About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Jesus Made Like His Brothers  (ch. 2:5-18)


The writer has not yet left the topic of angels that he began to address in chapter one.  Angels were important to the Jewish people.  They stood between them and God and performed a variety of duties. 


Attempting to explain to the Jews who Jesus was in His essence was not an easy task.  Verse 5 says that the world to come is not going to be subjected to angels.  Angels will not be the final authority over the earth or the world to come.  Of course, we know that Jesus will be that final authority over the world to come.  The Jews back in the first century had to be convinced of this, thus the reason for this letter.  They did not see their Messiah in the same light as Christians.  They expected their Messiah to be a man who would free the Jews from Roman domination.  They did not view their Messiah as God in human flesh.   


Deuteronomy 32:8 speaks of God dividing the nations in accordance with either the sons of Israel of the angels.  Depending on what version of the Bible you read will determine how you understand this verse from Deuteronomy.  If Deuteronomy 32:8 speaks of angels, as Jews tended to believe, then angels have something to do with the nations.  Angels over nations was very predominant in Jewish thinking.  This might be the reason why the author says what he says in verse 5.       


Beginning in verse 6 the writer quotes more Old Testament Scripture. The first one is Psalm 8:4 to 6.  "What is man that you are mindful of him?"  Sinful man is nothing in comparison to God.  When you study Romans 1 and 2 you will see that man is really nothing.  Jeremiah 17:9 says it correctly when it says that man is so wicked and he does not know how wicked he is. 


Before I continue there are 2 ways to interpret this Psalm that the author of Hebrews quotes and we see it in the next phrase which says, "The son of man that you care for him."  You will note that in the NIV the words "son of man" are not capitalize as is the case in some other translations.  The NIV translators obviously thought that the term "son of man" in this instance is referring to man in general, not Jesus, as some think.  Just because we see the phrase "son of man" and just because we see Jesus using this phrase about Himself doesn't necessarily mean we need to understand this phrase here to be in reference to Jesus. 


We must remember that 
neither the Hebrew Old Testament or the Greek New Testament uses capital letters in their writing.  Therefore, any translation of the Bible you read this section in, if the words "son" and "man" are capitalized, it is pure interpretation.  It's not a matter of the process of translation.


Those who believe verse 6 applies to Jesus see the son of man being Jesus in His humanity.  In His humanity Jesus might well have been a lower than angels as verse 7 says.  On the other hand, verse 7 could easily refer to pre-fall Adam.  He, meaning Adam, was created a little lower than the angels.  


Verse 7 says that "You crowned him with glory and honour."   One might think of Jesus right away when you read this phrase, and I can certainly understand that.  Right now, Jesus is crowned with glory and honour.  He sits on the right hand of God.  That is to say, He shares universal authority with God.  I'd call that being crowned with glory and honour. 


On the other hand, Adam was crowned with glory and honour prior to the fall, or so I believe.  He was given authority over all of God's creation.  That could be seen as a crowning.  So, you have a choice how to understand verse 8 when it says "God put everything under his feet." 


Verse 9 tells us that not all things have been put under his feet.  I can certainly see how this would apply to Jesus.  A close reading of 1 Corinthians 15 tells us that Jesus has not yet put all things under His feet.  Death is the final enemy of God that must be put under His feet.   On the other hand, the New Testament clearly states that the saints will rule with Christ.  Maybe then, all things will be put under man's feet.


Verse 9 begins with the words. "But we see Jesus."  These words seem to suggest that the son of man might well be Jesus.  In context, we don't see everything under his feet, but instead, we see Jesus.  That is to say, or, may say, that there are still things we see that are not subject to the rule of God but the one thing we do see is Jesus, who as the text states, "suffered death" and by His death suffered death for of humanity.  It is because of this verse that I believe the son of man spoken of in this passage is referring to Jesus.


If we understand the son of man in this verse to refer to Jesus then we have to deal with what this verse says about Jesus and that is, He was made a little lower than the angels.  Jesus in His divinity was not made a little lower than the angels.  There is no question about that, but, in His humanity, one might say He was a little lower than the angels, although I understand that might be debatable.


Also in verse 9 we see the words "Now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death."  The context of this phrase as seen in the rest of verse 9 should lead us to conclude that the son of man is in fact Jesus.  Jesus was the only one who suffered death "so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone."   That phrase can only apply to Jesus.


It is important that Jesus
tasted death for everyone.  He did not die for a predestined few.  The word "taste" is important in itself.  Jesus actually experienced death, but, death did not take His life.  He simply tasted it and He did so by God's grace.  He could have endured the cross and beyond on His own accord.  Even though God did not rescue Jesus from the cross; did not spare the cross; did not get Him down from the cross in a miraculous way, God's grace enabled Jesus to endure the cross.  This tells me that God did not utterly forsake Jesus while on the cross. 


Keeping in mind all of what I've just said, there is no corresponding Greek word for our English word "taste."  The NIV and other translations simply insert this or other words to fill in what the Greek appears to imply.


Verse 10 starts with this phrase, "In bringing many sons to glory."  What does this mean?  Who are the many sons?  The many sons are those who have trusted Jesus for their salvation.  We, true born again Christians, are now sons of God.  We are also brothers of Jesus Himself.  Paul says in Romans 8:29 that we are the "firstborn among many brothers."  If by trusting Jesus we become sons of God, it is also clear that we become brothers to Jesus.  The point to be made here is that in His glorified body, Jesus became the first born of a new race.  Some day we will join Him in our resurrection bodies.  


The next question is, "When are we brought into glory as this verse states?"  Right now Jesus is the first born of a brand new creation.  He exists in His, what Christians have called "His glorified body."  On resurrection day all believers will rise into their glorified bodies.  It is at that time I believe this verse speaks of.     


The next phrase says. "For whom all things exist.Ē  God not only has created all things, but, as chapter 1, verses 1 through 4 states, all things presently exist because of God.  Christians are not Deists.  Deists believe that God created all things and then let all things evolve on their own.  Christian theology disagrees with this position.  It believes that God is intimately involved in all aspects of His creation.  He has not stepped back to see how things evolve.       


The next phrase in verse 10 is a little hard to understand.  It says, "The author of their salvation was made perfect through suffering."  First of all, the word translated as "author" is the Greek word "archegos."  This word means "a leader, or one who takes the first step in a new direction."  The KJV translates this word as "captain."  That's a good translation.  Jesus is the author, the captain, or the leader  of this new existence because of His resurrection.  He has gone ahead of us and is preparing a place for us as He said He would in John 14:1-3.


To understand this phrase we need to understand what the Greek word that is translated as "perfect" means.  The Greek word is "teleioo."  This word simply means "to bring to completion, or to finish what was started."  This verse is not suggesting that Jesus was not perfect in who He was when He was on earth.  This verse is not saying that Jesus was imperfect and therefore needed to suffer to get perfect.  What the writer is saying is that Jesusí duties as being Saviour could only be completed by His suffering unto death.  His death completed, or perfected, His ministry that brings our salvation.  Another ways to put it would be that Jesus' incarnation into humanity was not completed or finished until He suffered death.  Again, the word "perfect" in this verse has nothing to do with Jesus' moral life being made perfect.  If I were a NIV translator, I think I would have used a different word other than "perfect."  


In verse 11 we see that those of us who have been made holy by Jesusí sacrifice have become part of the family of God, resulting in Jesus being our brother.  When I say that we are  "holy," I mean that we are totally good and right in every aspect of our lives before God, just as God Himself is totally good and right in every aspect of who He is.  This is how God views those who have placed their trust in Jesus. 


Here's my clearest definition of being righteous, and I say being righteous, because righteousness is more than doing right things.  It's being right in the very essence of who one is. Righteousness is the state of being perfectly right in the essence of who one is, just as God Himself is totally and perfectly right in the essence of who He is.  By faith, by trusting Jesus, God declares us to be righteous, even though we aren't righteous by nature.  


Note in verse 10 it is Jesus and His sacrificial atoning death on the cross that makes us holy in God's sight, even when we are far from holy.  There is nothing we can do to make ourselves holy as defined by God Himself.  We might do a pretty good job of making ourselves holy in comparison to other people, but in comparison to God, we do not stand a chance in making ourselves holy.  Besides, our standard of comparison isn't others.  It's God.      


Verse 11 states that we are made holy, or, declared holy by God the Father.  For this reason Jesus is not ashamed of us.  Without this declared righteousness, Jesus would certainly have good reason to be ashamed of us.  Can you imagine that?  The most holy one in all there is not ashamed of us very unholy believers.  This is one very comforting thought.   


Note that it is Jesus who makes us holy, whether it's declared holiness or holiness that is worked in and through us in the practicalities of life; it is Jesus who makes us holy.  There are two types of holiness or righteousness.  God declares us holy even when we are not holy.  Beyond that, righteousness is worked out in our daily lives, and, that is only accomplished by Jesus through His Spirit at work in our lives.              


The next couple of verses are more Old Testament Scriptures that support the authorís position on the family of God.  Whoever wrote this letter was quite familiar with the Old Testament.


Verse 12 is a quote from Psalm 22:22.  This Psalm is a prophetic psalm.  Like many of the Psalms, they have specific historical significance in the day in which they were written, but some, clearly are prophetic, as Psalm 22 is.  This Psalm speaks to the death of Jesus on the cross. In its prophetic sense, Jesus is speaking of His brothers, who, are you and I who have trusted Him for our salvation.


It is a bit debatable among some to whom the word "congregation" in verse 12 is in reference to.  I believe the context makes it clear that the word "congregation" is associated with brothers, or, those of us who have been declared righteous by God.  The Greek word "ekklisia" is translated as "congregation" here.  It's often translated as "church" in other parts of the New Testament.    


In verse 13 the author quotes from Isaiah 8:17 and 18.  The pronoun "I" in this verse is in reference to Jesus.  The pronoun "Him" in the first part of this quote is in reference to God, Jesus' Father, as seen in the last half of the quote.  The children in this quote are you and I, who have been declared righteous by God; who have become brothers to Jesus.  Again, the author is pointing out that Jesus has brothers, and sisters too, who are the redeemed.     


Note the word "children" in verse 14.  I believe this is in reference to, either humanity in general, or, believers in more specific terms.  In context as we will see in a couple more verses, the specific believers the author had in mind, the specific children, could well be the children of Abraham, the Jews.  In a general sense of the word, all human beings are children of God via creation, but, since the fall of humanity seen in Genesis 3, the term "children of God" is only in reference to believers, whether Old Testament believers or New Testament believers.   


The point that the author makes here is that if God was ever to solve His problem with humanity, especially the sin that leads to death problem, He would have to become human, like us.  He would have to suffer in every way a human would suffer, and that includes death.  If He could survive this suffering, even death, He would defeat the one who holds the power of death.  


In my early days as a Christian one of my mentors used to say that if we really wanted to communicate with an ant, we would have to become an ant.  This is exactly what God did in His attempt to not only communicate with us but to deliver us from our sin that leads to death.


In verse 14 we also see that the devil holds the power of death.  In the very beginning of time God told Adam that if he disobeyed he would die.  Mankind died in three aspects.  He died spiritually, socially and physically.  Who was behind manís decision to disobey?  It was the devil.  The devil had the ability to sway Adam and Eve in making the wrong choice.  His power influenced them.  His power led to their death.  Because of the devil, death came to mankind through Adam.  By becoming human, Jesus could win the battle for mankind.  Mankind is the spiritual battle ground between God and the devil.  When we think of wars in a particular country, that particular country is the battle ground.  Well, the battle ground between God and the devil is mankind himself.  So, God became a man.  He got right into the thick of the battle, the only place where He could find total victory.


The resurrection of Jesus has caused God to win the battle over death.  As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:26, the last enemy of God is death.  On the day Jesus rose from the dead this victory took place and will finally be realized at the end of this age when death will have been conquered forever.  As a result, we will not have to fear death any longer as the author says here in verse 15.  Even now, before resurrection day comes, we do not have to fear death.  We know our destiny as Christians. 


Verse 16 introduces Abraham into the picture by saying God has not helped the angels but Abrahamís descendents.  This would catch these Jewish peopleís attention right away, because of their great respect for Abraham as being their father.  Because God wanted to bring salvation to Abrahamís descendents, Jesus had to become a man like these descendents as the writer goes on to say.  In becoming a man, Jesus is then referred to as a high priest.  The writer of this letter is a Jew and is writing to Jews, so this whole book is filled with Jewishness.  High Priests were part of Old Testament Judaism.  They stood between God and man.  They came to God on the behalf of man. 


By saying that Jesus Himself has become a high priest says a lot to the Jews.  The reason being is because high priests "make atonement for the sins of the people as stated in verse 17. 


What does atonement mean?   The Greek word that is translated as "atonement" here is "hilaskonai."  This word means that Godís wrath has been appeased.  The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross satisfied Godís justice and therefore His wrath and anger is dissipated to those who trust Jesus.  As a result, God can reconcile us, or can bring us back into a real relationship with Himself.  The words "reconciliation" and "atonement" go hand in hand  Atonement is the act of Godís wrath being taken away.  Reconciliation is us being made friends with God as a result of His wrath being appeased. 


So Jesus made atonement for the sins of the people as is also stated in verse 17.  I believe in context "his people" means the Jews but we know that Jesus' atoning sacrifice was made for all of humanity, not just the Jews.  The author is zeroing in the Jews because it is Jews to whom he is writing.     


I have just said that atonement was the act by which Godís anger was appeased.  Some say that atonement is the process by which Jesus took away our sin from the eyes of God.  The two thoughts are close yet different.  The first is that Godís anger is appeased while the second is that our sin has been taken away.  I tend to say that because our sin was taken away from Godís eyes, His anger is appeased.  It is a combination of both.


Verse 18 ends this chapter by saying that  because Jesus suffered with temptations like you and I, He can help us in our temptations.  He is not one that looks on us without having experienced each and every temptation that is common to mankind.  That means that Jesus was tempted to steal, tempted to commit sexual sins, tempted to unjust anger, and tempted to be proud and arrogant.  The list could go on forever.  Clearly, there is no temptation that Jesus has not experienced.  This should be a very comforting thought to us.       

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