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Jesus Made Like His Brothers March 12, 2015

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Hebrews 2:5-18.

Summary: The author begins by asserting that God has not made the church subject to angels. Instead, He has made the church subject to Jesus Christ; the author proves this by quoting from Psalm 8:4-6, where David contemplates the greatness of God. David states that God condescended to set His heart on mankind for good; to this end, He subjected Christ to humiliation and then exalted Him, giving Him dominion. While all men know that they do not have dominion over all things, they know that Christ, who was abased, was later exalted and given dominion over all things after His suffering. God caused Christ to die on the behalf of mankind since He had set His heart on them for good.

Now the author provides another reason why God subjected Christ to humiliation: He wanted His children to come into eternal glory with Himself in heaven, and so Christ had to be sanctified through His suffering in order to lead them into heaven. Christ also sanctifies His children, and so He and they have the same nature. Indeed, Christ Himself declares this fact; the author proves this by quoting from the following passages:

  • Psalm 22:22, where Christ states that He will communicate the goodness and grace of God to those who share His nature – through the church
  • Isaiah 8:17 to show that Christ, since He had a human nature, needed to depend on God’s care and protection as He suffered
  • Isaiah 8:18, where Christ restates the fact that He and His children have the same nature.

The author concludes by asserting that since Christ has the same nature as the children of God, they have obtained the following benefits:

  • since they were subject to death, God made Christ subject to death so that His death would destroy the power of Satan in and over death; this great act removes their apprehension regarding death, as they had previously expected it as their punishment on account of their sins
  • since they are the seed of Abraham, Christ became the seed of Abraham to assist them
  • since they needed someone to represent them before God, Christ became fully man; He then appeased the wrath of God against their sins
  • since they face countless temptations on the path of obedience, Christ also suffered countless temptations while He was fully man; thus, He can comfort them and show them mercy and compassion when they are tempted.

Thoughts: In verse 8, the author states that mankind does not have dominion over all things. Owen offers some insights on this point in his commentary:

These words refer to mankind. He asserts this by appealing to a common experience: we…see. “This is a matter that everyone can judge.” “We do not need testimony or argument to instruct us on this point; our own condition, and what we see in other people, are sufficient to instruct us.”

This passage caused me to ponder our lack of control over the course of our lives. While we may often assume that we control our own destiny, we soon discover that this is a dangerous assumption; for example, we cannot predict when a large earthquake will strike the surrounding area, causing significant damage and even loss of life. We also cannot predict when a tsunami might occur, washing away our cars and even our homes. We also cannot prevent people from texting while driving or even driving the wrong way down a freeway after midnight. We cannot guarantee the stability of our job situation, and we cannot guarantee our long-term health. Given all of these uncontrollable factors, we need to anticipate and even long for the time when we will have dominion over all things – only at the Second Coming of Christ.

In this passage, we see that Christ suffered countless temptations during his earthly ministry. Owen offers some insights on this point in his commentary on verse 18:

There were temptations from his relatives, as he was disbelieved, which deeply affected his compassionate heart with sorrow; there were temptations from his followers, who forsook him when he preached the mysteries of the Gospel to them; there were the temptations from his chosen disciples, all of whom deserted him, one denied him, and one betrayed him; there was the anguish of his mother, when “a sword pierced through her soul” in his sufferings; and there were numerous temptations from his enemies.

Whenever I contemplate the sufferings of Christ, I often find that I have great difficulty identifying with what His sufferings. It is only when I experience a temptation that I have a better appreciation of His sufferings. Now I know that in order to progress in the Christian life, we must suffer, as that is how we grow in our experiential knowledge of Christ. Yet it seems that believers in First World countries must be especially mindful as to how they can participate in the sufferings of Christ, and this raises some difficult questions. For example, should Christians move to low-income neighborhoods to minister to their residents? Should Christians surrender high-paying positions for low-paying positions that have a more obvious alignment with God’s kingdom plan? Should Christians intentionally spend time with nonbelievers from a different demographic?

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