Hebrews 2/ June 12
“He had to be made like His brethren in all things” (2:17)
The theme of the superiority of Christ to the angels continues in this second chapter, but with a twist- one that will be covered in a moment.
To begin, the author discusses the importance of listening to what the angels spoke, lest we drift away from it (2:1) A simple yet effective example would use John the Baptist father, Zacharias, who did not have to follow instructions given by the angel in what to name his son (Luke 1:13); but Zacharias understood the importance of obeying what came from God through the angel. The next verse lets us know, “For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,” (2:2,3). The significance of this verse could get lost in its wordiness, but it is saying that just as His word would hold unalterable- that the wages of sin was death, whatever the angels spoke would hold true for they got it from God. Hearing truth from the angels was as good as hearing it from God for they only speak what they heard from God. If transgression received a just penalty then to neglect salvation would automatically send a person to hell. The just penalty for sin is hell; grace is only found in Christ. Salvation through Jesus is so great for it is our only hope of heaven. The angels perfectly keep the law, they have no need for grace- but we do!
Angels have no benefit of salvation, for they are already there, their eternity is set. (2:5).
We now begin examining how, for a brief time, Christ is lower than the angels, and that occurs in regards to His work of salvation.
We read, “Thou hast made Him for a little while lower than the angels;” (2:7), and in this we have fulfillment of what Paul had spoken about Christ, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.“ (Philippians 2:6,7). This constitutes the remainder of the second chapter being how the heavenly Christ became our earthly Savior. As v9 says, “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” (2:9) This gives a package statement of why Christ had to become flesh: so He might taste death for everyone. In order to save those of flesh, Christ had to become flesh. Otherwise it would not have been effective for it would not have been of equals. It would not have been as Adam of Eve, it would be a supernatural being accomplishing something that mankind never could. It would effect something for which we were not equipped; where is justice in that? Dropping down to the last two verses is where we learn this books explanation as to why it was significant for Christ to come in the flesh, “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (2:17-18)
It was so He would be better able to sympathize with those around Him, as One in the flesh. The Gospels speak of Him having compassion, of shedding tears, of anger- emotions experienced by flesh and blood. But further is so He could first hand experience the emotion, the pull that caused mankind to turn against submission to God. He experienced temptation and demonstrated that it could be resisted, as it says two chapters over- tempted yet without sin (4:15). Jesus had to live out in front of humans that what God expected could be achieved. This is questioned, doubted, disputed, yet as a mortal Christ successfully accomplished that which was the design of the first human beings.
When someone says they can’t stop sinning because “I’m only human”, so was Christ! This was the exact purpose for coming in the flesh- to demonstrate the humans capability to fully live for God if they will fully give themselves to His control and not want to displease Him. Sin is an option you choose every day.