Sunday, April 14, 2013

THE PERFECT SAVIOR (PART 1) HEBREWS 2



THE PERFECT SAVIOR
Part 1
HEBREWS 2:9-18

Today we study the last part of chapter 2. The writer is concluding his argument that Jesus is greater than angels. The question the writer answers in these verses is: if Jesus is greater than angels, why did he suffer and die?

Verse 9 tells us that Jesus was crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death. Philippians 2:7 says Jesus was obedient to the point of death on a cross. Acts 2:23 says Jesus was delivered to death by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God.

But, why did he come to die? He came to die on our behalf. Verse 9 says he suffered death so that he might taste death for everyone. First, to completely identify with us men and women, he had to experience all that we experience, including suffering and death. The writer will explain this in more detail in verses 14-18.Second, he dies for us. It says “that he might taste death for everyone” in verse 9. 1 John 3:16 says “he laid down his life for us”.

So, why would God the Father send his son to die this way? Verse 9 says it was by the grace of God. He did not do it because we deserved it. We did not deserve it. Romans 5:6 says Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:8 says he died for us while we were yet  sinners. Romans 5:10 says he died for us while we were his enemies! So, Christ died for us out of God’s grace. Therefore, Ephesians 2:8 says we are saved by grace. Grace means he gave us something we did not deserve. God displayed his glory in grace by sending Jesus to die and give us salvation.

Verse 10 says this was appropriate or “fitting”. This verse has a lot going on. So, first, let’s look at it without the descriptive phrases and then come back to those. Without the descriptive phrases, this verse says it was fitting that the Father, in bringing many men and women to salvation, should make Jesus perfect through suffering.

The writer uses the word “perfect” here to mean completed. It does not mean Jesus was sinful until the Father made him perfect. We know this because the writer later says Jesus was without sin. But Jesus’ incarnation, his becoming human, was completed in suffering in death. He experienced all the sufferings we experience. There is a sense of qualification here, also. God qualified Jesus through suffering and death to come before him as our high priest.

Now, let’s look at those descriptive phrases. The first one is “for whom and by whom all things exist”. The “he” form whom and by whom all this exist” is God the Father. He made all things and all things exist for him. Everything is to bring him glory. His display of love and grace in bringing men and women to salvation also brings him glory by showing how great his love and grace is.

But this phrase also explains why “it was fitting” that God sent his Son to die. Since God is the one who created all things for his purposes, he works to bring about his purposes. One purpose was shown in Adam. He designed Adam to rule over the earth. Adam failed to bring about the purpose. So, it is appropriate, or fitting, that God send another who will accomplish God’s purpose of having man rule over the earth. God the Father would accomplish this great goal by sending his Son to accomplish it through a great action: his death for our sins. He appointed his Son to accomplish his redemptive mission.

Second is “the founder of their salvation”. Here he refers to Jesus. Some versions say the author of their salvation. What does this mean? It means he started it or he led the way. His present glorification will lead to our glorification. We are some of the many sons.

We see, then, that Jesus completely identified with us. He was fully God, but he was also fully man. Verse 11 says Jesus and his followers have the same origin. That source is God the Father in the sense that he created mankind and Jesus became a man. In this verse, Jesus is the one who sanctifies and his followers are those who are sanctified. He says this is why Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers (and sisters). He shared our humanity, but also brought us into God’s family as sons of God and brothers of Christ. 

In verse 12, the writer dips back into the Old Testament again to prove his point. He uses three verses.

First, he quotes Psalm 22, a Messianic Psalm. And Psalm 22:22 is the exact quote. Psalm 22 is a Psalm of David and is a lament of one who is suffering deeply. He cries out to God. He anticipates vindication from God. And after he is vindicated, he will worship God with God’s people.

Matthew 27 says that this psalm finds greater fulfillment in the death of Christ. He quotes specific phrases from the Psalm and shows them as fulfilled by Christ. Although he does not cite the Psalm by name, the Jews who knew this Psalm well would catch the references.

The writer of Hebrews does the same. He quotes the Psalm without naming it, knowing that his audience of Jewish believers would understand the reference. The picture here is of the ascended Christ, in the midst of the congregation of believers in heaven, singing the praises of the Father.

Second, (in verse 13) the writer quotes Isaiah 8:17 in the Septuagint: “I will put my trust in him”. The NIV uses this exact reading in Isaiah 8:17, also. The literal translation from the Hebrew to English seems to be “I will wait for the Lord”. The KJV, NKJV, RSV, ESV, and NASB all use this language. The context is that God hid his face from Israel because of its idolatry. But Isaiah and the believing remnant trusted God for deliverance. The application by the writer of Hebrews seems to be that Jesus trusted the Father to deliver him and so do all of his brothers and sisters (those who believe in and follow Jesus).

Then the writer quotes the next verse in Isaiah (8:18) to say that Jesus presents himself before the father with all the children (believers) God gave him. 

Those children are us! They are those who believe in Jesus as the son of God and savior. We have eternal security, for John 10 tells us Jesus will not lose any of us. He will stand with us and the Father will accept us as he accepts his son.
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