Having demonstrated the superiority of the Lord Jesus in His pre-incarnate state to angels, the writer now turns his attention to explaining a little more of what he meant when he said, “we see Jesus.”
1. It was in accordance with God’s purpose of bringing “many sons to glory,” v. 10.
As we mentioned in the last post, the Cross was not some “emergency measure,” some response to an “oops” moment in the Divine mind, as some have said. We’ve dealt at length with this in other posts, so won’t get into it here, except to say that redemption isn’t just some haphazard, hope it all works out, sort of thing.
2. It was in accordance with God’s purpose to supply a Redeemer, “the captain of their salvation,” v. 10.
There used to be a “gospel” song which attempted to picture the scene in heaven when redemption was planned. It alleged that God searched all through heaven trying to find someone who would go to the Cross. Finally, Jesus stepped forward and volunteered. While I can’t even begin to understand what happened when redemption was planned, I do know that this is NOT how it happened!
3. It was in accord with the fact that man sinned. By a Man, he would be redeemed, vs. 14, 17, Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same,…Therefore in all things He had to be made like His brethren.
This also tells us, in agreement with the rest of Scripture, that man cannot redeem himself. Even Israel, in the Old Testament given a law that, if kept, would make a person righteous, utterly failed. Cf. Deuteronomy 6:25; Romans 9:31. They failed to realize that the Law was given to reveal their, and our, need of a Savior, not to be that savior.
Our country will soon be visited by the head of the largest religious organization in the world. But all the pomp, all the glitter, all the ceremony, all the everything that organization involves, cannot do a single thing – one single thing – toward the salvation of those who embrace it, despite its claim that apart from it there is no salvation. In fact, it only adds to their condemnation, because it denies the sufficiency of the life and death of the Lord Jesus to save sinners and tends to point people to His mother instead of to Himself.
Furthermore, God cannot die. He is eternal. Angels could not get it done, because they themselves are responsible to serve and obey God. Their obedience would be of no help to others. Man cannot do it, because he is a sinner himself and even his very best, those acts of goodness we think so much of, is tainted by sin. So He, Jesus, had to be made like His brethren. He had to take humanity to Himself.
4. It was done in a way that seems counter-intuitive, through death, v. 14. How could a dead man save us? Two other men died that day, as well. Why is Jesus’ death any different from theirs? We’ve dealt with this at length elsewhere, so won’t get into it so much here. The other two men were dying because they had been found guilty of breaking Roman law. This had nothing to do with their sins before God. The Lord Jesus had been found “guilty,” though falsely, of breaking OT law.
Jesus was condemned, humanly speaking, because He paid no attention to the multitude of traditions and rules that the scribes and Pharisees had added to the OT law, and because He criticized them severely for it. Furthermore, in contradiction to atheists and other unbelievers, He did claim to be God. In fact, this is really the reason He was crucified, John 19:7. See also Matthew 27:40, where they threw His claim into His teeth.
Jesus was condemned, divinely speaking, because He came to take the place of “His brethren.” Though His conception was different from theirs, to prevent Him receiving the sinful nature of his father Joseph, and thus from Adam, He experienced everything they did, and do, except that, as Hebrews 4:15 says, He was without sin. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, Hebrews 7:26.
Some people have trouble with the idea of God’s justice or wrath. They so concentrate on His “love” that it seems to be all they believe He exhibits. And John 4:8 does say, God is love. However, that verse appears in a specific context about how we’re to treat our Christian brothers and sisters.
1 John 1:5 says, This then is the message that we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.
If that verse had been written by modern preachers, they would probably have said something like, in the words of a very popular tract of some years ago, “This is the message: God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” It’s interesting in this connection that the early church in Acts never mentioned the love of God. Only one word in the original used of “love” is found in the book, and that’s in reference to some folks on an island who showed “kindness” to Paul and his shipmates after they survived a shipwreck, Acts 28:2. We get our word, “philanthropy,” from that word.
Quoting John 3:16, folks seem to think that the Gospel is about the love of God. But you need John 3:36 to finish the thought of John 3:16, as well as John 3:17, 18.
Paul tells us about the Gospel in Romans 1:16-20,
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written: ‘The just shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (emphasis added).
Not popular words in our culture of “tolerance” and “diversity” and “inclusiveness”. But they are the very basis of that which is “good news,” namely, that One came and did something about them, something we cannot do.
Taking a few verses out of context, we have built a god of our own devising, one who apparently will simply just pat us on the back like a benevolent grandfather and say, “That’s alright,” regardless of what we do or are.
God once condemned Israel because they did something similar. In Psalm 50:21, God told Israel, “You thought that I was altogether like you.” They had patterned their view of God on what they themselves were, instead of what He said about Himself. I’m afraid, to a large extent, we’ve done the same thing. But in that same verse, God continued, “But I will rebuke you and set them [i.e., the ‘statutes,’ ‘covenant,’ and ‘words’ He has mentioned earlier in the Psalm] in order before your eyes.”
In that time prior to the capture and destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, an extremely wicked people, Habakkuk said to God, “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil,” Habakkuk 1:12. He just couldn’t understand how a holy God could use such a wicked nation to judge His own people.
In perhaps the earliest OT book, from the standpoint of when it was written, one of Job’s friends contrasts the characters of God and man: “What is man, that he could be pure? And he that is born of a woman, that he could be righteous? If God puts no trust in His saints, and the heavens are not pure in His sight, how much less man, who is abominable and filthy, who drinks iniquity like water!” Job 15:14-16. Job’s three friends misunderstood the reasons for Job’s suffering and they got into trouble for it, but here, at least, one of them understood the chasm that stands between God and man. One is completely Holy, the other is completely sinful.
God is holy.
Man is not.
Jesus Christ came, not to make a way that man could bridge that chasm, but to be the bridge Himself.
We are sinners, Romans 3:23. Sin must be punished, Ezekiel 18:4. On the Cross, Jesus took that punishment, 2 Corinthians 5:21. Though we’ll never understand what was really involved in that transaction, it’s as simple as that. Christ died for sinners, 1 Timothy 1:15. Those who believe on Him are saved from that punishment, and from the sins that bring it. That’s the “good news.” That’s the Gospel.
5. It was done to deal with the very origin of sin, that through death, He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, v. 14.
There seem to be two extreme views about the devil. Some deny that there is any such being – or God, or angels. What you can see is all you get. Then there are those who apparently can’t talk about anything else: Satan this, Satan that, demons this, demons that. So they run around rebuking him, or seeing demons behind bad thing that happens in life.
Now it is true that Scripture tells us that Satan is the god of this world, 2 Corinthians 4:4. It also describes him as the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in [energizes] the sons of disobedience, Ephesians 2:2. But Satan is not an all-powerful being. He is limited, just like we are, though far more powerful. And one day, he and everything he represents, will be no more.
Though’s there more we could say about these verses, we’ll just mention one more thing, as a springboard for our next post:
6. The Lord Jesus came, not just to be a Savior, but to be a merciful and faithful High Priest. Since much of the rest of the book deals with this, we’ll just mention it here, by way of introduction to the rest of the book.