The Letter to the Hebrews: a commentary & meditation
"We see Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death"

Scripture: Hebrews 2:5-18
5 For it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere, "What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou carest for him? 7 Thou didst make him for a little while lower than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, 8 putting everything in subjection under his feet."

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9 But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for every one.

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying, "I will proclaim thy name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee." 13 And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again, "Here am I, and the children God has given me."

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. 16 For surely it is not with angels that he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.

Meditation: The writer to the Hebrews speaks of God's plan of redemption. In God's original plan (which the author quotes from Psalm 8), humankind was created a little less than himself, to have mastery over all things. But through sin, humankind experiences defeat and frustration instead of mastery, and failure in place of glory. And into this state of defeat God sent his Son that by his sufferings and his glory humankind might become what God intended him to be. In Christ we not only recover our lost identity, but God makes us what we could never be without him--sons and daughters of God who share in his glory.

Jesus is called the pioneer of our salvation. A pioneer is one who begins something so that others may enter into it, who blazes a trail for others to follow. Jesus blazed the trail for us to the path of glory with the Father. Like any true pioneer he had to be tested and be made perfect through suffering. Perfection here connotes completeness and the capacity to fully carry out the purpose for which the person or thing was designed to do.

Through suffering Jesus was fitted for the task given him by his Father as the pioneer of our salvation. Through his suffering Jesus fully identified with our human condition (see Psalm 22:22, Isaiah 8:17-18). He was not detached, but he fully entered into our human existence and shared in our lot. He also sympathized with us, by sharing in our sorrows and sufferings, and by being tempted he experienced the trials of being put to the test. He has met our sorrows and he has faced our temptations. We cannot find a pioneer more fit to show us the way to the Father.

Since he shared our lot and suffered on our behalf, he became a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people.

"Lord Jesus Christ, you are the pioneer and the perfector of our faith. Increase my faith and give me strength to endure hardship and trials so that I may be faithful to the end."

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(c) 1999 Don Schwager