Thomas McKenzie
by grace alone
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Fear Nothing

Hebrews 2:14-18
(New American Standard, Updated)

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, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. 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.

For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.

My comments on Hebrews 2:14-18

I lead a “Brown Bag Bible Study” on Tuesdays in the living room of Redeemer’s “house.” We officially start at 12:10 and end at 12:50 in order for people to stop by and spend their lunch break with us. You are invited to come any time.  (920 Caldwell Lane, 37204)

Yesterday, we were studying Hebrews chapter two. I felt we had a particularly deep and moving conversation. I won’t try to replicate it for you, but I do want to share some of what we talked about. I will be making comments on the verses I gave you above. These come out of the New American Standard (Updated version). I don’t recommend that version for devotional Bible reading, memorization, or corporate worship; but for in-depth study it can’t be beat (among English translations).

Verse 2:14a “Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same”

Because we are material beings, Jesus also became material. God, who is spirit, became just like us. Flesh and blood, muscle and brain and bone.

Verses 2:14b-2:15 “That through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”

Through the fear of death we are subject to slavery all our lives. We are material stuff, flesh and bone. And we have observed that material things fail. People get older, they get sick, they have accidents, they die. And their lives “die” in other ways. They lose their homes, their jobs, their marriages. People are subject to all sorts of personal disasters.

These disasters, these failings, scare us. They scare me, don’t they scare you? And because of this fear, we try to protect ourselves from these disasters and failings. Fear drives us to rely on things other than God to protect us. Fear can even drive us to sin. We steal, lie, or cheat because we are afraid we won’t have what we need. We don’t tell others the truth about ourselves because we are afraid they will reject us. We don’t share our time, energy, or money with others because we are afraid God won’t give us enough.

I believe the Holy Spirit is telling us through the Book of Hebrews that when we do this we are living under the authority of the devil. The fear of death (failure, disaster) keeps us in bondage. Think of all the things we don’t do because we are afraid. Imagine if you were not afraid, but instead could live your life as God intended. Perhaps we could tell the truth about ourselves. Perhaps we could follow our dreams. Perhaps we could be just in our dealings with others. Perhaps we could be generous on all occasions. Is this not how we long to live?  It's how I want to live.  

Jesus died (failed, experienced disaster) for us so that we could be freed from this fear. When we accept Christ’s death on our behalf, we have died with him. Death, failure, and disaster no longer have power over us. Well, they only have as much power as we give them. Our hope is now in Christ, and we can trust him EVEN when we fail, have disaster, or experience death.

Verses 16-18 “For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. 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. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”

If the angels had needed salvation, perhaps the Son of God would have become an angel. But instead, he became one of us, the “descendants of Abraham.” He was like us in all things--flesh and bone and blood, as well as in need of shelter, food, clothing, love, and acceptance.

God became material, and he is both merciful and faithful. He knows what it is like to be tempted, and so he has mercy on us when we fail. He knows what it is like to be weak, and so he is faithful--he never abandons us. He is our “high priest,” which means Jesus goes to the Father on our behalf, and he sends the Holy Spirit from the Father to challenge, correct, care for, and empower his people.

Since he was tempted, he can help us when we are tempted. We are helpless in the face of temptation and sin, but he gives us strength when we both ask for it and accept it.

(I have not commented on the word “propitiation” This is one of my favorite words in the BIble, and I’m going to talk about it in tomorrow’s post.)

I find this word from the Lord very encouraging, and I hope you do to.