One of the great classic movies of all time is called, "It's A Wonderful Life." I've seen the movie probably twenty times over the years. It's especially appropriate for the Christmas season. It's a great story of how George Bailey had become depressed with life. He was an honest man, who worked hard and seemingly had little to show for it. At one point, he reached a depression to such a point that he was thinking about committing suicide. But, an angel comes to rescue Peter Bailey.
This angel, Clarence, shows George the impact that his life has really made, by showing him what life would be like if he had never been born. Without the life of George Bailey, his brother would never have won the congressional medal of honor for his heroics in war. Instead, he would have died in a drowning accident Without George, there was nobody to save his brother's life.
Without the life of George Bailey, the pharmacist, Mr. Gower, for whom he worked, would have been sent to prison for poisoning a child. Without George, there was nobody to stop him from making a terrible mistake in the prescription while drunk one day. Without the life of George Bailey, the town of Bedford Falls would have been named, "Pottersville," because there would have been nobody to stand up against Mr. Potter, a cruel business man. Without the life of George Bailey, his wife, Mary, would have spent her days as an old maid, working in a library.
Eventually, George Bailey realized how valuable his life had been. All of this was because of an angel who became his friend and showed him what life would be like without him, had he never been born. Through that experience, Clarence, the angel received his wings.
Now, "It's A Wonderful Life" is a great movie. It's driven me to tears of joy on a number of occasions. But, it's bad theology. In the Bible, we never see angels as weak, joyful, pudgy, and naïve as Clarence, the angel is depicted. They don't "get their wings" by helping others in need. They have no power to re-direct the course of history. But, sadly, this is how many in today's society think of angels.
Now, the problem in the first century was a bit different than our culture today. Rather than seeing angels as weak and needing us to help them, they rightly understood angels as mighty, powerful beings, who could do great and awesome things. Angels can slay entire armies in a single night (Is. 37:36). Angels can be the invisible force behind a military victory (2 Kings 6:15-17). Angels dwell before the awesome throne of God! In fact, there were some in the first century who were so infatuated with these mighty beings, that they were worshiping the angels (Colossians 2:18). The battle facing the early church was to put angels in their proper place, below Jesus, and not above Him. That's the historical context of our text this morning.
We find ourselves this morning in the middle of the second chapter of Hebrews. And in this chapter, the writer is trying to prove a point. He's showing how much greater Jesus is than these powerful, majestic beings we call angels. His argument has been carrying on since chapter 1, in which verse 4 is the key, Jesus "has inherited a more excellent name than [angels]." In chapter 1, the writer quoted verse after verse after verse from the Old Testament, seeking to prove how much greater is than the angels. In verse 5, Jesus is the Son of God, whereas the angels are servants. In verse 6, Jesus is worshiped, whereas the angels are the worshipers. In verse 8, He sits on a throne, whereas the angels stand around waiting to serve. His is the almighty, everlasting creator, whereas the angels, as magnificent as they are, are mere creatures. Jesus is better than the angels.
"That's fine and well," one might say, "but can Jesus really be better than angels? Is Jesus really as magnificent as you claim Him to be? In what we saw, Jesus was a mere human being. He lived among us as a weak man. He suffered a painful death upon the cross. If Jesus were really so great, would He have been suffered like this? If Jesus were really so great, would He have been crucified like this?" Those who may say such things fail to realize that the sufferings of Jesus, far from being an objection to his greatness, were actually the means by which His greatness was established. 
It's the only way that Jesus could have saved us. He had to be made like us. He had to be one of us. He had to die for us. Jesus could never have saved us, seated in the heavenlies, cheering us on. He had to become one of us, and taste death for us (2:9). In order to lead us into glory, He had to share in our sufferings. That was the point of my message last week, when we looked at Hebrews 2:5-9.
I entitled my message, "Lower Doesn't Mean Lesser." In His incarnation, Jesus was "lower" than the angels, like all of us are. But, "lower" doesn't mean "inferior" or "substandard" or "worse" or (as I have said) "lesser." For, in the ages to come, things will be reversed. In 1 Corinthians 6:3, that "we will judge angels" in the world to come.
But, we, as human beings, are currently lower than the angels. Indeed, as Psalm 8 says, "You have made him for a little while lower than the angels." We are lower in the sense that we are less powerful. We are lower in the sense that we are confined to space and time. We are lower in the sense that we are prohibited from visiting the heavenlies. But, in the age to come, we will be "crowned with glory and honor." Because, that's the case with Jesus. Look at Hebrews 2, verse 8, ...
In subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him. 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.
In other words, the path of Jesus was a path of humiliation first, and then exaltation. He became lower, that He might receive the crown of glory. He tasted death, that we might live. He suffered on the cross, that we might enjoy the pleasures of glory. He may appear as being lesser than the angels, because He lived on the earth for a time. But, in reality, He is better than the angels - much better than angels.
Now, it's not surprising that the writer to the Hebrews had to deal with the meaning of the incarnation of Jesus. Not only because many Jews of the day saw angels as such great beings, but also because the Jews stumbled at the thought of their Messiah being crucified. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, ...
1 Corinthians 1:22-23
For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,
In the early days of Christianity, the biggest difficulty in the way of Jewish people believing in their Messiah was that Jesus was crucified. This was not a part of their expectations of the Messiah. They thought that he would come and bring the Jews into a time of political prosperity and peace and joy and happiness and dominance. They had verses like Isaiah 9:6-7 in their minds, ...
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this."
Beyond this there were a host of other passages that speak of the Messiah coming to take over the throne of David and reign forever (Ps. 89; 2 Sa 7).
But, to imagine their Messiah as defeated upon the cross was too much for them. They stumbled at believing such things, even though Isaiah 53 prophesied of his sufferings in great detail. Jewish people stumbled at embracing the suffering of their Messiah. So, it makes great sense that the writer to the Hebrews would spend a significant portion of time in his epistle addressing why it is that Jesus had to suffer. And, that's the issue being addressed right here in chapter 2. How can Jesus be better than the angels, if He had to suffer so much?
We often place suffering in the category of the undesired, don't we? None of us like to suffer. We work very hard to avoid suffering, and those who are suffering are often regarded as undesirable. In fact, there are many who see the suffering as second-class citizens. For instance, if someone would come into the door of the church this morning in a wheel chair, how many of you would go up to that person and engage them in conversation? If someone would limp into here with hands deformed from rheumatoid arthritis, needing a walker to make it into the door, how many of you would make an effort to reach out to this one? Sadly this is nor our tendency. We try not to suffer. We won't confront people, because it may cause us pain later. We stay away from the sick, so that we don't get sick ourselves. We seek our own comfort, so we won't go out with the hurting. Subtly in our minds, we can easily think of the suffering as second-class citizens.
Entire theologies help to cultivate this perspective. The health, wealth, prosperity gospel says that if you are suffering, you don't have enough faith. If you had enough faith, you wouldn't be suffering like you are right now. So, believe God, and perhaps you won't suffer any more! The easy conclusion is that those who are suffering aren't quite as good as other believers are. I have heard of pastors visiting those in their flock who happen to be in the hospital. Rather than coming and sympathizing with them and caring for them, they have exhorted them and called them to repent from their sin, even when there was no obvious sin that is present in the patient. Again, this only cultivates the inferiority of those who are suffering.
As we focus our attention upon Hebrews, chapter 2, we will see how suffering doesn't mean that you are second-class. In fact, quite the opposite, the suffering of Christ is the very thing that will bring us to glory. Let's begin by reading the text before us this morning.
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, "I will proclaim your name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise." And again, "I will put my trust in Him." And again, "Behold, I and the children whom God has given me."
Now, these are a complex set of verses. They are difficult to fully wrap our arms around. But, if you ask the right questions, I do believe that the meaning of these words can become clearer. Regarding my approach with this text, I think that the best approach is for you to enter into my study with me. I'm not coming this morning with nice, polished points for you to grasp. I'm not ending with a nice poem. Rather, I'm coming with questions. I have eleven of them. Each of these question are going to come from observations about the text. After each of these questions, I'll give you some thoughts about the question. It's my hope that you are edified as a result of the things I share.
The key to Bible study is to ask the right questions. If you ask the right questions, then you have an opportunity to get at the right answers. But, without the questions, you are lost. So, my hope this morning is that you might grasp no only the meaning of the words set before us, but also gain a bit in your own Bible study skills.
Here's my first question:
1. What's the main thought of verse 10?
Verse 10 is a pretty complex sentence. It will be helpful to us if we can pin it down to the most simple, basic sentence of verse 10, removing all of the modifiers. If you haven't done this, it's a good skill to develop. So, let's read verse 10 again and rip away all of the modifiers to come up with the most basic and simple sentence.
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
The main thought begins in the beginning of the verse, "It was fitting." And so, you ask, "What was fitting?" The next phrase, "for Him" describes who it was fitting for. It doesn't really describe "what was fitting?" The next phrase further identifies who this is talking about. It's the one "for whom are all things, and through whom are all things." But, this doesn't help us with the answer to our question, "what was fitting?" The next phrase, "in bringing many sons to glory" describes the result of the action of what was fitting. It was fitting in the realm of bringing people to heaven. But, again, this doesn't help us to answer the question, "what was fitting?" Finally, the next phrase answers the question. "To perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings." This is what was fitting for God to do.
And so, getting back to our original question, "What's the main thought of verse 10?" Here's the main thought: "It was fitting ... to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings."
In one sense, I'm sure that we know what that means. It means that it was perfectly reasonable and proper for God, the Father, to perfect Jesus through sufferings. That's the main point of the passage. In fact, that's why I have entitled my message this morning, "Suffering Doesn't Mean Second-Class." What I mean by that is the suffering of Jesus Christ in no way placed him as inferior to the angels. In no way does suffering lower the status of Jesus. It's entirely fitting for our Savior to suffer. On one hand, we know that. But on the other hand, that simple phrase is filled with questions.
For instance, ...
2. Why did Christ need to be perfected?
Was Jesus Christ not perfect? Why then did He need to be perfected? If indeed, Jesus is better than the angels, then why did He need to be perfected?
In answering this question, the first thing you must realize is that the book of Hebrews affirms the sinlessness of Jesus. In fact, I don't know of any other book in the entire Bible that speaks more of the sinlessness of Jesus than the book of Hebrews. There are several explicit statements (and many illusions) to His sinlessness. For instance, in chapter 4, verse 15, we read, "We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin." In chapter 7, verse 26, we read of Jesus being a high priest who is "holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens." In chapter 9, verse 14 we read of how Christ, "through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God." On top of these verses, there are many verses in the book of Hebrews that tell of the perfect sacrifice of Christ, which imply strongly of His sinlessness.
And so, obviously, the writer here has no thoughts of Jesus needing to be made perfect, because He had been defiled from sin. So, what does it mean? I think that the best place to understand this phrase comes in Hebrews 5:8. Here's another interesting verse. It says, "Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered." Here you see Jesus "learning" something. But notice, that the learning here is not academic. It's experiential. In other words, Jesus "learned obedience by experience." Jesus learned what it meant to obey, even when things are difficult, even when he was suffering greatly.
The next verse (verse 9), then speaks about Jesus "having been made perfect." I believe that there is a link between verse 8 and verse 9. Having learned obedience through sufferings, Jesus was made perfect. In other words, the perfection of Jesus has to do with the experiences that He went through as a human being. Certainly, Jesus was sinless before His incarnation. But, through the sufferings He experienced, His sinlessness was completed and confirmed.
And so, his perfection here speaks about Jesus being fully confirmed as a sinless Savior. It was fitting for God to bring the Messiah into the world, clothing Him in flesh and blood and exposing Him to the temptations that every human faces, so that He could fully understand our condition as frail, human beings.
Now, the next question, ...
3. Why was it fitting for God to do this?
Remember, the main sentence back here in Hebrews 2:10 is this, "It was fitting for Him ... to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings." What a strange way this is to speak about God. We know what's fitting for us. We know what's proper for us. It's proper for us to wash our hands before we eat. It's proper for us to put on a coat before we go outside into the cold. It's proper for us to look both ways before we go outside. These things are proper for our hygiene, for our comfort, and for our safety.
But, it's strange, isn't it, for something to be identified as being proper with God? Aren't all His ways proper? Aren't all His ways right? Aren't all His ways fitting? Of course they are. In fact, that's a bit of the point made here with the phrase, "for whom are all things, and through whom are all things." God is the first cause of all things. The world came into existence because of His doing. He spoke and the world was created. God is the final end of all things. Heaven and earth were created for God. The seas and the hills and the lakes and the animals and the grass and the flowers are all for Him! Whatever God does is fitting.
The point here is that it was entirely appropriate for God to bring the Messiah through such sufferings. We could certainly pull from other passages of Scripture to know how this is the case. Isaiah 53 speaks of the suffering servant. Psalm 22 anticipates the suffering of the Messiah. But, here in the context, the question really has to do with angels. None of the other angels have ever suffered. How can Jesus suffer and still be better than the angels? And the writer merely affirms that the sufferings of Jesus were entirely appropriate. They didn't catch God by surprise. They didn't catch Jesus by surprise. In no way do they diminish the position or role of Jesus. It was perfectly appropriate for our savior to suffer. In fact, in some ways, the sufferings of Jesus lifts Him up, and even may have given Jesus a title, of sorts.
It says in verse 10 that Jesus is the "author" of their salvation.
This all brings up another question,
4. What does it mean that He is the "author" of our salvation?
"It was fitting ... to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings." This word is translated a bunch of different ways. The New American Standard has a footnote that says, "leader" of our salvation." The ESV says, "founder" of our salvation. The New King James translates it as "captain" of our salvation. Literally, this word can be translated "first-leader." In other words, it's the one who stands in front of the army. He is the one who leads the charge.
Some have suggested the imagery of a "pioneer," one who goes first for the people. What a great picture. Just as Christopher Columbus led the way in trading with the new world, so also Christ led the way for us know the way of salvation. Just as Lewis and Clark paved the way for America to expand it's borders west, so also Christ paved the way for our salvation, bringing us to glory.
Now, this isn't the only place that this word is used of Jesus. It was also used of Jesus by the apostles. When Peter was preaching to the crowds, he called out, "You disowned the Holy and righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised form the dead" (Acts 3:15). There it is, the "Prince" of life. It's the same word. When Peter was preaching to the religious leaders who had imprisoned him. He said, "He is the one who God exalted to His right hand as a "Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5:31). In other words, Jesus is the leader of our salvation. He brought it to pass. He is the one who leads us. We need to look to Him. We need to follow after Him.
In fact, that's exactly what the writer will tell us in Hebrews 12:2, "Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Jesus is the author of our salvation in the sense that He is the one who paved the way for us. He did so through the sufferings on the cross. He did so through the shame of the cross. He did so by sitting down at the right hand of God, in some measure becoming the prince of life! Look to Him!
Let's ask another question. If Jesus is, indeed, the pioneer of
5. Where is He leading us?
The answer comes in verse 10. Can you hear it? "It was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the pioneer of their salvation through sufferings." He is bringing us to glory. Can you picture it? Jesus takes us in His arms and brings us through death into the arms of His father.
Watch the mother of an infant after our service this morning. You will see her deal gently with her infant. She will hold her in her arms. She will lay her down in her car seat. She will secure her and cover her with appropriate blankets. She will carry her to the car. She will strap her in for the ride home. When at home, the infant will be brought from the car and into the house, changed, fed, and put down for a nap. All of this is done with the greatest of care.
This is what Jesus does for us. He brings many sons to glory. Jesus is the good shepherd, who will bring His sheep into the fold (John 10:16). Isaiah prophesies of Jesus, "Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs, And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes" (Isaiah 40:11).
The book of Hebrews often anticipates this glory. In chapter 4, it's described as rest. It's described as the place where Jesus went. He passed through the heavens (4:14). In chapter 6, verse 20, Jesus is described as the forerunner, who has gone before us through the veil. Chapter 11 is filled with references to those who lived by faith, who were seeking a heavenly country (11:16), who were looking to the reward (11:26), who were anticipating a better resurrection (11:35). In chapter 12, the writer describes the heavenly Jerusalem (12:22-24). In chapter 13, we are told plainly, "Here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come" (13:40). This is the glory for which we were created. This is the glory to which Jesus will bring us.
Why couldn't Jesus have been perfected in other way? Why couldn't the author of our salvation be perfected through divine pronouncement from heaven? "This is my Beloved Son. He is declared to be perfect!" Or through a coronation ceremony? Through a life of glory? Through a display of power? Why was suffering the means of perfecting the author of our salvation?
I believe the key to this question is in the word, "salvation." Jesus is the "author of [our] salvation." To save us and lead us and be our pioneer, He needs to be like us. In fact, that point is made on two occasions later, in chapter 2, verse 14 and verse 18. "Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Hebrews 2:14).
For Jesus to lead us, He became like us. He had to go through the same experiences that we go through. He had to go through them victoriously, so that we might follow in His steps. And our lives consist of suffering. And our lives consist of death. And for Jesus to be our leader and pioneer, He had to experience suffering and death on His way to perfection. In fact, that's the way that verse 17 puts it, "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" (Hebrews 2:17).
For Jesus to be our Savior, He had to be like us in all things. An angel could never save us from our sins. An animal could never save us from our sins. Hebrews 10:4 says that "it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." Only Jesus can be our savior.
Later on in Hebrews, we read of the futility of the law in perfecting those who brought the sacrifices. "For the Law, since it has [only] a shadow of the good things to come [and] not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near" (10:1). The law was an exercise in futility. It never made the worshipers perfect. It was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin (10:4). But, the sacrifice of Jesus was different. It perfected us. A few verses later we read, "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (10:14). Notice the means of our perfection. It was "by one offering." That's a reference to the death of Jesus upon the cross. It was by the suffering and death of Jesus that we are perfected, through the perfect one.
All of this leads us nicely into verse 11 of our text this morning,
which talks about our purification from sins, "For both He who sanctifies and those who
are sanctified are all from one Father" (2:11). Here's my next question,
7. How does sanctification work?
We see here in verse 11 that Jesus is described as "He who sanctifies." We are described as "those who are sanctified." Both of those phrases are worthy of a topical sermon someplace. First of all, we read of "He who sanctifies." That is, the one who cleanses, the one who makes clean. The one who purifies us and the one who washes us from our sin: Jesus. Then, we read of "Those who are sanctified." That is, those of us who are being cleansed. Those of us who are being purified. Those of us who are being washed from our sin.
I want for you to notice here how the sanctification process works. It's not us cleaning up ourselves. Rather, it's God who cleanses us. And how does He cleanse us? He cleanses us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. "We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (10:10). "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (10:14). "Jesus ..., that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate" (13:12).
The means of our sanctification is the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This is why angels cannot save us. They haven't suffered for us. They haven't died for us. But, Jesus has! I hope that you are seeing now how the suffering of Jesus doesn't mean that he is inferior in any way. It was through His sacrifice that He has cleansed us from our sin.
Notice here that it's ultimately God who does the work of sanctification. Literally, this phrase can be read, "Both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified." The verb form is in the present passive. That is, it is something that is being done to us. We are "being sanctified." We aren't sanctifying ourselves. No, God is working in us.
And in the end, how is that going to happen? It's going to happen through the suffering of Christ applied to our souls. It's going to happen as we walk by faith. It's going to happen as we "lay aside very encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us" (Heb. 12:1). It's going to happen as we "run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:1). It's going to happen as we "fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith" (Heb. 12:2). It's going to involve some difficulty. It's going to involve some suffering. That's how God achieved our salvation. That's how God will work out our sanctification. This is what the writer tells us in another passage, ...
But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly, by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
Our sanctification comes through sufferings. Jesus suffered to obtain our sanctification. We will suffer as it works itself out in our lives.
Here's another question:
8. Why does he talk about "sanctification"?
There are other phrases that could have been used here. He could have said, "He who forgives" and "those who are forgiven." But, He doesn't say that. He could have said, "He who justifies" and "those who are justified." But He doesn't say that. He could have said, "He who loves" and "those who are loved." But He doesn't say that. He says, "He who sanctifies" and "those who are sanctified."
Why use the sanctification words here instead of other words? I'm not for sure on this. But, I think that it's because of the burden of the book. Hebrews is a calling us to sanctification.
First of all, it's calling us to understand the purity that we have in Jesus Christ. He is our great high priest, who has accomplished something that none of the other high priests ever accomplished. The role of the high priest is to come before God with an offering to cleanse the people from their sins. But, those sacrifices were ultimately only a shadow of the sacrifice of Christ. (10:1).
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Jesus accomplished what the law could never do. It was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (10:4). It's only the sacrifice of Christ that cleanses. Therefore, in chapter 10, verse 21, the writer summons us, "Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."
Hebrews is all about our "sanctification." Jesus has purified us through His blood. Let us press on to walk in purity. As I have said it, "Jesus Is Better, So Press On!" Press on in what? Press on in your pursuit of God! Press on in your own personal holiness, as he says in 12:14, "Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord."
Here's another question. It comes in the middle of verse 11,
9. What does it mean that we are all "from one Father"?
Listen for this phrase in verse 11, "For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father."
First of all, we need to deal with the translation of these words. The word, "Father" isn't in the Greek text. Rather, it's the interpretation of the New American Standard translators. The NIV translates this, "are of the same family," again, another interpretation. The ESV translates is "all have one source," yet another interpretation. The King James versions are the most literal, "are all of one." Despite the various ways in which this phrase is translated, there is a bit of this that is crystal clear. We have a unity with our sanctifier. We share a union with Jesus. The question is all about what type of unity we have.
The next phrase in verse 11 indicates that this sharing is as close as family, "For which reason He is not ashamed to call them, brethren." That's why translations of the Bible often bring in the family theme. There is a solidarity that we share with Jesus, our brother. In fact, in many ways, he's our older brother. He's the one who experienced everything for us first.
Picture a young man growing up in a family as the oldest boy. At first, he's just a cute little baby boy. And then, he's fun toddler. But, as he grows up, things change. He gets taller. He gets stronger. His voice changes. He begins to shave. He's the first to drive. He graduates from school and goes off to college. He gets a job and works hard. He finds a wife and soon begins a family of his own.
Now, picture the younger brother. He saw his brother go through all of these things. And now, he merely follows in his steps. In many ways, his older brother is his hero. The younger does what the older does. He looks to his older brother for counsel, and the older brother can, at times, play a crucial role in his younger brother's life.
This is Jesus. He is our older brother. He is (as Hebrews 6:20 says), our forerunner, who had entered heaven for us first, leading the way for us. Jesus is going to bring us into heaven (2:10). As the next phrase in verse 11 says, "He is not ashamed to call them brethren." He will bring us to heaven. Like a good older brother will help his younger brother.
But, that brings up another question, ...
10. Why is Jesus not ashamed of us?
It says there in verse 11, "He is not ashamed to call them brethren." The clear implication of this is that there is reason for Jesus to be shamed at us. I know of families where there is the prodigal brother. He's off doing his own thing. He's been in drugs. He's been involved in improper relationships. He hasn't been able to keep a job. He hasn't been responsible. He's an alcoholic. He has gone through a few divorces. He's the black sheep of the family. And many in the family are ashamed to have this brother. He's not talked about at the family gatherings. He's not in the family pictures.
Now, in many ways, Christ has every reason to be ashamed of us. We have sinned against the Lord. We have failed to walk in purity. But God, in His wonderful grace, has loved us nonetheless. He has cleansed us through the blood of Jesus. He has purified our souls. And thus, God is not ashamed of us. Likewise, there is no longer shame in coming to God, because of what He has done for us.
One final question that we can only deal with
11. How do the Old Testament quotes fit in?
As you can see in verses 12 and 13, we have three quotes from the Old
The writer here asserts that these are the words of Jesus, Himself.
He says in verse 12, ...
"I will proclaim your name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise." And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again, "Behold, I and the children whom God has given me."
The overall thrust of these verses are clear. Jesus is our brother. He is proclaiming God's name in the midst of the brethren (verse 12). God has given Him children to care for. In other words, they support the assertion in verse 11, that we are the brothers of Jesus.
The first quote in verse 12 comes from Psalm 22, a clearly messianic Psalm, which prophesied of the agony of Jesus upon the cross. In his agony, Jesus is clearly ready to stand in the assembly with His fellow brothers. The next two quotes come from Isaiah 8, which again has Messianic overtones, on several occasions, mentioning Immanuel. These quotes are a bit more difficult to understand, especially the first one in verse 13, "I will put my trust in Him."
How does that work? How does Jesus put His trust in God? He is God! The answer to this question is wonderful, because, it shows us how it is that we ought to live.
We know that Jesus never sinned. But, have you ever considered how it is that Jesus lived a sinless life? Certainly, as God, He couldn't sin (for, sin is contrary to the nature of God). But, in His humanness, the temptations that surrounded Him were genuine temptations. But, throughout His life, He continually submitted Himself to His heavenly Father and trusted in the Holy Spirit to empower Him to live. "I do nothing on My own authority, but speak just as the Father taught Me" (John 8:28). "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work" (John 4:34). It was Jesus' submission to the will of God that energized Jesus for His work.
The presence of the Holy Spirit in His life was abundant. Long before Jesus was ever born, we were told that "the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him" (Isaiah 11:2). Shortly after the baptism of Jesus, He was "full of the Holy Spirit" (Luke 4:1) and was "led about by the Spirit in the wilderness" (Luke 4:1). Upon defeating the devil's temptations, Jesus "returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit" (Luke 4:14). When Jesus preached at His hometown synagogue in Nazareth, He said, "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me" (Luke 4:18). When Peter summed up the life of Jesus in one sentence, he said that "God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power" (Acts 10:38).
These sorts of verses are there for us. If Jesus had simply exerted His deity to live a sinless life, what hope would we have of following in that example? But, Jesus lived a sinless life as He willingly submitted Himself to live in the power of the Spirit, even when suffering. We need to do likewise.
This sermon was delivered to Rock Valley Bible Church on
November 15, 2009 by Steve Brandon.
For more information see www.rvbc.cc.