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Hebrews 2:1-2:18
Key Verse: 2:10

In chapter 1 we mainly thought about who the Son Jesus is, through whom God had spoken in these last days. He is indeed the Son of God as the heir of all things and Creator of the universe. While living on earth he revealed himself as the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of God’s being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. He obeyed God unto death as the fulfillment of God’s promises given to mankind and thus provided purification for man’s sins. Then he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. In this way in chapter 1 the writer of Hebrews focuses on the divinity of Jesus, the Son of God, who is thus definitely superior to angels. And his identity as the Son of God was clearly confirmed through the words of the Old Testaments. In chapter 2 the writer focuses on the humanity of Jesus as the Son of Man. He is the author of our salvation made perfect through suffering and is our merciful and faithful high priest. We can think about what this means to us. May we be full of thanks to God for this Jesus on this Thanksgiving.

First, pay attention to the great salvation (1-4). In verse 1, “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” If a ship is not securely tied to the dock, it can drift away from a safe harbor. Whether the waters are calm or rough, there is an undercurrent that is always moving. It causes the ship to drift gradually and aimlessly until it is caught in dangerous waters and wrecked. The boat should always be securely tied to the dock. In the same way, if we do not pay careful attention to the message of salvation, we can drift away in the tides of worldly ideas or the devil’s temptations which always circulate around us (1Pe 5:8). Drifting away is a dreadful thing. In that there is almost no way of surviving.

Then in verses 2-3a, “For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation which was first announced by the Lord…” Here the author contrasted the message spoken by angels and the message of great salvation announced by the Lord. The message spoken by angels was related to the law. Anyone who violated and disobeyed received just punishment. Eventually this message condemned people to death. The author also writes of the message of great salvation. In the Old Testament salvation has various meanings: salvation from enemies, poverty, disease, or natural disasters. Yet, here great salvation is salvation from our sin, death and eternal condemnation, which is most serious to mankind. This great salvation is perfect, ultimate, everlasting. The message of salvation was spoken by the Lord. How much more seriously should we take it! If we ignore this great salvation, there is no escape, only the inevitable judgment, final and eternal.

Then the author tells the trustworthiness of the message of the great salvation. In verse 3b, “This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.” From the outset of the messianic ministry Jesus proclaimed the good news of God, saying, “The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mk 1:15) Then it was confirmed by apostles and many others whose lives were transformed by the gospel of salvation and became witnesses of Jesus’ death and resurrection. And God also testified to it. The point of God’s signs, wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit was to testify to the gospel message.

We must pay the most careful attention to the word of the gospel, the message of the great salvation so that we may not drift away. Spiritual drifting can happen little by little as one ignores the word of God gradually becoming relativistic in the attitude to God. We all should watch out for spiritual drifting.

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther (1483-1546), known as the father of the Reformation, posted ninety-five propositions (or theses) on the Castle Church door at Wittenberg, especially arguing that indulgences cannot remove guilt. That was the spark that ignited the Reformation. At the Diet of Worms before the powerful emperor Charles V, a convinced Catholic who asked him to recant what he wrote, Luther responded, “My conscience is a prisoner of God’s word. I cannot and will not recant, for to disobey one’s conscience is neither just nor safe. God help me. Amen.” Since then his life was in a great danger. But God protected in an unexpected way. Then hidden at Wartburg he did the most significant work of German translation of the Bible. The translation of the New Testament, begun at Wartburg, was finished two years later; the Old Testament took ten years to be completed. Now we know that Sola Scripturahen (we are saved by the Scriptures alone) is the core of Christianity along with Sola Fide (by faith alone), Sola Gratia (by grace alone), and Solus Christus (by Christ alone). The pioneer in the translation of the English Bible was William Tyndale (1494-1537). Because of this work of Bible translation he was imprisoned for seventeen months and went to his death at stake. Before his death those who loved him came to him secretly and tried to help him to save his life, saying, “Just say that the work of your Bible translation was wrong, and you can escape from being burned at the stake.” But he replied, “The word of God is a jewel and the most holy remains on earth, and the guide of our faith. It is God’s will to place the English Scripture into the hands of the common man. Nothing even such death cannot stop this work of mine” He gave his life to guard the truth of God’s word. His dying prayer was, “Lord, open the king of England’s eyes.” Then around 70 years later at the reign of King James I of England King James Version of the Bible came. What a grace it is that the word of God is right before us. We can avoid spiritual drift by dropping the anchor of our souls in the deep waters of the word of God.

Second, Jesus, author of our salvation made perfect through suffering (5-13). Now then the author talks about the great salvation in detail. Look at verses 5-8. “It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified: ‘what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than angels; you crowned him with glory and honour and put everything under his feet.’” This is a Psalm of David written in Psalm 8:4-6. This Psalm describes man’s position as a ruler. In this Psalm David marveled at God’s creation of man over all other creations. God put man in the highest positon among all his creation as God commanded in Genesis 1:28, “…subdue it. Rule over/have dominion over…” But because of sin man lost his position and dignity. The world became survival of the fittest with order of love broken. Man became ignoble and degenerated. Instead of being full of love and care and conquering spirit man is full of selfishness and irresponsibility and fear and defeatism. So here the author continues, “In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him.”

Then there is a transition. The author of Hebrews interprets the text of Psalm 8:4-6 as ultimately pointing toward the ideal image bearer and Davidic king, Jesus Christ. Look at verse 9. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Here is the first reference to the name “Jesus” in Hebrews. Up to this point, the author refers to him as the “Son.” Now, specifically in the context of the Son’s humiliation and incarnation, the author chooses to remind his audience that the eternal Son became a man named Jesus. Jesus came as the last Adam in flesh and blood, like all other human beings, made a little lower than the angels. He lived a life of suffering to the point of death. His life seemed to be a failure under the power of sin and death. Yet, it was not. For his suffering and death was an act of obedience to God. God was so pleased with him that God crowned him with honour and glory by raising him from the dead (Rev. 5:12). Verse 9b says, “…so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Here we see the deep meaning of his death. His death was not the punishment of God as the wages of sin like all other human beings. Rather his death was for others, for everyone. He tasted bitterness of death for everyone. And this is by the grace of God. What an amazing grace in the deep providence of God! His death was once for all. His death was for the sake of every human being in that in Christ Jesus death is not the sting of death but a door into the crown of glory and honour for his death was substitutionary for everyone who believes. In this way man’s position and dignity lost in Adam is restored in Christ Jesus.

Then in verse 10 the author goes deeper into his grace: “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.” Here the word “perfect” signifies the perfection or completion of a process. Jesus is the author (founder, pioneer) of our salvation. It was through his suffering and death on the cross for our sins, certainly in obedience to God’s will. Thus he brings many sons and daughters to glory of becoming God’s children restored in the dignity and position of original human beings. Isaiah described the coming Messiah in 53:3, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” He knows all our human sufferings, small or big, physical or mental. In the history of Israel, the time of human blessing and prosperity was the time of turning away from God and abandoning him. However, at the time of suffering and agony, they sought God and could come back to God. Suffering can make people serious about their lives and take steps toward God. The author of Hebrews knew that the audience of the Jewish Christians were in much suffering in their own life situation due to severe persecution. He must have believed that through their sufferings they would come near to Christ Jesus, the author and pioneer of their salvation, who was made perfect through suffering and they would be full of thanks for bringing them to glory. When we think of our lives, the time of suffering is the time of true blessing. Certainly God who is almighty could make the life of Jesus the author of our salvation be easy and happy-go-lucky. But God did not do so. Truly, how fitting it is that God for whom and through whom everything exists should make the author of our salvation perfect through suffering. So Hebrews 13:12-13 says, “And so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore.” When we are misunderstood or burdened by many crosses in life, or treated unjustly, being rejected and despised, it is the very time for us to come Jesus, the author of our salvation and go deeper into his grace that made us holy and glorious. It is forever true in Christian life: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow.”

Look at verse 11. “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” What a grace! When we believe in Christ Jesus, our family name is changed into “Wonderful.” And Jesus is my brother, Jesus and I having God as the same Father. The heir of all things, the Creator of universe and King of kings is my brother. What an unfathomable grace! In a family, the older brother’s role is very important. Siblings follow his example in a special way because he understands from his experience how to navigate life under parental authority. Jesus became our big brother, and we follow his footsteps (Ro 8:29). Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers. He says, “‘I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises’ And again, ‘I will put my trust in him.’ And again he says, ‘Here am I, and the children God has given me.’” The first citation explains that Jesus makes God the Father known to his brothers and sisters by declaring God’s name and singing his praises publicly (12). The second citation reveals Jesus’ complete trust in the Father as an example for brothers and sisters (13a). In the third citation, Jesus identifies himself with God’s children (13b). What a blessing it is that we become God’s children, with Jesus our big brother. This Jesus the Son of Man is also definitely superior to angels. All we need to do is follow Jesus and grow in his image. He says, “My righteous will live by faith” (10:38). We thank and praise God for his marvelous grace in our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus.

Third, Jesus, our merciful and faithful high priest (14-18). Look at verses 14 and 15. “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” In sharing in our humanity, he was embodied and limited by time and space. He experienced hunger and thirst and tiredness. He also experienced sorrow and weeping and agony of soul, which angles could not. The climax of Jesus’ sharing in our humanity was his death.

He died like all other human beings. But his death was different in that his death was the victory over the power of death, while the death of all others was a defeat by death. How ironic it was that his death was victory over the power of death! Why is it so? No human wants to die. But death is inevitable to all people. However, in the gospel story we see that Jesus chose to die. He said in John 10:17-18, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” He chose to die, for it was the only way of saving mankind who are all sinners before God. The wages of sin is death. So the devil has been holding the power of death, taking captive of all mankind. But through his death, the death of a sinless one, he paid the full price of sin. Thus he destroyed the devil. Now the devil lost power/right to hold the power of death. So in Christ Jesus the devil has no power over us. Christ Jesus indeed frees those who all their lives are held in slavery by our fear of death, which is the root cause of all other fears and sorrow. Truly his death is the powerful and freeing death. Those who are freed from the power of death live by resurrection faith, as Paul said, “I die every day.”

Look at verse 16. “For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.” Angels have no fear of death, but humans, as we have already considered, do. Who my helper is matters in life. A Psalmist confessed, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (118:6,7). The author of Hebrews quoted this in 13:6. Now truly he helps and he is my helper. How? Look at verse 17. “For this reason he had to be make like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.” He became fully human to become a merciful and faithful high priest. He helps us by becoming a merciful and faithful high priest. In the Old Testament a high priest stood before the holy God on behalf of sinners through many animal sacrifices. Now Jesus became our merciful and faithful high priest through his own sacrifice of atoning death. Human beings’ fundamental problem is sin problem. Sin makes us weakened, depressed, and despair. No one welcomes us in our sins. But we can come to our high priest with our sin problem. He does not condemn us but shows his mercy. Our merciful high priest understands us. We can come to him again and again, for he is faithful. We can also come to him on behalf of God’s flock of sheep, with their sin problems.

So verse 18 says, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Adam and Eve were tempted and yielded. He was tempted by the devil regarding the bread, worldly glory and honour, and short cut to success. But he overcame the temptation by the word of God. On the cross, he was tempted and then endured the cross to the end by entrusting himself and all things to God the Father, who judges justly (1 Pe 2:23).

We are vulnerable to temptation due to our sinful desires. James says, “…but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desires and enticed” (Ja 1:14). These evil desires are described as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 Jn 2:16). Because of these desires, we are easily tempted by the devil’s prompting. We are tempted to worship the idols of money, fame, sex and power. We are tempted to be self-centered and complacent, avoiding self-denial and taking our cross and suffering. Because we are weak, and these temptations are so strong, we cannot overcome them by our own effort and will. Each person feels alone in times of temptation. But we can come to Jesus, our merciful and faithful high priest.

Praise God for Jesus, who is the author of our salvation made perfect through suffering, our big brother and our merciful and faithful high priest. May we come to him, especially with our sins and at the time of suffering, and go deeper into his grace. May we pay the most careful attention to the message of the great salvation in this relativistic and deceptive world.

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