Teaching Minister at 10th Street Church of Christ
The Letter to the Hebrews has quite a bit to say about the humanity of Christ — especially in the second chapter. Here are some things we learn there.
1. Jesus’ humanity means He became vulnerable. In speaking about Jesus’ humanity, the Hebrew writer tells us how Christ “was made lower than the angels for a little while . . . so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (2:7). Unlike the angels, Jesus became mortal. He was hungry, thirsty, and tired. He experienced suffering and ultimately death. In short, He was human and completely vulnerable. This was necessary for Him to become the sacrifice for our sins (2:10).
2. Jesus’ humanity means He identifies with disciples as family. Jesus’ humanity is also the gateway for us entering into the intimacy of a family relationship with Him. In v. 11, the writer says, “Both the One who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” Jesus is the friend of sinners (Luke 7:34), but for “those who are made holy” (i.e., disciples) — it’s something more. He is our older brother.
3. Jesus’ humanity means He frees us from the fear of death. The writer goes on in v. 14-15 to speak of how Jesus “shared in their humanity so that by His death, He might break the power of him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
You’ll notice that “death” is spoken of three times. We have Jesus’ death, Satan holding the power of death, and humanity who are held in slavery by their fear of death. Jesus died to break Satan’s power over death. Because He lived a perfectly righteous life, Jesus alone could say that Satan had no hold over Him (John 14:30), stood condemned (16:31), and would be driven out (12:31). Concerning Jesus, Peter would say that “God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him” (Acts 2:24).
Because death had no power over Jesus, it has no power over those who belong to Him. In Him, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). The fear of death has been replaced by the assurance of life (1 John 5:13).
4. Jesus’ humanity means atonement has been made. “For this reason He had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people” (v. 17). Jesus ultimately destroyed Satan’s power over death by making atonement for our sins at the cross. God did through Him what we could not do for ourselves. But since atonement involved a perfectly righteous life and death, it would not have been possible without the humanity of Jesus.
5. Jesus’ humanity means He is a faithful and merciful high priest who can come to our aid when we are tempted. “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted” (v. 18). As the song goes, “There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus!” He’s been where we are. He gets it. He understands. And He can do something about it!
You can find more of Bruce’s writings at his website: a-taste-of-grace-with-bruce-green.com.