Learning the Epistles – Study 169
Introduction: Beginning at verse 5, the writer returns to his previous argument that Christ is greater than the angels. The Jews offered one great objection to this argument. They asked, “How could Christ be better than the angels since He was limited to a human body, and the angels were not?” In Hebrews 2:5-18, we find the answer to this great objection.
The writer of Hebrews says that Christ, having a body of human flesh, does not make Him less than the angels; in fact, His body is one reason why He is greater than the angels. How can this be? It is easy to see when you realize the reasons why Jesus became flesh. Jesus did not simply live inside of a human body, but He actually became flesh, “But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” (Galatians 4:4); “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14)
Why then did Christ become flesh? Five reasons are given in this passage:
2. In order to have dominion over earth. – Hebrews 2:5-7
“For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands.”
– When God created Adam in the Garden of Eden, He promised to him and to mankind that man would have dominion over the earth, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over…every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)
– Because Adam sinned, he lost his right to rule. Christ became flesh and lived a perfect life. Because He did, He can now rule the earth as the perfect man.
– God’s promise to man of dominion over the earth will be fulfilled in Jesus when He returns to reign.
* “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28)
* “For our conversation is in Heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21)
2. In order to die for sinful man. – Hebrews 2:9
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”
– It was absolutely necessary for Christ to shed His blood on the cross if men were to be saved. This is found in Hebrews 9:19-22.
– Many passages declare that the shedding of blood was necessary for salvation, “…without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22)
– Of course, before the incarnation, God’s Son did not have a body of flesh and blood. This is what the incarnation was all about, “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me.” (Hebrews 10:5)
– It is important also to notice the words “every man” in Hebrews 2:9; Christ died for “every man.”
– Many would have us to believe that, when Christ died, He only died for a selected or elected group. The Bible abounds with proof that, when Christ died on the cross, it was for everybody, “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)
– Since Christ died for everybody, we can say with confidence, “Whosoever will may come!”
– Since Christ became flesh in order to die for us, certainly this does not make Him less than the angels. No angel ever died for any man.
– Instead of lessening our love for Jesus, His willingness to become flesh should make us glorify Him even more!
3. In order to be our Older Brother. – Hebrews 2:11-13
“For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.”
– These verses teach that all those who trust in Christ become a part of His family: God is our Father, Christ is our Older Brother, we are His brethren. The term “elder brother” is used in Mormon theology, but in this case is perfectly proper to say.
– This is certainly not to say that we are equal with Christ; on the contrary, the picture suggested here is that of younger children being entrusted to the care and supervision of their older brother.
– This is what is meant by Hebrews 2:13, “And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.”
– Everyone who has ever been an older brother or sister has, at one time, been put in charge of the younger members of the family. Many can remember their parents saying to the older brother, “While we are gone, you take care of your brothers.” Many a parent has said to the younger sibling, “You be sure to mind your older brother.” This is the illustration that God is using. Christ cares for us and provides for us, and we, in turn, should obey Him. After all, He is our Older Brother.
* It is interesting to note that older brothers are often ashamed of the younger members of the family. Many little boys have set out to tag along with their older brother only to be rejected in an abrupt and rather ungracious manner. Older brothers often do not want their little brothers hanging around.
– This is not true with Jesus, “…he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” (Hebrews 2:11) Jesus is not ashamed of you; He gladly claims you as His own! Don’t you think it would be good if we would desire to be with Jesus and to follow after Him as children following their older brother?
– Have you ever wondered what your Older Brother desires for you? Read Matthew 12:46-50, and you will find the answer. It is summed up in verse 50, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in Heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
– Our Older Brother does not abuse the authority He has over us. Have you ever seen an older brother who did this? He made the younger members of the family become his servants and forced them to do his work in order to make things easier for himself.
– This results in resentment between members of the family. The right kind of older brother is concerned about only one thing: seeing that the parents are obeyed! This is Jesus’ concern; He wants us to do the will of our Heavenly Father.
4. In order to defeat the Devil. – Hebrews 2:14-16
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.”
– Here, we find that Jesus became flesh that He might die, and He died that He might destroy the Devil.
– We need to realize that although the Devil is a powerful adversary, he is really a defeated foe. Listen to the words of Christ:
* “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” (John 12:31)
* “…the prince of this world is judged…” (John 16:11)
– The Devil has no control over the Christian’s life; he cannot force a believer to sin. God makes sure that no Christian is ever tempted beyond his ability to say no, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
– We need not live our lives in fear of the Devil. Victory over the Devil is available to every Christian, because “…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4)
– This is certainly the meaning of James 4:7, “…Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.”
– In what way did Christ destroy the power of the Devil? Hebrews 2:15 teaches that Satan enslaves the lost because of their fear of death, “And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
– Every lost man is conscious of the fact that one day he must die and that thought terrifies him! Many seek to escape the fear of death through liquor, drugs, and many other types of sin. Because of his fear of death, the unbeliever becomes a slave to sin.
– Since Christ died and rose again, men need not fear death. When a man trusts Christ, he is given eternal life (John 3:16) and never again must be afraid of death.
– This does not mean that the Christian is expected to enjoy death or to rejoice when a loved one goes to Heaven; it does mean, however, that in the midst of sorrow, the believer can have the hope of resurrection.
– This fact makes the Christian’s sorrow different from that of the world, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
– 1 Corinthians 15 is a key Bible chapter on the resurrection. It should be read very carefully.
* Since I will live forever, I need not fear death. I can view life with an entirely different perspective than I had before I was saved. Since life will not end at death, I must invest my life in things of eternal value, not spend it seeking the pleasures of sin!
– There is a certain encouragement that comes from knowing that, while I am in Heaven with Jesus, Satan will be eternally condemned to Hell.
5. In order to be our High Priest. – Hebrews 2:17-18
“Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”
– These verses teach us that Jesus became flesh that He might understand the temptations and trials that men go through.
* Keep in mind, it is because Christ suffered, and NOT because He sinned, that He understands our temptations.
– Jesus never sinned, but He understands temptation, because He suffered temptation and won the victory.
– When I need help, I would rather receive help from somebody who succeeded than from somebody who failed and never succeeded.
– Matthew 4 illustrates how Jesus conquered temptation and won the victory over the Devil. The fact that Christ never gave in to temptation increases His value as our High Priest rather than decreasing it.
– There are three words in these two verses that are very important: merciful, faithful, and succoured.
* The word “merciful“ tells me that my High Priest does not operate on the basis of what I deserve but on the basis of His mercy. He does not limit His prayers for me to the times when I deserve His prayers, for then He would never pray at all. He prays for me even though I don’t deserve His prayers.
* The word “faithful” tells me He always does His job; I am never without a High Priest to intercede for me.
* The word “succour” means “to help, to bring aid.” This is the idea of an ambulance rushing to the scene of the accident in order to give aid. It is the idea of firemen racing on their fire engine to the scene of a fire in order to help.
– I never have to fear that my High Priest will be unavailable when I need Him. He is always available to rush to my side to help me have victory over sin.
Conclusion: And so, we see that Christ is not only greater than the prophets, but he is also greater than the angels. Yes, He was limited to a body, but that fact makes Him even greater than the angels!