Grace For The Journey
We are in a new series of studies through the Book of Hebrews, a series entitled, “Captured And Captivated By Christ.” Christianity is about Christ; cherishing Christ, following Christ, being captured and captivated by Christ, because He is better than anyone or anything.
- Jesus Christ is better than the prophets, better than the angels – Chapter 1.
- Therefore, Christians should not neglect their great salvation – Chapter 2.
We have acknowledged how easy it is to drift by getting our eyes off Jesus. Maybe you drifted a bit in the last few days, and you are realize the need to make recorrect your focus and to re-center your faith and life. When you drift from Jesus by yielding to temptation to sin or drift by failing to grow in Christ, the best way back is a direct line, a 180 degree turn just as when you drift away from the shore while swimming in the ocean. The wisest thing to do when you realize you have drifted away from where you need to be in your walk with Christ, is to turn back at once – turn back to Jesus.
We left off yesterday in Chapter 2 and verse 9 where the Bible says that Jesus Christ “tasted death for everyone.” The writer expands upon this truth, providing more encouragement to help us not neglect our great salvation. In the verses that follow we read about what Jesus has done on behalf of those who believe in Him.
This study is entitled, “Salvation’s Trailblazer.” A trailblazer is the lead person who goes out ahead of others as the first one to make a way forward on a trail. He is the pioneer, the groundbreaker, the captain, and the leader who makes a way that others may come.
The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ
Is salvation’s trailblazer.
Because of Christ there
Is a way for us to go.
This truth is seen in verse 10, a verse where we read that Jesus is the trailblazer, “bringing many sons to glory.” He went ahead to blaze the trail. I quoted briefly last time from the hymn:
Through death into life everlasting
He passed and we follow Him there
He blazed the trail. He is salvation’s trailblazer. This teaching continues in the verses that follow. They continue to underscore what Jesus has done for those who believe in Him. Great blessings come to the one who believes in Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Because Of Jesus Christ . . .
1. We Enjoy A Spiritual Family – Verses 10-13.
The statement about Jesus Christ’s “bringing many sons to glory” is one of those sublime and succinct summaries of the Gospel. What has Jesus done for us? Because He blazed the trail ahead of us, He made possible our adoption into a new family, a spiritual family of sons and daughters in Christ.
Verse 10 declares about Jesus, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. It is the word “captain” there that gives us the idea of the trailblazer. Jesus Christ is the founder, the pioneer, the preeminent and perfect leader of our salvation. He brings many sons to glory – many children of God – as the “captain of their salvation,” the one who blazed the trail – How? Last part of verse 10 tells us, “through sufferings,” namely the cross. That is the meaning of the word “perfect;” it means, “to bring to completion.” That Christ is made “perfect” here is not meant in terms of His nature, as though He lacked something. Clearly that is not the case. That Christ is to be made “perfect,” rather is meant in terms of “completion” and “fulfillment” and is connected to the phrase “through sufferings.” Jesus Christ’s being the captain, the leader, the trailblazer is evidenced in and through His sufferings.
The sufferings of Christ are necessary
In order for Jesus to be our Savior.
If anyone is going to be saved,
It will not be possible
Without a suffering Christ.
That may seem obvious to many of us raised in Christianity, but the fact that the Messiah would suffer is something the Jews had a hard time getting their head around. They thought of the Messiah as a conquering King, not a suffering Messiah whose flesh was crucified. The writer of Hebrews is helping these early Jewish believers understand the need for Christ’s suffering in order to make a way for us to be saved and adopted into a new spiritual family.
Verse 11 says, “For both He who sanctifies (Jesus) and those who are being sanctified (us) are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren (another family term; brethren).” The word “sanctified” here is understood as being “set apart.” Jesus Christ sets apart others as the trailblazer, by leading them to experience the salvation that He Himself has made possible. Through death into life everlasting, He passed, and we follow Him there. The writer says of us that we “are all of one,” that is of one origin, a reference to God Himself and “for this reason He is not ashamed to call (us) brethren,” brothers and sisters. We enjoy a spiritual family.
The closeness of this family, the close relationship between Christ and those who are saved in Christ, is further indicated in verses 12 and 13 where the writer includes three references to the Old Testament, the first from Psalm 22:12 saying, “I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.” This phrase is found in near the end of Psalm 22, a Messianic psalm – remember that term, Messianic, of the Messiah – that opens with the familiar words Jesus quotes from the cross: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” And the psalm ends with a victory cry in the latter verses. It moves from a cry of desolation to a cry of praise.
Here is a reminder to us of the ongoing importance and relevance of the Old Testament for Christians. Our Lord and Savior loved the Old Testament and quoted frequently from it. He mediated upon the psalms and quoted the psalms even from the cross. Sinclair Ferguson says, “You cannot know the inner life of the Lord Jesus without being profoundly familiar with the Psalms.”
The Old Testament
Is about Jesus Christ,
Points to Christ,
Finds ultimate fulfillment
In Jesus Christ.
The last part of verse 12 shows Jesus singing. Having suffered for us as our trailblazer – living, dying, resurrecting, and ascending – He now joins His brothers and sisters to worship with Him “in the midst of the assembly,” He says, “I will sing praise to You.” Jesus sings!
When we worship,
We sing praise with Jesus.
Jesus Christ is the ultimate
Worship leader of our churches.
Verse 13 continues highlighting this new spiritual family we enjoy in Christ. The writer continues to quote the Old Testament, this time from Isaiah, “I will put My trust in Him” and: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.” Quoting from Isaiah, Jesus associates Himself with the children of God, brothers and sisters of a spiritual family. The writer has Jesus saying, “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”
We are included in His family. Here is Jesus and the children God has given Him. That is you and I who believe in Christ. We are brothers and sisters, family of God.
You know that Gospel chorus: “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God.” We are glad to be part of the family of God, aren’t we? In fact, we may be amazed to be part of the family of God, given our tendency to drift or get our eyes off Jesus. We look around at one another, brothers and sisters in Christ, and we wonder how we all made it, were included in the family?!
Someone has suggested rather than singing, “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God,” we may look at one another and say, “I’m surprised you’re a part of the family of God!” But we are a spiritual family. We have been adopted through Christ. We were once outside and now we are inside. How? Through Jesus Christ. He blazed the trail for us, made a way for us to be included in this great spiritual family that means we are accepted by God, approved by God, inspite of our religious performance, inspite of last week’s actions – we are never kicked out of the family. God accepts us always and forever in Christ.
This love of God for His children
Is the foundation for our love for
One another, our brothers and sisters.
That God graciously accepts us, forgives us, even when we fail Him is the basis of our graciously accepting our brothers and sisters, forgiving our spiritual siblings, when they fail us.
We enjoy a spiritual family. Second thing we enjoy because of Jesus Christ . . .
II. We Enjoy Salvation’s Freedom – Verses 14-15.
Verse 14 teaches the incarnation, Christ’s taking on human flesh to accomplish our salvation , “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood (that is, God’s children have flesh and blood, human skin), He Himself likewise shared in the same (He took on flesh becoming the God-Man – why? So that …), through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.”
Salvation’s freedom is . . .
A) Freedom From The Power Of Death – Verse 14.
Through death, through Jesus’ dying on the cross for our sins, He “destroyed him who had the power of death,” and who is that? The Bible tells us, “that is, the devil.” The devil “had the power of death.” Adam was created to have dominion over the world. But his sin brought sin into the world and death through sin (Romans 5:12). The devil, then, has “the power of death” over all those who are in Adam. But something marvelous has happened!
Jesus Christ has come and “through death,”
His death—a death caused by other men’s sins
Jesus regains the dominion lost through Adam,
Regains it legally and righteously by dying on the cross.
And when Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, He dealt a blow to Satan that robbed Satan of his power over death. It was a major blow! It is true that devil continues to prowl about as Peter said in 1 Peter 5:8, “seeking whom he may devour,” but as one theologian rightly puts it: “he prowls with a limp).”
His power has been taken away for all those who are in Christ. Christians enjoy salvation’s freedom from the power of death. And that means Christians enjoy . . .
B) Freedom From The Fear Of Death – Verse 15.
Do you fear death? Christians need not fear death. Verse 15 continues to highlight the spiritual benefit of Christ’s dying for our sins. Christ “releases” Christians from the fear of death, “And release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” I like the way one writer paraphrases verse 15 – He says Jesus “freed all who cower through life, scared to death of death.” Are you “scared to death of death?” Our actions often betray our true feelings. How frequently is death avoided in conversation? No one wants to talk about death. You go to a gathering of some kind and everyone talks rather freely about the weather, the stock market, basketball, the Chiefs football or the latest popular show on Netflix. You interject the subject of death into the conversation and you can expect – the death of that conversation!
Man inherently fears death. But the Christian need not fear death. Why? Because Jesus Christ has blazed the trail before us. Through death into life everlasting He passed and we follow Him there.
Christians enjoy a Spiritual Family and Christians enjoy Salvation’s Freedom. Thirdly . . .
III. We Enjoy A Sympathetic Friend – Verses 16-18.
You know that song, “What a friend we have in Jesus?” That song came to me as I read verses 16 through 18, where the writer refers to the blessings we enjoy from our sympathetic High Priest, Jesus Christ. Verse 16 states, “For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.” The writer is saying that Jesus helps His children. He will flesh this out in a moment, but for now note that Jesus – the one who is better than the angels – gives aid, or helps, not to angels, but us, those who are the “seed of Abraham.” Christians share Abraham’s faith and are sons of Abraham. He helps us.
Verse 17 says, “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren (taking on flesh like us), that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Some bristle at the word “propitiation,” picturing in their minds the pagan religions where human sacrifices are offered to appease an angry God. But the joy and wonder of the truthfulness of Christianity is that God “makes propitiation” by providing Himself as the sacrifice. Romans 3:24 and 25 refers to Christ Jesus as the one “whom God set forth as a propitiation by HIs blood…” Why? Because of His love for sinners. Romans 5:8 states, “God commends His love toward us in this – while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The Son became what He was not, taking on human nature. To quote CS Lewis: “The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.”
The writer says in verse 17 that Jesus Christ is our “merciful and faithful High Priest,” our sympathetic High Priest, something the writer will expound in more detail in chapters to come. But he gives a foretaste of our sympathetic high priest here. Verse 18 says, “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” Christ’s temptations were largely those that came to Him in fulfilling His Messianic role as Savior. The point is that He is supremely helpful to us in overcoming our temptations. But we must turn to Him. We must turn to Him if we hope to overcome temptation when temptation comes. To quote the hymn again: “Have we trials and temptations … what peace we often forfeit, oh what needless pain we bear – all because we do not carry everything to Him in prayer.”
How do you respond to what God has said here in His Word? Every time God speaks we respond to His Word. Do you know Him? Are you connected to Him in the family of God? If you are, praise Him and thank Him for His love and life.
Or are you “scared to death of death?” Let go of that sin to which you have been clinging and receive Christ. Some of you are Christians and you need to repent, need to confess before God and turn from that besetting, recurring sin.
Whether you are a believer or an unbeliever, in either case, the answer is the same: Turn to Christ. Look to Him. Be captivated by Christ.
This is Grace for your Journey …
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”