What is your only hope in life and death? Heidelberg Catechism: (16th century Protestant Catechisms)
That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins, with his precious blood,
and has set me free from all the power of the devil.
He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father
not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together
for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit
he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready
from now on to live for him.
It is humans he helps.
Angels don’t need his help, they are his helpers. How should we pay careful attention here: how does he help humans?
3 words that unlock 3 truths about how he helps us:
By the grace of God, Jesus tasted death for everyone
What does that mean in a world where all die? He didn’t taste death “instead of” us.
Passage Parallel: verse 10, “author” or “pioneer”—the one who was first and starts something; the entrepreneur, the one who creates from scratch and makes it easier for those who follow. Bears the suffering to get it going. “We’re all going to go through it, but he is going to take us through it.”
Parallel words: Hebrews 12:2 , “starter and finisher” or “pioneer and completer.” The Greek: avrchgo.n kai. teleiwth.n—beginner and completer. This parallel shows the emphasis is on the one who does something unknown and complicated (due to ignorance and fear) first and makes it much easier for the next person.
In Jesus’ death and resurrection Jesus has “tasted” death, and pioneered the way through it for us.
- In atonement- taking away the sting, and judgment of death.
- In conquering it- by taking away the power of it’s mystery by defeating death, and giving us the promise of resurrection.
Suffering made Jesus the perfect savior for us.
“Perfect” – better or fitting? “Perfect” or “perfect for”? Perfectly accomplishing brotherhood—a fully shared experience.
Hebrews 2:10-14 NIV 10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting [that] (to1) God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.1 12 He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.”1 13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.”1 And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”2 14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death– that is, the devil…”
The one who makes people holy, and those made holy are of one family. The family of the sufferers—the line of “flesh and blood” (verse 14). That is why he “shared in their humanity” or literally “partook of the same” (as the flesh and blood).
The sharing of suffering and death is the heart of sharing our flesh and blood.
NAS Hebrews 2:18 For since He Himself was atempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. (Heb. 2:18 NAS)
How does this brotherhood help us? How is it the definitive help that we need- that makes Jesus the perfect helper as our high priest?
Jesus broke the power that enslaved us by our fear of death
Heb. 2:14-15 NIV “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of 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.”
Notice the word is “by” not “to”—we were not enslaved to our fear of death, but by it. Literally: “as much as the fear of death, through all their lives, they were subject to slavery.”
How does that free us from the power of the devil? His power was rooted in our fear of death—and it is that fear that makes us easy to manipulate and easy to lead away from God.
Job 2:3-5 NIV “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
“Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
It is our experience in Flesh and blood that makes us both capable and vulnerable in creation. We are unique among the self-conscious persons of the universe to be subject to flesh and blood and, therefore, death. Neither God, nor angels, nor demons have any experience of such uncertainty, or of our particular kind of suffering—to not see things spiritually as they are.
Jesus took on this unique foundation of human fear and doubt, and bore it perfectly, and showed us how—as a kind of brother. By becoming fully part of the flesh and blood people that suffer and die in this world. And he showed us how God would bring us to glory, and put everything under our feet—even death and hell.
Our fear of death was not a lingering and obscure slavery that hung in the background of a free life—it was a chain and lock that bound us to a hundred slaveries that are all rooted in our fear of death.
Our slavery to the devil works its way out from our fear of death and suffering. It leads to our fear of:
- Aging or becoming irrelevant
- Not having money
- Being relationally isolated
- Losing our good name
- Fear of missing out—that we only live once, and our lives are as meaningful as what we can cram into them
- Need to get out of hard relationships or to avoid hard things
- Our difficulty with getting over loss
- Our anger that we’re not celebrities
- Our anger that we have to work, and can’t just play all the time
- Our fear to take moral responsibility for our lives—because we know that we’ll be self condemned
- Our unwillingness to stop judging others—because the people worse than us seem like a safety margin keeping us from the ledge of the precipice of judgment
- Unwillingness to forgive
- Unwillingness to deal with out deep dysfunctions—because it is humiliating suffering to seek psychological freedom
Every slavery takes its authority from our fears as people of Flesh and blood—as part of the brotherhood of suffering and death.
When Jesus breaks our fear of death, he breaks the chain and lock holding us to ALL OF OUR SLAVERIES. But we still have to appropriate that freedom. We need to put our slaveries under his feet.
How do we experience the freedom from slaveries that Jesus has already broken?
- Short answer: Pay careful attention to the great salvation.
- That is: The freedom is in the details.
- Context: The rest of the book of Hebrews.
- Practical: Your faith needs to become as incarnate as Jesus the high priest. It needs to be as divine as the Son of God, and as flesh and blood as the Savior man Jesus.
Our faith needs to be focused on Jesus—who is himself the high priest.
You can’t shy away from Jesus himself—you have to focus your spiritual life on him. On being his disciple. Learning about him. What his death and resurrection means, and how he has called you to follow him into godliness, which will involve suffering and ultimately death (but also much more).
Galatians 6:2-10 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5 for each one should carry his own load. 6 Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. 7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.