Monday in the Fifth Week of Lent

Hebrews 2:5-18

He Was Made Like His Brothers

The beauty of the Letter to the Hebrews really begins to shine through in this chapter.  Chapter one told of the divinity of Christ, but chapter two, and much of Hebrews, discusses his humanity.  Of course, our Lord had to be God to save us.  But he also had to become man to take our place, to be our merciful High Priest, to be our Intercessor before the Father, to be the Mediator between God and man.

The passage begins by quoting from Psalm 8 some verses that actually refer to human beings and how they are the crown of God’s creation, being created in His very image.  But Hebrews applies the psalm to Christ, referring to his momentary “demotion” to earth, at least as his becoming man compares to the exalted life of angels.  But this temporary demotion (that is, his being “made lower than the angels”) served as the means of Christ’s being crowned with glory and honor, since through it he “tasted death for everyone.”

And this is what makes our faith, the true faith, so different from every other faith.  The Christian faith teaches that God came down, assumed our nature, took our flesh, lived our life, died our death, and rose again.  In Eastern religions, one of the gods might visit the earth every now and then, but not as a real live flesh and blood man who remains the all-powerful God at the same time.  And Judaism and Islam flatly reject such a notion.  But the true faith dares to proclaim: God became man while remaining God.  And why did he do so?  The ancient formula stated it like this: The Son of God became a son of man that sons of men might become sons of God.

Hebrews tells us that he took upon himself our flesh and blood that through death he might “destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.”  And by rising from the dead, he conquered sin and death and the devil – for us.  A second reason for his being “made like his brothers in every respect” was so that he would become our “merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God” who made propitiation for our sins, that is, turned away God’s just wrath by taking it upon himself in our stead.  Now, as our high priest, he is able to help us when we pray to him, for he knows us, not only because he made us, but because he lived our life.  Because of Christ, God knows us experientially.  Our God can truly say to us, “I understand.  I’ve been there.”  God became man.  How wonderful is that!

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