To Deliver from the Fear of Death
Death. It is the just reward for our sins, for “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). It is that which everyone—rich and poor, kings and peasants, healthy and diseased—must experience. No one is excluded. Death is the great equalizer among men; indeed, it is the very reason we are called “mortals” (from the Latin, mors, mortis, “death”). And, ironically, though it comes to all, it is the great unknown. No one has come back to tell us about it, what it was like, how it felt, what exactly happened, and, most important, where did they go and what was it like. Sensible people have always feared it; those who mocked it only betrayed their ignorant, braggadocious nature.
Returning to verse thirteen from yesterday, Jesus delivered unto the Father “the children God [had] given him.” But how did he do this? Well, there is something which all the children share, and that something is “flesh and blood,” or we might say, “humanity,” for when the Bible says, “flesh and blood,” the soul is not excluded but assumed by use of the literary trope, “synecdoche,” in which a part is made to represent a whole. But I digress. The Son delivers the children by sharing in that which the children share, that being flesh and blood. And so the Son “partook of the same things,” which is the very heart of the doctrine of the Incarnation—that he became like us and was tempted as we are yet without sin (4:15).
And it is his living our life without sin that is not mentioned here but assumed as there would be no other reason for his sharing flesh and blood with us. For he shares our flesh and blood to redeem us and that redemption is predicated upon his sinless life and offering. And why is this? Because it is his sinless offering of himself by which he “destroy[ed] the one who [had] the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver[ed] all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” And this is all to say that he delivers us from both death and the fear of death by taking our sins upon himself, which was the very reason that we were subject both to death and the slavery to fear which accompanied it. Sin brings eternal death; cleansing brings eternal life. Death brings fear; life brings joy.
And this is why he is our High Priest. He is both the one who offers and is offered, and not for angels but for his people, the children of Abraham by faith. The Christian might not look upon death with glee, but he need not fear it, and not because he’s a braggart, but a child.