He Is Able

by LA UBF   01/19/2008     0 reads


He is able

He is able

Hebrews 2:5-18

Key Verse 2:18

Read verses 5-8a. What does the Bible say about the world to come? (1:2; Rev. 21:5-22:5) What does it mean to say, “…he has subjected the world to come” (not to angels, but to Jesus)? Why “not” to the angels? 

Read verse 8b. What does “Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him” mean? (1Co 15:24-28; Luke 11:2)

Read verses 9-17. This passage says that Jesus suffered death in order to “help” Abraham’s descendants.  For what are we to secure his help? How can we avail ourselves to the provision Jesus came to offer? 

Read verse 18. This passage suggests that had Jesus not suffered (when he was tempted) he would “not” have been able to help those who are being tempted. Why is it that it was because he suffered that he is now “able”? 

** Think about the grave consequence(s) of sinning, and the way to overcome temptations. 




(We See Jesus)

Hebrews 2:5-18

Key Verse 2:18

“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

In today's passage the author speaks about Jesus' humanity. Jesus is fully God and fully man. He became like us in every way and suffered to redeem us as children of God and to set us free from the power of sin and the devil. 

May God help us today to see Jesus who was made like us, and who is able to help us today because he overcame temptation and defeated the devil and is now crowned with glory and honor at the right hand of God, and make Jesus the center of our thoughts and lives.

Part I. We See Jesus Crowned with Glory and Honor (5-13)

Look at verse 5. "It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking." In chapter 1 the author spoke about Jesus' greatness because of his divine nature. He is "the exact representation of God's being" (1:3). That's the greatest. The author finished by saying, "We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away" (2:1). The problem was that even though Jesus is the greatest, people didn't listen to him. Why? Jesus didn't come like an angel, with shining clothes and skin, or looking like fire, with brilliant wings. Instead, they saw Jesus who looked like a man and who suffered in weakness. They thought he looked too weak. Because they didn't know who Jesus was, they were in danger of falling away. And because they didn't know who Jesus really was in his greatness, they also didn't understand God's love for man and God's salvation work to save man who is lost in sin. Look at verse 5 again. God did not send Jesus to help angels. They are not the focus of God's love and salvation work. And they are not the recipients of the world to come, that is, God's kingdom, because they are merely servants, not the children of God. 

Look at verses 6-8a. (These verses are a quotation of Psalm 8:4-6.) "But there is a place where someone has testified: 'What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet.'"

The author of Hebrews understood the necessity of Jesus' humanity according to Psalm 8:4-6, which looks back to the original creation of man. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. When God created man on the sixth day, he said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground" (Genesis 1:26). God created man to inherit his creation. Just as God gave them the world at the beginning, God's children will inherit the world to come. That's what God wants for his children, and he sent Jesus as a man to save man and restore this original purpose. 

What Psalm 8:4-6 says about man was true, in the beginning. Man was made a little lower than the angels, but crowned with glory and honor because he was made in the image of God and inherited the earth to rule over it. But there is now a problem. Look at verse 8 again. "In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at the present we do not see everything subject to him." Today, we do not see the children of God ruling the earth. We do not see the earth subject to God. We see a world hostile to God. We see the devil ruling people's lives. When we turn on the news, what do we see? We are barraged by stories of rape, murder, theft, the downward spiral of the lives of Britney Spears and her sister Jamie-Lynn. 

Today we are so lost in sin that many simply think that all we are and ever will be are slaves to sin. They make sin not sin anymore, but "pleasures" or the bad effects of human nature that require therapy or drugs, and "slavery" as the nature human condition. And under this excuse, they sin all the more and approve of others who sin. Such people don't fight at all against temptations, hoping that one day, by accepting their sinful desires, their guilt will go away. But sinning more cannot drive out the guilt of sin. Hiding or ignoring our sin also does not make it or its effects go away. And temptations and compromise continue to bring us down day after day, condemning us before God, making us powerless to live as children of God. Even many Christians think that there is no power for us in this life.

What happened? In the garden of Eden Man rebelled against God and sold this world and himself as a slave to sin and the devil. Verse 15 captures our current state well: "...those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." Man was destined for glory as God's children, but we are now stuck in a rut and sold as slaves, powerless to be free because the price is too high. Our own guilty consciences testify to this truth.  Ultimately, we were cut from our fellowship with God the Father. 

But God was mindful of us. He cared about us and in his love sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to save those who look to him and to restore God’s image and purpose in our lives, and to restore us as his children, bringing us into glorious fellowship with God. Look at verse 9. "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone." 

Now we see Jesus who came as a man, in the flesh, but is now crowned with glory and honor. He fulfills Psalm 8's confession about man. What he did and is doing is now leading us to glory and honor as children of God as well. This verse says that he was crowned with glory and honor because he "suffered death." The crown of glory and honor came at a price--Jesus' suffered and laid down his life. The price of sin demands death. Jesus suffered and died on the cross so that he might taste death for everyone, meaning, he paid our price on the cross. Jesus died to satisfy sin’s rightoeous requirement. God told Adam, “You will surely die” (cf. 2:17). However, Jesus was without sin and so able to make atonement on our behalf. Jesus’ sufferings and death on the cross was not a sign of weakness or failure, but it was God’s grace to us. Because he suffered, he is now crowned with glory and honor and is leading the way for us to restore fellowship with God as his children, to have life, honor and glory as well. 

In and through Jesus we have received a heavenly calling to live as children of God. Jesus became a man, weak and limited, so that he could bring all men back into glory as children of God. This is why the passage says that he is bringing many sons to glory and that he is the author of our salvation. He was pioneering the way of salvation for us. It means that as the author, the pioneer leading the way, we can't lose sight of Jesus, we have to see and focus on him all the time. 

Look at verses 10-11. "10 In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers." 

The author found it "fitting" that Jesus was made like us because to save us Jesus came to our level and knows first-hand all of our sufferings and troubles. It is fitting because it matches the deep love of God. God didn't demand that we be holy and come up to him. Instead, he came down to us, to help us go up. And now Jesus joyfully and proudly declares that we are his brothers and family members. Look at verses 12-13. "12 He says, 'I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.' 13 And again, 'I will put my trust in him.' And again he says, 'Here am I, and the children God has given me.'" Jesus is our elder brother who came to our rescue. 

Here we learn that it is only through Jesus Christ that we can restore a relationship with God. There is no other way; not through our own struggles, not through activities or methodologies or philosophies--only through Jesus Christ, and this is why we can't neglect his word and we can't lose our focus. Jesus has to be in the center of our thoughts and lives because it is only through him that we are restored to God and restored as God's children. All of us long to know God and have a real and deep relationship with him. We want to live as holy people. We want to journey successfully to the heavenly kingdom. We can only do this through the grace of Jesus Christ and by coming to him, seeking to know him, making him the center of our lives in every way. We can't replace Jesus with anything else or any other ideas. Jesus is not a mere starting point, but he is the way to God, and we must continue in him all the way. It may be easy for us to come to depend on ourselves with those outward things that we can or cannot do. But we must see Jesus, as the author here says (9). 

Also, we should understand Jesus' sufferings. We have the grace of being called as God's children, not in name alone but in nature and being, because of Jesus' sufferings. Jesus' bleeding and suffering on the cross was God’s grace and fitting of his great love and mercy for us. The Apostle Paul was a man who also suffered much to serve God. But he confessed all the more, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings…” (Phil 3:10). He wanted to press on in knowing Jesus even by sharing in his sufferings. Our sufferings in this life to know and serve Jesus are not signs of weakness or shame or failure, but our glorious opportunity to know Jesus more who suffered for us and made salvation possible for us. It is our chance to know him who was resurrected from the dead and crowned with glory and honor and experience his power in our lives! Our daily and practical sufferings to help others know Jesus (our classmates, our coworkers, family members, etc.) are glorious in God’s eyes because we are following Jesus’ example and we know the result of our sufferings, which is, God’s kingdom. We see Jesus crowned with glory and honor, bringing us into God’s family. We must make all efforts to see Jesus and to live up to our heavenly calling as God’s children and embrace Jesus’ sufferings that we might know him more. 

Let’s read verse 9 once again. "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone." We praise and thank God for sending Jesus as a man like us, in limitation and weakness, who embraced sufferings to save us and restore our relationship with God.

Part II. He is able to help (14-18)

Look at verses 14-15. "Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy 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.” Jesus gives us vision and hope in God's kingdom, and he restores our relationship with God, but he also helps us in the most practical and needed way right now, overcoming the power of sin and the devil, beginning today. Our enemy, the devil, is real, and he enslaves people by the fear of death by tempting them to act upon their youthful passions and sinful desires, ultimately to rebel against God. 

Jesus’ disciples at first were terrified of death. Once, when Jesus predicted his death on the cross, Simon Peter went to him and said, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22). Jesus rebuked him and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Because Peter was afraid of death, he was enslaved to the devil and ended up being the devil’s instrument. When the disciples actually saw Jesus die on the cross they feared greatly for their own lives and hid in a locked house together. Although they had been Jesus’ disciples for three years, the fear of death kept them in a locked house all day. Their lives had no power because they were slaves to the fear of death. We too worry about our survival a lot. We often view situations as matters of life and death. “I have to pass this test,” or, “I have to get this job.” 

How does Jesus help us? 

(1) Jesus sets us free from the power of death because God raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus conquered death and holds the power of life. 

We no longer fear death. Death could not keep its hold on Jesus. We laugh in the face of death, 'Ha! Jesus conquered death and he will give me life as well.' Of course, this is easier said then done. But it is the reality that Jesus suffered for--to set us free--and it is the attitude in which we must serve God and mature to. Jesus said in John 11:25-26, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

In Africa last August, one native African missionary died at the conference. Of course, we were all shocked and sad to lose our dear friend who was most faithful in Jesus and full of faith. But the fear of death did not spread throughout the people. Instead, courage and faith in Jesus arose in many hearts. And throughout the rest of the conference, African shepherds began to pray with all their hearts to become missionaries like Barnabas Kojo and lay down their lives for Jesus.  Barnabas's wife testified that she must continue in God's calling as a missionary to Ghana.

(2) Jesus helps us to overcome temptations and our sinful desires. 

Let’s look at verses 16-18. “For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers 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. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted."

It is clear that Jesus was made like us in every way so that he could help us. He knows what we go through daily. As our high priest, which means our mediator between God and us, he is merciful and faithful because he understands all that we are going through because he suffered them as well. Jesus suffered more than death on the cross. He suffered many practical temptations and hardships throughout his life. When he didn’t eat, he was hungry. When he worked hard, he got exhausted. As a young man he was misunderstood by his parents. During his ministry, his family said to him, “You’re out of your mind” (cf. Mk 3:20-21). Jesus was mocked and persecuted by his own people. When he healed sick people, gave the blind sight, and leprous people new skin, they called him demon-possessed and a foreigner (a Samaritan). Jesus was tempted by the devil from the beginning of his ministry up to the moment he died on the cross. It began in the desert for 40 days. (We probably couldn’t have lasted 4 minutes with the devil, but Jesus was tempted for 40 days.) The devil tempted him with power and fame. The devil tempted him to deny God and look out for himself. The devil tempted him to test God. The devil was always out to get Jesus. The devil even used Jesus’ closest disciple, Simon Peter, as we have mentioned already. Jesus was betrayed by his disciples and handed over to death. Jesus’ disciples denied him and abandoned him in his most painful hour. On the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus bled and died on the cross in unspeakable pain and agony. Even still, on the cross people continued to mock him, saying, “You saved others, save yourself! If you are the Christ, come down!” But he didn’t. He stayed on the cross for us. He endured all of these daily, practical sufferings in moments of temptation out of his mercy and love for us. 

We easily overlook Jesus' power to help us, not recognizing his own suffering. So we say, "Well, Jesus was God, so he doesn't really understand my suffering." Then we say, "But that person is always around me. I can't stand that person. I can't help myself." We tend to say such things because we know that just one moment of temptation is a moment of suffering. What's worse is when we think about all the times we failed to overcome temptation and sinned. Just one failure in temptation can be most destructive--on our own. The lives of many children have been ruined by adultery or by greed and subsequently divorce. And they tend to follow their parents' example. But ultimately, we lose our fellowship with God. But we don't despair or regret or live in the past. Instead, we turn to Jesus for his help. We have faith in him and look at his own example. Jesus understands our painful moments of suffering in temptation. He knows our human limitation. Jesus understands us and is able to help us in our time of need because he also suffered temptations. He is merciful and able. The word "able" means that when we have faith in him and turn to him, he is actively helping us. He does something. 

We have to ask ourselves what excuses we make that prevent us from turning to Jesus and relying on him by faith. What have to ask ourselves what are we looking at or depending on other than Jesus for the real help that we need. The key verse says, “He is able to help.” I am not able, you are not able, strategies and self-discipline are not able, but Jesus is able. No one has overcome temptation except Jesus. We finally have the help and power to overcome the devil’s power and lies, and we have help to overcome our own sinful desires and temptations. We can't neglect God's grace in Jesus. When we don't see Jesus, we don't rely on his grace and power. Jesus did not die so that we would continue to live powerless lives as slaves to fear and the devil. He died and rose from the dead to help us starting today. His humanity and sufferings point us to his mercy and power. As we see him, we turn to him, rely on him, and follow his example by faith. We thank God for his grace in sending Jesus who came as a man, suffered temptations in this world and death on the cross, to save us and give us the calling and the power to live as children of God with hope in God’s kingdom to come and daily victories. May God help us to look at Jesus and live heavenward lives. 

One Word: Jesus is able to help us



He is able

He Is Able

Hebrews 2:5-18

Key Verse 2:18

This passage says that although God sent Jesus to ensure that all put trust in Jesus and overcome the world should inherit the perfected world to come, when one loses temptations of this world which is still ruled by the ruler of the air (i.e., the devil), one will end up forfeiting salvation, and thereby not able to participate in the world to come. 

Question: how can one overcome the power of sin and death? It is though Jesus Christ that one can do it. Practically then how does this work? In other words how can we practically avail ourselves to the provisions that come in and through Jesus? The author is addressing this question. 

Read verses 5-8a. What does the Bible say about the world to come? (1:2; Rev. 21:5-22:5) What does it mean to say, “…he has subjected the world to come” (not to angels, but to Jesus)? Why “not” to the angels? 

** The world to come is the world which is free of all the enemies of God (who constantly tempt men to sin and rebel against God) and all the ill effects of sinful disobedience. 

It has been said that the Lord God created two words: this world, and the world to come. The Lord already envisaged the possibility for men to fall; in preparation against this possibility, God provided us with Jesus Christ, so that through Him many would be redeemed into the world to come. 

** This means the world to come is going to be inhabited (or inherited or enjoyed) only by those who overcome the [present] world. Now, no one but Jesus Christ and those who put trust in the Son can overcome the world. The word “subjected” means “made at the disposal of”. 

Angels are categorized into two classes: the angels who sinned (along with the devil also known as Satan) and the angels who did not. The angels who sinned are now locked up in the underworld except for Satan who is still allowed up and running. Only good angels are now in operation (working to serve those who are to be saved.) These angels did not sin. So they did not need to inherit or not inherit the world to come. In fact they do not know what it is to be saved. 

Another reason why it is only Jesus and his children that are to inherit this world is that while angels were not given the image of God, we the human beings are made in God’s image. And God did this in order to let them rule over the universe. In other words, humans are far superior to angels for it is only humans who are endowed with the image of God. All angels were created to serve His children. 

Read verse 8b. What does “Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him” mean? (1Co 15:24-28; Luke 11:2)

** This means still there are many who are not saved; they are still held in bondage to the power of sin and death; they remain disobedient; they are rebellious to the rule of God. 

This is to point out the present reality where we see all sorts of bad news coming out all the time, which are only a reflection of men sinning in disobedience to God.

Another way to put it is to say that God’s kingdom is yet to come here on earth.

Read verses 9-17. This passage says that Jesus suffered death in order to “help” Abraham’s descendants.  For what are we to secure his help? How can we avail ourselves to the provision Jesus came to offer? 

** For the following purposes: 

to inherit the world to come (5-8a);

to be brought to glory (10a);

to participate in his salvation (10b);

to be made holy and thereby be qualified to live as members of his family (11); 

to live as brothers (and sisters) in the Lord in the family where God is the Father, singing and praising His name (12);

to live as his children (13); and

to overcome the power of sin and death (14).

** By putting trust in His name. (This answer is alluded to in the expression “Abraham’s descendants”.)

Read verse 18. This passage suggests that had Jesus not suffered (when he was tempted) he would “not” have been able to help those who are being tempted. Why is it that it was because he suffered that he is now “able”? 

** Two things can be said: 

Jesus demonstrated his love for us. Love never fails. 

In love he set an example for us to follow. For this reason Jesus said that whoever wants to follow Jesus he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow him. Then the Apostle Paul said, “Follow my example as I follow Jesus’ example.” 

** Think about the grave consequence(s) of sinning, and the way to overcome temptations.