Teaching series from Hebrews

Why Jesus Became Human

Hebrews 2:5-18

Teaching t04995


One of the key truths of Christianity is that Jesus is both fully God and fully man. Like all biblical doctrines, this is not ivory tower scholasticism; it has very practical applications.

As we saw last week in chapter 1, because of Jesus' deity, he is able to reveal God and be God's full and final message to us.

Now, in chapter 2, the author emphasizes Jesus' humanity. This passage unfolds three key reasons why Jesus became a human. These reasons start out cosmic, and narrow down to the very practical...

To Regain Humanity's Lost Dominion Over the Earth (vs5-9a)

Read vs5-8a. This psalm is a reflection on the incredible value which God places on humans. From the perspective of the universe's vastness and complexity, we are just "a speck on a speck." But far from GRAND CANYON'S bottom line ("I realize my problems are insignificant because I am insignificant"), God's Word tells us humans are tremendously significant; God has created us to rule the earth!


Read vs 8b. But this is simply not a reality "yet." Humanity's dominion over the earth was contingent to our submission to God's benevolent dominion over us. When Adam rebelled against God he forfeited humanity's dominion over the earth (Gen.3:17-19). What we see now is a vestige of that dominion (WEATHER; DISEASE; SEISMIC ACTIVITY; ECOLOGY).

But this state is neither normal nor final. Read vs9a. God did not scrap humanity from his plans and replace him with angels. Instead, he started over again with a new "Adam" - Jesus. The New Testament refers to Jesus in this way several times. Athough he is God, he took on humanity and became "for a little while lower than the angels" to be the One through whom humanity's dominion over the earth is restored. Consider the parallels between Adam and Jesus:

Like Adam, Jesus was born in union with God because God was his Father.

Like Adam, Jesus exercised dominion over the earth. Many of his miracles demonstrate this dominion.

But unlike Adam, Jesus triumphed over temptation (GARDENS vs. WILDERNESS) and therefore never forfeited his dominion over the earth.

When he returns, he will fulfill this psalm by establishing his dominion over the whole earth with his "descendents." This is why many of the passages describing his millennial rule portray nature back in a cooperative relationship with humans (Isa.2:6-9).

>> SUMMARIZE. And now the author merges naturally into the second reason why Jesus became a human...

To Be Able To Die For Our Sins (vs9b-17)

Read vs9b. Here we are confronted with another concept that is central to biblical theology. Jesus died so that "he might taste death for every one." He died in our place, so that in some sense we won't have to die. Skip down to the end of this section - read vs 17. Here's the same idea again. Jesus had to become a human so that he could "make propitiation" for our sins. "Propitiation" means to "pay for" or to "satisfy God's wrath against sin."

Because his audience is steeped in a knowledge of Old Testament ritual, he could assume they understood the purpose of the High Priest and the animal sacrifices. In the coming weeks, we will study these things and what they foreshadowed in much greater detail. But the main point is this. The Old Testament sacrificial system taught two key truths: that the penalty for sin is death, and that God would provide a Substitute to pay this penalty for us. Of course, only another human can die to pay for our sins. This is why the Old Testament predicted that God would one day send a human to be our Substitute (Isa.53). And this is why Jesus had to become a human. As God, Jesus could not die - so he had to become human in order to be able to die for our sins.

In this passage, the author focuses on two great benefits available to us because Jesus became a human and died for our sins.

The first benefit is that we are eligible to become members of God's family. Read vs10-13. Note the recurrence of the "family" terms: "sons," "brethren," "children." The point is that because Jesus was willing to identify with us to the point of becoming a human being and dying for our sins, he has begun a new human family of God.

Contrary to popular thinking that all humans are all part of God's family, according to the Bible there are really two human families: the one into we which are all born physically by our parents choice - which is alienated from God, and the one into which we are born spiritually by our own choice to receive Christ - which belongs to God.

This adoption makes it possible for us to experience and relate to God as our personal "Dad" - and it makes it possible for his Spirit to communicate his love to us (read Rom.8:15,16).

The second benefit of Jesus' incarnation and death for our sins is that we can be liberated from the enslaving fear of death. Read vs14,15. We all instinctively fear death. Some fear the prospect of non-being; some fear the unknown; according to the Bible, we fear death because deep down we know we are guilty before God and deserve his judgment (1Cor.15:56). Satan uses this fear to lead people into various forms of bondage (DENIAL THROUGH IMMERSION INTO HEDONISM & MATERIALISM, "DEATH AS THE FINAL STAGE OF GROWTH"; DECEPTION THROUGH FALSE RELIGIONS & OCCULTIC INVOLVEMENT [NEW AGE PRACTICES]; NIHILISM BECAUSE DEATH RENDERS MEANINGLESS ALL WE DO).

But Jesus' death can deliver you from the fear of death and its destructive effects. If you receive his payment for your sins, the Bible says you are permanently exempt from God's judgment (Jn.5:24) and have inherited eternal life. Even though we must still die unless Jesus returns in our lifetimes, death instead ushering in our greatest dread becomes our passport into God's presence. This is what gives Christians the ability to face death with realism, yet with confidence and hope (MAYFAIR; HARRY).

>> This is where the "rubber meets the road." One test of the credibility of your belief-system is how effectively it enables you to deal with real-life, practical issues. Picking up on this theme, the author supplies us with one more reason why Jesus became a human...

To Be Able To Come To Our Aid When We Suffer (vs 18)

You may have the desire and the ability to help someone who is suffering, but unless they have confidence that you understand what they going through, your hands are pretty much tied. This is one of the reasons why we are tempted to distance themselves from God when we experience suffering or tragedy. "How can God understand what I'm going through? It's easy for him to hand out moral platitudes - he's up there in his problem-free, pain-free environment..."

Here is a third reason why Jesus became a human being. Read vs18. He became fully human and experienced all of the suffering that we experience: CHILDHOOD ABUSE, REJECTION BY HIS FAMILY, DEATH OF LOVED ONES, BETRAYAL & DESERTION BY TRUSTED FRIENDS, INJUSTICE OF CIVIL AUTHORITY, PHYSICAL SUFFERING & DEATH, and UNDESERVED CONDEMNATION. Jesus understands fully what it means to suffer - he is "a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief." You will never experience a form of suffering that Jesus has not already experienced.

Because of this, Jesus is able to provide unique aid for us when we suffer.

He provides empathy because he understands (see above).

He provides an example of obeying God's will in spite of suffering.

He provides personal encouragement to us in the midst of our suffering (2Cor.1:3-5).

He provides compelling evidence that God is able to work in all suffering for good for those who trust him (Rom.8:28).