Lower than Angels: Part 4
Lower than Angels, Pt. 4
Author of Salvation
Hebrews 2:10–13 10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying, “I will proclaim Your name to My brethren, In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.” 13 And again, “I will put My trust in Him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me.”
This text brings us to the sacred ground of the wonders of the cross where a cursed Messiah sings over us songs of deliverance (cf. Ps. 32.7; Is. 63.5; Zeph. 3.17). It brings us to the holiest place on earth where the curse of God was publically displayed on His Son who became a curse for us (Gal. 3.13). It is the greatest proof of all that the cross was nothing like a cosmic accident, it was not plan B in the purposes of God, it was not a mistake and it was not an attempt to save anyone. A fireman analogy where the fireman is in a burning building trying to save people does not work! Jesus is not trying to save anybody. He was sent into to the world to save all those who the Father had given to Him from the foundation of the world (cf. John 6.37; 17.4; Eph. 1.3-6). The cross is God’s eternal design to redeem a particular people through the suffering of the Son (Eph. 3.9-11). Verse 9 already introduced the idea of Christ’s death. It also taught the Son’s total solidarity with His people. Verses 10-18 give us the aim of Jesus’ death beginning by showing the divine propriety of putting the Son through suffering so that he might bring His sons to glory (vv. 10-13) and consequently to introduce the Son’s priestly role (vv. 14-18). In Sending His Son to suffer for us, God is perfecting our salvation Author and perfecting our salvation bond.
Perfecting Our Salvation Author
The entire content of verse 10 is about what God has done. It is a verse of total divine prerogative, divine action, and divine sovereignty. It shows God’s eternal purpose in Christ. We could say that the perfecting of our salvation Author is ultimately based on the infinite wisdom of God. There are three things concerning that wisdom, which are given to us here in 2.10.
The Wisdom Of God Is Pleasing To God
The first thing the author points out is the sheer wisdom of God’s redemptive work and the humiliation and the suffering of the Son. It is was proper or “fitting”, which is another way of saying it was pleasing to God and according to the good pleasure of His will (Eph. 1.10-11). In other words, the mission of the Son is that which accords with God’s own great purpose to “perfect” Christ. There are several ways that this is so. First and primary is that the suffering of the Son results in the glory of God:
Hebrews 2:9 9 But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.
Psalm 45:3–4 3 Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One, In Your splendor and Your majesty! 4 And in Your majesty ride on victoriously, For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; Let Your right hand teach You awesome things.
Second it was “fitting” and proper because it was the only way God could redeem man from his sin, “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (2.17). This means Jesus had to become a man in order that He would be able to redeem us (cf. Gen. 3.15). Mankind had to be created in God’s image in order that they may be redeemed by God himself through Christ and having been redeemed we are now being renewed into that same image:
Colossians 3:10 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—
2 Corinthians 3:18 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
Third, it was fitting for God to redeem us through the suffering of the Son because of the certainty of the outcome. Two things are mentioned here; the security of the redeemed and the vindication and of the Redeemer. Because Jesus was put to death because of the suffering of His death on the cross (cf. Phil. 2.8-9), God has secured all of His elect people in Christ being redeemed by His New Covenant blood (9.15; 10.16, 29, cf. 1 Pet. 1.18-19). In addition to the redemption of God’s people is the perfection of God’s Son, “to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings” (2.10d).
The perfection of God’s Son speaks of His role to redeem us. It speaks to the fact that Jesus, because of His obedience and suffering, uniquely is qualified to redeem us and represent us:
Hebrews 5:8–10 8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, 10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
The Wisdom Of God Is Based On His Character
The wisdom of God is also seen by the fact that Hebrews appeals to the Character of God as having all power, authority, and sovereignty over the all things. This short doxological statement, “for whom are all things, and through whom are all things” (2.10b) is meant to emphasize the infinity of God’s wisdom and it reflects the backdrop of Ps. 8 in what the author of Hebrews has already said. There is an important parallel in Paul which uses similar language to speak of Gods all-surpassing wisdom and knowledge so that no one can challenge His redemptive purposes and the way He has chosen to carry out redemption. Having scaled the mount Everest of God’s glorious gospel, Paul is left speechless and awestruck at the mind of God:
Romans 11:33–36 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? 35 Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? 36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
In a similar way, the author of Hebrews is saying, what is unsearchable here is the wisdom of God in how He has chosen to bring many sons to glory, what is unfathomable is how God has chosen to “perfect” the Author of our salvation. Who would dare to say that is it is not fitting for God to save us this way and to glorify His Son in this fashion? Like Romans, the author of Hebrews is challenging his audience not to question God’s redemptive dealings in Christ.
The Wisdom Of God Is Expressed In His Redemption
Finally, the wisdom of God is expressed through this redemption itself and His divine initiative in “bringing many sons to glory” (2.10c). The “sons” who are mentioned here are the same recipients of salvation mentioned in v.9, “everyone” described in this context and to the end of the chapter as “sons” (2.10), “brethren” (2.11, 12; meaning all of God’s covenant people ‘sons and daughters’ etc.), “congregation” (2.12), “children” (2.13), “the descendant of Abraham” (2.16), and “the people” (2.17). From a historical background, the author of Hebrews sees believers as a newly constituted people of God, a new Israel, salvation as a new exodus where God’s sons and daughters need to be brought out of bondage and Jesus as our exodus “Leader” (see, O’Brien, Hebrews; 104-106). The parallel between Moses and Jesus will become crystal clear in the next chapter (e.g. 3.2).
However, the emphasis of this term seem to put the stress on Jesus being the author and originator of salvation. The term translated “author” (ἀρχηγός, so NASB, NIV) can also be translated “pioneer” (NET, RSV), “leader”, “captain” (KJV) or “founder” (ESV) also “originator” (BDAG). Every passage in Scripture that refers to this term, twice in Hebrews and twice in Acts, always refers to Jesus and always encompasses His death, resurrection and exaltation:
Hebrews 12:2 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Acts 3:15 15 but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.
Acts 5:31 31 “He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
As our prince, as our author, originator of salvation, Jesus is able to save to the utter most those with whom He is identified:
Hebrews 7:25 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
Hebrews 9:28 28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.
The fullest picture is given to us in chapter five, where Jesus is said to be the very source of salvation for those who obey Him:
Hebrews 5:9 9 And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,
This is why it was so wise for God to send His Son to be perfected through suffering, so that by that suffering through that suffering, the redemption of God’s people would be accomplished. What the world regarded as despised, weak, shameful, repulsive and unthinkable, God did as it sprung out from the very bowels of His infinite wisdom so that in the economy of God nothing could be more fitting for the redemption of God’s people than the cross:
1 Corinthians 1:18 18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Perfecting Our Salvation Bond
The next part of the passage shows us why we are partakers of God’s cross-wisdom and the sufferings of the Messiah. Not only was it God’s wisdom to perfect Jesus our salvation Author through suffering but it was also His plan to perfect our salvation-bond through our solidarity with Him. In verses 11-13 our solidarity with Christ is established along four common principles that bind us together forever.
We can see this bond above all in that we are united to Christ through a common source. I say source because the text simply says, “both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one” (2.11a). The word, “Father” is not in the Greek text it is an interpretation. The translation has chosen to see that source as referring to the Father. Understood in this way, the text would be stressing that both Christ, “He who sanctifies” and believers, “those who are sanctified” are bound together in the divine purposes of God who is the ultimate source of salvation both the means of salvation through the suffering of the Son as well as the objective of salvation in the bringing of “many sons to glory.” God does this by establishing solidarity between man and His Son through the incarnation.
What the incarnation resulted in was a common brotherhood with Jesus Christ where, “He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (2.11b). Through the incarnation Jesus came to His brethren, His people, His chosen ones (cf. 1 Pet. 2.10). God has sealed us with Him, in His family by virtue of Jesus’ willingness to identify with us and to ultimately be in union with Him, and represented by Him in His sufferings on the cross.
The concept of “shame” was a big cultural factor in the 1st century both in Greco-Roman and Jewish culture. In the book of Hebrews, the community that the author is writing to was being despised and the common person did not want to be identified with the Christian sect. This was particularly true in the context of persecution where even some professing believers did not want to associate with the persecuted church. On a personal level, this very thing happened to the apostle Paul at one point while he was under house arrest. He talks about in the book of Philippians and other places (cf. Phil. 1.15-17). In the Pastoral Epistles he speaks to the fact that at one point no one wanted to be associated with him even saying, “all deserted me” (2 Tim. 4.16-17). And just as Paul would go on to say that, the Lord stood by him, so too, Christ is not ashamed to call us His brethren.
To prove that Jesus is not ashamed of us, to identify with us and call us His brothers and sisters, the author cites another OT Messianic Psalm:
Hebrews 2:12 12 saying, “I will proclaim Your name to My brethren, In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.”
The passage is from Psalm 22 which corresponds to Jesus’ own life of anguish and suffering (cf. Ps. 22.1-21). The significant thing about the Psalm is also its fulfillment. The amazing thing about verse 12 here is that this is something which Jesus is being credited with “saying.” Well Jesus did quote Psalm 22 and He did so in the context of great shame namely the shame of the cross. In fact, it was at the cross that He was surrounded by a chorus of blasphemous mockery:
Matthew 27:37 37 And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
Matthew 27:39–43 39 And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, 42 “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. 43 “He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ”
This is the context in which Jesus “sings” in the “midst of the congregation” in fulfillment of Biblical prophecy (Mt. 27.46).
Note that He is the one “saying” what the Psalm records, “I will proclaim Your name to My brethren, In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.” Noted textual critic and apostate agnostic Bart Ehrman actually interpreted the gospels by saying that Jesus seems confused on the cross saying in essence that Jesus goes from trusting God to asking why it was that God was forsaking Him? This is totally wrong headed because here, we are told here in Hebrews 2.12 that Jesus was actually worshiping, singing as it were on the cross in order to fulfill biblical prophecy with His last breath before He breathed His last. What an amazing act of total gracious humility that while He was in the place of total shame and where all were ashamed to identify with Him, He was not ashamed to identify with us (cf. Rom. 5.6-11)!
To reinforce our family bond with Christ, Hebrews calls on another OT passage this time out of Isaiah 8.17-18:
Isaiah 8:17–18 17 And I will wait for the Lord who is hiding His face from the house of Jacob; I will even look eagerly for Him. 18 Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.
Usually, when Zion is mentioned in the OT Jesus is not far behind or far away. It usually means that Jesus is somehow the typological fulfillment of Israel’s hopes (cf. Heb. 12.18-24). So it is here. What Isaiah was talking about was waiting on the Lord, trusting in the Lord with God’s remnant which he calls “children” while the majority of Isaiah’s brethren have rejected the Word of the Lord. This was pointing to yet another prophet, another servant a suffering servant with His “children” namely, the new covenant believer. Like Isaiah, Jesus is not ashamed to identify with those who will trust in the Lord, wait for the word of the Lord and believe in it.
Our common calling with Jesus is to wait on the Lord, to “trust in the Lord” for final vindication. Just as Jesus waited on the Lord, He trusted that His Father would not allow Him to undergo decay (Acts 2.27; Ps. 16.10). He trusted in the Lord that God would deliver Him from all His enemies who encamped around Him (Ps. 22.6-8); so too we must trust in the Lord by taking heed to what we have heard in the word of gospel (2.1).
The lesson for us in all this is that God’s strength is perfected in weakness (2 Cor. 12.9). We have no greater example of that than the incarnate crucified Christ who was crowned with glory and honor. Our path to our personal and final vindication is bound up in God’s wisdom and bound up in our bond with Christ. The lesson here is to love the sufferings of Christ and not despise our own but rather put our trust in Him and in His Father just as He did (Lk. 23.46). If the Father was able to deliver His own Son from His sufferings and the suffering of death, He will deliver us as well (Heb. 2.16). No amount of suffering in this life can take that awesome reality from us (Rom. 8.31-39).