Hebrews 2:9-18 – Jesus Restored to Glory Preparing the Way for Us

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Last time we looked at Jesus having been made “a little lower than the angels” through His incarnation in the flesh of a man. Although we know that “all authority” has been given to Jesus, “in Heaven and on Earth” we saw that for the time being from our human perspective, we don’t see Jesus’ dominion due to the rampant evil that God has temporarily allowed to reign over the Earth.

Jesus Restored to Glory Preparing the Way for Us

The writer now turns our attention to considering why Jesus became “a little lower than the angels” – our redemption from God’s righteous judgment for our sins.

9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. 10For 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. 11For 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, 12saying:
I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”
13And again:
I will put My trust in Him.”
And again:
“Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”
14Inasmuch 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, 15and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17Therefore, 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. 18For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. [Hebrews 2:9-18 – NKJV]

When the pastor of our church in California gives a Gospel invitation, he’ll often say something like, “You’ve heard the Good News today, but without the bad news, the Good News is just news.” The bad news that Pastor Steve speaks of is found in Romans…
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, [Romans 3:23 – NKJV]
For the wages of sin is death [Romans 6:23a – NKJV]
The writer of Hebrews has reversed this. He told us the bad news first – that Jesus for whom are all things and by whom are all things was brought into the lowly state of humanity a little lower than the angels to suffer and die on the cross, taking God’s righteous punishment for the sins of all mankind upon Himself. Now, the writer continues with the Good News…

 9But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

By His own death on the cross, Jesus has rescued mankind from death which is God’s rightful punishment for our sins…

4Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed. [Isaiah 53:4-5 – NKJV]
18You have ascended on high,
You have led captivity captive;
You have received gifts among men,
Even from the rebellious,
That the LORD God might dwell there.
19Blessed be the Lord,
Who daily loads us with benefits,
The God of our salvation! Selah
20Our God is the God of salvation;
And to GOD the Lord belong escapes from death. [Psalm 68:18-20 – NKJV]
But having accomplished the purpose for which He came to Earth in the flesh of a man by taking upon Himself the death sentence for mankind’s sins, Jesus has now been once more exalted to His rightful place of honor and glory at the right hand of the Father, just as we saw in our first study in Hebrews…
who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, [Hebrews 1:3 – NKJV]

10For 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.

In our study of Hebrews 2:5-8 we considered the fact that Jesus’ incarnation and His death on the cross were not God’s emergency plan for mankind’s redemption after our fall in the garden. Quite the contrary, Jesus knew He would have to come and die in our place even before the beginning of creation. Thus, as the Hebrews writer points out here, it was “fitting” for Him to save us by His birth, death, and resurrection. Other translations state this concept in a variety of ways. I really like the beauty of the KJV rendition…

For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. [Hebrews 2:10 – KJV]

It “became” Jesus to take on the flesh of a man in the same sense that we might say something like, “That new hair style really becomes her.” But that’s not a turn of phrase we find used much in modern American English, so perhaps the CSB makes it a little clearer, saying that coming in the flesh was an “appropriate” thing for Jesus to do…

For in bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was entirely appropriate that God—for whom and through whom all things exist—should make the source of their salvation perfect through sufferings. [Hebrews 2:10 – CSB]

The rendering of Greek word ἀρχηγός archēgos – in this verse as “captain” in the KJV and NKJV doesn’t really do justice to the intended meaning in my opinion. This Greek word is translated in the KJV once as “author,” once (here in Hebrews 2:10) as “captain,” and twice as “prince.” But no single English noun really captures the meaning of the Greek word or in my opinion the thrust of the Hebrews writer’s intention in this verse. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament lists the word under the heading “Author,” but goes on to explain that the word “primarily signifies ‘one who takes a lead in, or provides the first occasion of, anything.’ ” I think that is the concept that the Hebrews writer is trying to relate to his readers. Jesus’ incarnation, suffering, and ultimate death on the cross are “appropriate” because in them He was blazing the trail that His followers were to take – first through suffering and bodily death, but ultimately to eternal glory in the heavenly company of God.

Furthermore, we see in Jesus’ example that the path He took for us was rife with suffering, just as Isaiah prophesied some 700 years before the LORD’s birth…

1Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
3He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
 
4Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
6All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
8He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
9And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
10Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
e has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.
11He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
12Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors. [Isaiah 53 – NKJV]
Although Jesus has now been (again) glorified through His suffering, and has now gone before us into Glory, let us not forget that He has led all of those who believe in Him to that same way which He pioneered for us. Jesus told Nicodemus that all who believe in Him will not perish but have eternal life. But He also warned that the way to Glory is paved with suffering…
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” [John 16:33 – NKJV]
 
10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [Matthew 5:10-12 – NKJV]
 
16“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
21“Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. 23When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household! 26Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. [Matthew 10:16-26 – NKJV]
 
7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. [Matthew 24:7-14 – NKJV]
None of this sounds like particularly Good News! Nevertheless, despite the suffering promised along the way, and the suffering Jesus Himself suffered in making that way for us, just as Jesus has now once again been raised to His former glory, so His faithful followers will be raised up…
14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. [Romans 8:14-18 – NKJV]

11For 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

This teaching would have been a radical departure from what the Jewish audience was used to. In the Jewish culture of the day, the priesthood was an elite class taken from the tribe of Levi, and consecrated to the temple service by an elaborate system of sacrifices and ceremonies given by God in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. All sacrifices offered to God under this system were made by the priests, who acted as intermediaries between God and the ordinary people. But the writer of Hebrews turns that concept entirely on its head when he says that Jesus in making His sacrifice on the cross made Himself one with mankind whom He came to save, and calls them brothers and sisters.

12saying:
I will declare Your name to My brethren;
In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”
13And again:
“I will put My trust in Him.”
And again:
“Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”[Hebrews 2:12-13 – NKJV]
Once again, the Hebrews writer makes his point through quotations from the Old Testament scriptures. The first of these is from Psalm 22:22 – a Messianic psalm of David. Jesus quoted Psalm 22:1 from the cross…
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” [Matthew 27:46 – NKJV]
The first quotation in Hebrews 2:13 is from 2 Samuel 22 – David’s song of victory and praise following the defeat of his enemies and King Saul which he later used as the basis for Psalm 18…
The God of my strength, in whom I will trust;
My shield and the horn of my salvation,
My stronghold and my refuge;
My Savior, You save me from violence. [2 Samuel 22:3 – NKJV]
At the end of Hebrews 2:13 we find a quote from the prophet Isaiah…
Here am I and the children whom the LORD has given me!
We are for signs and wonders in Israel
From the LORD of hosts,
Who dwells in Mount Zion. [Isaiah 8:18 – NKJV]
The Hebrew congregation(s) to whom the letter was written would have recognized this quotation from Isaiah and remembered that it was spoken by Isaiah in connection with His prophecy about Immanuel. Jesus also spoke of His disciples as His family.
 
Speaking to the multitudes when His mother and brothers came to Him but could not reach Him because of the crowd…
46While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. 47Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
48But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” [Matthew 12:46-50 – NKJV]
Speaking to the women who had come to anoint His body following His resurrection…
8So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.
9And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.” [Matthew 28:8-10 – NKJV]

14Inasmuch 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, 15and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.

Jesus came in the flesh of a man to show mortal mankind the way to eternal life by His own death on the cross, and then His miraculous resurrection. The angels were created in their eternal bodies, but our bodies are not immortal, and when we die they suffer corruption. But Jesus, by His own death on the cross and by the resurrection of His glorified body has won the victory over death – mankind’s ancient enemy since our fall in the garden – thereby making the way for mankind to also be resurrected with eternal glorified bodies. The apostle Paul speaks extensively about this in his letter to the church in Corinth…

50Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”[Isaiah 25:8]
55“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?” [Hosea 13:14]
56The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. [1 Corinthians 15:50-58 – NKJV]
Note – Hebrews 2:16 provides the answer to an intriguing question: Can demons be redeemed? Apparently not, judging by this verse. Since angels were created with an eternal body, they cannot die, nor can they be resurrected. Since bodily resurrection is the pathway to salvation provided by Jesus through His own death and resurrection, it is apparent that angels cannot be redeemed. Of course the angels of God like Gabriel and the others we have studied in Hebrews 1 and 2 don’t need redemption. They dwell eternally with God who sends them forth at His pleasure to perform the tasks He assigns to them. The demonic angels who fell from Heaven with Lucifer have been condemned irretrievably since that rebellion in Heaven. Jesus also confirms this, speaking of His coming judgment of all the nations…
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: [Matthew 25:41 – NKJV]

17Therefore, 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. 18For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

The writer now sums up the discussion of Jesus’ incarnation and atoning sacrifice on the cross we have studied in Hebrews 1 and 2. In order to become the needed sinless sacrifice in our place for our sins, Jesus had to become just like one of us, dwelling under the temptation and oppression of satan’s earthly kingdom. But Jesus overcame the temptations of the flesh to live the perfectly sinless life that God ordained for us in His Creation.
1Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry.
3And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
4But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'”
5Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”
8And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'”
9Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. 10For it is written:
He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you,’
11and,
In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'”
12And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.'”
13Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. [Luke 4:1-13 – NKJV]
Anyone who has ever suffered a spiritual attack from the evil one or his minions knows how devastating he can be. He knows just what our weaknesses are, and the lies to which we’re most likely to succumb. Thankfully, God has promised that He will help us fight these temptations…
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. [1 Corinthians 10:13 – NKJV]
But even the most blistering attacks we suffer from the enemy are trivial compared to those Jesus must have suffered throughout His ministry. Satan was well aware of Jesus’ mission to save mankind from the consequences of our sin, and he has been working to derail the plan of salvation ever since his fall from Heaven. Jesus allowed Himself to come under these attacks, because it was necessary that He become one of us in order that He might provide the final atonement for sin on the cross. Even worse, Jesus knew that He would be abandoned by His Father at the cross in order for Him to shoulder the burden of mankind’s sin.
 
In closing, I wanted to take a quick look at this two-dollar word – propitiation – we find in Hebrews 2:17. It’s not a word that crops up much in everyday conversation. In fact, of the translations I had available at the time of this study, only the NKJV and the ESV use it in Hebrews 2:17. It comes from the verb – propitiate – which means “to gain or regain favor with” (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/propitiate). Therefore, it is a completely appropriate English word for what Christ has done for us – taking the punishment for our own sins so that we might regain favor with God, just as Isaiah wrote about the suffering servant in Isaiah 53. Other English translations render the Greek word as “atonement” or “reconciliation” which are both good, but not quite as appropriate as “propitiation” for describing the finished work of Jesus on the cross, in my opinion.

Coming Up

Having laid the groundwork explaining Jesus’ divinity and His incarnation so that He might become the needed perfect atoning sacrifice for sin, the Hebrews writer continues in Hebrews 3 comparing Jesus and His ministry with that of Moses, and comparing those who reject the Gospel of Jesus with the Israelites who rejected God’s promise to bring them into their own land from Egypt, and consequently died in the wilderness without entering into His promised rest.

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