Studies in Hebrews, 1 & 2 Peter
3. Hebrews 2:5-12 - Perfect Through Suffering
Jesus the human (verses 5-9)
Before the author explains how Jesus changes our worship, he lays a foundation. He reviews the fact that Jesus was human. In verse 5 he writes, “God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels.” To support this statement, he quotes from the Old Testament Scriptures: “But someone has testified somewhere, ‘What are human beings that you are mindful of them, or mortals, that you care for them? You have made them for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned them with glory and honor, subjecting all things under their feet’” (see Psalm 8:4-5).
The psalm says everything will be put under humans. But the Son of God is the heir of everything (Hebrews 1:2). That means that, to fulfill the Scriptures, he must be human. Jesus had to be made lower than the angels for a time, crowned with glory and honor at a later time. He is the representative and the pioneer, the trailblazer, for all other humans.
“Now in subjecting all things to them [humanity], God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor” (Hebrews 2:8-9). We do not yet see glory and honor for other humans, but we do see it for Jesus, our representative.
Why was he so honored? Verse 9 tells us it is “because of the suffering of death.” His example would be meaningful to readers who were facing persecution and threats. In this world, we suffer and die. In the next, we have glory and honor.
However, Jesus’ death is far more significant than just as an example. Verse 9 goes on to tell us that “by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” He died for us, in our place. The author will enlarge on this concept in a later chapter.
Many children to glory (verses 10-12)
Jesus is our representative not only in death but also in ruling the universe. The journey he has taken, we also participate in. This is the greatness of the salvation that Jesus brings: the greatness of ruling all things. But it comes through death—Jesus had to die, and we have to die, too, before we can enter into glory and reign with Christ.
“It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” God’s plan is for many children to be given glory. To save us, the Messiah had to become one of us, and die. “Perfect” here does not mean moral perfection (he was already perfect in that sense), but completion: through his sufferings, he became completely qualified to be our Savior.
“The one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” Jesus sanctifies us, makes us holy, and because we are made holy, we are part of his family. He has joined himself to us.
Psalm 22:22, a messianic psalm, supports that. As quoted in Hebrews, it says, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.” Jesus put himself at our level so he could bring us up to his level. This is the great salvation he offers us, the great salvation we do not want to neglect or drift away from.
Things to think about
- How well do I trust God in the face of trials, or even in day-to-day routines?
- Do I fear death? Do I fear the smaller problems of this world? Do I look to Jesus for help with my temptations?
Author: Michael Morrison, PhD, 2002, 2016