December 29/30, 2012
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Hebrews 2:10-18
1. Not ashamed.
2. Like us in every way.
3. Able to help
Hebrews 2:10-18 (NIV 1984) “ In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. 12 He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.”13 And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.”14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
Surely I’m not the only one who’s gotten caught up with his kids in the “Why?” game. You know how it goes. “Why does the green light mean Go?” “Because we need a signal we will all follow.” “But why is green Go?” “I suppose because they both start with G.” “Then why does the red means stop?” “Why? Why? Why?” It can go on forever. Sometimes you can provide satisfactory answers. Sometimes not. Christmas can get us believers asking, “Why?” We know what. God’s Son was born of the Virgin Mary. Why? Why did it have to be that way? Today in God’s Word God gives us some answers to the question why that lead us to marvel at how God’s wisdom and love for us combine to give us ongoing Christmas blessings.
Our text is from the letter to the Hebrews. If you recall it was written mainly to Jewish believers whose resolve to stick with Jesus as Messiah was being tested. Their religion was considered new. Illegal in some places. Those Jews who rejected Jesus had it easier. Was having Jesus as Messiah better than still waiting for one? “Absolutely!” is God’s answer in the letter to the Hebrews as it unfolds reason after reason why Jesus is the best. We’ll look at just a few of them.
First Jesus is not ashamed. Not ashamed of what? “ In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” If you want a big picture answer to the question, “Why” it’s because God loves us. For Him and through Him everything exists and what do we find Him busy with? Bringing us to glory. Getting us to heaven. We have to go through tribulations, sufferings on our way to heaven. In order to get us to heaven Jesus had to as well. That’s one of the reasons he had to become a human being. But did you catch one of the benefits? Jesus is not ashamed. He’s not ashamed to be connected to us. To call us brothers. You know in just about every family there’s that one the others are ashamed of. The quirky uncle. The eccentric aunt. The black sheep of the family. Maybe even convicted of some crime. It takes great love to take ownership then and to resist the shame of being connected to them. Jesus has every reason to be ashamed of us. We know ourselves. We know what we’ve done. We know how we think of ourselves and other people. Most of our sins we would be ashamed if other people knew about. Well Jesus does know. He knows you. He knows where you struggle. He knows where you fall. He knows you better than you do. He is the holy, sinless Son of God and He is not ashamed to call you brother.
He is also like us in every way. “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.” Why? But why? Why does He have to be become one of us? In a word, substitute. If you had a chance to go to the Christmas service presented by our school children you saw that theme beautifully proclaimed. It started with the substitute God provided to be sacrificed instead of Isaac to the substitute lamb that was sacrificed every Passover to Jesus the Lamb of God who was sacrificed as a substitute to pay for our sins. In order to be our substitute Jesus had to be a legitimate one. He had to be like us in every way. Since we have flesh and blood He had to have flesh and blood. And He did. That’s why He spent time from conception to birth in His mother’s womb. Because we do. He was born because we are. He had to eat and drink and grow. He had to be able to die. Why? To destroy the power of the Devil. To pay the wages of sin. To free us from fearing death by turning it into the doorway to heaven. He was like us in every way except He never gave in to sin.
That’s why Jesus is able to help. “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Remember this was written to Jewish Christians who were thinking of turning their backs on Jesus as their Messiah and joining other Jews who were still living like their Messiah had never come. In Old Testament worship they relied on the High Priest to represent them to God, to make the sacrifices for sin that pictured Messiah’s sacrifice. Some of the High Priests did their jobs well. Some not. Think of Caiaphas. None of them were perfect. But Jesus is. He made the once for all sacrifice. He is merciful. He can empathize with us.
That’s not always easy to do, is it? Generally we can empathize well with someone who goes through things we can relate to. For instance if there is some sin you struggle with it becomes an understandable sin. You can see someone falling into that. If you don’t struggle with those sins they are reprehensible. How could anyone do that and call themselves a Christian? Or even take something like smoking or trying to lose weight. I never started smoking so I don’t know what that is like. Then you will hear of someone whose doctor tells them they need to quit. And I’ll think. Well just quit. How hard can that be? But those who are trying to will tell you it is very hard. I just can’t relate. I can’t empathize. I can’t help. Now if it was coffee that had to be given up…!
Jesus can relate to be tempted. He does empathize and He is able to help. Here we are told Jesus suffered when He was tempted. We are only told about the 3 temptations that Jesus faced when the Devil tempted Him in the wilderness but don’t think those are the only ones. Elsewhere we are told He was tempted in every way just like we are, yet was without sin. He was tempted just like we are. He was tempted with all the sins we are tempted with. Can you imagine? He suffered during those temptations. You know what that is like when the battle for good and evil rages in your heart, when the Devil makes sin seem so appealing it seems irresistible. But it is resistible. Jesus resisted every time so that He could provide us with perfect obedience. And so He can help those are being tempted.
That’s another reason why He had to become one of us. So He could help us. What temptations are you facing? Which ones come to you? Greed, jealousy, lust, vengeance, worry? Jesus is there to help you. He is able to help you. We just need to go to Him, to pray for His help instead of trying to fight alone. It is one of the reasons why for Christmas.
God has answered some of our Christmas whys. But just asking why doesn’t make you wise. Listening and putting into practice does. Don’t leave Jesus lying in a manger. He longs to be with you more and more every day. He is not ashamed of you. He’s your perfect substitute, like you in every way. He is able to help. Use Him. Amen.