When God Destroys the Shroud of Death

We often avoid talking about, or even thinking about, death. But if you trust Jesus, Hebrews 2:14–15, with Isaiah 25 in the background, tells you that it is a fear that can be conquered.

Christ shares your humanity. Like you, he is flesh and blood. All human beings, since the fall in the Garden, are mortal. We are flesh and blood. Jesus Christ shares in that. He became human. At a particular point in tome, the second person of the Trinity, God himself, began to partake of your humanity. Look back to Hebrews 1:1–4 to see how great this Son is. This Son became man. The purpose of his incarnation is his death and resurrection. By becoming human and through his death and resurrection, he made you who trust in him his brothers and sisters. He is your comfort and strength when you are tempted.

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The Suffering Sacrifice

We marvel at the incarnation. The eternal Son of God became man without losing any of his divinity. But he did something more than become man, something almost incomprehensible. He suffered and died in our place. He did this in order to become the sacrifice for our sins,as Paul points out in Romans 3:21–26.

Now God has revealed to you his righteousness. God has revealed this righteousness apart from law. Now it has been revealed. Paul is emphasizing the manifestation of God’s righteousness. Not that it has been unknown before–he goes on to tell you that it was witnessed by the Law and the Prophets. But now it has been revealed, see Colossians 1:26, 27. Paul emphasizes both newness and continuity. This righteousness was manifested without the law. Do not tone down “without the law.” In justification there is no preparation, contribution, or help provided by the works of the law. It is the law as commanding works that is excluded from justification, see Romans 8:3. Don’t put your trust in what you are doing!

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A Priest Like You

The Gospels tell us that Jesus is God himself become man. In Hebrews 2:17, the author emphasizes Christ as high priest. For Jesus to be your effective, perfect high priest, he needs to be truly human.

Understand how merciful your high priest is. Christ had to be made truly human. He had to become truly human to be your Savior. Christ is not an extra-terrestrial visiting earth. The focus here is on his identity with you in your experience. He knows your temptations, sufferings, and problems. He knows the temptation that proceeds from suffering, thus he is able to help you when you are tempted. He was a child, a teenager, a young adult. As a red-blooded Jewish teenager, he faced the temptations that young Americans face. Is there any teenage girl who has not struggled with questions about identity, acceptance, and rejection? He understands, because he grew to understand that he was here to do his Father’s will, and that involved being rejected even by those who were close to him. He experienced abandonment, helplessness, and suffering that sometimes come with aging. Yet in all of this he never sinned. Thus he delivers from the devil and the fear of death, vv. 14,15. Notice that Hebrews does not tell you that as the almighty, eternal Son of God Christ defeated Satan. His victory over Satan came as he took upon himself your humanity, as he entered your weakness, as he suffered here on earth, culminating in his sacrificial death. In that weakness is his victory–and yours. No foe is too powerful for him, or for you, as you rest in him.

“May everything become insufficient for you except the only Mediator who took upon Himself our flesh and has become a man who came forth from man, like unto His brethren in all things, sin excepted. He bowed down so low that He became poor to make poor people rich.”

G. H. Kersten, The Heidelberg Catechism, p. 191
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