In the past, God spoke at many times and in various ways through the prophets. He spoke bit by bit through this prophet and through that prophet. Everything he revealed through the prophets was true, but it was always bit by bit. But now, in these last days, God has spoken his final and decisive word to us by the one who is Son. And who is the one who is Son? He’s God’s Eternally-Begotten Son, who is heir of all things; and through whom all things were made; and he’s the radiance of God’s glory and the exact imprint of his bring. In other words, he’s the repetition of God the Father. And he sustains all things by his powerful word; and he has provided purification for our sins; and he has sat down as God’s right hand in heaven. In the past God spoke through the prophets, but now he has spoken by his Son, who is far, far, far greater than the prophets ever were.
And he’s greater than the angels. In the past, God revealed his law through the angels. But the one who is Son is greater than the angels, because he is God’s Only Begotten Son; and the angels were made to worship and serve him; and he is the Eternal Son whose years will never end. In the past, God spoke through the angels, but now he has spoken by his Son, who is far, far, far greater than the angels ever were.
And so, this being the case, we must pay superabundant attention to what God has said to us by his Son about our salvation, because if we do not pay superabundant attention to what God has said to us by his Son about our salvation, then we’re in danger of drifting away from his Son and from our salvation. A woman is not paying attention; and her ring slips off her finger and is lost. A sailor is not paying attention; and his boat slips it mooring and drifts down the river. And if we do not pay attention to what we have heard, we’re liable to drift away from Christ and from the salvation he won for us.
So, the writer has been emphasising the superiority of the Son; and how we must pay attention to what God has said to us by his Son. But then, from verse 5 of chapter 2, the writer begins to tell us about the Son’s solidarity with us. He is far, far, far greater than the prophets and angels, because he’s the Eternally Begotten Son of God. However, for a little while, he was made lower than the angels, when he came to earth as one of us. And as one of us, he tasted death for everyone. That is, he died for us. He died in our place. He suffered death on our behalf. And since he died for us, in obedience to his Father’s will, he has now been crowned with glory and honour, because after he died, he was raised and he was exalted to the Father’s side in heaven where he now sits enthroned as King over all. He has always been King over all, because he is God who made all things and who rules over all things. But now he sits enthroned in heaven as one of us. And when he comes again, he’ll gather his people together and he’ll bring us into the new heavens and earth, where we will live with him and where we will reign with him.
So, the Son became one of us. And the writer to the Hebrews continues to emphasise his solidarity with us in today’s passage.
And it begins in verse 10, where the writer tells us that, in bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting for God to make the author of our salvation perfect through suffering.
Let’s break this down into its parts. Look, firstly, at how he refers to God. He describes him as the one for whom and through whom everything exists. So, everything that exists was made through him. That means he’s the Creator of everything and everything owes its existence to him. And he made everything for himself. So, if we ever ask ourselves why something exists, or why something happened, or what something is for, the answer is that ultimately it’s for God, who made all things for himself. He has determined what will exist and what it’s for. And everything that exists and everything that happens is determined by God.
And the writer goes on to refer to the author of our salvation. He’s referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, isn’t he? He’s the author of our salvation in the sense that he’s the one who accomplishes it. An author completes a book and Christ has completed our salvation by doing all things necessary to reconcile us to God and to give us eternal life. And so, the same Greek word can be translated ‘author’ or ‘founder’ or ‘originator’. But the Greek word can also be translated ‘pioneer’ or ‘captain’ or pathfinder’ or ‘leader’. And, when translated that way, it emphasises how he has gone before us. Think of how the Lord God went before the people of Israel when they were in the wilderness and on their way to the Promised Land. The Lord went before them in that glory-cloud to show them the way. And the Lord Jesus Christ has gone before us, hasn’t he? He’s gone before us by his resurrection from the dead and his ascension to heaven. He’s gone before us to the Father’s house to prepare a place for us. And when everything is ready, he’ll return to earth to gather us together and he’ll bring us to the Father’s house and to the many rooms which he has prepared for us. So, he’s the author of salvation in the sense that he’s done everything necessary to save us. And he’s the pioneer of our salvation in the sense that he’s gone before us into glory.
But what does the writer means when he says that God has made the Lord Jesus perfect through suffering? Surely the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, has always been perfect? Since he’s God, he is infinitely and eternally and unchangeably holy. And when he was on the earth, he never did anything wrong. So, why does the writer say he was made perfect? When was he ever imperfect? But the writer is not referring to moral perfection. He’s referring to what some of the commentators describe as vocational perfection. Someone hears about a new job and they’re interested in applying. They send away for the details and receive back the personnel specification which lists the essential criteria and the desirable criteria. That is, applicants must have these educational qualification and this much experience and they must possess these qualities. If someone possesses the essential and desirable qualifications, then that person is the perfect candidate for the job. And in order to become the perfect Saviour, or a perfectly qualified Saviour, it was necessary for the Lord Jesus to suffer for us. He had to suffer death in order to deliver us from death. He had to shed his blood in order to cleanse us from our guilt. He was always morally perfect, but in order to become the perfect Saviour, he had to suffer and die for us.
So, in this one verse, the writer has referred to God, who has made and who determines all things; and he’s referring to the Lord Jesus, who is the author and pioneer of our salvation and who was made the perfect Saviour by his suffering. But now we have the phrase ‘In bringing many sons to glory’. When God led the Israelites through the wilderness, he was leading them to the Promised Land. And God is now leading us to the glory of the Promised Land to come. He’s leading us by his Son into eternal life in his presence. Christ has gone before us to prepare the way. And when the time is right, he will come and take us to be with God forever.
Why does the writer refer to ‘sons’? Why not ‘sons and daughters’? It’s because in Bible times, only sons received the family inheritance. And so, to reassure every single believer that they will inherit eternal life in the presence of God, the writer refers to every believer — male and female — as a son. None of them will miss out. None of them will be excluded. When it comes to receiving eternal life, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a man or a woman. So long as you’re a believer, trusting in Christ, the perfect Saviour, then God will give you eternal life in his presence.
And so, the one who is Son became one of us. And he became one of us so that he could suffer death in our place and become our perfect Saviour. And he became one of us so that he could be the author and pioneer of our salvation who leads us to glory. As one of us, and on our behalf, he’s already gone into the presence of God. And since he has gone there as one of us, and on our behalf, then we know that we will will join him there one day. So, in verse 10, the writer emphasises the Son’s solidarity with us.
Verses 11 to 13
And the Son’s solidarity with us is the focus of verses 11 to 13 where the writer takes three quotations from the Old Testament and he puts the words of the quotations on the lips of the Son to show how he is not ashamed to be associated with us.
In the first quotation, the Son calls us his brothers. In the third quotation, he calls us his children. And in the second quotation, the Son puts himself in our shoes, if you like. Just as you and I have to trust in God the Father for all things, so the Son had to trust in God the Father for all things while he was on the earth.
And so, though he’s the Eternally Begotten Son, who is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, the Son was not ashamed to be associated with us. On the contrary, he was willing to become one of us.
Verses 14 to 16
And in verses 14 to 16 the writer goes on to say a little bit more about why the Son of God became one of us. Since we have flesh and blood, then he too shared in our humanity. That’s what we are: we’re flesh and blood. And the Eternal Son of God shared in our humanity by becoming flesh and blood like us. He remains the Eternal Son of God and he possesses the same divine nature which he shares with God the Father and God the Spirit. However, when he became one of us, the Eternal Son of God took to himself our human nature so that he is now, and always will be, God and man in one person. He’s one person: the Eternal Son of God. But the Eternal Son of God now possesses two natures: the divine nature which he shares with the Father and the Spirit; and a human nature. His two natures are distinct, but inseparable. They are inseparable, because they are united in the person of the Son. But they are distinct in that they are not mixed together, because the divine nature remains fully divine and the human nature remains fully human. Though he is the Eternal Son of God, he took to himself our human nature and he became flesh and blood while remaining the Eternal Son of God.
But why did the Eternal Son of God become one of us and become flesh and blood like us? It was so that he could die as one of us. The writer has already said that the Son came into the world to taste death for everyone. He has already said that he came to suffer death. Now he refers to his death for us. And he died for us in order to destroy him who holds the power of death. Do you see that in verse 15? He’s referring to the Devil.
Think for a moment about the battle between the Philistines and the Israelites in 1 Samuel. Do you remember? The Philistines had their mighty champion, Goliath, who was a giant and all of the Israelites were afraid of him. He would come out each day and challenge them to a fight. But the Israelites were terrified. Well, in a sense, he represents the Devil, because the Devil is like a mighty giant who frightens the whole world. And he frightens the whole world, not only because he’s like a mighty giant, but because he holds in his hand a weapon which is mighty and powerful and which he uses to beat us all. The weapon he holds in his hand, like a mighty club, like a sharp sword, is death. The Devil comes at us with this mighty weapon and he swings it at each one of us and we can’t avoid it or escape it, because in the end he will get us with it. And so, as the writer says, he holds us in slavery by our fear of death. Every day the Devil strikes down more and more victims, because every day, all around the world, people die. And we can’t avoid it. It always catches up with us. And when death comes, that’s the end of our life in this world. We have our loved ones, we have our work, we have our hobbies, we have all the things we enjoy in this life. We have life itself. But death robs us of all of those good things.
But do you remember the battle between the Philistines and the Israelites? The Philistines had their champion: Goliath. All the Israelites were afraid of him. All, but one, of course. David was not afraid. He was one of the Israelites and he came out from among them to represent them in this battle against Goliath. And with God’s help, David struck Goliath down and killed him. And because their champion had conquered Goliath, the Israelites could cheer and celebrate.
Well, if Goliath, in a sense, represents Goliath, David, in a sense, represents the Son of God, who became one of us. He became flesh and blood. And he became flesh and blood in order to be our champion and to fight on our behalf against the Devil and against death. And though it seemed for a time that the Devil had triumphed, because the Lord Jesus was struck down and he died, nevertheless by his death he did what? The NIV says that he destroyed the Devil. However, the Greek word really means something like ‘make ineffective’. Once the Devil was frightening because he held over us the power of death. But his power over us has been broken by the death of Jesus Christ.
How has Satan’s power over us been broken by Christ’s death? It’s because the thing that made death so deadly was our sin. The wages of sin is death. The penalty for sin is death. Because we sin, we deserve to die. But when the Lord Jesus gave up his life to death on the cross, he paid for our sins in full. He paid the wages we owe. He paid the penalty we deserve to suffer. He has paid for our sins with his life; and therefore death has no more power over us. As Paul puts it near the end of 1 Corinthians 15, where he taunted death, the sting of death is sin. But the Lord Jesus has removed the sting of death by paying for our sins with his life. If it were possible to remove the sting from a bee or wasp, we would never be afraid of them. And since Christ has dealt with our sin on the cross, and has removed the sting of death, then death is not something for us to fear. We will still die, but death for the believer is now the entrance into God’s presence; and it’s the beginning of eternal life with him.
And so, the Eternal Son of God became one of us. He shared in our humanity. He became flesh and blood with us. He had a body and soul like ours. And the reason he became one of us was to give up his life on the cross to pay for our sins in full. And by doing so, he removed the sting of death so that the one weapon the Devil held over us because ineffective. The Devil cannot beat us now. Death cannot beat us now, because death is not the end, but the beginning of our new life in the presence of God.
And so, the writer adds in verse 16 that the Son of God did not come to help angels, but he came to help Abraham’s descendants. And when he mentions Abraham’s descendants, he’s referring to Abraham’s spiritual descendants, all those who share Abraham’s faith; and who trust in the promises of God for salvation. He’s referring to believers. And since the Son of God came to help them, he had to become like them. And the word translated ‘help’ means something like ‘take hold of’. He helps us by taking hold of us. The Son of God takes hold of his people. He — as it were — takes us by the hand and he leads us through this troubled life and through death and into the glory to come.
Verses 17 to 18
So, the Son of God became one of us in order to die for us and to deliver us from death. And then, the writer tells us, he became one of us and shared our humanity in order to become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God.
In Old Testament times, God appointed high priests to offer sacrifices for the sins of his people. And the Son of God became one of us so that he might become our great high priest. Being merciful, he is kind to us. And being faithful, he’s faithful to his Father who appointed him and he’s faithful to his people, doing all that was necessary to reconcile us to God. And since he’s our great high priest, he had to make atonement for us. And how did he make atonement for us? He made atonement for us by offering himself on the cross as the perfect sacrifice for sins. And by the sacrifice of himself, he shed his blood to wash us and to cleanse us from the guilt of our sin. He came as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And he takes away our sin by cleansing us with his blood.
And not only does he wash us, but by the sacrifice of himself, he has saved us from God’s wrath. God’s wrath was upon us because of our sin and because of all the ways we have disobeyed his laws and fallen short of doing his will. Because of our sins and shortcomings, we deserve to be condemned by God and punished. But on the cross, Christ bore in our place the punishment we deserve; and he suffered in our place the penalty for our sin. The punishment we deserve was placed on him; and we, the guilty ones, are spared. And having washed away our guilt, and having suffered the penalty we deserve, all who now trust in Jesus Christ receive peace with God and the hope of everlasting life in God’s presence.
The Eternal Son of God became one of us so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest and offer himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. And here’s the conclusion to what the writer has been saying: Because he suffered when tempted, he’s able to help us when we are tempted. What the writer means is that, when the Lord Jesus suffered, he was tempted to sin. In other words, his suffering was the source of his temptation. When the guards came to arrest him, was he tempted to flee for his life? When he hung on the cross, was he tempted to disregard his Father’s will and save his own life, instead of giving up his life to save his people in obedience to his Father? When the people mocked him and told him to come down from the cross, was he tempted to listen to them instead of listening to his Father? When he suffered, he was tempted. But instead of giving in to the temptation and sinning against his Father, he remained faithful and obedient to his Father, even though it meant suffering so very much.
And that means he’s able to help us. And the word for ‘help’ is different from verse 16. In verse 16, the image was of Christ helping us by taking hold of us. Here the image is of Christ coming to our aid. When we’re sick, a doctor comes to help us. So, when we’re suffering in this world and we’re tempted to sin, Christ is able to come to our aid. And perhaps that’s what the original readers needed to hear. Were they suffering for their faith? Was the world against them? Were they being tempted to give up and give in and to turn away from the faith? And so, the writer reassures them that the Son of God became one of us. He shares our humanity. He became flesh and blood like us. He suffered as one of us. He was tempted like us. But he resisted every temptation and remained faithful. And he’s now alive and he’s able to come to our aid and help us when we’re suffering and when we’re struggling and when we’re tempted to sin against our Heavenly Father.
And that’s what you need to hear as well, because our life in this world is often difficult and we’re often afflicted and troubled and we struggle. We struggle because of our own weakness as fallen humans. But we struggle too because of our faith in Christ. An unbelieving world is against us and opposes us and puts us under pressure. And sometimes it overwhelms us and we’re tempted by our suffering to give it all up and choose an easy life over the hard life of faith. But don’t give up. Look to God for help.
But maybe you think he doesn’t understand. How can he understand you when he’s God and he doesn’t know what it’s like to suffer as a human. But God the Son became one of us. As God, he cannot suffer; but he suffered as one of us. In fact, he suffered more than you ever will, because he suffered the wrath of God in your place, which is something you’ll never have to suffer if you’re trusting in him. And you can look to him for the help you need whenever you suffer and are tempted.
Why did the Eternal Son of God become one of us? He became one of us in order to suffer death in our place and become our perfect Saviour who leads us to glory. And he became one of us in order to make death and the Devil ineffective and to free us from the fear of death. And he became one of us in order to become our great high priest and to offer himself as the perfect sacrifice for sins. And he became one of us in order to help us when we suffer and are tempted.