Hebrews 2: Why He Came the First Time
Let’s recap some of what we learned in our initial study of Hebrews beginning last week. We are discovering Hebrews is one of the most Christ centered books in the New Testament. It was written before the destruction of the temple in 70AD. (Probably around 65AD)
The first generation of Christians, many of whom had been eyewitnesses to Jesus’ earthly ministry were passing away. The second generation of Christians were at a spiritual standstill.
This book is all about the superiority of Jesus to the prophets and leaders of the Old Covenant. The author goes on to compare the superiority of Jesus to: angels, Moses, the priests, and His superior sacrificial work at Calvary. Jesus provides a better covenant, the New Covenant and the supreme sacrifice so there is no need for any more sacrifices. The words ‘ better and perfect’ are frequently used to convince the believer of the superiority of the object of our faith- the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son who became flesh and dwelt among us.
The book of Hebrews also warns us of 5 dangers of which we were introduced to the first danger in Hebrews 2:1- the danger of drifting. Neglecting God’s Word, not paying close attention to His Word, meditating on it day and night and being careful to do all that is says. This is why the author later uses the illustration of an anchor which is anchored in the inner heavenly sanctuary behind the curtain moored into God Himself. This anchor holds and keeps us from drifting. More spiritual problems are caused by neglect than perhaps any other failure on our part. When we neglect God’s word, the study and obedience to it; when we neglect to pray, worship and fellowship with God’s people we will miss opportunities for spiritual growth because we are not anchored. We will surely drift into trouble.
JESUS IS MADE LIKE HIS BROTHERS- LOWER THAN ANGELS
This section quotes from Psalm 8 written by David and requires we go back to Genesis to determine what God’s purpose was for mankind from the beginning. In Genesis 1: 26-28 we read the purpose of God’s creation of man. “Then God said, “Let Us (notice the plural pronoun indicating the Trinity) make man in our likeness and let him rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the earth. God blessed them (Adam and Eve) and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over it.”
God’s purpose was for man to rule over creation under his authority. David marveled at this role given to mankind and the responsibility given to Adam. However, as we know, the first Adam failed and sin entered the world. From this time on, all of mankind would be born with a sinful nature. Then in the fullness of time God sent His Son to earth. This coming to earth, John described as the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us is what we celebrated this Christmas week. ‘God made the Son lower than angels and crowned Him with glory and honor and set Him( Jesus, the God-Man) over the works of Your hands and You have put all things under his feet.’ (Psalm 8) During his 3.5 year ministry, the Lord Jesus showed repeatedly he was over all of creation. The wind and waves obeyed His command. The sea became a sidewalk on which he walked. The fish obeyed him, by either swimming into a net or bringing him a coin. The rooster crowed at exactly the precise time the Lord had foretold. And death vanished at his command and life was restored. How did He do this? Under the authority of God the Father. He told us- the son does nothing of his own accord, only what the Father shows him He is doing. (John 5)
Why did the Lord do this? “ Who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of man. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.” (Phil. 2) God the Son did this so He could reveal God to mankind. He was representative of what true man was to be before God. He would also be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Through Him, God would create a new race of mankind, those who had been born again, justified by the blood, more precious than silver or gold. Jesus made a way where there was no way. This is why in the first chapter of Hebrews we were told ‘He was the exact representation of God and He provided purification for our sins, then sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. Jesus brought God to earth so that by grace through faith He could take man back to heaven.
This section of Hebrews tells us the four reasons why Jesus became a man.
THE FALL OF MAN
We are not sure how long Adam ruled and reigned over God’s creation. We know this is what God intended. But Adam’s authority was derived authority, it came from God. As long as Adam and Eve were subject to God, they would be able to exercise dominion over all the creation. (The centurion who came to Jesus in Matthew 8 understood derived authority. He knew he was a man under authority who had soldiers under his authority. Jesus was astonished at his faith. And said, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith”.) Mankind was made to be king over all God’s universe under Gods’ authority. But when Adam sinned, known as the ‘fall of man’, he lost his position and destiny. Adam would create a race of man born with a sinful nature, outside of the authority of God.
Jesus became a man to restore and recapture our lost destiny. We would have to be ‘born again’; regenerated, in order to establish a new race to multiply and fill the earth. In the meanwhile, lost mankind continually keeps trying to exert his authority over earth. It has created wars and polluted the paradise which God originally created as man tries to accomplish in his own strength and authority what only can be done under the authority of God.
Man has in many ways made remarkable improvements, scientific and technological discoveries and breakthroughs in certain areas. But has made zero progress in morality. Mankind does not realize it is trying to usurp authority over the earth, he only makes things worse. It is an exercise of utmost futility. As Shakespeare put it: “Life is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Apart from Jesus Christ this is exactly what life becomes. Life without God is meaningless.
Jesus came to recapture man’s lost inheritance. He became our Great King of Kings. In order to do that He had to taste death for everyone. (Romans 5 explains ‘how through one man, the first Adam, death reigned, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.’)
*The last Adam who came to restore our inheritance lost in the fall. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 tells us this has been accomplished. “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” Ephesians 1; Ephesians 6.
*The second reason Jesus became a man was to recover our lost unity. Hebrews 2: 10-13 expands on this second reason: “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.” (We have been adopted into the family of God!) “So Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers. He says, I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your names. And again, I will put my trust in Him. And again He says, here am I, and the children God has given me.”
In order to do this, Jesus was made perfect through suffering. Jesus was born as a babe in Bethlehem with a perfect, sinless nature. But He remained perfect, sinless, though He was tempted as a man just like we are tempted. This makes Him our perfect High Priests for He understands our weakness and temptations. He understands human emotions. He knows sadness, joy, pain and temptation. He knew what it was to be held in ridicule, to suffer physically, to be betrayed by someone He loved and not believed by those who should have recognized Him. The shortest verse in the Bible described his humanness. “Jesus wept.” (John 11) You see Jesus suffered so that He not only understands our weakness, but also to show us how we get through it by completely depending on the Father as He did. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Jesus prayed on the last night in His earthly body to His Father- “…that they may be one as we are one. I in them, and you in me.”
*Jesus came to restore kingdom authority which was lost in Adam. *Jesus came to make us One, a new body, undivided, united in Him. (The two most important men in history are Adam and Jesus.)
Now we read in the next two verses the third reason Jesus became a man and dwelt among us. Hebrews 2: 14, 15- “ Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared their humanity, so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death- the devil- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” *Jesus came to set the captives free from their fear of death.
Wait a minute- if the devil is destroyed- why is there so much hatred, evil, death, sickness and wrong in the world? The devil has not been eliminated- he has been made impotent. But he is impotent only to all to those who are in Christ Jesus. The victory was over the power of death. Only God has the power over life and death. Death can best be defined as the absence of life. Eternal death is eternal separation from God. This is a life that is absent of the life of Jesus Christ. It is this eternal death, this eternal separation. It is this death that Christ sets the believer free from.
Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”(John 11)
We will never be separated from Jesus from who all of life derives. Physical life in these human bodies derives from Jesus. Eternal life in our resurrected bodies derives from Jesus… And the moment our physical bodies expire, we are in the presence of the Lord if we have been born again. Peter told us- God is not willing that any should perish, but all would come to repentance. John told us “in Him was the true light that gives light to every man was come into the world. And to all who received Him, to those who believe in His name, He gave the right to become the children of God- not children born of natural descent nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1) We exist because God willed for us to exist. And we exist so that God may give Himself to us.
And in John 3 Jesus tells us: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 4: “Brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.” Notice it does not say we will not grieve over the death of a loved one- but that we will not grieve like the lost who have no hope. Our hope is in Him. And in I Corinthians 15: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death where is they sting? O Hades where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” For the believer, the death of the physical body is not only to be present with the Lord, but to enter into the phase of eternal life in a new dimension. Victory in Jesus, My Savior forever! Death is not the end. Nothing can separate us from His love- neither death nor life. Nothing!! If we live in this joy- we will die in peace!
We can live life to its fullest when we know the Truth that sets us free. Truth is a person. Jesus said I am the way, the truth and the life. And if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. Freedom is not having what I want, but doing what God wants.
Today we see a world desperately seeking to live what they describe as the full life. Their own definition of the abundant life. In seeking for this life outside of Jesus, they become enslaved to the one who has deceived mankind since the Garden. They find themselves in bondage to the enemy who came to kill, and steal and destroy. It can happen to Christians also, who try to keep their own lifestyle, defying the Spirit’s control over certain areas and end up in bondage. The principle of being set free from bondage is to give up one’s life- for anyone who tries to keep his life loses it. As Jim Elliot said, “A man is no fool to give up what he cannot keep for that which he can never lose.”
- Jesus came to restore what we lost in Adam. He came to make us one- to unify us. *This is third reason Jesus came was to set us free from our present bondage, those ‘held in slavery by their fear.’
The fourth reason He came is found in Hebrews 2: 16-18. He made atonement for the sins of the people. The perfect High Priest. The perfect sacrifice. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1: 9)
He is the only Priest we need to make confession to. He is the only Priest who has the authority to forgive us our sins and He is the only sacrifice which is able to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. This is a once and forever transaction. A covenant sealed in His blood.
Aren’t you glad Jesus became a man? This makes him the perfect high priest. He is compassionate. He is merciful. He is faithful.
Do you know why Jesus became a man? He became this for these four reasons. He came to build a bridge across an abyss we could never be able to cross. He build it out of an old rugged cross with a handful of nails, literally.
Jesus wept when He entered Jerusalem the last time and lamented: “O Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often I wanted to gather you as a mother hen gathers her chicks, but you would not.”
He came to be our shelter in the storm. Our ark in which he placed us and sealed us with His blood, like Noah did the ark with pitch. He closed the door, just as God did for Noah to protect him and his family from the wrath of God about to be poured out in the Great Flood. He is our Door, which opens to eternal life in death, and is closed to the wrath of God.
“He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow which flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague which destroys at midday.”
He restores us when we fail. He picks us up and places us on His shoulder like the lost sheep which has gone astray.
We are raised up with Him and seated in Heavenly places. All that He has done in becoming a man like us, lowering himself was to:
*Recapture what we had lost in Adam.
*Make us one in Him, restore our unity.
*Set us free from bondage, the slavery of fear.
*Cleanse us from all unrighteousness- to restore us when we fail.
Now do you realize the real significance of Christmas and whey Jesus came to earth? This is the reason for celebration! It was the greatest gift ever given to mankind. Have you opened all your presents?