Hebrews, Part 10, Chapter 2
How is it that God can purify the human conscience (Hebrews 9:13-15)? This was our topic last Friday. How could God heal and make clean the conscience of someone like me who had deliberately seared and ignored my conscience? Why does he have the winsome ability, or even the desire, to do this? Hebrews 2 spells this out for us.
Rather than working through this book from the beginning straight to the end, I’ve chosen to write about Hebrews with the theology interwoven with the application, for we aren’t an audience of intellectual equality with the first-century recipients of this letter. In the first century, a letter to the church was read out loud to the entire gathering, and then each family’s scribe or they themselves made copies. Next, each one memorized the entirety. The scroll of the letter no longer was necessary at that point, for they each “owned” the letter in their hearts. The ancient mind had a huge capacity for meditation with all of this biblical truth stored within.
Therefore, when hearing the last chapters of this letter, one which we looked at last week, the reader would automatically apply what had been read and memorized from the early chapters that we’re examining today. We are not like this. Social media and the firing of new information at us in sound bites and blasts of noise have interrupted the ability of our brains to contemplate that deeply. This is tragic. In writing here, I’ve adapted.
In Hebrews Chapter Two, after detailing the Son’s preeminence over the angels and over all of creation, the authors explain this significant truth:
But God, being the Creator and the Artist of all he had made, chose not to subject the created world to the angels. Not to spirit beings like angels did he entrust this world and all he had designed and brought into being. No, he entrusted it to humankind, often translated to “man.” The Greek word used here is anthropos, and it means “humanity,” to men and to women.
Therefore, since this is true and this is a weighty matter with which to be entrusted, Chapter 2 opens with the sobering reminder that we “must pay closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (2:1).
Have you ever witnessed anyone drift away? Or, have you ever drifted?
As I testified last week, I deliberately fell away. A harm of enormous proportions had occurred. At thirteen and fourteen I couldn’t have even described this, but my heart gradually grew cold toward God, the One who had allowed this to happen. I didn’t comprehend then that I needed to hurl my whys at God and to turn toward him, rather than away from him to find help, understanding, and healing. And so, I quit reading God’s Word, day by day reading less and less, until eventually I randomly opened my Bible, read the first verse my eyes fell upon, and then called it quits each day. The absence of honest communication with God and the cleansing of his Word then allowed me to sear my conscience and to gradually, step by step, fall increasingly into sin, until no one could even tell that I was a Christian.
So, why would Jesus come to die for someone like me? “How can we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” Hebrews 2:3 hurls the question at us, warning us additionally that every transgression or disobedience receives a just retribution or recompense (2:2b). We pay for what we do.
Why fall away? We have plenty of evidence and many reasons to remain:
The message in God’s Word is reliable. It has been tested and proven over and over again. The preservation of the Scriptures above and beyond any other work of ancient literature is without question. Tens of thousands of scraps of those handwritten copies made in the first centuries remain as a testimony. At the University of Michigan, I’ve seen early second-century copies on papyrus of the letter to the Ephesians.
Then there are the signs, wonders, and miracles witnessed and attested to by hundreds and thousands, the majority still alive as eyewitnesses when the first gospels and the letters were written. All were preserved carefully in human minds and in the written word in thousands of documents.
As a young teen, I knew none of this. I was just a lost kid. But God…
“What is man that you are mindful of him, or the son of man that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subject to his feet” (Hebrews 2:6b-7 ESV).
Nothing was left outside of humanity’s control. Adam had it all, until he sinned and lost it. As a result, “at present, we don’t yet see everything in ongoing subjection to him, BUT we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:8b-9).
Why would Jesus come and do this? Why would he cram his deity into a conceived human being in the womb? Why would he be born, endure the discomforts and pains of life in a human body, grow to manhood, live an entirely sacrificial life, and then die a gruesome death?Why would Jesus come and do this? Why would he be born, grow to manhood, live a sacrificial life, and die a gruesome death? Why? Because he loves broken girls and boys, men and women. Click To Tweet
Why? Because he loves broken girls and boys, men and women, wounded human beings. Love impelled him to act, to do something to pay for our sins and to draw us to himself. God is love. The gift of his Son is proof. He became human to become a member of our family and to bring us back to God.
10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers (Hebrews 2:10-11 ESV).
The process of life and of ministry, of beating and of crucifixion proved and perfected Jesus. By that I mean, it proved his divine nature, demonstrating that he indeed is fully God while simultaneously being fully man, for no mere human man could have endured all of that without sinning. But, he did, and in doing so, he made us his family and bought us back from the grave.
Hebrews 2:12 informs us that Jesus’s actions and words call us “brothers,” adelphos, family members. In our midst, as God’s representative and God in the flesh, he sang the Father’s praise, so we could see God as he had never been seen before. As a human man, he put his entire trust in God, the Lord of hosts, both he and the “children God has given” him (Hebrews 2:13c).
He regards us as his own “little children” (2:13c), the Greek word used here for “children,” paidion, is a term of endearment. We are his little girls and little boys, his sweetie-pies, his baby boys and baby girls, his squidges. The list of endearing terms for beloved children is endless. That’s what we are to Jesus, his very own.
Like a loving parent, he planted his own body between us and the oncoming danger, the life of despair apart from God, the eternity of separation from the Father. He hurled himself into the gap. He threw himself in front of the attack of the evil one. He took the hit.
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham (those who believe). Therefore, he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:14-18 ESV).
Like me, he was injured. Yet, unlike me, he did not sin and fall away. He did not turn away from God. Rather, he suffered the injury, yet without hardening his heart and falling into sin. Having suffered in all things as we, having been entirely human while being fully God, he knows how we feel.
Therefore, this merciful and loving Savior knew how to come after this broken girl and win her back. He knew what circumstances to allow into my life that would woo my heart and turn me to faith. His love won me.
Only a Savior who comes in human flesh, born a baby in a cow stall, living a difficult life, and suffering all sorts of mistreatment and harm knows how to win broken and bleeding human beings. Jesus won me. As you ponder the Christ child, who he grew up to be, and what he did for you in his life and on that cross, may he win your heart as well.