Home   Complete Index    2009-2010 Sermons   2004-2008 Sermons      2002-2003 Sermons      2000-2001 Sermons     1998-1999 Sermons 

Series    Topical     Short Articles

 

Email

 

565  Sermons Available

Exhortations to Faithfulness

Hebrews 2

Jim Davis

The message of Jesus Christ is distinctive because of who he is. There are certain characteristics about Jesus Christ that make his word superior. Christ is God's Son. (1:4-5) Christ is superior to angels. (1:4-14) He is the firstborn of God. (1:6) He is served by the angels. (1:7) Christ was enthroned and anointed by God. (1:8-9) He is the eternal creator. (1:10-12) Angels are his servants. (1:13-14) If the Christ you worship is missing any of the fundamentals of Hebrews 1, then he is not the Christ of the scripture. The distinctive nature of Christ defines the very nature of Christianity. To deny these fundamentals is to deny Christ.

Chapter 2 of Hebrews flows smoothly from the context of chapter 1.

Hebrews 2:1-4
We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will. (NIV)

These truths about Christ are a matter of life and death. The revival of the church today depends upon our understanding that Christ's voice is not just a voice among many voices. His voice is the final word of God. Christ voice is superior to men and angels.

Denying the Word

The two most important questions to ask is: "Does God speak?" and second, "What does God say?" These questions will give us direction. The Hebrew writer says, "God has spoken!" He has spoken in undeniable ways. He spoke through the burning bush. He spoke through thunder and lightening at Mt. Sinai. He has spoken through the prophets. He has spoken through Christ. Christ's voice is crystal clear. (1:1-2)

We drift away from God by denying God's word. We usually think of denial as something blatant. However, the danger is drifting away so slowly that our denial is unperceived initially. The writer uses the word drift. This indicates that the departure is slow and almost unnoticeable. However there are warning signs that signal we are losing our grip on Christ.

In difficult times God's plan of deliverance is our only viable option. Neglecting his plan will lead to disaster. In an effort to bring a revival to the Hebrews the writer does not try to introduce some new teaching. He seeks to get them to absorb what they already know. Understanding and absorbing what we already know is the crucial point.

Overcoming the tendency to drift away from what we already know requires discipline. It requires discipline to make sure that our natural survival instincts don't kick in during troublesome times. One survival instinct is to blend in by accommodating Christ's message to the philosophies of the day.

The church compromises it message today as it seeks to accommodate the voices of popular opinion. We may seek to show the compatibility of Christianity with whatever new philosophy that comes along. We try to show how it is compatible with our political views. Germany tried to show its compatibility to Socialism. Marxists tried to show its compatibility to Communism. Capitalists have tried to show its compatibility with free enterprise. Democrats try to show its compatibility to their political philosophy. Republicans try to show its compatibility to their political views.

We are seeking to revitalize the church today by giving it a message that fits popular opinion. We may think that the only hope of revival is to show the compatibility of the Word with popular opinions of our day. We may seek to show Christianity's compatibility to the latest theories of psychology or sociology as we seek to connect them with a few Christian terms. We are seeking to show the relevance of the gospel by giving it a message that fits popular tastes.

If we are not careful in our effort to accommodate the world we may discover that we have drifted away from the clear message of the gospel.

"Such A Great Salvation"

The humanity of Jesus Christ is the greatest stumbling block to a lost world. It is difficult for the world to recognize Jesus' superiority over others because he was so human. The humanity of Christ was the Hebrews greatest obstacle to believing. They couldn't see how someone so human could be so divine.

Hebrews 2:5-9
It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet." In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (NIV)

The world today has little trouble believing in the man Jesus. They have a great difficulty believing that he is superior to other religious leaders. They have difficulty believing that he is God's Son. How can someone so human be so divine? The Hebrew writer uses a quotation from Psalms 8: "What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet."

The difficulty is with believing someone so human could be so honored. "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity . . ." (2:14) To me the crowning act of Jesus' greatness was not that he ascended into heaven. It was that he descended to become one of us. The superior one descended into greatness as he became human.

The superior One was made perfect through suffering. " . . . It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering." (2:10)

It boggles the mind to think that God is made perfect through sharing in our suffering. Real leaders should never ask their followers to do something they are not willing to do. Before God created us he understood the reality of the cross. Sometimes we want to ask, "Why would God create a world subject to suffering?" The answer may lie in another question, "Why would God create a world that would require his suffering on the cross?" I think that it was his willingness to suffer as we suffer that made his plan perfect.

Christ pioneered the way for us by his perfect obedience on the way to the cross.

Hebrews 5:7-9
During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him . . . (NIV)

When God subjected the world to Jesus Christ he gave himself a reality check. He gave his Son over to this sinful world to be crucified. God knows the reality of the devastating effects of sin first hand. He knows sin's willingness to hurt us unfairly and unjustly. Aren't you glad that you have a God that is in touch with the reality of life on earth? Jesus was crowned with glory and honor because he was willing to suffer death on that cruel cross.

Hebrews 2:17-18
For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (NIV)

What does this say about those willing to suffer with him? The Hebrews were growing tired of the suffering that living for Christ was bringing upon them. But they have a savior that has revealed the way. His willingness to show us the way made him merciful. The Hebrew Christians are encouraged to embrace God's grace during times of suffering. They are becoming feeble and are almost ready to fall.

Hebrews 12:11-15
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. "Make level paths for your feet," so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. (NIV)

We expect God to make everything right without suffering. God chose to make everything right through his own suffering. We expect God to march into this world with all his power and take control of the powers that be. God chose to subject himself to the powers that be. He chose to manifest his power in his weakness through his suffering on the cross.

God's Commitment to Us

Christ's willingness to come into this world as a human--as one of us--demonstrates God's commitment to each of us. It demonstrates how far God is willing to go to save us. The amazing thing is that God is not asking you to do anything he wasn't willing to do.

Christ's commitment is seen in that he is not ashamed of us. This book was written to those who where were failing as their faith was tested. When we suffer and fail we need to know that God is not ashamed of us. He remains committed to us. The writer doesn't try to shame them into obedience. He wants them to know Christ is not ashamed of them. He wants them to know God's commitment to them

Hebrews 2:11-16
Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises." And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again he says, "Here am I, and the children God has given me." Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy 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. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. (NIV)

Christ is not ashamed to be a part of the human family. The one who became holy--came to make us holy. The Lord is not serving angels. They serve him and us. (1:14) He came to serve Abraham's descendants, which includes us.

Galatians 3:26-29
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (NIV)

He is not ashamed to declare our names in the presence of God. He is not ashamed to argue our case in the presence of a holy God.

1 John 2:1-2
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense-- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (NIV)

God has committed our keeping to Christ. Many forsake Christ in difficult times because they think Christ has forsaken them. The writer of Hebrews wants the recipients of this letter to know that Christ has not forsaken them and he is not ashamed of them. The writer quotes three passages from the Old Testament to make his point.

"I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises." (Psalms 22:22)

"I will put my trust in him." (Isaiah 8:17)

"Here am I, and the children God has given me." (Isaiah 8:18)

These passages may seem vague to the modern mind, but they weren't vague to those Hebrews who no doubt had an understanding of the scripture context from which they were taken. I would like to think that they were so familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures that just quoting a small portion of the scripture reminded them of the entire context of the verse. They were vivid reminders of what the Lord thought about them during times of suffering. They were reminders for them to place their trust in God.

Let us turn to Psalms 22:22 and study the context from which the verse is taken.

In Psalms 22 the Psalmist feels forsaken by God. Certainly the Hebrews could identify with this.

In the opening of the psalm the writer sees himself forsaken by God. He is suffering and thinks God has forsaken him. (1:1-5)

In verse 6 the Psalmist depreciates his view of himself because of what is happening to him. He sees himself as a worm. (22:6-8) Have you ever had a depreciated view of yourself in troublesome times?

However, he reminds himself that It was God that gave him birth. He is renewing a proper view of himself.  He reminds himself of the surety of the Lord's deliverance by reminding himself from whence he came. (22:9-11) He reminds himself that the Lord will deliver him because the Lord delights in him.

In spite of troubles he resolves to trust in God. The Psalmist resolves to declare God's name before the congregation regardless of his troubles because God has not despised him. (22:12-24)

Praise results from knowing that God will fulfill his vows to us. (22:25-31)

What makes this Psalm so poignant to the Hebrews is that they also understand it to be a prophetic vision of how Christ would suffer. It refers to Christ suffering and his faithfulness to them as he died on the cross. It encourages them to bear up under their suffering as Christ did under his.

Lets look at the context of the passages from Isaiah.

Isaiah 8:17-22
I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob. I will put my trust in him. Here am I, and the children the LORD has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the LORD Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion. When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness. (NIV)

Isaiah emphatically tells us that we must look "To the law and to the testimony!" When we suffer we might tend to lose our faith in God. When we lose our faith we may want to turn to those who seem to be in power at the moment. We may want to turn to "mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter." We may want to accommodate our message to embrace the message of the world.

The passages from Isaiah encourage us to trust in God. "If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness."

Conclusion:

Christ is far superior to anything the world has to offer. He is far superior to the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament. Today it is God laying on the altar for our atonement. Everything else I have ever heard about pales into insignificance in comparison.

From the context of Hebrews 2 we can begin to understand how the recipients are being encouraged to maintain their grip on Christ through the Word. They are using the scriptures to remind themselves of the faithfulness of the Lord.

Hebrews 2:14-18
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy 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. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (NIV)

Christ faithfulness to us through his suffering is our greatest evidence of our need to be faithful to him. God's commitment to us  reveals the seriousness of our situation. Christ didn't come to eliminate poverty or illness. He came solely to save us from sin.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Home   Complete Index    2009 Sermons 2004-2008 Sermons      2002-2003 Sermons      2000-2001 Sermons     1998-1999 Sermons 

Series    Topical     Short Articles

Email