Hebrews 2:10-18 - Jesus Perfect Love For Sinners
Mindy and I recently watched a show about a successful landscaper and a job that they had just completed. The landscaper totally renovated a yard for a homeowner and they did it just the way that the they wanted.
However, shortly after the job was completed the Homeowners Association told them that they did not use the proper materials and so a lot of work would have to be redone. I will be honest, I would have been so frustrated with the HOA. Everything looked fine and it was done exactly the way that the homeowners wanted. Everything that the HOA wanted done seemed ridiculous. I probably would have looked at the HOA president and said, “You all are crazy! It is fine just the way that it is and I am not going to do what you are asking me to do!”
That is not, however, what happened. The landscaper came in and reworked everything so that the HOA and the homeowners were happy with it. The Landscape Architects (the builder, creator, designer and planner) did what was appropriate, fitting, good, proper and correct for that situation.
In a similar way, we have come to a text that reveals that the Father has done what was fitting, good, appropriate and just while bringing many sons to glory. Dr. Raymond Brown says, “It is important to pause for a moment here. Some contemporary expositions of the idea of salvation choose to begin not with what is ‘fitting’ in the mind of God, but with what is congenial to the desires of men.”1
Our text this morning is found in Hebrews 2:10-18,
For it was fitting that He, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why He is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,
“I will tell of Your name to My brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.”
And again, “I will put My trust in Him.”
“Behold, I and the children God has given Me.”
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. 17 Therefore He had to be made like His brothers in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 2:10 begins with the words, “For it was fitting…”. This lets us know that we are about to discuss what was fitting, right, just and appropriate for the Father to do when He brought many people to glory. There are so many views about what people believe would have been fitting for God to do in regard to these things. Some have even impugned God’s character by accusing Him of great evil when He sent His Son here to make propitiation for our sins. Some people have accused the Father of child abuse for letting this to happen to Jesus.
In Hebrews 2:10-18 the Scriptures get to testify about these things. Our text tells us that what the Father has done is in agreement with His holiness, His justice, His righteousness, His wisdom, and His love. It was fitting that the Father, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. Jesus became like us, taking upon Himself flesh and blood, so that by death He might destroy the one who has the power of death – the devil, and deliver us from lifelong slavery (14-16). Jesus was not forced to do any of this but willingly did this for us (Gal. 1:4; Hebrews 9:14, 26).
Why would God dothis for sinners? Why would He allow His Son to take upon Himself flesh and blood so that He could be tempted, suffer and die for us?
We are told that it is fitting because ‘for Him and by Him that all things exist.’ (10) In our text the Father is put forward as the builder, the architect, the creator, the designer and the planner of all things.
Because He has done these things He is willing to do far more than anyone else could imagine to save sinners. We were made in His image and He has breathed into us the breath of life; therefore, God has graciously and mercifully acted to save us. And for this He receives glory!
As our Creator, for whom and by whom all things exist, the LORD is going to do things that I might not do much like the landscaper was willing to do more than me.
The Great Shepherd is willing to lay down His life for his sheep; whereas the hired hand will not.
The owner of the lost coin will look tirelessly for what has been lost; but someone else will not.
When the Father desired to bring many sons and daughters to glory He allowed His Son to suffer and die to do this. Galatians 1:3-5describes what the Father and the Son have done. We read, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
When we realize that the LORD has done this for us we are moved to glorify, worship, praise and adore God as Paul does in Romans 11:33-35, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable are His ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the LORD, or who has been His counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to Him that He might be repaid?’”
The concept that the Father acts appropriately save people because He is their creator is a concept that appears in the Old Testament. Consider Isaiah 43:6-7 the LORD says, “I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back!’ Bring my sons from far away, and my daughters from the ends of the earth - everyone who bears my name and is created for my glory. I have formed them; indeed, I have made them.”
Consider Jeremiah 31. In this chapter the LORD speaks of the New Covenant that He will make with the house of Israel (31:31-34). Immediately after the LORD speaks of this New Covenant He speaks about how He has created all things. He says, “Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar- the LORD of Hosts is His name: If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.”
As I read Jeremiah’s words I cannot help but think of Matthew 27:45-46, “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And...Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” Darkness covered the land but only for a short time. God, continued to give the sun, the moon, and the stars for light. The fixed order remained which signified that God continued to preserve His people.
Not only is our text about what is fitting for the Father to do to save many sons and daughters to glory; but it is also about what was fitting for the Son of God to do. We read in Hebrews 2:10, “For it was fitting that He, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”
In Hebrews 2:14-18 we read, “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, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but He helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore He had to be made like His brothers in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”
We see that Jesus in the gospels speaks and acts in way that is fitting for someone who claimed to be the Son of God. Jesus spoke and acted in ways that was befitting for someone who claimed to have come to save people. Many anti-Christ’s might be able to talk the talk but can they really walk the walk? Jesus was able to do both of these things.
Let me give you an example of the authority that Jesus displayed as He spoke. In Matthew 5 Jesus speaks to the crowds and says to them, “You have heard it said…”.
You have heard it said that you should not murder...(21)
You have heard it said that you should not commit adultery...(27)
You have heard it said that whoever divorces his wife should give her a certificate of divorce..(31).
You have heard it said that you should not swear falsely...(33)
You have heard it said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth...(38)
You have heard it said you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy...(43)
But then Jesus says, “But I say to you…”. Then Jesus speaks with unparalleled authority. He says,
But I say to you that whoever hates has committed murder and is liable…(22)
But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman with lustful intent has committed adultery...(28)
But I say to you whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery...(32)
But I say to you do not take an oath. Let your yes be yes and your no be no...(34)
But I say to you do not resist the evil...(39)
But I say to you love your enemies and pray for them...(44)
Not only did Jesus speak like the Son of God, but He also acted like He was the Son of God. What did this look like? Well, Jesus acted according to all the things He had just said in Matthew 5: 21-48.
Jesus did not hate or have a murderous heart; on the contrary, He loves sinners.
Jesus did not lust in His heart; on the contrary, He loved His Father and loved others.
Jesus did not abandon, forsake, or break covenant; on the contrary, He fulfilled the Law of God.
Jesus did not break His Word; on the contrary, He kept His Word even to His own hurt.
Jesus did not resist evil when saving people; instead He gave them His cheek to slap and walked the extra mile as He went to the cross. In doing so He destroyed the devil and death. (Hebrews 2:17-18)
Jesus did not hate His enemies; instead He loved them and died for them.
Because of these things Jesus spoke and acted very differently than the society around Him. In Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus invites us to consider how the Father displays His love when He said,
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
We have seen that Jesus spoke with authority by saying, “You have heard it said…But I say to you…”. We have also seen that Jesus also showed that He was the Son of God by acting (by loving) like His Father. And nowhere is this love expressed more profoundly then when He suffered and died.
We were told in Hebrews 2:8 that ‘by the grace of God Christ tasted death for all men’. All people are sinners and rebels against God. Because of this there is no one who can merit salvation or who deserves to be saved. All are saved by the grace of God which is extended to undeserving people.
When Jesus suffered and died for sinners He displayed the perfect love of God. Geoffrey Wilson says, “Sympathy with the sinner in his trial does not depend on the experience of sin but on the experience of the strength of the temptation to sin which only the sinless can know in its full intensity. He who falls fails before the last strain.”2
When Jesus suffered for us He was ‘made (kept) perfect’ throughout His sufferings. His suffering and His death are vivid expressions of the perfect love of God that we could not have seen in any other way. To put it in the language of Matthew 5:48 we can say that when Jesus suffered He fulfilled His own words, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”.
In Romans 5:6-11we see how God’s love was manifested in Christ’s suffering and death. He writes, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”
Our text tells us that it was fitting that the Father “should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” What does it mean that these things made Jesus perfect?
There are two things to consider as we address this. First, Geoffrey Wilson writes, “The word ‘perfect’ does not mean that Christ stood in need of moral improvement. It rather indicates that His endurance of these sufferings perfectly fitted Him to exercise this office for His people.”3
Albert Mohler says, “That Christ became ‘perfect through sufferings’ does not imply that Jesus was somehow sinful prior to the crucifixion. The author of Hebrews regularly emphasizes the sinlessness of Christ during His incarnation (4:15). Instead, the phrase ‘made perfect’ refers to Jesus’ unflinching submission to the Father in the face of escalating difficulties. In the words of Paul, Jesus was obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross (Phil. 2:8). Because of Christ’s perfect obedience to the Father, Jesus has become the ‘source’ of salvation.”
Recently I read a book called, “Dying and Death – Getting Rightly Prepared For The Inevitable”. In this book Christopher Bogosh wrote something that made me appreciate Christ’s suffering and death even more. He writes, “Astonishingly, Jesus Christ bore the essence of this threefold death when He ‘bowed the head, and gave up the ghost’ (Jn19:30); He bore the essence of spiritual death when He cried out, ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ (Mt. 27:46); and He bore the essence of eternal death when ‘He descended into hell’ (Apostles Creed art. 4) ‘by His inexpressible anguish, pains, terrors, and hellish agonies, in which He was plunged during all His sufferings, but especially on the cross, by which He has delivered me from anguish and torments of hell’ (Heidelberg Catechism. Quest. 44).”
Secondly, the meaning of Hebrews 2:10 could be better understood if it was translated, “For it was fitting that He, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should ‘keep’ the founder of their salvation perfect ‘throughout’.” (This will be discussed more in Hebrews 5 and 6)
Jesus did not need to be made perfect because He never sinned; but Jesus was kept perfect by His Father throughout His suffering. It is hard for me to even imagine the intensity of the temptations that Jesus endured.
Jesus felt the full strength and intensity of temptation all the way to the end without sinning. Because of this Jesus, while He took upon Himself flesh and blood, continually entrusted Himself to His Father for safekeeping (2:14,17-18).
The Puritan Thomas Manton wrote these words, “When a city is besieged, the prince who would defend it doth not leave it to its ordinary strength and the standing provisions which it had before, but sends in fresh supplies of soldiers, victuals, and ammunition, and such things as the present exigence calls for. So does God deal with His people; His Spirit comes in with a new supply, that they may better repel sin, and stand out in the hour of trial.”4
If an earthly prince would act with such wisdom as the city is under attack, would not our Prince (2:10) when He was besieged by Satan be all the more diligent to receive the supplies that He needed in His hour of great need from His Father?
Yes, and having received what He needed from His Father Jesus was victorious and now sits enthroned at the right hand of His Father. And as our High Priest it is no small comfort for us to read, “For surely it is not angels that he helps, but He helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore He had to be made like His brothers in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”
How was Jesus ‘kept’ by the Father?
We see glimpses of of this when Jesus prayed on the night that Jesus was betrayed. In Luke 22:39-45 we read, “And he came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
Recently I listened to a sermon by Chris Tillman who is a pastor of one of the churches that we helped to plant. The title of the sermon on Hosea was fascinating. It was called “Unreserved Judgement and Unfailing Love”. That sermon title encapsulates the mystery of what we see in Christ as He suffered for us.
In the sermon pastor Chris said, “God is committed to showing throughout Hosea’s life that God is committed to loving sinners even as He deals justly with their sin. God’s justice will not relent and God’s love will not fail as He jealously pursues His people.”
If God showed through Hosea’s life that God was committed to loving sinners and also dealing justly with their sins; then how much more can these things be seen in Christ as He suffered and died to bring many sons and daughters to glory? Jesus has indeed been victorious and has justified many.
In Matthew 5 we saw that Jesus spoke like the Son of God. We also have seen that Jesus acted like the Son of God by perfectly reflecting the Father’s love during His trials, temptations, and sufferings. Because Jesus has done these things we have been justified. And now that we have been justified by His grace we can now reflect Christ-likeness by…
Loving the LORD and our neighbors.
Jesus did not abandon, forsake, or break covenant; on the contrary, He fulfilled the Law of God.
Keeping His Word even to our own hurt.
Picking up our cross and going the extra mile.
Loving our enemies and praying for them.
1 The Message of Hebrews, Raymond Brown, p. 59
2 Geoffrey Wilson, New Testament Commentary, p. 345
3 Geoffrey Wilson, New Testament Commentary, p. 341
4 Flowers From A Puritan’s Garden, Provisioned For A Seige, p.252