Hebrews 2:10-18 Jesus Christ: Merciful and Faithful High Priest WC McCarter
We have all heard watched movies and heard stories of people getting lost in the woods or stranded on a deserted island. You may be able to recall an actual time that you got lost. Put yourself in that position for a moment. Can you imagine being in the middle of a forest that you have never been in before? Forests can cover acres and acres of land, can’t they? Imagine being there for days and cannot get yourself out of that place. Then imagine that a woodsman shows up there in the middle of the woods; he grabs your hand and begins to lead you out. You would be crazy not to follow him, wouldn’t you? There are no paths out of those woods, but this mountaineer begins beating down a path. He sweats and groans, gets cuts and bruises, but he is forging a trail out of that desperate place. Without that man, you would simply die in those woods. That man would be a Savior, wouldn’t He? He would also be a Pioneer, a Trailblazer.
Now, if you push the analogy too far, it will no longer stand, but this is exactly what Christ has done for us. He is the Captain of our great salvation, a Pioneer of a special work. The pioneering work that He has done sets captives free. It offers salvation from the wrath of God for the whole world, all who will call on the name of the Lord. Hebrews declares this to us in 2:10-18. Will you take a look at that passage with me this morning?
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
The Source of Salvation (10)
Verse ten is an introductory verse into this next passage. It declares to Christians the source of their great salvation. It continues the theme introduced in verse nine, which we saw last week, of Christ’s atoning death. In this passage, we will see an explanation of the “grace of God.”
We are told that it was fitting that God the Father would perfect God the Son through sufferings. What makes that so appropriate? How is it that Christ was made perfect in sufferings? Let’s tackle that first question. Hebrews has gone to great lengths to show the majesty of Christ, but now it goes to great lengths to show His humility. How is it appropriate to make God perfect through sufferings? This is the great mystery of the ages. This is the great doctrine of Christianity. No pagan in ancient times and no person in modern times can wrap their mind around the idea that God can suffer. In fact, that would have been an absurd thought to those of the first century. The gods were mighty and powerful, wise and untouchable. Then, Christians come along preaching a God, The God of the universe who has suffered in the place of all humanity (meaning, suffering to the point of death on the cross). The emphasis of verse ten is on the word “fitting.” As one commentator has said, “. . . what God has done in the suffering of Jesus is in line with his holiness and love and has accomplished God’s plan to redeem people” (Guthrie, 107). In Christ’s sufferings that righteousness of God was satisfied and the love of God was fully evidenced. It was appropriate for Christ to be perfected through sufferings because it may Him both Just and the Justifier of men and women. The phrase “made perfect” refers to His completion of the work. It is the same root word that Christ used on the cross when He said, “It is finished.” For Christ to be made perfect means that He brought the plan of the Father to its intended completion, its end.
The completion of this suffering was appropriate, as we have seen, but it also made Christ the Captain of salvation because He brings many sons and daughters to glory. The word “Captain” has been translated several ways. The NIV uses the word “Pioneer” while other translations uses a variety of terms such as Founder, Leader, Author, and Source, among others. Hebrews means to tell us that Christ has a preeminent and unique place in salvation history. He is the Trailblazer. He has done something that no one else could do. He is the first, the first to do this thing and the first in rank. He is the leader. He is that mountaineer who finds the lost person in the woods and beats down a path to get them out. He is the one who sweats and groans in behalf of another. He gets cuts and bruises to lead the lost out of the place of desperation. He has done so to such a great extent that analogies can only help us to understand what He has done because an illustration could never fully explain the magnitude of His saving work.
If He is the Captain, then He must be leading someone. Who is it that He leads, and where is He leading them? He is leading many sons and daughters, and He is leading them to glory. The sons and daughters who are being led are of the household of faith. It is not just anyone that He leads to glory, but only those who are God’s people by faith. Glory is “the heavenly realm in which people experience the presence of God” (Guthrie, 107). Jesus takes us to heaven.
A Holy Family (11-13)
The great doctrine of the Christian Scriptures is that one which says that God became a man in order that He might redeem sinful humanity. God immersed Himself into humanity in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The New Testament is clear on this doctrine. Listen to some of the verses: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) “[He] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man. . .” (Phlp 2:7-8) “God was manifested in the flesh. . .” (1 Tim 3:16). “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. . .” (1 John 4:2). “. . . concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh. . .” (Rom 1:3). “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman. . .” (Gal 4:4). “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:9).
In the incarnation, Christ has completely identified Himself with humanity. He has made Himself a brother of all those who will trust in Him. He is the sanctifier, we are those who are being sanctified, and we are all of the same family. He is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters. In verses twelve and thirteen we get scriptural proof to that effect from Psalm 22 and Isaiah 8. These two passages are chosen because of their reference to brethren and God’s people being called children, both passages are about Christ living with mankind, and they also speak of Jesus’ suffering (Guthrie, 110). This makes for great background for the author’s point that we are all family of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He Destroyed Death and the Devil (14-16)
In verses fourteen through sixteen, we see the reason for the incarnation. It was absolutely necessary for Christ to put on flesh and blood and move into our neighborhood. This was the plan of the Father. It was the only way that God had designated for the sin problem to be remedied. What was it He specifically did to lead us to salvation? He destroyed death and the one who had the power of death, the devil. He freed us from the fear of death.
“Thus, Jesus took on our flesh and blood to nullify the devil’s work” (Guthrie, 110). Remember, Satan is an angel, a fallen one, and Christ is greater than all of the angels. His name is far greater than any of theirs. Here is the logic: to undo what Satan had done, Christ would have to die; to die, Christ would have to become a man; and that is exactly what He did! Not only is the devil defeated, but death is defeated as well. If death is defeated, then we have freedom from the fear of death. Without His great work of salvation, we would all our lives long fear death. We would always have the sense that it could happen at any time, and we could do nothing about it. And after death there is what? Judgment. What a great relief, a great freedom Christ has given us. Death is nothing for the believer, but access into the grace of God. It is the time when we will see Him face to face. There is no fear in this. There is love, joy, and peace.
Verse sixteen mentions quickly and briefly, as if to put the nail in the coffin of the idea that angels are as great as Christ Jesus, that God does not give aid to angels like He has the seed of Abraham. We are Abraham’s children because we have come to God by faith just like he had. There is no aid for angels, and there is no salvation for fallen angels. God has done this for us.
Merciful and Faithful High Priest (17-18)
The last two verses conclude this section. We encounter the word “therefore.” In light of all that has just been said, the author states, Christ had to be made like His brethren. This is what makes Him a merciful and faithful High Priest. A major section on the doctrine of Christ’s High Priesthood will come soon in the book of Hebrews, but here we are told that Christ made propitiation/atonement for the sins of the people. He suffered to the point of death in our behalf. He was tempted and did not fall. Because of this He is able to Caption us to glory, atone for our sins, completely identify with us, come to our aid in all things including temptation. To be High Priest, he had to be human as well because High Priests were taken from among humans.
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) Follow the leader. He will lead you to glory. When you are tempted, lean on Him.
(2) God has completely immersed Himself into humanity that He may suffer to pay the penalty for our sin. In turn, you should be completely immersed into Jesus Christ. Give your life to Him- your time, energy, money, mind, devotion, and praise.
(3) This is such a great salvation. Do not harden your hearts to this message or, worse, do not neglect this by simply drifting away. Jesus Christ is a Pioneer. He has forged the path for you out of sin and He shields you from the wrath of God that is to come. Do not ignore this great work.