We’ve been going through the Letter to the Hebrews in our church — and I get to preach the final message this coming Sunday. Three passages deal specifically with the issue of suffering and persecution: Hebrews 2, 10, and 12. Very clear principles jump out at me as I look at these three texts.
The first is simply this: Principle #1- The Lord Jesus suffered the worst life can bring — DEATH! (2:9). How dare I ever feel that Jesus can’t understand my suffering?
I find this principle in Hebrews 2:9 “But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” The Second Person of the Divine Trinity, the Lord Jesus, “suffered death.” Biblical Christianity teaches that the only way that God could save man was for man’s sins to be paid for by the God-man Jesus. And that’s exactly what He did for us!
Think about it: The Triune God always enjoyed a loving relationship with each other throughout eternity. And then God created man. Man rebelled against God, falling into sin. Man then owed God a debt that he (man) could never repay. Only God Himself could pay that debt. But God didn’t owe the debt. The Son of God volunteered to become man so that He could die for man’s sins (God can’t die). That’s the price God was willing to pay to redeem me — and you. He came to “taste death for everyone.”
If the Son of God loved you and me enough to become fully human so that He could die, then He can understand any experience we go through in life, including DEATH!
Dorothy Sayers, (1893-1957) one of the most prolific and influential British Christian intellectuals of the twentieth century, said the following about the Lord Jesus: “What think ye of Christ? Before we adopt any of the unofficial solutions (some of which are indeed excessively dull)—before we dismiss Christ as a myth, an idealist demagogue, a liar, or a lunatic—it will do no harm to find out what the creeds really say about him. What does the Church think of Christ? The Church’s answer is categorical and uncompromising and it is this: That Jesus Bar-Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth, was in fact and in truth, and in the most exact and literal sense of the words, the God “by whom all things were made.” His body and brain were those of a common man; his personality was the personality of God, so far as that personality could be expressed in human terms. He was not a kind of demon pretending to be human; he was in every respect a genuine living man. He was not merely a man so good as to be “like God”; he was God.
Now, this is not just a pious commonplace; it is not commonplace at all. For what it means is this, among other things: that, for whatever reason, God chose to make man as he is—limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death—he [God] had the honesty and the courage to take his own medicine. Whatever game he is playing with his creation, he has kept his own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself. He has himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When he was a man, he played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace, and thought it was worthwhile.”