Having established the powerful reality that Jesus is superior to angels at the beginning of the letter, the author of Hebrews now highlights the equally powerful reality that God the Father made Jesus lower than the angels for a short period of time so that Jesus could accomplish His work of salvation in the world. This is an amazing truth for two reasons. First, it shows God’s immense love for His people; that He would allow Himself to be limited to the confines of a human body in order to die on the cross for the sins of all. Second, because the Jews would have known of the Old Testament prophecy that stated the Son of Man would become less than angels before being crowned with glory and honor (see Psalm 8:5-6) it demonstrates again to them that Jesus was the Messiah. In fact, the writer of Hebrews even goes so far as to say that God actually chose to allow Jesus to become less than the angels so that by God’s grace [Jesus] might taste death. Truly amazing!
The letter continues with this same theme. In fact, the author argues that it actually makes sense for God to reduce Himself into a human body because that allowed the source of their salvation [Jesus] to become perfect through suffering. In other words, by becoming a human brother to the people He aimed to save, Jesus became the perfect sacrifice on their behalf. The writer says that Jesus shared in the flesh and blood of humans in order to destroy the devil and set people free from their fear of death. He again supports his assertions by referencing Old Testament prophecy, noting that the Psalmist foretold that the Messiah would one day proclaim God’s name to His brothers and sisters (see Psalm 22:22). This continues to build the case for his Jewish audience that Jesus is surely the long-awaited Savior that the Jews have been anticipating for hundreds of years.
The author concludes chapter two with an encouragement. He notes that because Jesus suffered through temptation as a flesh-and-blood human being, He can help us when we ourselves face temptation. In fact, looking ahead to Hebrews 4:15, the author gets more specific. He says, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.” What a tremendous comfort! It’s such an encouragement to know that not only does Jesus truly understand what it feels like when we face temptation, but He was also able to do so without sin. In those moments when we are ready to succumb to temptation, we can take courage in the example of Jesus.
For since He Himself has suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are tempted.
Old Testament References
- Psalm 8:4-6
- Psalm 22:22
- Isaiah 8:17-18
- John 1:1-17
- Philippians 2:5-11
God is all knowing, omnipresent, and has no physical limitations or physical needs. Yet He willingly yielded all of that for our sake. How does the sacrifice Jesus made for you impact your willingness to live sacrificially?
If it was by God’s grace that Jesus tasted death on our behalf, what does that tell us about the severity of our sin?
What are the temptations you face? Are you tempted by anger? Are your temptations financial? Sexual? How do you handle these? What difference does it make knowing that Jesus endured similar temptation without sinning?
Make a list of specific temptations you face on a regular basis. For each temptation listed, write down one specific way you can stay away from tempting circumstances. Make a commitment to pray for God’s help to endure these temptations without sinning. Find a close friend to confide in, and share these temptations with them. Ask them to join you in prayer to endure these challenges, and to help you remember God’s grace when you do sin.
[expand title=”Life Group Questions”]
- Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Hebrews 2:5-18. What truths about God can be understood from these passages? What observations can be made about people? What questions come to mind?
- What is temptation? What are some temptations you face? How does temptation affect you and impact your relationships with others? What difference does it make knowing that Jesus faced the very same temptations we face?
- Hebrews 2:17 says that Jesus “had to be like His brothers and sisters in every way” so that He could “make atonement for the sins of His people.” What difference has this truth made in your life? How much urgency do you have to express the truth of Jesus to others?
- Are you free from the fear of death? How would you describe the eternal future that awaits those who have said “yes” to Jesus?
- If you’d like to prepare in advance, the passage for next weekend (Jan 15 & 16) is Hebrews 3:1-19. The series is broken down week by week in the Study Guide, so that’s one way you can encourage your Life Group to read the passages in advance.