Five Minute Devotions: Hebrews 2
Hebrews 2 builds on the argument that Hebrews 1 began. If the message given to us through the angels was meant to be believed and upheld, how much more important it is to heed the message that has come directly to us in Jesus (Hebrews 2:1-4). From here, the author Hebrews addresses the primary paradox: Christ, who has been made lower than the angels, is still King and Lord of Creation. He is King and Lord—yet he has made himself man (Hebrews 2:5-10). It is through this humanity that he can effect salvation and empathize with those tempted to sin (Hebrews 2:11-18).
Made Lower than the Angels
One of the most incredible things about Christianity is that we have a human God. Or maybe that’s not so incredible. Religion has always been about either harnessing the power of gods or becoming a god oneself. The first temptation was predicated on the human desire to become gods—ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
The incredible part is not a human claiming godhood, but God claiming humanness—cloaking his deity with the fleshliness of humanity, reaching down and becoming like his creation in order to effect their salvation. God became man. And that is incredible.
Sometimes we overlook this because we’ve heard the Christmas story over and over. We know all about Immanuel—God with us. We conceptually comprehend that Jesus is man and God. But we lose the wonder of it all. We forget what it really means. And here the author of Hebrews reminds us in a powerful way.
Hebrews 1 reminded us that Jesus was infinitely above angels. Hebrews 2 tells us that he was made lower. The creator condescended to being made less glorious than one of his creations to bring ignoble man to infinite glory.
Made to Suffer
This lowering is not made without cost. It is not merely symbolic. This is no test or trick. The purpose of being made lower than the angels, the purpose of becoming human is to suffer. Suffering is the human experience. Not a part of the human experience or a time within the human experience. To experience suffering is to experience, on some level, humanity.
Jesus became man in order to suffer, in order to take on our own suffering. On the cross, he experienced the full agony of the sum total of human suffering. He took upon it all because only he could break it. Suffering had broken us, he takes it on himself and breaks it. Suffering still hold temporal power, but it is of no eternal consequence for those that believe.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. – Hebrews 2:14-15
Made for Empathy
As a result of his suffering, we now have a High Priest who can empathize with us. He has been where we have been. He has suffered far more than we have suffered. Our God is high and holy and lifted up—but he is also close and near and he understands.
He knows what it is like to face temptation. Because of this, he serves as our standard and our help for when we are tempted. He serves as our example of true humanity.
Jesus, our cry is to you because we know you understand it. Be with us in our sufferings. Resist with us through our temptations. We thank you for stooping low to fellowship with us and to be like us. We take comfort in your presence.
Do we truly understand the depth of the incarnation? How can we understand it better? How does Hebrews 2 help with that?
It is often difficult to reconcile a good God with human suffering. Does it help to know that God himself became man and was subject to that suffering?
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