Around 2,000 years before Jesus Christ came, a man named Bildad asked a question:“How then can a man be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure?” (Job 25:4).
This question would haunt the human race for the next 2 millennia. During that time, the nation of Israel would be born. The law would be given at Mt. Sinai. Then would begin the cycle of chronic disobedience, receiving the covenant curses, crying out, and restoration until finally the entire nation is taken captive. The Old Testament ends without Bildad’s question being answered. But it does point to a future time when the answer will come.
The answer comes with the coming of the Messiah. Bildad’s question is succinctly answered in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
The book of Hebrews primarily focuses on showing us exactly how God fulfilled the verse in 2 Corinthians. It is a book about New Covenant theology. But unlike Romans, which focuses on justification by faith versus observance of the law, Hebrews primarily focuses on the role of Jesus Christ as our high priest and mediator of the New Covenant. Chapter 1 firmly establishes the divinity and Lordship of Christ. It is critical to understand that Jesus is fully God before we read further. Otherwise, the rest of the book is meaningless.
The introduction above helps us to understand better today’s text. In Hebrews 2, God begins to provide some detailed explanation for how he actually accomplished our salvation through Jesus Christ. Much of this will be expounded on further in later chapters.
Hebrews 2 opens with a word of urgency, almost a warning. In verses 1-4, we are exhorted to pay careful attention to what we have heard. The writer refers back to the blessings and curses of the Old Covenant when he says in verses 2 and 3a: “If the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?”
The point is, WE NEED TO BE SAVED! And if we ignore this salvation and don’t respond to the gospel, we will not escape. No one is exempt. As Romans 3:10 says, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” And verse 23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (vs.24) and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.”
The next section begins to speak about Jesus and what he had to do in order to accomplish our salvation. This will set the stage for the rest of this letter.
Even though he was God,
he made himself like a servant(Vs. 5-9)
The writer speaks of how Jesus was made a little lower than the angels in order that he might suffer death for us. But now he is crowned with glory and honor because he suffered. Verse 8 says that everything is put under his feet. (The final fulfillment is yet future). Jesus made a similar statement in Matthew 28: 18 when he said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” John 1:3 says that he is the one who created all things. John goes as far as to say that nothing is excluded. If it exists, he created it. Philippians 2:6-8 Tells us that Jesus was in his very nature, God. Yet he humbled himself and took on the nature of a servant and became human like us in order to die for us. It is important to understand that our Savior, Jesus Christ, who was made lower than the angels, is the God of all creation.
We are God’s family (Vs. 10-13)
This section, explains that we are God’s family. And it was necessary for Jesus Christ to suffer in order to “bring many sons to glory.” (vs. 11). “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are being made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”
When Jesus prayed to his Father, he addressed him as such. When he taught his disciples to pray, he instructed them also to address God as Father. He was clearly affirming we are his family.
Jesus had to become one of us (Vs. 14-18)
In this final section, the writer explains Jesus had to become just like us in order to save us. He had to go through the same things that we go through except that he had to do it perfectly. Chapter 4:15 says that he was tempted just as we are yet was without sin. This reaffirms the verse in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that God would make him who had no sin to be sin for us.
“For this reason, he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might be a merciful high priest in service to God and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people” (Vs. 17). This role as our high priest is going to be expounded on in greater detail as the epistle unfolds.
It is very clear from our reading of this chapter our salvation is something God accomplished completely on his own. There is no meeting God halfway. Jesus came all the way from eternity to become one of us. It’s not even accurate to say God made the first move. He made all of the moves. Verse 11 shows us it is God who is making us holy. Jesus, the God of all Creation, became a human being lived the life I should have lived; he paid the price I should have paid. He accomplished all of it on his own without my help.
What can we do but fall down in worship?