Sunday, 6 April 2014

HEBREWS 2:14-16 - 'FEAR NO EVIL'

'FEAR NO EVIL'
Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.
My Grandfather lived on the Island of Mersea that was separated by half a mile of water at high tide from the mainland county of Essex.
To visit him we had to go through Colchester and out on the Mersea Road. It was a journey that as a child I hated. It wasn't that I didn't want to see my Grandfather as he always made us welcome and would slip some money into our hands as we were leaving!
No. what I didn't like, in fact I really hated, was that the Mersey Road took us past Colchester Cemetery. Acres and acres of dead people! It seemed to take forever to get past. I used to shut my eyes so that I wouldn't see. But when I opened them we were still going past the Cemetery!
Seeing so many graves was a stark reminder that one day I would die. And I didn't want to die. I was afraid of death. At the time I never said so, but I was.
Are you afraid of death? Well the writer has good news for you in our passage today. We can be freed from the fear of death by Jesus. You do not have to fear death any longer.
How is this possible?
1. The writer begins by making it clear that Jesus was fully a man.
When we read of him performing miracles, walking on the water, feeding the 5,000, raising the dead and many more, we tend to think, "Well he is the Son of God." We without realising it are really thinking Jesus is not a man like us, he is a 'Superman'.
We are not like him. He is in a different league! He is God. He is just not like us. When we think like this we are wrong! The writer to the Hebrews is going to correct our thinking, and drive into our minds and hearts that Jesus was not only God but also a man.
The incarnation of the Son of God, God taking flesh, is a vital doctrine for Hebrews, and Christianity. Unless we give full weight to Christmas, that God became man, Easter is meaningless.
Jesus, the Son of God, became man, fully man, every bit as much a human being as you and I (the one difference as the writer of Hebrews will tell us in chapter four, was that Jesus was without sin). Now that is an important difference, but it does not detract from his humanity. In fact our sin detracts from our humanity! It makes us less than God created us to be.
The writer has referred to the incarnation by implication in 2v9, he goes on to speak of his suffering and death so that...he might taste death for everyone.
2v11 he speaks of Jesus who sanctifies us, makes us holy, as having the same origin as those he makes holy - what does he mean? He tells us by what he says next: That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers. He is our brother. He is one of us.
He now in 2v14-16 enlarges upon this. He explains why it was necessary for Jesus to become a man. But first, we must be certain that he did become a man. That's why the writer says it again:
Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things,
We are flesh and blood.
Jesus uses that expression to Simon Peter: Mt 16:17 “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
Paul does in 1 Cor 15:50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God,
Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood,
John 1:13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (He says it around the opposite way because of what he wants to say next:)
v14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
The Son existed before the incarnation, so John says he BECAME flesh. Flesh and blood is our original state. But the Son already existed as the eternal Son of God.
Jesus was not God pretending to be a man. As though his humanity was only an illusion, he gave the appearance of being a man but he wasn't really! No, no.
Nor was he God who had taken over the body of a man as a temporary measure, to carry out this task - in the way Demons possessed people. Jesus grew up a man and then at his Baptism he became the Son of God, God entered his body. No, no.
He became man. The word became flesh.
So the writer to the Hebrews says he himself likewise partook of the same things. He begun to share our nature, not just in part, but to fully share in our nature. He was all a human being is, as well as being God.
He became flesh and blood. The same as us.
2. Next the writer shows us why he became flesh and blood.
that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
[1] He became flesh and blood to deliver us from the fear of death.
This fear that we all have. We will have it all our lives unless Jesus delivers us from it. He calls it a lifelong slavery.
As we get older we rationalize death: Death comes to everyone. It is an inevitable part of life. We learn to look at death with a rational calmness - until it touches us by taking someone dear to us. And that hurts us more than we ever thought possible.
We may get better at hiding this fear as we grow older. Some people will say that they are not afraid to die.
They have suppressed the knowledge of God, or are believing a lie, they have a false hope.
They are relying on a rescue that is never going to come, because the god they believe in is not real, not the living God;
Or what they are relying on is not the real Jesus and his gospel, but a different Jesus and a false gospel.
Or they are relying on there being no god and nothing after death.
But our writer is going to remind us in Heb 9:27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement,
So we have good reason to fear death!
[2] To deliver us from that fear Jesus had to destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
The devil was not given the power to decide when you will die. Book of Job - it is God who decides.
What is the power of death that the Devil has?
He came and deceived Eve, and Adam, into eating the forbidden fruit. He seduced man to rebel against God.
God had warned man that if he disobeyed him and eat the fruit form the Tree of knowledge of good and evil he would die. Death would come.
And it did! Death entered this world. The devil has used it against man ever since. He keeps men and women in slavery to the fear of death.
But now the writer says: Jesus has destroyed the devil.
What does he mean? Clearly the devil is not dead. Scripture talks of him as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, it warns us of his schemes and his devices that he uses against believers. It tells us that his time is short....short, not yet over!
The word destroy means to deprive something of its power. Jesus has broken the power. The overthrow of death and the devil has begun. Jesus has given it such a blow that death and the devil will never recover. It is only a matter of time before their end.
Rev 20:10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
How has Jesus struck this mortal blow?
...that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
Jesus had to take flesh and blood and be like us in order to die on the cross for us, in our behalf, as our substitute, in our place.
Man had sinned. Man must pay. There is a penalty. No angel could pay. Even the Son of God could not pay unless he took flesh and blood and became a man.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is why Jesus came and partook flesh and blood.
Jesus said Mr 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Joh 12:27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.
Jesus voluntarily, willingly, freely, gave his life.
John 10:18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
He handed himself over to die. Death had him it's sights. The devil working through Judas Iscariot had Jesus arrested, tried and condemned to die on a cross.
And no one came to his rescue. Not his disciples, nor Elijah, nor the angels, not even God whom he said was his Father. Nor did he perform a miracle and come down. On the cross he breathed his last. Death appeared triumphant! His dead body was laid in a tomb. Had death won? Had the devil achieved a great victory?
Jesus once spoke of a strong man;
Matthew 12:24-29
Jesus' death broke the tyrants stranglehold over death and freed those whose lives were held in slavery to the fear of death.
We are still subject to death. We will die, unless Jesus returns beforehand. But Jesus has removed its terrors.
Romans 8:37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
2 Timothy 1:10 ...our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
You need not fear persecution, you need not fear death - Jesus has broken its power.
3. One more thing:
16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.
Angels are wonderful beings. Spiritual beings. Created a little higher than man. With great abilities and more gifts.
Some angels rebelled against God. They sinned and fell. Yet Jesus did not become an angel. He did not take their nature. He did not suffer for the angels. There is no great salvation for any fallen angels. Not one will saved.
It is the offspring of Abraham he helps.
What only Jews? No he is not speaking about physical descent. Ga 3:6-9 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”
So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
Ga 3:14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
So have no doubt, Jesus helps his people, his brothers and sisters, those of flesh and blood and he also is of flesh and blood.
Jesus then frees us from the slavery of the fear of death. When we believe in him then we are united to him, and nothing can ever separate us from the love of God. The devil's power is broken. He can make his accusations, he can be the fierce accuser - and we can tell him Christ has died!
As Moses led the children of Israel out from slavery in Egypt, so Jesus leads the children of God out from the slavery of the fear of death. Moses leads them to the promised land, Jesus leads us to an even better land, with a better city. But we are getting ahead of ourselves, that is to come later in Hebrews.
Are you with Christ? Then fear death no more. If you are not, then call to him quickly whilst it is still the day of salvation.


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