“Identification” – Hebrews 2:10-18

August 5th, 2018

Hebrews 2:10-18


Aux. Text: Isa 53

Call to Worship: Psalm 22


Service Orientation: Jesus, as God, identified with us humans by suffering and becoming man so He could save us and we could become like Him:  glorious, holy, free, and full of eternal life.


Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  — 2 Corinthians 5:21


Background Information:

  • This section is one of the most precious in all the Epistle and requires careful consideration, for there is grave danger of misunderstanding some of its great declarations unless we are familiar with what the Word of God elsewhere reveals concerning the Person and work of the Lord Jesus. (H. A. Ironside, Hebrews, 46-7)
  • (v. 10) Sons in the ancient world held a position of honor and responsibility not held by daughters in the ancient world. The author of Hebrews uses “sons” to refer to all the people of God, male and female, as God’s honored children and receptors of his inheritance.  So when a female Christian reads that Jesus brings “many sons to glory,” she should interpret the statement as meaning “Jesus brings me to glory as an honored child for whom there awaits an inheritance.”  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 114)
  • (v. 10) It was fitting means that what God did through Jesus Christ was consistent with His character. It was consistent with God’s wisdom. The cross was a masterpiece of wisdom.  God solved the problem which no human or angelic mind could have solved.  What He did was also consistent with His holiness, for God showed on the cross His hatred for sin.  It was consistent with His power, being the greatest display of power ever manifested.  Christ endured for a few hours what will take an eternity for unrepentant sinners to endure.  It was consistent with His love, in that He loved the world so much that He gave His only Son for its redemption.  Finally, what He did was consistent with His grace, because Christ’s sacrifice was substitutionary.  The work of salvation was totally consistent with God’s nature.  It was entirely fitting for Him to have done what He did.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 65-6)
  • (v. 10) Here the writer to the Hebrews uses one of the great titles of Jesus. He calls him the pioneer (archēgos) of glory.  The same word is used of Jesus in Acts 3:15; 5:31; Heb 12:2.  At its simplest it means head or chief.  So Zeus is the head of the gods and a general is the head of his army.  It can mean a founder or originator.  So it is used of the founder of a city or of a family or of a philosophic school.  It can be used in the sense of source or origin.  So a good governor is said to be the archēgos of peace and a bad governor the archēgos of confusion.

One basic idea clings to the word in all its uses.  An archēgos is one who begins something in order that others may enter into it.  He begins a family that some day others may be born into it; he founds a city in order that others may some day dwell in it; he founds a philosophic school that others may follow him into the truth and the peace that he himself has discovered; he is the author of blessings into which others may also enter.  An archēgos is one who blazes a trail for others to follow.  Someone has used this analogy.  Suppose a ship is on the rocks and the only way to rescue is for someone to swim ashore with a line in order that, once the line is secured, others might follow.  The one who is first to swim ashore will be the archēgos of the safety of the others.  This is what the writer to the Hebrews means when he says that Jesus is the archēgos of our salvation.  Jesus has blazed the trail to God for us to follow.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, Hebrews, 25-6)


  • (v. 10) Hercules was called “champion” (archēgos) and “savior” (soter). If this is the author’s intention, it is comparable to a modern preacher saying Jesus is “the real superman,” as crass as that might sound.  It was simply a way of expressing a meaningful analogy that Jesus has come to our rescue.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 108)
  • (v. 10) The basic meaning of teleios in the NT is always that the thing or person so described fully carries out the purpose for which designed. Therefore the verb teleioun will mean not so much to make perfect as to make fully adequate for the task for which designed.  So, then, what the writer to the Hebrews is saying is that through suffering Jesus was made fully able for the task of being the pioneer of our salvation.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series, Hebrews, 26)
  • (v. 11) We are “fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:17) because His holiness is now our holiness. His righteousness not only makes us holy but makes us His brothers.  This is the only way a person can become a brother of Christ, and therefore a child of God.  We are not born into the divine family, only reborn into it.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 68)
  • (v. 11) The Lord Jesus never called His people brothers on the other side of the cross. Before Calvary He called them disciples or friends or sheep, but never brothers.  Why?  Because they could not truly be brothers until after the cross, when their sin was paid for and His righteousness was imputed to them.  Only then did they become spiritual brothers of the Lord.  As soon as Jesus was risen from the dead, He said to Mary, “Go to My brethren.”  For the first time He called His disciples brothers.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 68)
  • (v. 11) It may be wondered why the idea of being ashamed is found in Heb 11:16 where God is not ashamed to be called the God of the patriarchs who died in faith. By way of contrast we may note that Jesus said that the Son of man would be ashamed of those who are ashamed of him (Mk 8:38).  Those ashamed of them, he will be delighted to regard them as “brethren.”  There could be no greater contrast between the destiny of believers and unbelievers.  Shame and glory are mutually exclusive.  (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale NT Commentaries: Hebrews, 90)
  • (vss. 12-13) Three OT quotations are introduced here, in which his solidarity with his people is set forth. (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 81)
  • (v. 12) As this seemed to be a great thing to say, the apostle felt obliged to quote three OT Scriptures to show the brotherliness of Christ, and His being “all of one” with us. (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 39)
  • (v. 12) In antiquity “name” generally signified more than an identifying label. It stood for the whole character, the whole person.  So in this psalm the writer sees Jesus as saying that he will proclaim God’s character as he has revealed himself, not simply that he will declare the name of God.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 28)
  • (vss. 12ff) The author of Hebrews uses these two messianic passages (Ps 22:22 and Isa 8:17b-18) for at least three specific ends. (1) With the emphases on the Messiah’s “brothers” and believers’ designation as “children,” these texts support the close family relationship established between the Son and the people of God.  (2) Both passages refer to the Son’s living with God’s people.  (3) In their broader contexts both speak of the Son’s suffering as well as his posture of trust toward the Father.  Consequently, they are appropriate for the author’s purposes, especially when understood against a fertile backdrop of early Christian messianic interpretation.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 110)
  • (v. 13) [Isaiah] Chapter 8 itself is a well-mined quarry of Messianic prophecies. Verse 8 with its prophecy of the name “Immanuel” (along with Isa 7:14) is used in Mt 1:23.  Verse 12, an exhortation to have courage, is quoted in 1 Pt 3:14ff.  And verse 14, which describes “a stone that causes men to stumble,” is applied to Christ in Rom 9:33 and 1 Pt 2:8.  So the whole of Isaiah 8 (though it is by and about Isaiah) has a rich Messianic aroma!  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 74)
  • (v. 16) In the OT Christ took on the nature of angels. He did that when He appeared as the Angel of the Lord, and these Hebrews understood that.  When Christ left heaven and came to earth, He came past the angels and came to fallen man.  He took on Him the seed of Abraham.  He came in the line of Abraham.  (J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: Hebrews 1-7, 47)
  • (v. 16) When the Son of God, the Creator and Lord of angels, humbled himself, he passed by angelic estate and stooped lower still, taking to himself human nature for the redemption of the human family. (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 87)
  • (v. 16) Because angels were not made in the full image of God and God could therefore not become incarnate in them, the fallen angels cannot be redeemed. No angel can ever become a member of the family of God.  They are created, not birthed from above; therefore, no angel can become a blood-born son of God.  Angels can never be partakers of the divine nature.

None can ever become a member of the Bridehood.  These marks of privilege and rank have been reserved for redeemed humanity alone.  (Paul E. Billheimer, Destined for the Throne, 34)

  • (v. 16) The humanity which the Son took to himself is described here by the expression the descendants of Abraham (literally, the seed of Abraham). The physical descent of Jesus from Abraham is traced at the beginning of the First Gospel (Mt 1:1ff.; also Lk 3:23ff.), and this itself is a testimony to the genuineness of his humanity.  The mention of Abrahamic ancestry here, however, denotes something more than that Christ was a Jew by birth.  In “taking to himself” the “seed of Abraham” he shows not only that he belongs to but also that he is the fulfillment of the line of the covenant.  The covenant established by God with Abraham is brought to a head and finds its consummation in Christ.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 117-8)
  • (v. 17) Only in Hebrews is the term “high priest” applied to Jesus in the NT. This is the first example of its use, and the author does not explain it.  He may want us to see Jesus as superior to all other priests.  Or he may be using the term because he sees Jesus’ saving work as fulfilling all that is signified by the ceremonies of the Day of Atonement, for which the high priest’s ministry was indispensable.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 29-30)
  • (v. 17) In this verse the term high priest occurs for the first time in Hebrews. In no other book of the NT is Jesus described as high priest.  Only in Hebrews is the doctrine of Jesus’ high priesthood fully developed (2:17-18; 3:1; 4:14-16; 5:1-10; 6:20; 7:14-19, 26-28; 8:1-6; 9:11-28; 10).  (Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 76-7)
  • (v. 17) The book of Hebrews is the only place in the NT where Jesus is referred to as a High Priest. The role was understood by the Hebrews reading this book because of their religious background.

Þ     Jesus is our merciful and faithful High Priest in the service of God, 2:17

Þ     We are to focus our thoughts on Jesus, the High Priest, whom we confess, 3:1

Þ      Jesus is our great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, 4:14

Þ      Jesus, our High Priest, is able to sympathize with our weaknesses because he has been tempted as we are, but he is without sin, 4:15

Þ      Jesus did not glorify himself, but he became our High Priest by God’s will, 5:5

Þ      Jesus is the author of eternal salvation, called by God as High Priest, 5:9-10

Þ      Our hope in eternity is sure, for Jesus went before us, having become a High Priest forever, 6:18-20

Þ      Jesus is the High Priest who meets our needs; he is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, and exalted above the heavens, 7:26

Þ      Jesus, as our High Priest, sits at the right hand of God’s throne in heaven, 8:1

Þ      Jesus came as High Priest of the good things to come, 9:11   (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews,29)

  • The action was consistent with God’s own nature. Now it’s true He is the supreme ruler of the universes and they exist for His benefit alone and He has a perfect right to do as He pleases.  But that’s not why He sent Jesus.  God is a GIVER by nature.  He is a loving and compassionate Person.  His own nature MOVED Him to act on man’s behalf.  That’s why the Lord came.  God is in love with man, has been ever since the day He made him.  Why?  Man is just like God, His own image.  He is designed to receive and return the love of God.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 43)


The questions to be answered are . . . How did Jesus identify with us?   Why did Jesus identify with us?


Answers: Jesus identified with us by becoming man.  He suffered and died so He could perfectly save us, make us holy, annihilate the fear of death, make us free, and make us right before God.  Jesus also empowers us to better resist temptation. 


The Word for the Day is . . . Relate


I-  How did Jesus identify with us?  Jesus humbled Himself and became man. (Heb 2:10-18; see also: Mt 1:25; Jn 1:1-14; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 2:1-11; Heb 1:1-4; 1 Jn 3:8)


Jesus identified with us so much that He even had to trust God as we need to trust God to have a life.


The progression of thought is like this:  the fact of solidarity (vv. 10, 11), the character of solidarity (vv. 12, 13), the liberation that comes from solidarity (vv. 14-16), and now the significance of the Church’s solidarity with its high priest (vv. 17, 18).  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 82)


Men are flesh and blood; he became flesh and blood (cf. Jn 1:14).  Men are sinners; he became sin for them that through him they might receive the righteousness of God (cf. 2 Cor 5:21).  His incarnation was for the purpose of destroying the devil and his work (cf. 1 Jn 3:8).  (Herschel H. Hobbs, Hebrews: Challenges to Bold Discipleship, 26)


It has been argued that Jesus was greater than the angels and that his greatness is to be seen in the salvation he obtained for us.  But he had lived on earth as an ordinary man.  There was nothing about the Teacher from Nazareth to show that he was greater than the angels.  Indeed, the reverse was true, for he had undergone humiliating sufferings culminating in a felon’s death.  The author proceeds to show, however, that, far from this being an objection to his greatness, this was part of it.  This was the way he would save men.  He would be made like those he saves.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 26)


The same is true of Christ and His spiritual children (Heb 2:13).  Christ became like us, living in this in-between time–enduring the hardships, sufferings, and even death common to all of us.  He, too, felt abandoned by God, trusted in Him through suffering, and became a testimony in this fallen world.  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 42)


It is, in fact, a remarkable statement on the lips of the Messiah–I, even I the Messiah, will put my trust in him.  In this respect the Messiah places himself on an equality with his brethren, which prepares for the later statement in verse 14 that he shares their nature.  This attitude of trust is amply seen in the life of Jesus and is particularly evident in the Gospel of John, where all the facets of his movements and thought are seen to be in accordance with God’s will.  (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale NT Commentaries: Hebrews, 91)


While in the frailty of human flesh, Jesus exercised faith!  Even his final words on earth were words of dependence: “Father, into your hand I commit my spirit” (Lk 23:46).  What solidarity–what communion of nature–Jesus shares with the suffering church.  They suffered?  So did he!  They were weak?  So was he!  They must depend on God–just as he did!  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 75)


When Christ became one with His people their guilt became His, as the debts of a wife become by marriage the debts of the husband.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 148)


If we are careless in our thinking about Jesus, we can slip into a form of Neoapollinarianism, embracing his divinity but holding his full humanity at arm’s length.  Yet, it is important that we understand the extent to which God went to win our redemption.  Through the Incarnation God became an “insider,” not merely acting on our human predicament from without, but transforming it from within.  In a famous answer to Apollinarianism in the fourth century, Gregory of Nazianzus stated, “What has not been assumed cannot be restored,” meaning that for redemption to reach into every darkened corner of human existence, Jesus had to take on that existence in its entirety.  He was not merely God encased in flesh, but was truly human, as human he was vulnerable.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 118)


The whole passage is intended to bring “out the oneness of Christ with His people in their humiliation.  In other words, the apostle is not here speaking of our being lifted up to Christ’s level, but of His coming down to ours.”  (Geoffrey B. Wilson, Hebrews, A Digest of Reformed Comment, 35)


The writer’s 2nd and 3rd quotes come from Isa 8:17 and 18.  They are separated in our text because each makes a different point.  While the prophet is naturally speaking of his own dependence on God, inspiration again demands that we see the words as applied to Jesus as a Man.  Thus, when it says, “I, too, will put My trust in God,” we see our Savior in the same place of faith and trust as we are.  He is speaking as a Christian.  In our Lord’s earthly life it was as necessary for Him to put His trust in the Father as it is for us.  If He had any advantage over us at all, we couldn’t follow His example.  The Lord Jesus depended on the Father for everything.  Even His miracles were NOT done in His own power.  He stated that fact often (Jn 5:30).  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 48-9)


We are in the presence of a mystery here.  The fact that he himself partook of the same nature sums up the perfect humanity of Jesus.  When this statement is set over against the statements in chapter 1 about the divine Sonship of Jesus, the mystery deepens.  His superiority to angels is set against his equality with man.  There can never be a wholly satisfactory explanation of these two facets of his nature, because man has no human analogies.  The writer is not concerned with theological debate, but with showing how closely Jesus Christ is identified with his people.  (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale NT Commentaries: Hebrews, 92)


In order to be a perfect high priest, a person must sympathize with those on whose behalf he acts, and he cannot sympathize with them unless he can enter into their experiences and share them for himself.  Jesus did just this.  Moreover, in order to be a perfect high priest, a person must learn the lesson of obedience to God; if he failed in this, he would really need a priest for himself, to enter into God’s presence for him with the assurance of being admitted there.  Of Jesus’ obedience there could be no question.  But a high priest had one specially solemn service to perform; he had to present an atonement to God on his people’s behalf.  And an atonement efficacious in itself could be presented only by a high priest whose sympathetic self-identification with his people was unreserved, and at the same time by a high priest whose obedience to God was unmarred by any reluctance–not to say refusal–to obey.  There is only one who fulfills these conditions perfectly–the one whose obedience and death fitted him completely to be his people’s representative.  He suffered not only with them but for them; his suffering was both voluntary and vicarious.  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 81)


The Son could not have represented men before God, offering, as their high priest, the sacrifice of himself on their behalf and in their place, had he not first become their fellow man.  Representation requires identification.  Accordingly, our author adds this further explanation, that the Son assumed human nature so that he might become what otherwise he could not be, a high priest.  By the incarnation he becomes man, but his becoming man is also the prerequisite for his becoming a high priest.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 120)


Our author has already taken pains to demonstrate to his readers the superiority of Christ to any angel (1:4-2:9).  He now says in effect:  “It follows from what I have told you [for surely] that the nature assumed by the messianic leader must be that of mankind, not of angels; for, while he is in himself superior to angels, he humbled himself to a position lower than the angels by his act of incarnation which united him to our humanity and made it possible for him by suffering and death to overthrow the devil and to deliver us from bondage, and by his resurrection and exaltation to bring us to glory.  You must cease, therefore, to focus your hope in any sense on the appearance of some angelic deliverer.”  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 118)


As Adam never could have brought us under the power of sin and death, if he had not been our father, communicating to us his own nature, so Christ never could save us, except by taking our nature upon Him, doing in that nature all that we would need to do, had it been possible for us to deliver ourselves, and then communicating the fruit of what He effected as a nature within us to be the power of a new, an eternal life.  As a divine necessity, without which there could be no salvation, as an act of infinite love and condescension, the Son of God became a partaker of flesh and blood.  (Andrew Murray, The Holiest of All, 96)


Since we know He was God in human form, it is hard for us to think that He needed to be perfected in anything.  But the truth is, God had never been a Man before.  He had never been in the position of having to OBEY before.  Beyond that, God had never been tempted before.  When did God ever suffer or go through death?  All these things God had to learn. . . AS A MAN.  Until He went through them, as a man, He couldn’t be man’s Savior.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 45)


It is because the national rejection of the Messiah was uniquely foreshadowed by Isaiah’s own experience that his words are here fitly applied to Christ (Isa 8:17 LXX, 8:18).  Although his faithfulness to the divine commission had separated him from the nation at large the prophet continued to trust in God.  (Geoffrey B. Wilson, Hebrews, A Digest of Reformed Comment, 35)


Christ could have been born in the palace of Caesar, but He was born in real poverty, in a stable behind an inn.  Why?  So that He could know something of the effect of sin on humanity.  Where do you see it?  You see it in poverty.  You see it in temptation.  You see it in violent and unmerited death.  That is where you see sin manifested.  (J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: Hebrews 1-7, 48)


The life which Jesus Christ lived here for thirty-three years was a life of faith.  That is the meaning of that little-understood word in Heb 12:2: “Looking off unto Jesus (His name, as Man), the Author (Greek, same as “Captain” in 2:10) and Perfecter of faith.”  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 125)


Jesus implicitly expressed this when he said, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (Jn 5:19).  As Leon Morris says, “It is not simply that he does not act in independence of the Father.  He cannot act in independence of the Father.”  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 82-3)


His taking of flesh and blood is an act of total identification for the purpose of our everlasting redemption.  Though he had every cause to be ashamed of us and to abandon us to the judgment we justly deserve, he compassionately abased himself in order that we with him might be raised to glory (Phil 2:5ff.; 2 Cor 8:9).  It should be emphasized that, as the NT consistently shows, and not least this epistle, our brotherhood with Christ rests not solely on the fact of his incarnation, but much more precisely on the redemption which that incarnation enabled him to accomplish at the cross.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 106)


If Isaiah, one of the prophets through whom God of old time spoke to the fathers, was rejected by those to whom he came, so was the Son in whom God more recently spoke his final word; if Isaiah nonetheless maintained his trust in God and waited for vindication from him, so did the Son of God.  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 83)


To which of the angels said He at any time, “You are my brother or sister or mother?” that is, “We are all of one origin, we have been begotten by the same Father”?  (Mt 12:48-50).  Did He ever say of the angels as He said of His disciples, “that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us. . . that they may be one, even as we are one. . . I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one”? (Jn 17:21-23).  Did Paul ever say of the angels as he did of the Church, that they constitute His Body of which He is the Head, “the fullness of him that filleth all in all”? (Eph 1:23).  Did Paul say to angels, or to the Church, “[Ye] are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones”? (Eph 5:30).  (Paul E. Billheimer, Destined for the Throne, 34-5)


II-  Why did Jesus identify with us?   Jesus suffered and died so He could perfectly save us, make us holy, annihilate the fear of death, as well as make us free, right before God, and empowered to resist temptation.   (Heb 2:10, 14-15, 18; see also: Isa 53; Mt 26:38-45; 27:24-50; Mk 15:34; Lk 22:44; 24:46; Jn 18:11; Acts 3:18; Phil 2:1-11; 3:10; Heb 5:1-21; 7:28; 1Pt 1:11; 2:21-23; 4:1)


In one sublime sentence he has taken the detractor’s objection (that suffering is unbecoming to a Savior) and demonstrated that suffering has instead produced a perfect, pioneer Savior who can save to the uttermost because he was perfected by the sufferings engendered by his incarnation.  Suffering outfitted him to be a perfect pioneer of salvation.  His suffering has blazed the way for the great multitudes of his redeemed to follow.  How fitting a suffering Savior is!  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 67)


Although Christ was morally perfect and sinless, his life and work were brought by suffering to a form of perfection or completion which cannot have been possible without them.  First, he became perfect in his vocation.  He determined to do God’s will in every part of his life (10:7, 9).  Secondly, he became perfect in obedience.  Christ was in perfect union with his Father in eternity, but by fulfilling the divine purposes in the incarnation He did what God desired of him and his obedience was brought to perfection.  Thirdly, he became perfect in his identification.  Although Christ certainly loved us in his pre-existence, this letter is about to emphasize that he had to become like us in our humanity in order to achieve our eternal redemption.  Finally, he became perfect in his conquest.  Supremely, it was through his sufferings that Christ became fully qualified to be known eternally as man’s Savior.  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  Hebrews, 62)


He did not need suffering for his own salvation, but it was indispensable if others were to be saved.  Without any theoretical explanations, the writer assumes, in common with all the NT writers, that the sufferings of Christ and man’s salvation are inextricably bound up together.  (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale NT Commentaries: Hebrews, 89)


In the several passages where the Divine incarnation is referred to in the NT different reasons are given and various designs are recorded.  For example, Jn 3:16 tells us that one chief object in it was to reveal and exhibit the matchless love of God.  1 Tm 1:15 declares that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”  But here in Heb 2:14 it is the destroying of him that had the power of death that is mentioned.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 134)


The Greek word for cross is “crux” and is a curse word said Cicero.  Why would anyone build a religion or the name of a church around a curse word?   How would your evangelism program or your church growth program do when the name of your religion or church had a curse word in it?



IIA-     Jesus suffered and died to save us.  (Heb 2:10; see also: Isa 53; Mt 26:38-45; 27:24-50; Mk 15:34; Lk 22:44; 24:46; Jn 18:11; Acts 3:18; Phil 2:1-11; 3:10; Heb 5:7-9; 1Pt 1:11; 2:21-23; 4:1)


That God should make [Jesus] perfect through sufferings does not refer to Jesus’ sinless state.  Jesus was already perfect before he faced suffering.  Instead, it refers to Jesus’ perfect position before God.  In God’s eyes, Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for God’s people, pioneering their salvation through his suffering and death.  Because humans experience suffering and death, Christ became fully human and experienced these aspects of being human as well.  That Christ both lived and died gives us confidence that we have a High Priest who is able to sympathize with our weakness (4:15).  We have confidence that because Christ conquered death, he also can save us from death.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews,23)


This theme of “the crucified Lord” scandalized the first-century world.  Note how Paul spoke of the cross as “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called. . . the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:23-24).  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 107)


Ps 22:22, quoted in Heb 2:12, appears in the middle of the very psalm that Jesus applied to His own sufferings on the cross:  “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?  Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning” (Ps 22:1).  The psalm recounts the kinds of sufferings the righteous innocently suffer in this fallen world (Ps 22:2-18).  As a result, they understandably feel abandoned by God (Ps 22:1) and that He is “far off” (Ps 22:19), and they are in desperate need of deliverance (Ps 22:20-21).  The language of this psalm has particular application to Christ, and it finds specific prophetic fulfillment in His sufferings on the cross.  But this isn’t a psalm of only lament and anguish; it’s also a psalm that expresses the sufferer’s faith that God will deliver (Ps 22:22-31).  (Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights: Hebrews, 41)


If one takes an ascetic interpretation of Heb 2:10, reasoning, “If Jesus was perfected through suffering, then I will also get rid of my sinfulness through my suffering,” one is seriously misinterpreting the verse on several counts.  The “perfection” of Jesus in this verse does not speak to an eradication of imperfection or sinfulness (as in the ascetic’s buffeting his body to overcome sinfulness), but of the suffering Christ did on the cross.  Also, the ascetic interpretation turns the intention of Hebrews’ words on its head.  The point of the passage is that we need a champion who has accomplished for us something we could not do for ourselves.  By Jesus’ completing his course in suffering for our sins we have the victory, not by our self-flagellation.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 117)


In Western Christianity especially, “we have become committed to relieving the pain behind our problems rather than using our pain to wrestle more passionately with the character and purposes of God.  Feeling better has become more important than finding God.  And worse, we assume that people who find God always feel better.”  To focus on our situations, our problems, our pains as primary (rather than the purposes of God) is to move away from important aspects of following Christ.  We must follow Christ in the way of suffering.  God’s people have always been persecuted as counter to the power systems of this world; the enemy death still walks the highways of the globe, having yet to be put completely out of commission (1 Cor 15:25-27); this “in-between time” is a time of tears and pain (Rv 21:4).

Yet, in these experiences we walk in the way of Christ, who was persecuted, wept, and died.  “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (1 Pt 2:21).  Persecution has always been the normal Christian experience (e.g., Mt 24:8-10; Mk 13:9-13; Acts 5:29-42; Rom 8:35-37; 2 Cor 4:8-12; Phil 1:29; Col 1:24).  As we look to the example of Jesus in his earthly experiences of persecution, we gain strength for endurance.  We see that sometimes what looks to be the darkest hour in this world’s perspective is actually the brightest; the feeling of being forsaken by God may even occur at the pinnacle of our mission for him (Mt 27:45-46).  When we see Jesus in his incarnation, we are reminded of the price attached to living as God’s person for God’s purposes in a fallen world.  He often brings glory to himself and “works for the good” (Rom 8:28) through our pain.  Jesus shows us a trust-God-and-hold-to-it-at-all-costs kind of faith.  (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 104-5)


IIB-     Jesus makes us holy. (Heb 2:11; see also: Lv 21:8; Jn 17:17; 2 Cor 5:21; Col 2:10; 1 Thess 5:23; Heb 10:10; 1 Jn 3:2)


No man is truly sanctified unless he is sanctified by Christ.  The Holy Spirit is made the agent of our purification, but it is in Christ that we are first of all set apart unto God, and it is by His most precious blood, applied to us by the Spirit of God, that we are made clean and pure so as to be used in the divine service.  (Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon Commentary: Hebrews, 38)


The practical experience of a Christian’s life, of course, includes sin; but the positional reality of his new nature is holiness.  “In Him [we] have been made complete” (Col 2:10), positionally and in nature perfect.  The basic, overriding purpose of our lives now is to become in practice what we are in that new perfection and position.  Now that we are Christ’s brothers, God’s children, we should live like it.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 68)


Little as we may like them, the fires of affliction are the place in which qualities of Christian character are forged.  No one wants to suffer.  No one looks forward to suffering.  But the Christian cannot regard suffering as an unmitigated evil.  He can agree that it is an evil, but he knows also that, borne in the right spirit, it is the means of an increasing Christlikeness.  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  Hebrews, 62)


What could be more different than our natural condition and the glory of God which we are awaiting?  Condemned on account of our transgressions of the law, we lived in sin, alienated from God, and without His presence of light and love.  We were dead; and by “dead” I do not mean that modern fancy which explains death to mean cessation of existence, but that continuous, active, self-developing state of misery and corruption into which the sinner has fallen by his disobedience.  Dead in trespasses and sins, wherein we walked; dead while living in pleasing self (Eph 2:1, 2; 1 Tm 5:6).  What can be more opposed to glory than the state in which we are by nature?  And if we are to be brought into glory, it is evident we must be brought into holiness; we must be delivered and separated from guilt, pollution, and death, and brought into the presence of God, in which is favor, light, and life–that His life may descend into our souls, and that we may become partakers of the Divine nature.  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 119-20)


Redeemed members of the human race, the only race in all creation that was made in the image of God, will constitute this Eternal Companion.  And since this companion is to share the throne of the universe with her Lover and Lord she must be trained, educated, and prepared for her role.  (Paul E. Billheimer, Destined for the Throne, 49)


IIC-     Jesus annihilates the fear of death.  (Heb 2:14; see also: Lk 1:74;  1 Cor 15:55; Col 2:15; Phil 1:21; 2 Tm 1:10; 1 Jn 3:8; Rv 1:18; 20:10)


Death is the godly man’s wish, the wicked man’s fear.  Samuel Bolton


The only way to destroy Satan was to rob him of his weapon, death–physical death, spiritual death, eternal death.  Satan knew that God required death for us because of sin.  Death had become the most certain fact of life.  Satan knew that men, if they remained as they were, would die and go out of God’s presence into hell forever.  Satan wants to hold onto men until they die, because once they are dead the opportunity for salvation is gone forever.  Men cannot escape after death.  So God had to wrest from Satan the power of death.  And for just that purpose Jesus came.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 69-70)


Sin and death are interconnected:  Sin results in death.  Only by first breaking the power of sin could Christ then break the power of death.  He accomplished both through his death and resurrection.  In those acts, Christ dealt the final blow to both Satan and death.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews,26)


Satan’s primary power over man and supreme weapon against him is death.  Sin, of course, gives Satan his power over us; but the power itself is death.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 69)


Jesus became man in order that He might die.  This statement runs counter to our usual concept of God’s will.  Life is a gift of God, but life sometimes comes “through death.”  Satan is the prince of death.  As man obeyed his voice, sin entered the world, and death by sin.  Yet in Christ, death became the medium for the destruction of the power of Satan.  The Devil himself is a defeated foe, defeated by the power of the Prince of Life.  (Charles F. Pfeiffer, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 28-9)


Death, in all its forms, is absence of life.  That is what boredom is, that is what distress is, that is what fear is, that is what anxiety is.  These are forms of death because they are the absence of the life of the Lord Jesus.

It is from this death that Christ sets us free.  The fear of this death is the devil’s ship, the writer says, by which he keeps us in slavery and bondage all our life.  Non-Christians, of course, have no escape from this, but even Christians, because they do not understand the kind of freedom that Christ brings, frequently experience death:  defeat, waste, limitation, despair.  (Ray C. Stedman, How to Live What You Believe, 29)


Here the writer has asserted that, before Christ comes into our lives, our greatest fear is that of death.  A truly committed Christian has no need to fear death.  In his exposition of these verses, Martin Luther wrote:  “He who fears death or is unwilling to die is not a Christian to a sufficient degree; for those who fear death still lack faith in the resurrection, since they love this life more than they love the life to come. . . He who does not die willingly should not be called a Christian.”  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  Hebrews, 71)


Inasmuch as the Devil is the one who brought about the downfall of our first parents, by which sentence of death has been passed upon all their posterity (Rom 5:12); inasmuch as he goeth about as a roaring lion “seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pt 5:8); inasmuch as he challenged God to inflict upon the guilty the sentence of the law (Zech 3:1); and, inasmuch as even the elect of God are, before their regeneration, under “the power of darkness” (Col 1:13 and cf. Acts 26:18), dead in trespasses and sins, yet “walking according to the Prince of the power of the air”; the Devil may be said to have “the power of death.”  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 135-6)


The thing that terrifies people more than anything else is death.  It is a horrible fear, the king of terrors.  But when we receive Jesus Christ, death holds no more fear.  We have been released from bondage to the fear of death, and, instead, actually look forward to it.  We say with Paul, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21) and “O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55).  Death no longer holds any fear, for it simply releases us into the presence of our Lord.  Why?  Because we have placed our hands into the hands of the Conqueror of death, and He will lead us into one side of the grave and out the other.  He never could have done it if He had not become for a little while lower than the angels.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 70)


All of Satan’s power over death was founded on sin.  The obligation of the sinner to death gave Satan his power.  If this obligation was removed, Satan’s power would also be taken away.  Now this, with reference to the children for whom he died, was done in the death of Christ–virtually in the death itself, actually in its application to them.  When the sinner ceased to be a slave of death, Satan’s power was broken.  (John Owen, Crossway Classic Commentaries: Hebrews, 46)


The word “destroy” here does not mean “eliminate.”  The word means “to render impotent; to nullify; to render inoperative, inconsequential.”  (Ray C. Stedman, How to Live What You Believe, 28)


To become man’s perfect liberator, God’s Son has to experience the process common to all flesh and blood, the experience of death.  It was also necessary for this spotless, pure, undefiled (7:26) conqueror to take upon himself in death the weight and burden of our sin, doing for us at the cross, as our substitute, that which we could not possibly do for ourselves.  By that death he obtained for sinful mankind the pardon of our sin and the removal of our guilt.  This is how the devil was “rendered impotent”, which is the true meaning of the word destroy here (2:14).  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  Hebrews, 69)


But, understandably, the question may be asked:  If at the cross of Christ, the devil was rendered impotent, why is he still so very much alive in the world, and in what sense are we free from his aggressive power?  Surely he is still far from being “destroyed” in any final sense?  Does he not still, as in Peter’s day, stalk around the entire world like a roaring lion, constantly looking out for someone to terrorize, molest and destroy?  Christ’s victorious death robbed the devil of his earlier power and stranglehold over men.  Ultimately, the devil will be destroyed completely, but until then believers need to recognize that his power is a limited power.  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  Hebrews, 70)


In Scripture death is the result of sin.  The Genesis story bears this out.  It is supported in the Pauline epistles (cf. Rom 5:12).  It is basic to the NT teaching on the death and resurrection of Christ.  Because of Christ’s resurrection, death has now lost its “sting,” which shows that it possessed a sting (1 Cor 15:55), identified by Paul as sin.”  It is no wonder that Hebrews speaks of “fear of death.”  It is, therefore, paradoxical that Christ used death as a means of destroying the maliciousness of death.  But the difference between his death and all others lies in the fact of his sinlessness.  (Donald Guthrie, Tyndale NT Commentaries: Hebrews, 92)


The Law of God demanded and does demand death for sin.  “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”  “The wages of sin is death.”  Satan was the cause of man’s sin in the first place and, even though he is a usurper, he can claim, justly so in a sense, that the sinner must die.  He had the power, the authority to demand that every sinner should pay sin’s penalty.  And on account of this all men, because all are sinners, were fearful of death and subject to bondage, because of sin, to serve it and thus serve Satan.  (E. Schuyler English, Studies in the Epistle to the Hebrews, 82)


Death is the absence of life.  Death is not something in itself, it is simply the absence of something.  (Ray C. Stedman, How to Live What You Believe, 29)


In my early twenties I used to be a postman.  One day I had to deliver a letter to a house I had never visited before.  I opened the garden gate only to find myself confronted by the largest and most vicious dog I had ever seen!  It barked furiously and then leapt towards me.  I stood there helpless and terrified until, to my immense relief, I saw that this massive, angry dog was chained to a huge stake set in concrete.  The chain was a long one and the dog had considerable freedom, but not enough to reach me.  I saw I could easily deliver the letter and did so.  The incident became like a parable to me.  As a matter of fact, whenever I had to visit that house in the course of my work, I took little notice of the aggressive dog.  I always kept my eye on the strong stake!  At the cross the enemy of souls, the devil, was made impotent, limited and chained down.  When he has “bitten” us it is usually because we have been far too near.  (Raymond Brown, The Bible Speaks Today:  Hebrews, 70)


The power of death wielded by the devil is not an absolute power; indeed, death is the sentence of God pronounced against man who sinfully has transferred his allegiance from his Creator to the creature (Gn 3:1ff.; Ezek 18:4; Rom 3:23) and who in doing so has turned his back on God’s realm of life in favor of Satan’s realm of death.  It is in this sense that the devil is said to hold the power of death.  But the power which he presently wields is also the power by which he is destroyed (1 Jn 3:8; Rv 20:10).  Death is the awful reality of divine judgment, not satanic victory.  Creation and destruction–and salvation from destruction–belong properly and absolutely to God alone.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 112)


What can be more unseemly, he asks, than for a person who professes to be crucified to the world to tear his hair and shriek hysterically in the presence of death?  “Those ones who are still in fear and trembling at the prospect of death and have no faith at all in the resurrection.”  And then he drives home his point with these arresting words:  “May God grant that you all depart this life unwailed!”  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 115)


Once death was conquered and their obligation to death was taken away, Satan’s power dissolved.  (John Owen, Crossway Classic Commentaries: Hebrews, 46)


The prince or angel of death is here identified with the devil–that is, Satan.  It is not easy to parallel this outright identification, but it is not inconsonant with the general teaching of the NT.  “The reason the Son of God appeared,” says another NT writer, “was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn 3:8), and while the particular work of the devil most prominent in that context is sin, the association between sin and death is close enough for the destruction of death to be included in the purpose of the Son of God’s appearance.  (F. F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the NT: Hebrews, 85)


Why do we fear death?  The reasons are many and of various weight:  (1) the fear of pain (though most deaths are, medically speaking, not that painful); (2) the fear of separation from what we know and from the ones we love; (3) the fear of the unknown–launching one’s vessel on an uncharted sea; (4) the fear of non-being–in Bertrand Russell’s words, “Brief and powerless is man’s life; on his and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark”; and (5) the fear of everlasting punishment.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Hebrews, 77)


Picture death as a river.  See Jesus standing on the other side of that river.  Then see all the people standing on the opposite bank, afraid to plunge in.  By His death and resurrection, Jesus has already jumped in and gone through the experience.  He stands on the other side calling to His brethren, “Come on fellows, there’s nothing to it!  See, I’m OK.  Death didn’t hurt me a bit!” (Rv 1:17, 18).  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 52)


IID-     Jesus makes us free.  (Heb 2:15; see also: Lk 4:18; 13:12-16; Jn 8:32-36; Rom 6:7-22; 8:2; 2 Cor 3:17; Gal 2:4; 4:7-8, 22-31; 5:13; Heb 9:15; Jam 2:12; 1 Pt 2:16)


He took on our flesh and blood that he might die and with his holy death free us from our bondage.  Jesus used that very thing with which Satan was bullying and battering man to defeat Satan.  Like some vicious dog Satan has been chained, and if some still die of his rabid bite, it is because they have strayed too close to him and too far away from the Prince of Life.  (Richard E. Lauersdorf, The People’s Bible: Hebrews, 22)


IIE-     Jesus makes us right before God.  (Heb 2:17; see also: Rom 3:21-26; 5:1-10; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Jn 1:9; 4:10)  


When we trust in Christ, we make an exchange–our sin for his righteousness.  Our sin was poured into Christ at his crucifixion:  his righteousness is poured into us at our conversion.  This is what Christians mean by Christ’s atonement for sin.  God offers to trade his righteousness for our sin–something of immeasurable worth for something completely worthless.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews,23-4)


In the context of Hebrews the word atonement means that Jesus as high priest brought peace between God and man.  God’s wrath was directed toward man because of his sin, and man because of sin was alienated from God.  Jesus became high priest.  And as the high priest once a year on the Day of Atonement entered the Holy of Holies, he sprinkled blood–first for himself and then for the people–to remove (literally, to cover) sin.  In the same way, Jesus offered himself so that the shedding of his blood covered our sins.  Thus we might be acquitted, forgiven, and restored.  Jesus brought God and man together in inexpressible harmony.  In the words of Paul, “Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1).  (Simon J. Kistemaker, NT Commentary: Hebrews, 77)


The writer is thinking of the chief priest of Israel and his yearly act of going into the Holy of Holies with the blood of the sacrifice to atone for the sins of the people.  No one else was allowed in the tent as he performed the ceremony.  It was something he did by himself.  Now the primary task of the Jewish high priest was to reconcile the people to God by removing their sins.  In early times, the people were afraid of being killed as they approached to worship God.  If the high priest didn’t do his job just right, God’s anger would break through upon the people.  But if he performed the ritual exactly as prescribed, God’s wrath would be removed and the people could draw nigh without fear.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 56)


But God’s love is as constant as his wrath, his grace as firm as his righteousness.  He does not have to set aside his wrath in order to begin to be merciful.  His hatred of sin and his love for his creatures belong together.  Accordingly, even while we were sinners and hostile to him, God displayed his love by sending his Son for the precise purpose that he might be the propitiation for our sins (1 Jn 4:10; Rom 5:6, 8, 10).  It was by propitiation that love acted; and all along it was God who was his own holiness.  He has, so to speak, propitiated himself in our place, thereby achieving the reconciliation to himself of mankind, who otherwise were hopelessly alienated and under condemnation because of sin.  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 122)


He is the firstborn among many brethren; He is the head of the family, and He calls us brethren because we all become sons of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

My friend, this makes it very clear that the heresy about the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man is entirely false.  It is probably the most damnable doctrine there is abroad today.  (J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary: Hebrews 1-7, 45)


“Make atonement” is a curious rendering.  The word hilaskesthai means “to propitiate,” not “to make atonement,” and relates to putting away the divine wrath (NIV mg.).  When people sin, they arouse the wrath of God (Rom 1:18); they become enemies of God (Rom 5:10).  One aspect of salvation deals with this wrath, and it is to this the author is directing attention at this point.  Christ saves us in a way that takes account of the divine wrath against every evil thing.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 30)


Heidelberg Catechism questions 13-19

Q12.  According to God’s righteous judgment we deserve punishment both in this world and forever after:  how then can we escape this punishment and return to God’s favor?

  1. God requires that his justice be satisfied (Ex 23:7; Rom 2:1-22). Therefore the claims of his justice must be paid in full, either by ourselves or another (Isa 53:11; Rom 8:3-4).


Q13. Can we pay this debt ourselves?

  1. Certainly not. Actually, we increase our guilt every day (Mt 6:12; Rom 2:4-5).


14Q. Can another creature—any at all—pay this debt for us?

  1. No. To begin with, God will not punish another creature for what a human is guilty of (Ezek 18:4, 20; Heb 2:14-18). Besides, no mere creature can bear the weight of God’s eternal anger against sin and release others from it (Psa 49:7-9; 130:3).


Q15. What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then?

  1. One who is truly human (Rom 1:3; 1 Cor 15:21; Heb 2:17) and truly righteous (Isa 53:9; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 7:26), yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God (Isa 7:14; 9:6; Jer 23:6; Jn 1:1).


Q16. Why must he be truly human and truly righteous?

  1. God’s justice demands that human nature, which has sinned, must pay for its sin (Rom 5:12, 15; 1 Cor 15:21; Heb 2:14-16); but a sinner could never pay for others (Heb 7:26-27; 1 Pt 3:18).


Q17. Why must he also be true God?

  1. So that, by the power of his divinity, he might bear the weight of God’s anger in his humanity and earn for us and restore to us righteousness and life (Isa 53; John 3:16; 2 Cor 5:21).


Q18. And who is this mediator—true God and at the same time truly human and truly righteous?

  1. Our Lord Jesus Christ (Mt 1:21-13; Lk 2:11; 1 Tm 2:5), who was given us to set us completely free and to make us right with God (1 Cor 1:30).


Q19. How do you come to know this?

  1. The holy gospel tells me. God himself began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise (Gn 3:15); later, he proclaimed it by the holy patriarchs (Gn 22:18; 49:10) and prophets (Isa 53; Jer 23:5-6; Mic 7:18-20; Acts 10:43; Heb 1:1-2), and portrayed it by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law (Lv 1-7; Jn 5:46; Heb 10:1-10);  finally, he fulfilled it through his own dear Son (Rom 10:4; Gal 4:4-5; Col 2:17).


IIF-     Jesus empowers us to resist temptation.  (Heb 2:18; see also: Mt 4:1ff; 16:21ff; Mk 14:36; Heb 4:15-16)


Because he was fully human, Jesus himself was tested by what he suffered.  “Testing” refers to Jesus’ exposure to conflicts, tensions, and suffering.  The testing was not to show that he might fail, but to show his real power and strength under fire.  This suffering refers not only to the Cross, but also to the testing Jesus experienced throughout his life–from Satan’s temptations in the wilderness to the drops of blood he shed in prayer before his crucifixion.  Having undergone all the tests and temptations of human life, Jesus is able to help those who are being tested.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Hebrews,30)


Jesus felt everything we will ever feel–and more.  For example, He felt temptation to a degree that we could not possibly experience.  Most of us never know the full degree of resistible temptation, simply because we usually succumb long before that degree is reached.  But since Jesus never sinned, He took the full measure of every temptation that came to Him.  And He was victorious in every trial.  (John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur NT Commentary: Hebrews, 71-2)


Put a gun to the average man’s head, and he’ll cry, “I’ll do anything, but please don’t kill me!”  Men would rather sin than die.  But praise God, our Savior would rather die than sin!  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Hebrews, 51)


On one occasion the Lord Jesus asked His disciples, “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” (Mt 9:28).  And thus He ever challenges the faith of His own.  To Abraham He said, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gn 18:14).  To Moses, who doubted whether the Lord would give flesh to Israel in the wilderness, He asked, “Is the Lord’s hand waxed short?” (Nm 11:23).  To Jeremiah the searching question was put, “Is there anything too hard for Me?” (Jer 32:27).  So He still asks, “Believe ye, that I am able to do this?”  Do what? we may ask.  Whatever you are really in need of–give peace, impart assurance, grant deliverance, supply succor.

“He is able to succor them that are tempted.”  Remember who He is, the God-man.  Remember the experiences through which He passed!  He, too, has been in the place of trial:  He, too, was tempted–to distrust, to despondency, to destroy Himself.  Yes, He was tempted “in all points like as we are, sin excepted.”  (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 150-1)


Having put his hand to the plow, he did not turn back (Lk 9:62).  He fulfilled all that he had promised.  Temptation and torment did not turn him aside from his gracious purpose (Mt 4:1ff.; 16:21ff.).  Faithful to the very end, he drained the bitter cup of suffering to its last dregs for our redemption (Mk 14:36).  In bearing our sins, he even bore our forsakenness and our alienation (Mk 15:34).  Our hell he made his, that his heaven might be ours.  Never was there such mercy, never such faithfulness, as this!  (Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 120)


Having Himself suffered being tempted, His heart goes out in compassion to us in our great need.  Note the contrast between this passage and 1 Pt 4:1.  Here we read that Christ “suffered being tempted.”  In the other passage we are told that “He that suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.”  This brings out most vividly the difference between Christ’s perfect humanity and our sinful natures.  To us, sin is attractive and alluring.  We suffer in the flesh when we resist it.  With Him it was the very opposite.  Temptation caused Him the keenest suffering.  It was the presentation of that to His holy soul which He abhorred, and even to have to do with it, in the sense of temptation, caused Him pain and anguish.  (H. A. Ironside, Hebrews, 54)


Christ had particular experience about weakness, sorrows, and the miseries of human nature as he was attacked by temptations.  He felt this and will never forget it.  His heart is therefore inclined to compassion and knows what brings relief.  This compassion moves him to bring succor.  This is the effect of mercy and compassion.  (John Owen, Crossway Classic Commentaries: Hebrews, 51)


Worship Point:  When you realize that the God of the Universe spared no expense to save you, empower you and free you; then, you will properly worship.


Gospel Application:  It took the death of God in Jesus, the God-man, to save us, empower us and free us.


Spiritual ChallengePay attention to Jesus; see Jesus;   consider Jesus; fix your thoughts on Jesus.


So What?:  You will never enjoy life in all of its abundance until Jesus makes you freeFree to forgive, live, love, dream and rest.





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