Resurrection Sunday – Who is Jesus?

Posted: April 12, 2009 in Hebrews

Hebrews 2:10-18, “Who is Jesus?”

One of the most important questions anyone could ask themselves is simply this: “Who is Jesus?” To many skeptics, Jesus of Nazareth was just another in a long line of prophets & gurus. To others, Jesus was a wonderful (but often misunderstood) teacher, whose followers took His teaching in a direction that Jesus didn’t intend. To some, Jesus was simply insane – and to be treated like any other nutcase claiming to be God. All of these objections miss out on (at least) one very important fact: the historicity of the Resurrection. Jesus of Nazareth was indeed crucified on a cross, certified to be dead, and then rose to life again 3 days later. This can be said with absolute assurance based upon the testimony of the Roman guards, the Jews who crucified Him, the disciples, fulfilled prophecy, and much more…

That Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, crucified for our sins, & risen from dead is precisely the reason that we’ve gathered here to worship this morning! …

So with that in mind, who is Jesus to the Christian? With the assumption that Jesus is indeed fully God (as was the primary argument of Hebrews 1), but yet also fully man (as Ch 2 has been explaining), what are some of the roles that Christ fulfills? What are the ways in which the Risen Son of God relates to those who receive the gift of salvation through faith? The remainder of Ch 2 gives us 5 ways to answer “Who is Jesus?”.

Context so far: the writer of Hebrews is showing that Jesus is far better than any other revelation of God given to us through any other means. The 1st example was of angels. Angels may be awe-inspiring, but Jesus is far more & far better than they in every respect. Even when, in the incarnation Jesus was made a little lower than the angels, He is still far better today because God has exalted Christ to the highest place. Verse 9 tells us why: Jesus tasted death for everyone – He fulfilled His role as the Last Adam. Whereas the 1st Adam brought death to everyone, the Last Adam reverses the curse for all who believe. Because Jesus suffered on the cross & rose again in victory & life, He shows Himself to be God & worthy of honor. But He’s not only worthy of honor as the Son of God; He’s worthy of honor as the Son of Man in that He relates to us in every area of our humanity…

Hebrews 2:10-18 (NKJV)
– 1st, Jesus is the captain of our salvation…
10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

A. Who’s “Him”? Speaking of God the Father… God the Father willed by His grace for Jesus to taste death for everyone (vs 9). By doing so, He made Jesus “perfect through sufferings.” Wasn’t Jesus already perfect? Yes – but the writer is not using the word in the sense of Jesus being morally perfect & sinless. Rather, Jesus’ work is made perfect (complete) through His sufferings. I.e., if Jesus hadn’t suffered & died on the cross, His work of salvation would be incomplete or imperfect. Jesus came specifically to seek & save the lost (Luke 19:10) & give life in abundance (John 10:10), but without the cross & resurrection He couldn’t have done it…Jesus wouldn’t have any basis to cry out, “It is finished!” because the price would not have been paid. Thus it is right & “fitting” for God the Father to send His Son to suffer and die on the cross – that’s what makes Jesus’ work complete & perfect.

B. Jesus is our King, but He’s also our Captain – the “captain of our salvation.” Some translations say “author” or “founder”…the basic idea is that Jesus is our pioneering leader – He leads the way for us. If many sons are going to be brought to glory, than we need to know the way & be led there…and our Captain does exactly that. John 14:5-6 (5) Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” (6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. [] As the old hymn proclaims, “All the way my Savior leads me…”

C. Where are we going? Where is our Captain taking us? Into the presence of God Almighty Himself: “glory”…talking about salvation! We were doomed through our sin to spend eternity in Hell away from God, experiencing His wrath forever – but Christ Jesus took our punishment upon Himself, fulfilled the righteous wrath of God & saves all those who trust in Him. Now we’re born-again, cleansed, sanctified, adopted & will one day stand in the presence & glory of God, worshipping Him & serving in perfect fellowship for all time…it’s glorious!
__a. This is the whole point of Easter/Resurrection Sunday! The empty tomb declares Jesus to be the Messiah: the Son of God who sufficiently pays the price for our sin. We never need to second-guess or wonder if Jesus is the Captain that we ought to be following – He is risen from the grave! He has already led the way & gone before us in glory – and one day He’ll come back & receive us to Himself that we may be where He already is.

D. BTW, don’t miss: God is Creator & the Recipient of creation: “for whom are all things & by whom are all things”… No time to get into it today, but this would be wonderful to chew on sometime this week during your personal prayer time with God. The entire universe was created for the glory of God & indeed declares His glory. He did it all by His word & through His will.

– 2nd, Jesus is our sanctifier…
11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,

A. What does it mean that Jesus “sanctifies” us? Simply that He sets us apart & makes us holy. Gk “sanctifies” is the same root used for “holy,” “saint,” etc. Keep in mind this doesn’t mean Christians are “holier-than-thou” – simply speaking of the work Christ Jesus does in us. When we are born-again, He sets us apart to Himself because we’ve been clothed in His righteousness. In this sense, it’s an immediate completed work…we’ve already been set apart & seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Eph 2:6).

B. At the same time, it’s also ongoing. We are in the process of “being sanctified” – both “sanctifies” & “being sanctified” are in the present tense. Whereas we are declared righteous (justified) by God immediately upon trusting Christ, for the rest of our lives, we are in the process of being sanctified – continually set apart by Jesus & molded & shaped into His image.
__a. Ever wonder why Christians still struggle with sin? Because we’re still in the process of being set apart. We’re not in glory with Christ Jesus yet. He’s freed us from the power of sin in our lives, in that no one forces us to give into temptation – but we’re still in the presence of a sinful world.
__b. That said, don’t give up hope! We obviously do participate in the process of sanctification (hence all the commands to be holy as God is holy – 1 Pet 1:15-16), but the work of sanctification originate with our Savior. Jesus is our sanctifiER, and we are the ones being sanctifiED. The work Jesus started, He will be faithful to complete (Phil 1:6). If there’s an area or besetting sin in which you struggle, confess it to the Lord, throw yourself upon Him, entrust yourself to His grace… … Don’t relegate yourself to failure – if you’ve trusted Christ, He has made you a new creation (2 Cor 5:17), and He is continuing to sanctify you.

C. Going back to the humanity of Jesus, the writer declares that the Sanctifer & the sanctified are the same body – we are made brothers with our Savior. We are Jesus’ hands & feet, but He is our head (Eph 5:23). And though He is our Lord & Master, He is also our friend (John 15:15) – and in addition, He is made our brother as well.

– 3rd, Jesus is our brother…
12 saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”

A. Back to the OT quotes – author of Hebrews is masterful at supporting the NT ideas from the Hebrew Scriptures. (Shows how well he knew them!) Quoting Psalm 22:22 – a truly Messianic psalm… [] This is actually the 2nd half of the Psalm (after the more famous crucifixion prophecy), right after the Psalmist (Jesus) declares that God had answered His prayer. Because of the Resurrection, now Jesus could sing forth the praises of God among the people…the answer of God gave the world a reason to worship!

B. The writer of Hebrews keys in on the fact that Jesus calls us “brethren…” In His humanity, the Lord of all Creation became brothers with His creation – a mind-blowing thought! Stunningly declared on the original Resurrection Sunday morning with Mary Magdalene… John 20:17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ” []
__a. We speak often of the “new covenant” when celebrating Communion – this is exactly what the new covenant brings! In our sin, we were children of the devil, but in the righteousness of Christ, we are children of God! Jesus’ Father is our Father & we’ve been given a spirit of adoption in that we can approach God in intimate relationship – He’s Abba Father! Talk about a “new covenant” & “new creation”…if you’ve trusted Christ, you’ve gone from eternal damnation to the family of God, being declared a brother & co-heir with Christ. Amazing…

C. “assembly” is appropriate considering this is a Greek translation of the original Hebrew – but interestingly enough, this is the same Greek word translated “church.” Interesting thought to consider that just as we praise God as a church body, the Lord Jesus praise Him right along with us…

13 And again: “I will put My trust in Him.” And again: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”

A. Both OT quotes from Isaiah 8:17-18. Isaiah 8 begins with a prophecy showing the eventual downfall of Assyria, transitions to a prophecy speaking of how Assyria will 1st be used by God to discipline Israel, and then moves to an appeal to trust the Lord even when it seems that God (and applied specifically to Christ in the NT) will be a “stone of stumbling & a rock of offense.” (Isa 8:14) In response to all this, Isaiah declares that he & his family will trust the Lord. God was using his family to speak to Israel & Judah in times of trial, and though it would yet be difficult in days to come, Isaiah & his children would hope in God.

B. Since we know the original context & speaker is Isaiah, what is the writer of Hebrews doing in applying this to Jesus?! Keep in mind this is the inspired word of God… Much prophecy has an immediate fulfillment & a future fulfillment – which is the case here. Just as Isaiah trusted in God, the writer of Hebrews shows that Jesus trusted in God, right along with the rest of the church. This is yet one more way that Jesus is our brother & is made exactly like the rest of humanity. When it came to the suffering Jesus would endure spiritually & physically upon the Cross, His only hope to endure would be to hope in God….thus one more way in which He is our brother.
__a. Sometimes we get the idea that because Jesus was God, He was a superman in that trials didn’t bother Him, He must not have experienced pain, heartache, loss, etc., because “He’s God, after all!” Wrong! Jesus DID suffer – and He suffered immensely. In His humanity, there’s nothing we experience that Jesus did not, with the exception of giving into sin – and even there, Jesus became sin for us in order that we might receive His righteousness. Jesus knows what it’s like to have to trust in God in times of hopelessness, because that’s exactly what He had to do.

– 4th, Jesus is our victorious emancipator…
14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,

A. In Ch 1, the writer of Hebrews concentrated heavily on the Deity of Christ. Here (and earlier in Ch 2), he brings out the humanity of Jesus… We (as the creation) have “partaken of flesh and blood” & for Jesus to be our Savior, He had to take on flesh & blood Himself. He had to share in the same…hence the incarnation of Christ. It’s not merely that Jesus looked human & shared in human experiences (which He did) – but that the infinite God actually put on finite flesh and dwelt among us as a true man.

B. Why was it important that Jesus be human (as well as God)? Because He had to die… This goes back to vs 10 – this is one aspect of how God perfected the work of Christ. The incarnation of Jesus makes no sense without His death & resurrection – after all, what would be the point? Simply to demonstrate the perfection of God while people are left doomed in sin? What’s the use in healing lepers if they’re only going to die later without hope of salvation? No – Jesus was born specifically that He might die for our sins, fulfill our death sentence, and be raised from the dead.

C. What did Jesus accomplish through death? Was He a failure? No! He is a victor! On Friday, it may have seemed like the devil won, but when Jesus slumped over dead on the cross, it was the winning stroke for God. The wages of sin had been paid – and Sunday morning was the proof! Because the price was paid, Jesus destroys the one who has the power of death – the devil. Question: when did the devil have the power of death? When Adam listened to his lies in the Garden. God alone has the power to give life and take it away – but Satan can murder & that’s exactly what he did to Adam and Eve when he deceived them & put them under a spiritual & physical death sentence, which was in turn passed on to us.
__a. The devil is no match for Jesus Christ! It’s not like there’s some epic struggle between them & we’re waiting around to see who’s going to win… Let’s keep our theology straight: Jesus is the Creator & Satan is part of Jesus’ creation. Game over. There simply is no comparison between the two…
__b. Is the devil still around? Sure. Grk “destroy” does not mean “annihilate” – more like “abolish/annul.” The devil still roams about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet 5:8), but when it comes to a believer’s eternity, he’s toothless. He can attack & he still lives to steal, kill, & destroy (John 10:10) – but ultimately he’s defeated & he knows it. The devil knows better than anyone that his future is in a lake of fire. (Not ruling Hell, but suffering in it…)

15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

A. How does the fear of death keep us in bondage? (Wm. Newell) “From the time you were born your mother was afraid you would die; the household kept in touch with doctors – “through fear of death;” funerals passed your house, often carrying loved ones, over whom you wept…the cemeteries you passed cried out, “You will soon be here!”… The human race is today SUBJECT TO BONDAGE. They may talk peace – but yonder comes the undertaker!” If you don’t think it’s slavery, try walking the halls of the ICU wing of a hospital. There’s but one question & fear on every family’s mind there: “Will my loved one die?” The whole thought of our culture is that life is tough, and then you die…death is always on the horizon & even the most hardened atheist knows that he’s going to have to face that event one day; and he has no hope with which to face it.

B. Why should we no longer fear death? Because Jesus is victorious over death! 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (55) “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (56) The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. (57) But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. []
__a. How do we know? Through the death & resurrection of Jesus. That’s the whole point of 1 Cor 15… Because of Jesus’ resurrection, we can be assured that those who trust Jesus for salvation will be resurrected to glory as well!

C. Have you been released from the fear of death? Have you received Jesus as your victorious emancipator? The Scripture is clear that it is appointed every man once to die & then the judgment (Heb 9:27). We can face that die in confident assurance when our hope is in Christ…

16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.

A. Brief reminder of Ch 1… Jesus is better than the angels. Jesus reigns over the angels. Jesus doesn’t even help the angels – but He helps us. Obviously the Hebrew Christian being written to would have understood themselves as the “seed of Abraham,” but it also applies to born-again Gentiles as well. (Gal 3:7-9)

– 5th, Jesus is our High Priest…
17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

A. Therefore… If Jesus was going to help us & defeat death for us, He had to be like us in every respect…

B. Jesus is our High Priest…the writer of Hebrews is starting to transition a bit to the next section of the book. He only briefly introduces the idea here & will mention it again in Ch 3 & really jump into things in Ch 5. For now, he mentions 2 aspects:
__a. Jesus is a merciful High Priest: Not only does God show His mercy & grace in our salvation through Christ, Jesus Himself shows mercy to us in His work of intercession & salvation. The idea is “compassion” – the gospels speak of Jesus having compassion for the people, and that continues in His work as High Priest. As He intercedes for us & mediates on our behalf before God, Jesus bears us on His heart (like the high priest’s breastplate)…
__b. Jesus is a faithful High Priest: Everything God gave Jesus to do, Jesus did. He leaves nothing undone or incomplete. Jesus is faithful “to make propitiation” for our sins…i.e., to satisfy the wrath of God through sacrifice. But Jesus’ sacrifice was far better than the Jewish priests – they offered bulls & goats; Jesus offered Himself as the perfect lamb of God…

18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

A. Lest there be any doubt, Jesus suffered… Specifically, Jesus suffered through His temptation. Whether speaking of the explicit temptation in the wilderness, or simply the trials He endured when going to the cross – Jesus truly came as the Suffering Servant.

B. Was there a purpose in Jesus’ suffering temptation? Yes. Now we can be assured that He is able to help us in our temptation…this is part of His work as our merciful and compassionate High Priest.

So who is Jesus? He’s the Son of God & He’s the Son of Man. In His humanity as the Messiah:
A. Jesus is the captain of our salvation: He’s the author & finisher of our faith & He leads the way…
B. Jesus is our sanctifier: His initial & ongoing work in our lives sets us apart to worship Him & walk in holiness…
C. Jesus is our brother: He can relate to us in every way because He’s just as much human as we are. Yet more so, He’s bestowed upon us the grace of being family…
D. Jesus is our victorious emancipator: We were enslaved to death, but no longer! Death has no more sting because Jesus died the ultimate death for mankind…
E. Jesus is our High Priest: He shows His compassion to us as He intercedes to God on our behalf & became not merely the presenter of sacrifice, but our sacrifice itself…

He’s all of this & more! He’s the King of Kings & Lord of Lords. He’s the sacrifice for our sins & He’s risen from the dead. He can relate to our worst temptations, yet He is without sin. He is the way, the truth, and the life – and He’s the destroyer of death & the devil. He is JESUS!

With that in mind, who is Jesus to you? He IS the King of Kings, but do you recognize Him as such? He IS God, but is He your Lord? One day, you will recognize Him that way – the Bible declares that every knee will bow & every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father. But God gloriously gives you the opportunity to do it now, in willing response to His offer of grace, rather than under mandated compulsion. If you’ve never repented from your sin & trusted Christ for salvation, what’s stopping you?

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