Hebrews 2:9-18 (Part One) The Lord's Cup Bearer
The title of this sermon is: “The LORD’s Cup Bearer”. A Communion Sunday Sermon.
Our text this morning is found in Hebrews 2:9-18,
But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.
For it was fitting that He (God the Father), 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.
Today is Communion Sunday and so my attention was drawn to the words in Hebrews 2:9, “But we see Him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.”
The Puritan Preacher John Willison (1680-1750) wrote, ‘In partaking of Communion we should exercise a remembrance of Christ that is full of reverence, brokenhearted mourning over our sins, trust in Christ for our full justification, and have hearts that are thankful and full of awe for what the LORD has done.’1
This great gospel blessing of our justification which Christ secured for those who would believe upon Him came at a very great cost. John Willison wrote, “Our hearts should burn with affection to Him, when we remember the great floods of wrath that broke in upon Christ’s soul, and yet could not drown His love to us.”2
The text that is before us, Hebrews 2:9-18, is a text that is well suited to make ‘our hearts burn with affection toward Jesus, as we remember the great floods of wrath that broke in upon Christ’s soul, and yet could not drown His love for us.’
Let’s begin in the book of Isaiah, Isaiah 5, as we consider what Christ has done for us. Isaiah spoke to God’s people in 5:11-12 saying, “Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them!” He continues, “They have lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the deeds of the LORD, or see the work of His hands.”
The LORD warns that while men are feasting, singing and drinking “Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure…” (Isaiah 5:14). They have no understanding of the danger that they are in. They sing their songs and become intoxicated while they are about to stumble headlong into the judgment of God.
They are like the king of Babylon who partied while the kingdom was being overrun by the Medes and the Persians (Daniel 5).
These men are like the fool Nabal who drank and feasted while destruction and death was coming upon him. (1 Samuel 25).
They are like that generation who will scoff at the promise of the LORD’s return but who are taken by surprise in judgment (2 Peter 3).
They are like the people of Sodom and the people in Noah’s day who continually sinned and ignored the judgment against them which was fast approaching (2 Peter 2:5-6).
The prophets words are meant to shock and terrify us by describing Sheol with anthropomorphic language. Isaiah says that Sheol (the gave, the pit, hell) has enlarged its appetite, it longs for, it lusts after, it craves, it has a passion for, and it thirsts for the souls of men.
Isaiah also says that Sheol has opened its mouth beyond measure! Its mouth opens wide so that no one can escape. Even if a multitude of people come its mouth will enlarge enough to accommodate them all. (Proverbs 30:15-16)
In verses 18-22 Isaiah speaks four woe’s to the people. Take special note of the last one. He says,
Woe to those who draw iniquity with chords of falsehood. (18-19)
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil. (20)
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and shrewd in their own sight. (21)
Woe to those who are hero’s at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink. (22)
We do not want to be like these people! C.H. Spurgeon prayed that his life would be different than these people. He prayed, “O my blessed Lord, preserve your servant from spending his sojourn here after the manner of the idler (the sinner, the godless, the prideful and the arrogant, drunkard, idolater). Let mine be a real life. May I not be a mere strainer of meat and drink...but may I so live on earth that it may seem wise to You to bid me continue forever.”
The men in Isaiah’s day were ‘idler’s’; but we have come to a text today that speaks about a man who lived a ‘real life’ and who was no ‘idler’. As a result, the Father has bid him to continue forever! And this man, Jesus, now offers you and I ‘real life’.
The people in Isaiah’s day feasted and played music while they ignored the LORD and His judgments. Their lives were all about drinking. The Son of God came to do the Father’s will and to drink the cup that was put before Him (Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42; John 6:38).
Our text tells us that Jesus became flesh and blood so that ‘by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone’ (9). It also tells us that...
through suffering the Father kept the Son and brought Him to the fullness of His office (10)
by suffering Jesus become the One who sanctifies His brothers (11-13)
He suffered to destroy the one who has the power of death - the devil (14)
by suffering He delivers those who are subject to lifelong slavery concerning death (15)
by suffering Jesus become a faithful High Priest in the service to God, and He made propitiation (acceptable sacrifice to remove the anger of God) for the sins of His people (17)
He is a suitable, compassionate all-sufficient Savior who is able to help those who are being tempted (18)
Jeremiah 25speaks about the cup that Jesus had to taste on our behalf. In Jeremiah 25:15 God says to the prophet, “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.”
Notice that Jeremiah did not have to drink from this cup which contained the ‘wine of wrath’. However, Jeremiah was commanded to take the cup to all the nations. He was told, “They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.” (16) The word ‘crazed’ means that they would cry out in terror.
There are many today who would like to preach a gospel that does not make men stagger, to be crazed, and to shout in terror when they are confronted with their sins and the judgment of God. Because of this they do not speak about sin, or about the wrath of God, about hell, or about the Day of Judgment that will come upon all men.
Jeremiah immediately obeys the LORD and speaks to them about these things. In Jeremiah 25:17 we read, “So I took the cup from the LORD’s hand, and made all the nations to whom the LORD sent me drink it…”. This obedience is commendable because God does not just send Jeremiah to those who were Israel’s enemies, but he was sent to his own nation. In Jeremiah 25:18we are told that he is to go to ‘Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and officials, to make them a desolation and a waste, a hissing and a curse.’
In Jeremiah 25:18-26 we are given a list of all of the nations that were to drink from this cup. There are over twenty kingdoms mentioned by name. And the scope of his words are to include every city, village, nation, and country. We read in Jeremiah 15:26 that Jeremiah is being sent ‘to all the kingdoms of the earth’ (26).
Fourteen times we are told that Jeremiah is to speak to the kings. As leaders of the people, and the representatives of the people, Jeremiah speaks directly to the them. The kings, his officials and his servants are to hear this word.
Even though the prophet is being sent to so many places and commanded to speak to so many different peoples he is given one message. In Jeremiah 25:27we read what the prophet is to say, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink, be drunk and vomit, fall and rise no more, because of the sword that I am sending among you.’”
Then in Jeremiah 25:28-29 we read these words, “And if they refuse to accept the cup from your hand to drink, then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: You must drink! For behold, I begin to work disaster at the city that is called by my name, and shall you go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth, declares the Lord of hosts.’”
Let’s make several observations about these verses. First, notice that some will refuse to accept the cup that Jeremiah puts before them. They will not want to partake in the judgment that the LORD is bringing upon them. Who would! We are told that they will ‘refuse to accept the cup’. [An example of this is found in Jeremiah 25:8-22. There the king and the people stiffen their necks against the LORD’s judgment and they suffer even more!]
Secondly, notice what Jeremiah is to say to them when they do this. He is to say, “Thus says the LORD of hosts…”. The prophet is to remind them that the LORD, the King of heaven and earth, the sovereign LORD over all peoples, the LORD of Hosts has spoken. The Lord is the God of angel armies. Who can resist the LORD? Who is stronger than the LORD? (1 Cor. 10:22)
Thirdly, the LORD tells them that they must drink because the LORD began working disaster at the city that was called by His name. If it began there, shall anyone else go unpunished?
I have spent time in Isaiah and Jeremiah to help us appreciate what Jesus has done for you and I. He drank this cup completely. He tasted death, so that we might be forgiven of our sins and have eternal life. Let me draw some parallels between what we have seen in Isaiah 5 and Jeremiah 25 to Jesus.
The prophet Jeremiah was not told to drink of this cup. However, Jesus who is the Prophet was given the cup to drink by His Father. Jesus said, John 3:17 says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” God sent His Son, the Greatest prophet according to Hebrews 1:1-4, to drink this cup and taste death so that sinful men might be saved.
The LORD gave this cup of wrath to the prophet and 14 times He told the kings to drink it. When the king drank of it they died. These kings could not save the people within their kingdom. All of them died; but Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Prince, received this cup from His Father to drink and saved the sinners and the guilty by drinking it. Hebrews 2:10 says that ‘it was fitting that the Father...in bringing many sons to glory, should make the Prince (the founder, the forerunner) of their salvation perfect through suffering.’
When men drank of this cup they died and the wrath of God remained (Isaiah 5:25, 9:12, 17); but when Jesus drank the cup of wrath the Father accepted Jesus’ sacrifice and obtained peace between men and God. Romans 5:9-11 says, “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.”
When the prophet held this cup out some refused to take it and drink of it. One sip of this cup was enough to kill them. But when the Father held out this cup to His innocent, pure, righteous and holy Son He willingly drank it all the way to the bottom. He did this with great fear and trembling with drops of blood came from His body because His anguish was so great!(Matthew 26:36-46) In all of this Jesus was ‘kept’ by the Father. Luke 22:43, “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.”
The prophet was sent to people who did not want to drink of the cup. When this happened the prophet was to speak to them the words of the LORD of Hosts. Jesus, who is the LORD of Hosts, did not call upon the angels to save Him from this moment. Instead He took the cup of wrath and tasted death for all men.
Finally, the prophet was told that he must give this cup to the people who are called by the LORD’s name. He was to give it to those in Judah and to those who lived where His name dwelt in Jerusalem. This was unthinkable for the people of God and they did not believe the words of the prophet. Yet, there was a day when the wrath of God was poured out upon His own Son. He who knew no sin became sin became sin that we might become the righteousness of God. And all of this took place at the city that was called by His name. And the people in Jesus’ day refused to believe these things too.
Hebrews 2:9-18 gives us many reasons why Jesus Christ became a man. John Owen speaks of the main reason that Jesus became like you and I when he says, “The first principal end of the Lord Christ’s assuming human nature, was not to reign in it, but to suffer and die in it.”3
Isaiah told us that, “Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure…” (Isaiah 5:14). Sheol could swallow up individuals and great multitudes. Sheol could swallow up the rich and poor. Sheol could consume men and women. Sheol could swallow up young and old. Yet, it could not swallow up the Lamb of God, the Savior of the World, the Son of God, the Righteous One, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the great I AM. When Sheol tried to do so, Jesus destroyed the one who had the power of death, the devil.
Pastor Bob Hiller says, “If death is the work of the devil, and the hardest thing that He has to throw at Jesus would be death, but then it is the death of Jesus that conquers the devil, so then there is no hope for the devil from the beginning. If the only weapon Satan has to wield is the very weapon that Christ is going to take in order to defeat him then the devil has nothing.”4
The prophets were often made to be cup-bearers who were commanded to take the cup of God’s wrath to the nations. However, when Christ came in the flesh He came as the cup-bearer who would drink the cup of the wrath of God for the people. In doing so Jesus tasted death for everyone who would come to Him by faith.
Having done this Jesus has now commands His people to come to receive the cup of blessing and the broken bread which we celebrate at communion. Those who have repented of their sins and have believed upon Jesus are told to do this to ‘commemorate together the dying love of Christ’ for us.5
Only repentant believers are to participate in this moment. If you have not repented of your sins and believed upon Christ as the propitiation for your sins you should not partake with us. But be warned, the day will come when the cup of blessing will no longer be offered. One day Christ will return and all of those who have not believed upon Christ will be made to drink of the cup of God’s wrath for themselves. But today, if you have come to see your sinfulness and your desperate need for Jesus you can turn to Him and find eternal life and peace with God. If you are wanting to do this please come talk to one of the elders at Community Church.
The scriptures encourage us to believers to approach this moment with sober-mindedness. We read in 1 Corinthians 11:27-32, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.”
Because of this admonition we will take a few moments to examine ourselves before we take communion together.
Communion: 1 Corinthians 11:23-25
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Earlier I quoted the Puritan Preacher John Willison (1680-1750) who wrote, ‘In partaking of Communion we should exercise a remembrance of Christ that is full of reverence, brokenhearted mourning over our sins, trust in Christ for our full justification, and have hearts that are thankful and full of awe for what the LORD has done.’6
Hebrews 2:9-18 has been a wonderful text to allow us to do all of these things. We have approached communion with reverence, while being brokenhearted for our sin, yet trusting Christ for full justification, therefore we can leave here this morning with hearts that are thankful and full of awe for what the LORD has done!
1A Puritan Theology, Communion, p. 744
2A Puritan Theology, Communion, p.744
3Dr. Geoffrey Wilson, New Testament Commentaries, p. 343
4 The White Horse Inn, Binding the Strong Man, June 26th.
5New Hampshire Confession; Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
6A Puritan Theology, Communion, p. 744