreed with His nature, for whom are all things and by whom all things” – that’ll tell you who He is in His own nature. That’s before His humiliation. It agreed with Him though, even though He was by whom all – or for whom are all things and whom are all things, bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through suffering. In other words, Jesus had to come, He had to be a man, and He had to die, to be a perfect salvation captain.
Now, let me just give you a look at this verse. “For it became Him” – and evidently, this is a reference to God, although certainly it would refer to Christ as well – “for whom are all things and by whom are all things.” This means God not only made it all, but He made it all for himself. That’s because He wants glory. Remember that? All right. “It became Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things” – that is God – “in bringing many sons to glory.” God’s design in the world was to bring man to Himself, right? It was to bring sons into His glory. In order to do that, He had to make the captain of their salvation perfect. And in order to make Him perfect, He had to suffer. So Jesus needed to be incarnated, He needed to die in order to be a fitting salvation captain.
Now, let me just look at this word “It became Him.” It means it agreed with his character. That’s a beautiful thought. For example, God is wisdom, right? And it agreed with God’s character, His wisdom, to do what He did. The cross was a masterpiece of wisdom. God solve it had problem, which no finite brain could hope to solve, nor could angels ever solve it. But God in His wisdom, did it, became God’s wisdom. It agreed with God’s wisdom to do what He did.
Secondly, it agreed with His holiness. God showed on the cross His hatred for sin. Thirdly, it agreed with His power. It was the greatest power display that was ever given. Christ endured in a few hours what it’s going to to take in eternity to expend on sinners. Then it agreed with His love. It agreed with His grace, because it was substitutionary. It agreed with His nature to do this. And God’s desire was to bring many sons to glory.
Now, if He’s going to be bring many sons to glory, He’s got to tell us how to get there, right? But more than that, He’s got to have somebody to take us. I mean, it wouldn’t have done a bit of God — think about this — if Jesus had arrived here and left a man to heaven. It wouldn’t do any good. It’s got to be more than that.
Let me show you this. The word for “captain” here, it’s a fantastic word. Archēgos. It literally means, a pioneer or a leader. In Acts 3:15 and Acts 5, I think it’s about verse 30 or 31, it’s used to refer to a prince. It’s used in many references, archēgos, translated “captain.” But it always means, somebody who does something that somebody else enters into. For example, it’s used of a man who founds a family and others are born into it, or it’s used in a man who founds a city in which others come to live. And commonly, it was used of a pioneer who blazed a trail for others to follow.
The archēgos never stood at the rear, giving orders. He was always out front blazing the trail. And Christ is not standing at the rear, giving orders. He was out in front, blazing the trail. He has gone before us, hasn’t He? For example, He showed us the pattern of obedience, didn’t He? What does Hebrews 5:8 say? It says this: “Though He were a son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered. And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” In other words, by His own obedience, He blazed the trail of obedience that set the pattern for us. Not only that, He blazed the trail of love. He blazed the trail in suffering. Peter says, “Hereunto you were also called to suffer as Christ has suffered for you.” He blazed the trail through death and resurrection, and He said, “Because I live” – what? – “you shall live also.” “Whosoever believeth in me shall never die,” He said.
So Jesus is the archegos of salvation. He blazed the trail to God. He didn’t just get at the rear and tell us how to get there. He got out in front. And all we had to do was take His hand, and He led us into the presence of God. And so it is that God made Christ, for a little time, lower than the angels so He could come down to us, take our hands, and the perfect leader, the perfect trailblazer, the perfect pioneer could walk us into the presence of the father, else we would never have found it. It’s only when you by faith put your hand in that nail-scarred hand of Jesus Christ, that you’ll ever enter the presence of God. No other way. You’ll never find it on your own. Men have tried too long, and failed.
And so through death, He became the perfect leader. Because, you see, where the trail got tough was at the point of death, right? That’s where we couldn’t make it. And that’s why when He says, “Because I live, you shall have also,” that solves the problem. G.B. Hardy, in his little book Countdown, says that’s the ultimate question in the world. “Number one, has anybody ever cheated death? Number two, if he did, did he leave the way open for me?” Yes, somebody did cheat death: Jesus Christ. Yes, number two, He did leave the way open. All you’ve got to do is place your hand in His hand by faith, and He’ll lead you inside one side of death and right outside the other end. And you’ll say with the apostle Paul, “Oh, death, where is thy victory?” Where is the sting of death? Where is the victory of the grave? There isn’t any. Christ has given us the victory.
And so He became the perfect archēgos, not only telling us what to do, but taking our hand and blazing the trail to God. And He had to be a man to come into our world and lead us out, didn’t He? He couldn’t stand on a cloud and yell at us. He had to be what we are, most of all, conquer the barrier between us and God, which was sin. And He conquered it by bearing the punishment of death, and thus leaving the way open to life with God.
The third thing that He became was our sanctifier. Verse 11 to 13 – verse 11 — and this is fantastic — “For both he that sanctifyeth” – that’s Christ – “and they who are sanctified” – that’s us – “are all of one” – listen to this one – “for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Boy, that is an overwhelming concept. Overwhelming. He is the one who makes us holy. Notice it there. “For both He that sanctifyeth,” – or makes holy – “and they who are sanctified are all of one.” You say, “Well, does that mean Christians are holy?” That’s exactly what it means. You say, “Well, I’m not holy.” Yes, you are. You’re absolutely, totally holy. You say, that’s can just what I try to make you think. No. No, I’m not talking about your practice. I’m talking about what? Your position. Before God, you’re holy. You may not act holy, but you are. Just like a child is the son of his father and may not always act like it, he is.
You’re holy in the sense that before God, the righteousness of Christ has been placed in your behalf. You see, the two truths in the New Testament are practical truths and positional truths, what you are and what you act like. Positionally, you’re holy, you’re perfect. Colossians 2, “And ye are complete in Him.” Positional perfection. Practically, we’ve got a long way to go.
But here he says, “He that sanctifyeth and they who are made holy, were separated unto God positionally, are all one.” Did you know that? Did you know we’re one with Christ? Do you know that Paul calls us joint heirs with Christ. We literally become one. Why? Because the holiness that Christ has is our holiness. You got that? It’s ours. I do not stand in my own righteousness, no way. Paul says in Romans that the righteousness that is ours is the righteousness of Christ that has been given to us. Therefore, we are one with Him, because His righteousness is our righteousness. And as a result of being one with Him, He’s not ashamed to call us – what? – brothers. I’ll tell you, that’s a humbling thought, to have the Son of God call me brother, and not to be ashamed of it. I could imagine if He said, “Brother,” – you know. But to say, “Brother,” without any shame. Through His death, conquering sin, through His death, burying sin, He eliminated the sin possibility and He placed His righteousness on us in an eternal positional sense, and thus we became holy. He could never have done that, had He not come and died and paid the penalty for sin. So He had to come and He had to die to be our sanctifier.
Another word for sanctified is hagiazō. It simply means to make holy, from which the word “saints” come. And so it is that Jesus Christ alone can make one holy, and only through His death. Now, listen to this verse, Hebrews 10:10. “By which will we are made holy” – listen to this – “through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” We were made holy through His sacrifice. Verse 14, “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. He has removed the possibility of positional sinfulness. You are therefore as pure as God is pure positionally. You are as righteous as Christ is righteous positionally. Then you are entitled to be called a brother of Jesus Christ, in the sense of a common righteousness. Now, that must give you a little idea of what God’s grace must be like, that would stoop to pick us up and give us that kind of righteousness equality with Jesus Christ, and do it all out of love.
So the person who receives Christ is made holy, and it would never have been possible had not Christ paid the penalty for sin. And it is death then given us His righteousness. The Bible says, “He became sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made” – what? – “the righteousness of God.” The righteousness of whom? Of God in him. Whose righteousness do I bear? Little ol’ John MacArthur, 1972, Panorama City. The righteousness of the God of the universe. Now, the hang-up is I don’t act like it. And the whole picture of the Christian life is to become in practice what I am – what – in position.
All right. So then Jesus had to die to give us His righteousness. He had to bear our sin. And then we become one. We become one. We have the same God and father. We have the same righteousness. And Jesus calls us brother. Oh, what a fantastic thing. What a fantastic realization. And He’s not ashamed to do it.
I’m thinking of a verse. I think it’s – yeah, so Hebrews 11:16. “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.” Isn’t that terrific? Can you imagine God being happy to be called the God of you? Can you imagine that? Can you imagine God saying, “I am so happy that I am the God of John MacArthur”? Can you imagine that? And not be ashamed to say it. You know why? Not because of who I am, but who I am in Christ, because my righteousness is His.
I think about it almost in a backwards sense. Paul said in Romans 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,” right? But isn’t it a sad thing that God is never ashamed to call His own, but how often are we ashamed to call Him ours? And let’s get it straight. Who has the right to be ashamed of whom? I tell you, when I realize that Jesus is not ashamed to call me brother and that God is not ashamed to say, “I am the God of him,” that thrills my heart, and it makes me well aware that it’s in the righteousness of Jesus Christ that I stand, not in my own, which is at best filthy rags. And let me add this: All men are not brothers. Do you know that? All men are not brothers. Only others who by faith in Jesus Christ have his righteousness, are brothers.
Verse 12 – listen to this – he proves the brotherhood aspect by using Old Testament quotations, as always he does in Hebrews, because He’s writing to Jews. And He says in verse 12, saying – and here he’s quoting Christ, as if Christ is speaking in the Old Testament. Here are the words of Christ in the Old Testament. “I will declare thy name unto my brethren.” This is Christ talking to the Father. “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” Here you have a picture of Jesus Christ calling believers brother in the Old Testament.
Now, that is in Psalm 22. Psalm 22. That’s a fantastic thing. Now, Psalm 22, as we saw this morning, deals with the crucifixion, but it also deals with the resurrection. And in Psalm 22, by the time you get to verse 22, you’re into the resurrection. “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the congregation” – not the word “church.” It’s the Greek word, ekklēsia. It just means an aggregation. The Church is not in the Old Testament. The Old Testament is congregation. “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.” And that’s right after the crucifixion. So if you’ve got the crucifixion in one verse and Jesus standing in the midst of the congregation talking to His brethren and praising God, you’re going to have to have something in between, because you’ve got death in one verse, life in the next verse. What’s got to come in the middle? Resurrection.
And so, Jesus is pictured then in an Old Testament passage in a post-resurrection joy with His brothers. And what is this to say? This is to say to the Jewish reader that this idea of Jesus Christ the Messiah calling you brothers is something that comes right out of Old Testament truth. And this is a very convincing argument for the Jewish individual. And so, how often in scripture, especially in the book of Hebrews, does the writer turn to the Old Testament to corroborate the truth?
Now, let me had this. The Lord Jesus never called His people brethren on the other side of the cross, no place in scripture. They’re called disciples, they’re called friends, they’re called sheep, they are never called brethren. Why? Because they cannot be brethren until after the cross, when sin is paid for about the righteousness of Christ is imputed to them. Then they are brethren in the sense of an equal righteousness.
And as soon – watch this one. It’s a beautiful thought. File this one. Right after the resurrection, as soon as Jesus was risen from the dead, He said to Mary, “Go to my brethren,” for the first time it ever came out of His mouth. Because it was the first time they were ever His brethren. That’s a beautiful thought. Friends, yes. Disciples, yes. Sheep, yes. Not brothers yet, until they were one in righteousness perfected at the cross.
And so Jesus grabbed Psalm 22 not only to prove His death and resurrection, but to show them that that brotherhood begins in resurrection. The anointed Messiah then, in Psalm 22 verse 22, is seen among the congregation after His resurrection, taking His place as brothers in praise of God. Then He takes another text from Isaiah 8 in verse 13 to prove his point. In Isaiah 8:17, He quotes – and it says in verse 13, “I will put my trust in Him.” This is Christ talking in the Old Testament. “I will put my trust in Him, and again behold I am the children whom God hath given me.” Isn’t that beautiful? There you have Christ admitting that He lives by faith. That He lives by faith. It’s a tremendous realization. Christ is saying, “Like my brothers, I tread the path of faith.” And even in the Old Testament, it is revealed that Christ will put His trust in the Father. And it’s an equal statement. “Behold, I and the children whom God hath given me.” So it is that Jesus Christ takes His place as our brother, not certainly by nature, for we are human, he is divine; not in power, for we are again human and he is divine; but in righteousness we are brothers and in faith toward God we are brothers. Jesus when he was in this world, learned the obedience of faith, didn’t He, and thus became a perfect savior.
I’ll tell you, it’s a tremendous thing to realize that when we were called onto walk by faith, to submit ourselves and so live in dependence on God, we can follow the path that Jesus walked, because that’s exactly what He did. He said, “I only do what the Father shows me to do,” right, in his incarnation. So brotherhood with Jesus means that we have His righteousness and that we walk by faith, as He did. We are one in the sense of the faith life, as we are in righteousness. Tremendous truths.
Let me give you the fourth one. Jesus Christ is not only our substitute, our salvation captain, and our sanctifier, He is our Satan-conqueror. Verse 14 and 15. Now, you realize that somebody had to break Satan’s power over us, right? If we’re going to be free to live with God and experience what God has, somebody’s going to have to shatter power that holds us down. Now, what was Satan’s power over us? What is it today over men? Death. Death is Satan’s weapon. Sin is a part of it, but death is the ultimate weapon, right? If Satan can hang on to a man until he dies, he’s got him forever, right? So death is his weapon.
So somebody has to conquer death in order to conquer Satan and tear his weapon out of his hand. Verse 14, “For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same.” Why did he become man? Why did he die? Same question. Here’s another answer. That through death, He might destroy him that had the power of death that is the devil. Do you see? The only way to destroy Satan was to rob him of his weapon. And his weapon is death. Satan’s hold on men was death. Physical death, spiritual death, eternal death, but death, death, death.
And Satan knew that God required death for us because of sin. Satan knew that. Satan knew that as in Adam all died, that death had entered as a principle unto life. And he knew that men would die and go out of God’s presence to a hell forever. And Satan wants to hold on to man until they die, because once they’re dead, that’s the end. Men cannot escape after death. And if the devil can only hold on, he’s got them. So God needs to rest from Satan’s hand the power of death. And just for that purpose did Jesus come.
Now, how are you going to break Satan’s power? Simple. Conquer death, right? If you’ve got a greater weapon than him, his weapon is useless. You can’t fight against a machine gun with a bow and arrow. And if all Satan’s got is death and God’s got something greater, then Satan’s weapon is useless. And so Jesus provided something better than death. And what could be better than death? Life. And Jesus destroyed death. That’s exactly what it means in verse 14. It says that through death He might destroy him. Did you notice that it was through death that He destroyed Satan’s power of death? Did you get that? He dying, destroyed death. Why? Because He went into death and came out the other side and showed that He could conquer it. And then He said, “Because I live, you shall live also.” He left the pathway open. The resurrection of Jesus Christ, my friends, provides the believer with eternal life. It’s the only thing that could ever have done it.
Now, the idea of power of death there means dominion. Satan’s dominion over man was in the form of death, but Jesus shattered that dominion. Now, let me give you a little theological footnote here. There’s a good indication of the significance of the incarnation, God becoming man, in the word “partakers” and “took part.” “For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood.” Now, this is talking about Christ’s brothers, who are human beings, those of us who are believers. We are partakers of flesh and blood.
The word “partakers” here is koinōneō, from which we get fellowship or communion.” It means a partnership. We are partners in flesh and blood. That’s our common nature, right? But we are partakers of flesh and blood. It says then next, “But He also Himself took part of the same.” That is not koinōneō. That is metechō, which means he took hold of something that was not his own nature. We by nature are flesh and blood; He by nature is not. But willingly took hold of something which did not belong to Him by nature, He added to Himself an additional nature, in order that He might die in our place. And so there you have just a little hint at the incarnation from the words in the Greek. Jesus died and smashed Satan’s power.
And Revelation 1:18 says Jesus Christ has the keys of hell and – what? – death. And so Jesus became the death of death. As one writer says, He hell in hell laid low, made sin, He sin or through, bowed to the grave, destroyed it so, and death by dying, slew. And so Jesus Christ conquered death in His resurrection, and left the way open for us. He had to be a man to do it.
Verse 15 – and watch this – “And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Boy, could you preach a series of evangelistic sermons on that text. You know the thing that panics people more than anything else is death? Look at it there. Men are all their life subject to the bondage of the fear of death. It’s a fear. It’s a horrible fear. It’s the king of terrors. But when you receive Jesus Christ, does death hold any fear? No. We’re released from the bondage of the fear of death. And you actually look forward, where Paul says, “To live is Christ, and to die, promotion.” He says, “I don’t mind staying around here, but to die and be up there is far better.” And we see with Paul, hello, “Death, where is thy sting? Oh, grave, where is thy victory?” Death holds no fear. Death simply releases us to the presence of Jesus Christ. We are no longer in fear of death. Why? Because Jesus has conquered it. We’ve placed our hands in the hands of the salvation captain, and He will lead us in one side of the grave and out the other side. And you want to know something? You never could have done it if He hadn’t become lower than angels for a little while.
And so we see our perfect savior as our substitute, our salvation captain, our sanctifier, our Satan conqueror, lastly, our sympathizer. Verse 16, “For verily He took not on him the nature of angels, but He took on in the seed of Abraham.” That’s good. You say, “What’s the significance of that?” He didn’t come to redeem angels. If He’s going to come and redeem men, what’s He going to become? A man. The whole idea is to redeem men. If you’re going to redeem men, you’ve got to be a man. So He took on Himself the form of Abraham’s seed and became a Jew. Jesus was a Jew. I hope you understand that. You hear all these songs about Jesus is black and Jesus is white, and one song the little kids sing, that he’s all colors. He was a Jew. No question about it.
And somebody says, “How odd of God to choose the Jews.” And we wonder, why did He choose them? But if He had chosen somebody else, we would all have said, “Why did He choose them?” The Bible simply says, “I chose them because I loved them.”
Verse 17, “Wherefore” – since He was a man – “in all things it behooved Him to be made like His brethren.” The question of the Jews, “Well, if Jesus is God, how come He’s a man? If He’s higher than angels, how come He’s a man lower than angels?” Because it was necessary to be made like His brethren in all things. You say, “Why?” That He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself had suffered being tempted, He is able to help them or succor that are tempted.
You say, “Why did He become a man?” Because He came to reconcile men, that’s why. But not only did He come to reconcile them, make reconciliation, a high priest’s job was to take a man to God. Did you get that? A high priest’s job was to take a man to God. And Jesus made that reconciliation. He came to take men into the presence of God. But beyond that, He came also that He might help those that are tempted. He wanted to feel everything we ever felt, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest. You see, He came not only to save us, but He came to sympathize with us.
When Timothy was having problems — and Timothy had a lot of problems — Paul said to him, “Stir up the gift that is within thee. Fan the flame a little bit, Timothy. You’re running cold.” And Timothy was bugged by some of the heretics who were giving him a bad time. And people were pouncing on him because he was young. And remember, Paul said, “Don’t let anybody despise your youth. Be an example of the believers.” And Timothy was kind of defeated and he was getting an ulcer. And Paul told him to take a little wine for his stomach’s sake, to cure his ulcer.
Timothy had a lot of problems. But the final advice that Paul gave Timothy was this: He says, “Timothy, remember Jesus Christ born of the seed of David.” You say, “What does that mean?” That means, remember Jesus Christ in his humanity. Timothy, just remember, wherever you’ve been, he was there before you got there. And you can get down on your knees when the going gets tough, and you can say, “Lord, you know what you went through when you were here? I’m going through it now.” And you’ll know that He will say, “Yeah, I know.” And then He will say, “But there is no temptation taken you but such as is common to man. And God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above that. You are able, but will with the temptation also” – what? – “make a way of escape.” Jesus will say, “Yeah, I’ve been there.”
Isn’t it wonderful when you have a problem to go to somebody who’s been there and through it and out the other side with victory, and lean on them a little? You know how you have a problem, and you tell somebody and they don’t have any way to relate to it? And you feel like you just might as well not even tell them. You don’t understand. But you go to somebody who’s been there and back again, and you feel like you’ve found a rock to lean on.
Listen, Jesus didn’t just arrive in the world and die. He was in all things tempted like as we are, yet without sin. He wanted to be a merciful and faithful and sympathetic high priest. He was hungry. He was thirsty. He was overcome with fatigue. He slept. He was taught. He grew. He loved. He was astonished. He marveled. He was glad. He was angry. He was indignant. He was sarcastic. He was grieved. He was troubled. He was overcome by future events. He exercised faith. He read the scripture. He prayed all night. He sighed in His heart when He saw another man in illness. Tears from His eyes when His heart ached. He had” all. He felt everything you will ever feel. Only you want to know something? He felt it to the nth degree, because the one who never gives in to temptation feels temptation to its extreme on every occasion. Do you see?
Most of us never know the degree to which temptation can go, because we succumb about three-quarters of the way down the line at best. But Jesus never sinned, and thus He took the full shot of every single temptation that ever came, and He felt every pain that you and I will ever feel. You say, “Why did He do that?” That we might have a merciful and faithful high priest, who can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities. That’s why. I’ll tell you something, I don’t want a cosmic God who’s out there indifferent to me. I want somebody who knows where I hurt and knows where I feel pain.
And so the Holy Spirit is saying to the Jewish reader, “Look again, my friend. He had to become lower than angels, because He has to be the kind of a savior you can go to for not only salvation but sympathy.” This is our savior, the perfect savior. Our substitute, our salvation captain, our sanctifier, our Satan-conqueror, and our sympathizer. What a savior He is. The perfect savior.
Our Father, we thank You tonight for teaching us again from the Book, the perfections of our blessed Christ. Lord, we’ve just gone over these. We could have spent time and time on each of them. I want to thank You for a savior who is everything a savior needs to be. I want to thank You for a savior who died my death, who takes my hand and leads me to God, who leaves nothing undone, who feels the pain as I feel it, who hurts where I hurt, who sympathizes with me with tenderness and love. I want to thank You for a savior who conquered Satan, who was victorious for me.
And, Father, I just am overwhelmed by the fact that all I have to do by faith is accept what You have done, and it’s all mine. Oh, what a savior we have. Christ, I say to You, “I’m overwhelmed at your marvelous work of grace. And with all my heart and the hearts of all of us gathered here, we say thank You. And words cannot express what we feel.” We just pray in Your name. Amen.
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