Gracefully Truthful

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
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Read His Words Before Ours!

Hebrews 2:14-18

14 Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, Jesus also shared in these, so that through his death he might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.

16 For it is clear that he does not reach out to help angels, but to help Abraham’s offspring. 17 Therefore, he had to be like his brothers and sisters in every way, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in matters pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people.

18 For since he himself has suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.

The Original Intent

1) How did Jesus’ death destroy the devil’s power? (verse 14)

When Satan tempted Adam and he gave into sin, the consequence for sin, which is death (Romans 6:23), entered the formerly perfect world. (Romans 5:12) Satan became the one “holding the power of death” (Hebrews 2:14) and sought to kill Jesus, thinking Jesus’ death would safeguard Satan’s power.

When evil King Herod heard of a newborn King, he killed all male babies in attempt to exterminate Jesus. (Matthew 2:16) Satan wielded death again when he tempted Jesus to kill Himself. (Matthew 4:6) Greed fueled Judas to betray Jesus into the hands of the chief priests, which ultimately led to Jesus’ crucifixion. (Matthew 26:14-16)

Yet, what Satan plotted as his triumph in killing the Son of God actually resulted in Satan’s destruction. Hebrews 2:14 declares Jesus’ death destroys the devil and frees us from the fear of death. This was God’s plan from the beginning, even as Adam and Eve rebelled against Him. (Genesis 3:15Joseph Benson notes that Jesus is “the seed of the womanwhich at the fall was promised to bruise the head of the serpent…”. In order to atone for the sins of the world, Jesus must die.

Only He, as perfectly divine and perfectly human, could take the punishment of the wrath of God. (John 3:36John Piper explains, “In His divine nature alone Christ’s life was indestructible (Hebrews 7:16) . . . But a death was necessary to deal with guilt and the punishment of sin. So, Christ became human precisely so He could die. This is what love does. It embraces suffering and death for the life of others.” (John 15:13)

Because of His great love for us, Jesus died to take our sins and destroy the one holding us captive to fear and death. Those who accept Jesus’ love can rejoice because we are free indeed! (John 8:36)

The Everyday Application

1) How did Jesus’ death destroy the devil’s power? (verse 14)

On a missionary trip, I participated in a pantomime that featured dark figures tormenting a woman. The figures would wave their arms over her head and she would wince in pain. She mimed drinking alcohol, taking drugs, and other behaviors that ultimately caused her sorrow. As she suffered, the demons laughed and celebrated.

But then someone appeared and pulled the woman to her feet. He chased the dark figures away and freed the tortured soul from her tormenters. She danced and celebrated her deliverance!

I think of this skit when I read in Hebrews 2:14-15 that Jesus, through His death, destroyed “the one holding the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.” When Jesus took our sins on the cross, Satan lost power over those covered by Jesus’ blood. (Colossians 2:14-15

F. B. Meyer explains, “Satan is not impotent though chained. He has received the wound which annuls his power, but it has not yet been effectual to destroy him. His power was broken at the cross and grave of Jesus (…) And Satan must have seen the Resurrection in despair. (…) It sealed his doom.”

When Christ died in our place, He took the punishment we deserved and removed the barrier standing between us and the Righteous God. (Colossians 1:19-20) In doing this, He made Satan powerless over those who trust in Jesus! (1 John 4:4) By freeing us from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2), Jesus removed the only power Satan had.

One day, the devil will be completely destroyed. (Revelation 20:10) Until that time, Satan must flee from God’s people when they submit themselves to God and resist Satan’s tempting allures to sin. (James 4:7)

The Original Intent

2) Why did Jesus have to be like His brothers and sisters in every way? (verse 17)

Hebrews 2:17 describes a most amazing thing, that Jesus “had to be like His brothers and sisters in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in matters pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people.” Jesus, the perfect, sinless God (1 John 3:5), chose to become a man on earth and experience the full human experience so He could be like us in every way in order to be our faithful High Priest.

As author Octavius Winslow illustrates, “It was necessary that our Lord, in order to sympathize fully with His people, should not only identify Himself with their nature, but in some degree with their peculiar circumstances. This He did. It is the consolation of the believer to know that the Shepherd has gone before the flock.”

Jesus wanted us to know that He experienced the pressures and temptations of humanity, all without sinning (Hebrews 4:15) Author, Estera Pirosca Escobar, ponders the idea that Jesus “became human and died, even though He’s immortal. (1 Timothy 6:16) He suffered for us, even though He’s the all-powerful God. (Revelation 19:6)

Why would He do this? So He could help us when we go through temptations and bring reconciliation between us and God.” God wants us to know we are never alone (Matthew 28:20), and we never need to go through challenges by ourselves. (Romans 8:35) He longs to be the Savior we cling to and the Mighty God we worship at every point in life.

What great love that would wrap Divinity in flesh and blood to make a way for us to approach a Holy and Righteous God!

The Everyday Application

2) Why did Jesus have to be like His brothers and sisters in every way? (verse 17)

The Christmas song, “Such a Strange Way to Save the World”, describes God’s incredible plan to reconcile human beings back to God. In the song, Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, wonders, “Why me, I’m just a simple man of trade/ Why Him with all the rulers in the world/ Why here inside this stable filled with hay/ Why her, she’s just an ordinary girl/ Now I’m not one to second guess/What angels have to say/ But this is such a strange way to save the World.”

Shockingly, sending Jesus as a baby was God’s perfect plan to make Jesus “…like His brothers and sisters in every way, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in matters pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people”. (Hebrews 2:17) Because Jesus lived in a human body facing human struggles, He knew the temptations and frustrations we face. 

Joanie Yoder points out, “In a body like ours, Jesus lived, worked, and overcame every obstacle, so He knows what it’s like to be one of us. Having passed through all these experiences without sinning, He then went to Heaven and is now our approachable High Priest at the throne of grace.”

Often in Scripture, God does the unexpected to perform His will. Not only did He send Jesus to earth as a baby, but He was born to a virgin. (Matthew 1:23) Even His death on the cross was surprising, because the tool of torture became the very thing that gave us life. (1 John 5:11)

Although His plan to make Jesus incarnate was strange to us, it was the perfect way for God to teach us to love and trust Him. God is not aloof; He identifies with our weaknesses, allowing us to rejoice that His death has brought us life!

The Original Intent

3) Why is Jesus called a merciful and faithful high priest? (verse 17)

Under the old covenant in Scripture before Jesus’ death and resurrection, the high priest performed animal sacrifices to pay for sin. R.C. Sproul explains, “God would come in judgment because of the sins of the people and the high priest would stand in their place, offering sacrifices that satisfied God’s justice and demonstrated His mercy by punishing an innocent animal in place of a guilty human being.”

Our sin requires atonement; this is why Jesus came as the Perfect High Priest to offer Himself as the sacrifice for our sinsHebrews 2:17 says Jesus “had to be like His brothers and sisters in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in matters pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people.” Jesus took on human form so He could be our High Priest, standing in our place to make the sacrifice and, indeed, be the sacrifice that would remove our guilt and sin, presenting us blameless to the Father. (Jude 1:24)

Because Jesus is Holy and sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21), His sacrifice on the cross is all we need to cleanse us from our sins. Hebrews 7:27 explains, “He doesn’t need to offer sacrifices every day, as high priests do—first for their own sins, then for those of the people. He did this once for all time when he offered himself.”

Jesus is our faithful and merciful High Priest who came to earth to save us from our sins and reconcile us to God.

The Everyday Application

3) Why is Jesus called a merciful and faithful high priest? (verse 17)

It can be difficult for a 21st century reader to understand why Jesus is called our “merciful and faithful High Priest” (verse 17), because we are so far removed from the practice of priests interceding for us in the Old Testament. These were the only intermediaries between God (righteous) and humans (sinful), but we don’t have this “everyday” visual need in front of us like ancient Jews. (Hebrews 9:7

Tim Harlow explains, “Only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies, and only once a year. God set it up this way because, although He wanted His people to know how much He wanted a direct relationship with them, there was too deep a divide between their sinfulness and His holiness. He was preparing them for a Savior.”

That Savior is Jesus, who came to make a final sacrifice for sin, reconciling all those who accept Him to God. John Piper notes that Jesus did not just come to “fit into the earthly system of priestly ministry as the best and final human priest, but he has come to fulfill and put an end to that system and to orient all our attention on Himself ministering for us in heaven.”

Because of Jesus, people no longer need a priest making sacrifices to atone for our guilt and shame. Jesus took all our sins upon Himself on the cross (1 Peter 2:24) making us righteous in the eyes of God (Romans 3:22) when we accept His redemptive gift.

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