Six Reasons for Christ’s First Coming (Hebrews 2:9-17)
During the Christmas season many people give at least lip service to Christ. This includes numerous individuals who are either irreligious or apathetic towards God. But there is something about the babe in a manger that sometimes softens people. They do not allow it to change them, but at least for a few weeks they are tolerant.
But Christ did not come to earth to simply be adored as a baby in a manger, no longer crowded into the stable by the religious crowd in Bethlehem, but now crowded out by materialism and busyness. Christ came, as He clearly states in Luke 19:10, “… to seek and to save that which was lost.” Hebrews 2:9-17 expounds on that and enumerates six reasons why Christ came to earth the first time.
In verse 9, we are told He came “… for the suffering of death.” This death was not an easy death, but as A.W. Pink notes, was “… one accompanied with much inward agony and outward torture.” Jesus, knowing what was before Him, told His disciples in Matthew 26:38, “… My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” Luke 22:44 shows vividly the extent of that sorrow, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” In Matthew 26:39 it is recorded that Jesus fell on His face and prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” This was not an accidental death. Jesus emphatically declared in John 10:17-18, “… I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself.” God had revealed this suffering death in Isaiah 53. There, God describes the death Jesus would endure with words such as wounded, bruised, oppressed, stricken, travail and poured out. Hebrews 5:8 sheds light on the suffering Jesus endured, as it says “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.” The Complete Biblical Library clarifies this difficult verse by explaining, “When He became flesh, He set aside the independent use of His divine attributes and the independent exercise of His will. So as the God-man, Jesus learned experientially what it means to obey the Father’s will, when He suffered as a human in Gethsemane and at Calvary.”
Hebrews 2:9 gives a second reason Jesus came. Earlier in this verse, the Bible declared Jesus came for the “suffering of death.” Now the Bible announces He came that He “… should taste death for every man.” This is what is called the vicarious, or substitutionary death. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because Jesus tasted death, the Apostle could say, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). One important final note is that Jesus tasted death “for every man.” Thus is extended the “whosoever will” gospel to all men. Jesus said, in Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
A third reason for Christ coming is found in Hebrews 2:10, that is “… to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” The Cornerstone Biblical Commentary explains “’Perfect’ here (as elsewhere in Hebrews) does not imply abstract ethical perfection, as if Jesus were somehow less than perfect to begin with, but rather God’s empowerment of Jesus to complete the redemptive work he was sent to do (see also 5:9).” “As was shown in Hebrews 5:8, Christ “learned … obedience by the things which he suffered.” Jesus is the captain of our faith. The word translated “captain” here, is translated “author” in Hebrews 12:2 “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame …”
The fourth reason listed in this passage is found in verse 14, “… that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” This glorious truth shouts of the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Satan bruised the heel of Jesus at Calvary, but Christ will destroy the devil! So decisive will be this victory, that when men look upon the defeated enemy of their souls they will say, “… Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms” (Isaiah 14:16).
Hebrews 2:15 states a fifth reason for Christ coming the first time, that being to “… deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Jesus assured every believer that “… He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). Romans 8:1 boldly asserts “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus …” Christ has taken away the sting of death, and “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). Though death still often brings sorrow, it is not a hopeless sorrow (1 Thessalonians 4:13) and Christians can find comfort, even in death (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
Finally, the Word of God states in verse 17 “… in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.” Jesus came also to be our high priest. Jesus, as the God-man, can fulfill this role. 1 Timothy 2:5 states “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary explains the New Testament usage of the word mediator, “Jesus is God’s representative to us, His delegate. At the same time He represents us before the Father. Jesus can assume such a mediative role because of His unique status as fully God and fully human.” Hebrews 7:25-28 expounds this further, “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.”