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. 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 2:14-18 (ESV)
Hebrews 1 speaks of the supremacy of Christ. Being God in the flesh, He is superior to angels, a heavenly being the readers could at least grasp to some degree. Chapter 2 begins with a huge “Therefore” followed by a charge to make sure believers are discerning what they are being taught. So, we must make sure that the gospel teaching we hear is making much more of Christ than men. If the supremacy of Christ is compromised to any degree in our preaching, then it is, to some degree, false (dangerous and judged).
The writer then moves to speak of the founder of this great salvation: Jesus Christ. However, he doesn’t speak of Him in the grandeur of chapter 1 at this point. He speaks of the beautiful condescension of Christ…God took on flesh. Verse 8 makes clear that absolutely EVERYTHING is in subjection to Him, and He is in control of EVERYTHING. So, this great Savior is sovereign (and sovereignty is boundless because our Christ is infinite). But…He became a man…for one reason… “that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone,” (v.9).
Verses 10-13 then speaks of how “fitting” it was for this Sovereign Lord to take on flesh, suffer and die. See, the Savior and Sanctifier are the same! Had He not gone through everything we would ever go through (yet without sin), He could not have satisfied God’s righteous requirements nor could He have rightly been the sanctifier of those He has saved (Heb.10:14). He truly is our all in all, for all time.
This brings us to the passage above. In order for death to be destroyed, man be saved and sanctified, Jesus HAD to be human…fully human. That’s what verse 17 says. He would then be that perfect priest forever in the service to God. This is perspective the writer of Hebrews takes. Salvation is God’s work. While Christ took on flesh, He remained in every nature God. Therefore, He is glorious and supreme. This verse is so powerful as it continues this perspective of salvation from God’s view. The writer says in this service to God, Christ made “propitiation” for the sins of the people. This word “propitiation” is the wrath-bearing part of Christ’s atoning work. So, in being fully human, he took God’s punishment for man’s sinfulness, satisfying the retribution part of His righteousness (i.e. God would not be righteous if sin went unpunished).
Lastly, in verse 18 we see our great benefit in this. WE ARE HELPED. Namely, we are helped when tempted. So, in your battle against sin to find lasting joy in God, remember that Christ had to be fully human. In doing so, He is able to perfectly sympathize with the tempted, but also bore the death-filled wrath of God for the very sin your tempted to give in to. May God help us all in our battle against sin, that Christ would be supreme in our midst!