HYMN Meekness and majesty
Meekness and majesty,
Manhood and Deity,
In perfect harmony,
The Man who is God.
Lord of eternity
Dwells in humanity,
Kneels in humility
And washes our feet.
O what a mystery,
Meekness and majesty.
Bow down and worship
For this is your God,
This is your God.
Father’s pure radiance,
Perfect in innocence,
Yet learns obedience
To death on a cross.
Suffering to give us life,
Conquering through sacrifice,
And as they crucify
Prays: ‘Father forgive.’
God the invisible,
In frailty appears.
Lord of infinity,
Stooping so tenderly,
Lifts our humanity
To the heights of His throne.
READING Hebrews 2:5 – 3:6
Jesus Made Fully Human
5 It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. 6 But there is a place where someone has testified:
“What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
a son of man that you care for him?
You made them a little lower than the angels;
you crowned them with glory and honour
and put everything under their feet.”
In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them. 9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says,
“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the assembly I will sing your praises.”
13 And again,
“I will put my trust in him.”
And again he says,
“Here am I, and the children God has given me.”
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Jesus Greater Than Moses
3 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honour than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honour than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.
SERMON Just who is this Incredible Christ?
2:5-9a The Humbling Of Christ – we have OT evidence that the administration of this world has been allocated to angelic powers, some of which are evil and hostile e.g. the angelic ‘prince of Persia’ and ‘prince of Greece’ (Dan 10:20-21; 12:1). However, in Hebrews, the world to come has not been entrusted to angels but rather to the Son of God, whom His Father has ‘appointed heir of all things’ (1:2).
That new world-order ushered in by Jesus has not yet fully appeared and for a while the hallmarks of the Messiah had to be weakness and pain, rather than strength and glory. The writer to the Hebrews quotes Ps 8:4-6 in Heb 2:6 but applies this great privilege not to humanity but instead to Christ, the head of the new creation and ruler of the world to come! Yes, the Christ was a human being (Dan 7:13) but much more besides! Christ is the last Adam and ultimately the entire creation will be brought into subjection to Him.
The Lord Jesus Christ has been appointed as Sovereign but in order to deal with His people’s major problem of sin, He must realise His sovereignty through the twin pathways of deep suffering and painful death. This is why Jesus had to ‘be made a little lower than the angels’ (2:9) in His person and function as High Priest in the presence of God the Father.
2:8 indicates that humanity has not yet become the rulers of creation, and not all creation is yet loyal to Christ, but the sovereignty which had been given to to humanity, which has not been adequately exercised, has already been handed over to Christ, so that He will continue and complete His work for this world. Jesus is back in charge!
In verse 9 we see that by Christ’s death and resurrection, He has been exalted to the highest possible place where He reigns until all opposition to His sovereignty is eliminated and it will finally be seen that ‘all things are subjected to Him’. Because of His humiliation, suffering and death, Jesus has been granted heavenly glory.
The crowning followed the suffering. Christ died for us and by taking on Himself what was due to us, He redeemed us from the curse of death. This is The Grace Of God.
2:9b-18 The Suffering Of Christ – What God supremely did, according to 2:10, was to make Christ, through His suffering, perfectly qualified to be the Saviour of His people. The heart of the Godhead is revealed in his ultimate work, namely that He was ‘in Christ reconciling the world to Himself’ (2 Cor 5:19). As our ‘representative’ and ‘forerunner’, Jesus entered into the presence of God to secure our entry there. This perfect Son of God has become His people’s perfect Saviour in order to open up the way to God Himself and to achieve this, He must experience suffering and death.
He had to sympathise with us and He could only do that by experiencing and sharing our own pains and struggles.
At the same time, Jesus had to live in perfect obedience to God to be a qualified High Priest, fully acceptable to God.
He had to present an atonement for humankind to God. He suffered with us and for us! His suffering was voluntary and vicarious! This is how, incredibly, Christ ‘brought many sons and daughters to glory’ (2:10).
He, the Saviour, has saved those He is happy to call His brothers and sisters (2:11).
In verses 12-13 this remarkable solidarity with His people is confirmed by the writer’s use of three OT quotes:
Ps 22:22 – we are the members of His Church under the New Creation;
Isa 8:17b – as Isaiah and the remnant of Israel stayed faithful to God when so many rejected the prophet, so Christ endured rejection yet refused to give up;
Isa 8:18a – Isaiah’s two sons, Shearjashub (‘Remnant will return’) and Mahershalalhashbaz (Hasten booty, speed spoil) bore names that reminded Israel of God’s saving plans for Israel, as did his own name ‘Yahweh is salvation’.
Similarly, Christ’s own ‘sons’ and ‘children’ – see Isaiah 53:10 and John 17:6 – were a constant reminder that the Word of God would ultimately be fulfilled in spite of all the opposition it faced!
Verse 14 reminds us that Christ had to be truly human. He had to be born into this world and experience death in this world, like every other human being does. Jesus had died in apparent weakness, failure and disgrace. Death and evil seemed to have been victorious, but the reality was the very reverse – Jesus had been raised from death and had given His followers the power of His risen life!
The prince or angel of death is identified here with the devil or Satan, but Christ has disarmed him. The all-pervading human fear of death has been dealt with and for believers in Christ, death brings freedom, not bondage. The devil can no longer scare us with death (2:15). The sense of 2:16 is that Christ ‘took hold’ of us, providing help and deliverance.
Who are the ‘us’? None other than the many sons of Abraham whom the Son of God is bringing to glory!
The reality of solidarity with humanity crops up yet again in the words of the writer. Any priest must be one with those He represents before God: and Christ had to be like His brethren as High Priest, except for sin (2:17). He suffered with them and for them and was made perfect through that suffering. He is both sympathetic and faithful.
The perfect High Priest! Our confidence to approach God is possible, only if our sin has been dealt with! Because Jesus was sinless, He was entitled to enter God’s presence but because He has also dealt with our sins, He has a double entitlement to enter God’s presence. As High Priest He has actually removed the sin barrier between ourselves and our Holy God.
An additional blessing comes to us in verse 18: because Jesus Himself had been frequently tempted, not only as a human being gets tempted, but also tempted to seek a less costly way to fulfill His life and ministry. The readers of Hebrews were being tempted to retreat from God and throw in the towel called ‘discipleship’! In Christ they had a Victor and an Intercessor who had proved that it WAS possible to endure, persevere right to the end and still be standing firm!
3:1-6 The Faithfulness Of Christ – Therefore, brothers and sisters, in light of the totally stunning role of Christ in salvation just presented by the writer, focus on Jesus, having been set apart by God for himself, having been made a family member and having been called into his eternal rest! (3:1). God has revealed Himself totally and finally in Christ. He is God’s representative among humans AND humanity’s representative in the presence of God – the ideal and perfect High Priest.
In all these ways, Christ has shown Himself to be completely faithful (John 17:4). 3:2 records that Moses had been Israel’s true advocate with God (Ex 32:11ff,31f; Num. 12:7f;14:13ff). Yet, Moses’ status was actually inferior to Christ’s (3:3-4). Moses was a faithful administrator under God, but Christ the Son of God, was infinitely greater and higher in power.
The universe was made through Him; it was given to Christ by his Father as His heritage; thus, Christ is founder and inheritor of the household of God. Moses was a servant of God’s household, but Christ is Son and heir! In the OT God had issued a warning against those who might ‘speak against my servant Moses’ (Numbers 12:8). The far greater warning, implicit here, is not to challenge the claims of Christ and His gospel! In other words, continuing in the Christian life is the acid test of reality. The true saints of God are those who persevere to the end. This is why the writer to the Hebrews is desperate for believers to endure, to keep a fearless confession, to foster hope, to be joyful and to uphold and build their faith, no matter what their circumstances!
Hymn Blessed assurance
- 1.Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Saviour all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Saviour all the day long.
- 2.Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
- 3.Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Saviour am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.