Made Perfect Through Suffering
Key Verse 2:10
“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.”
Look at the last verse we reflected on, verse 9. Jesus was made a little lower than the angels for a little while, and in doing so, he became subject to death. So the author tells us that Jesus, being a man suffered death as a man. And he did so for a good reason. He didn’t suffer death for his own sins (as he was sinless). But he suffered death so that he might taste death for everyone! (Of course when he says for everyone he means everyone who trusts in him.) Jesus suffered the pain of death because he needed to experience death for us, in our place.
I can’t begin to explain to you the humiliation our Lord Jesus went through and the anguish of tasting the bitter cup of death, because none of us have yet had to drink it. But even the anticipation of death throughout history has driven people to the brink of despair and madness. And who knows what awaits man beyond the curtain of the death. Whatever horrors there are our Lord Jesus had to taste them for those he came to save. The author tells us it was by the grace of God that Jesus did so. In other words, this act of mercy was deliberately done by God for an undeserving people. It was a second chance the Lord had extended for the sons of Adam. You and I have been given a second chance to enjoy life with God.
However, the author had not finished making his point. Jesus had suffered humiliating death. But is now ascended to the right hand of the majesty of God and crowned with glory and honor— and the first fruits of all who would in time be crowned with glory and honor in the world to come. (5, 9) And if Jesus is the first-fruits, who will join him in his crowning glory upon his return? As we said, it will be the heirs of salvation, the children of God, the redeemed of the Lord! We whom the Lord Jesus had died to recover our true humanity, and to restore our dominion over the world as God had originally intended at creation and lost through the fall. We talked about this in the last passage.
And so the author continues now in verse 10 saying: “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.” In this verse the author tells us many things. He tells us that in order for God to bring us to glory, that is, to restore us to our original position of dominion, (or to put it very simply— in order for God to save us), God had to perfect Jesus— who is the Pioneer of our salvation— and he had to it through subjecting him to suffering. Another thing the author tells us is that “it was fitting that God” should do so. Again, the author is trying to help us understand why the Savior had to suffer such humiliation. Let me first explain why the author says “it was fitting that God” should do so. It simply means that it agrees with his character. In other words, that God should subject his son to suffering death shouldn’t be taken as a strange thing, but as something totally in harmony with his character. The Sovereign Creator is a righteous God, and nothing less than the suffering death of his Son and the shedding of his sinless blood satisfies God’s righteous demands to bring about our redemption.
So the author tells us here that Jesus had to be subjected to suffering. And he also tells us that Jesus, whom he calls the “Pioneer of our salvation”, was made perfect through that suffering to which he was subjected. Very interesting terms! What then does it mean that Jesus is the “Pioneer of our salvation”? This is one of 300 titles given to our Lord Jesus in the Bible. It is also translated as “Captain of our salvation” or “Chief-Leader of our salvation”. He is the one who goes on ahead of his people to prepare the way for them. And that’s exactly what the Lord our Christ did for us. He is our Pioneer, our Captain and Chief-Leader in mainly three ways. First, he is our pioneer or captain in the way of obedience. Our Lord Jesus had gone on before us to set the way of obedience to God through his own obedience. (John 13:15). Second, Jesus is the pioneer of our salvation in the way of suffering. Our Lord Jesus had walked the way of suffering ahead of us and then called us to follow in his example. (1 Peter 2:21). Third, He is also our captain and chief-leader in the way of glory. Jesus also paved the way for us to glory by entering heaven itself as our forerunner. In that way he became the Pioneer, the chief leader, the captain of our salvation. In this difficult path to salvation— in this war to liberate our souls— our Hero Jesus made it there; and now he not only paved the way for us; and not only shows us the way how to get there; but he also guides us there by the hand that we too might arrive there safely. You are “the many sons and daughters he brings to glory” which the author is talking about, if you hold firmly to your faith in him. He is the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) and the “pioneer of our salvation”. (2:10)
Another thing the author tells us here is that our Christ was made perfect through suffering. Christ himself the Person is already perfect. So this perfection is not in regards to his person, but to his office as the Pioneer of our salvation. In other words, his suffering perfectly qualified him to become our High Priest and Savior. This whole letter to the Hebrew Christians explains how necessary it was for Jesus to suffer and die a humiliating death. The people the author was writing to were also suffering greatly from persecution especially from their fellow Jews who were taunting them regarding the shame of Jesus’ suffering and the cross of his humiliation. They pressed these Jewish Christians to return to the glory of Judaism. But the author wanted to encourage them to remember that Jesus’ suffering was God’s way to Jesus’ present glory, where he now sits in the Majesty of Heaven.
We must never forget this truth in our own suffering. We too are called to suffer as we share in Jesus’ suffering, because suffering is also our way to glory. There is no shame in suffering nor in the cross which the Lord in his grace gives each of us to bear. We must remember our Captain, our Chief-Leader, the Pioneer of our salvation who braved the way through the harshest of sufferings and now sits in glory in the Heavenlies.
Read verse 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.” What’s the author talking about here? Why does he suddenly talk about holiness or about family or about brothers and sisters? What does it all have to do with Jesus coming to us as a man, and for a little while becoming a little lower than the angels, and thereby being made subject to suffering and death? In other words, what does Jesus’ suffering as a man have anything to do with holiness or family or brotherhood as the author mentions in verse 11? And the answer is everything!
Simply speaking, in a nutshell, in order for Jesus Christ to bring us back to heaven— in order for us to become acceptable to God on heaven— Jesus first needed to make us his brothers and sisters. He needed to bring us into his family. Why family? Mostly, because the God-head is a family— Father-Son-Holy Spirit. But in order to make us his brothers and sisters— his family— he needed first to make us holy. Why did he need to make us holy? Because he is holy and his family is holy and because no unholy thing can be part of his family. (This is why you and I need to be born again because no sinner and no sin can ever be allowed in heaven or in the presence of the holy God. Good people can’t enter into God’s holy presence and will be rejected because even in the best of people, sin still pollutes their blood and hearts. Only holy people made holy by the holy Jesus can enter heaven. Only those born again by the holy cleansing blood of Jesus and the purifying work of the Holy Spirit can enter into God’s presence.) Now, how will Jesus make us holy so that we may become his brothers and sisters and consequently be able to enter heaven as part of his family? The only way was for Jesus first to become like one of us, a human being. Jesus had to first identify with us fully— identify with our own humanity. Especially Jesus has to become a man— live among us— suffer and die. That’s how Jesus made it possible for us to become holy and enter into his family.
How did the Lord Jesus make us holy? In Hebrews 10.14 the author tells us how. “By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Jesus did so by offering himself as a sacrifice for sin, to sanctify and to make holy all who put their trust in him. When Jesus offered himself on the cross, his blood was sinless blood. It was the cleansing blood for or dirty sins. It offered forgiveness and cleansing and atonement for anyone who asks for it by faith. That’s what Jesus himself tells us and that’s what we believe to be true. The Bible tells us that “We are sanctified by faith in him” (acts 26:18). But our sanctification and the process of holiness does not stop there. It continues throughout our lives. How? By the truth of his word working in our hearts (John 17:17), and by the Holy Spirit living within us, the Lord continually sanctifies his believing saints to make them holy. That’s how we are conformed day by day into his likeness as we mature in the hope to be finally transformed into his image in the kingdom of his glory.
Read verses 12-13. “He says, ‘I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.’ And again, ‘I will put my trust in him.’ And again he says, ‘Here am I, and the children God has given me.’” These quotations from the Old Testament here are important. The author quotes first from the psalm 22, a Messianic Psalm, where the Savior is rescued not from death but from out of death— that is, in resurrection victory. It is then that he declares the Father’s name to his brothers. He couldn’t do that unless he was resurrected, nor unless they were delivered from sin by the Christ. Before his death and resurrection they were his sheep, his disciples, even his friends. But after the resurrection, they became his “brothers” and sisters— his family (John 20:17). As for the quote from verse 13, it is equally remarkable! It is a quote from Isaiah 8:17. It is also a Messianic Scripture revealing the heart of the Savior in dire times of distress and trouble. When he was rejected and delivered to suffering and death, he continued to trust in God. At that time, this was his wondrous confession. “”I will put my trust in him”.
[How wonderful it is to know this. How wonderful to know that when God calls us to walk by faith, to live by faith, to trust him when things are difficult, when life is hard, when troubles assail us, when things go wrong, when we seem to be sinking in the mires of life— when at that time God calls us to simply trust him, then like our Lord to do so! To submit to him— even when we seem to be drowning; To simply depend on him— to look away from whatever troubles us and to look instead to the inheritance which the Lord has secured for us; To know that the Good Shepherd has gone before us, had been the first to walk this path, the first to surrender, to accept whatever God’s will was, and to trust God in all things. To have this confession in our hearts as Jesus had this confession even on the cross before his resurrection: “I will put my trust in him.”]
Yet after he suffered death, the author continues the Messianic quote with a victory song in Isaiah 8.18 (and in 13b) he writes: “Here am I, and the children God has given me”. What’s he talking about? He is talking about the church family our Lord Jesus takes pleasure in, in his glorious kingdom on that day. The church family now may look like a haggard bunch of disciples struggling in a hostile world. The church may seem divided in some issues and riddled with troubles and difficulties. It may be persecuted and subjected to all kinds of sufferings. But in truth the church ultimately is God’s gift to our Lord Jesus, presented to him perfect and beautiful and unblemished. God loves the Lord Jesus Christ his Son, and has gifted him a people of whom he will forever be bound to in love and unity. This is glorious beyond our comprehension. Jesus owns us! We are his, and he is ours. He belongs to us and we belong to him. The people of the world may boast that they own a position of power or treasures or a wealth of assets or some similar worthless perishables. But what we own and who owns us is beyond glorious. No wonder Paul declared that his greatest desire in life is to “gain Christ and be found in him”. (Philippians 3:8-9) What is your greatest desire? You really have to search your heart to find the answer to this. What are you pursuing in your life? In the end, the only thing that will matter is this: “Will you belong to Christ and will he belong to you!”
Verse 16 tells us that Jesus came to help us. It wasn’t angels that Christ Jesus came to help when he became a man and subjected himself to the humiliation of suffering and death. It was to help the children of Abraham, that is, the children of the promise, the people of faith. That’s how precious the Lord Jesus considers those who belong to him— who live by faith in him and hold on to his promise. But in order to help us recover our humanity, our original dignity and worth as human beings created in God’s image, Jesus had to become a man. And that, the author tells us is a very important part of Scripture faith. Because of that he teaches us the many aspects and reasons of why Jesus had to become a man, and thereby like us, also suffer the humiliation of death as a man.
Read 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.” We see in these verses the two major reasons why the son of God had to in every way share in our humanity, even to the suffering of death. The author here talks about helping us in ways we could have never been able to help ourselves. First, Jesus shared in our humanity first so that he might break or destroy the power of the devil, which is the power of death. And second, so that he might free us from our slavery to the fear of death. What does it all mean?
Let’s begin with the first reason Jesus took upon himself our humanity in order: “To break the power of him who holds the power of death— that is, the devil.” We know that God and only God is Sovereign and has power over life and death. (Deut. 32:39) Then what kind of power of death does Satan hold when God and only God has the supreme power over life and death? Let me explain something about Satan’s power of death here. Jesus called Satan a “murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44), or another term for him might be man-slayer. In the Bible, Satan is shown as an accuser who wields the power to put men to death for their sins.(Zechariah 3.1) In that sense Satan not only is the one who tempts men to sin, but he is also the one who has the power of death over all who sin. He condemns them to death. Therefore, it was necessary for Jesus to take upon himself our humanity that he too may pass through death and pay the wages for our sins. Jesus paid with his blood the penalty of our sins. Only righteous blood could pay for your sins and mine, otherwise, we would be accused and found to be guilty, and condemned. But Jesus became a man and died in our place in order to pay the price for all the sins we have committed against God and each other. Now the power of death is broken and the accuser is silenced, and rendered helpless for those whose faith and trust are in Jesus. (cf. Col. 2:15; 1 Cor. 4:9)
Now the second reason Jesus took upon himself our humanity is to free us from our slavery to the fear of death. Since the beginning of time people have feared their inevitable deaths to the point of despair, and in some cases even to madness and incredulous behavior. People quake at the thought of death. But the worst fear of death, which the author is referring to here is the fear of God’s judgment. Adam hid in fear from God when he sinned. It was a pattern that would haunt the human race until the day of deliverance. And ever since, humanity had lived in the fear of God’s judgment. Our Lord, in taking on our humanity— in shedding his blood for the forgiveness of sins— in going through the gates of death— in defeating death with a resurrection victory— has liberated us from that fear. Now we no longer live in the fear of death nor of God’s judgment, but we live in the hope of life; we live in the hope of resurrection and of God’s blessing. Death for us, as Jesus the Lord had taught us is a short slumber till we are awakened to eternal life in the kingdom of our Lord Christ. Amen.
Look at verses 17-18. “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.” So do you think this is all the reason why Jesus had to take on our humanity? No. Before the author moves on from the subject of why Jesus’ humanity was crucial, he gives us another two reasons. First, the Savior’s coming as a man and his suffering death was imperative so that he might become for us “a merciful and faithful High Priest”. And second, the Savior needed our humanity experience so that he might also be able to help those who are tempted. How wonderful this is! Otherwise how could he understand the struggles we have in life and help us as we journey on to the kingdom of God. But our Savior is our High Priest who atoned for our sins with his blood, and is merciful and faithful to all who belong to him, always defending us before God in heaven. This is the faith we stand on as we live for him. And this is what we will be looking at for a while as we continue the study of Hebrews. We need to look very carefully at who is this wonderful High Priest who has done so much for us, and how we can honor him in our own lives. But for now, let us remember that Jesus became a man in order to make us holy, and bring us into his family. He became a man in order to rescue us from the power of death and to free us from the fear of death. God bless you.