Thursday, December 24, 2020

Lessons on the Incarnation of Christ from Hebrews 2:5-18

1. Jesus was not ashamed to call his people "brothers." His brothers are the church (Heb. 2:12). He does not call all people brothers, but those whom he was given to save (2:13-14), those who are being sanctified through faith in him (2:11). He helps, not angels, but the offspring of Abraham (2:16). Though man had fallen from honor to bondage (2:8), yet Jesus did not shrink back from calling them brothers to restore them to glory. 

2. Therefore, while remaining God, he took on flesh and blood, that is, mortal human nature. He became like you in every respect, except that he was without sin (2:17, 4:15). He took on human nature, body and soul: human biology, human desires, human will, human affections, human thinking - all without sin and all freely subject to his divine will. He did not come as superman, a man of steel, but a man in our humble and mortal condition, capable of suffering. He hungered and he got tired. As a youth he studied and grew in wisdom. He wept and sighed and sweat in anguish as he approached death. He experienced the fear of death and yet pressed on for the joy that was set before him, entrusting his spirit into his Father’s hands. It was not enough to merely take on a visible appearance to talk with humans, as angels have done, but it was essential to become one of us, in order to die our death and raise us to new life and immortality, to raise up our nature in his person.

He made this flesh and blood his own. This union of two distinct natures in one person is such a union that we can say that Mary bore God in her womb, and that the church was obtained by God’s own blood (Acts 20:28), because the one who was born and who died according to his human nature was God.

3. In this way Jesus humbled himself, making himself lower than the angels (2:9), in the form of a servant. And this, even though he was much greater than the angels, as Hebrews 1 points out.

4. He took on flesh and blood to become a merciful high priest for his people (2:17). He is able to sympathize with your weakness, having been tested by trials himself. He is able to deal gently with the ignorant and wayward. As a priest he offered an atoning sacrifice for the sins of his people and continues now to intercede for us. And this sacrifice was himself:

5. He took on flesh and blood so that he might suffer death on our behalf (2:17). He came to die as a propitiation for his people’s sins. He bore your sins and satisfied divine justice by dying your death. This death is how he destroyed the devil (2:14). This death is how he destroyed the devil’s work and took away his power and released his captives. He used the devil’s weapon against him. The devil’s greatest weapon was death and condemnation - and Jesus willingly received that blow, exhausting its power, disarming the devil, and rising again. He disarmed the demonic powers and put them to open shame, triumphing over them in the cross.

Jesus offers this salvation to all who share in flesh and blood. Receive and rest upon him: own him as yours, and he will own you as his and wash away your sins. Do not linger in bondage and fear. He is bringing many sons to glory. This is why he was born in Bethlehem. This is why we rejoice when we remember his birth.

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