Good Friday Sermon on Hebrews 2:14-15
Text: Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
We like to get together and reminisce about the good things that happen in our lives. For example, on someone’s birthday, we might pull out pictures from the day that they were on born. On an anniversary, you get out the photo album or video and relive that special day. Conversely, we don’t like to relive the tragic events of our lives. We would just as soon leave them buried in the background. With that being said, it might seem odd to annually meet and talk about someone’s death. Yet, that is what we do every single Good Friday. We talk about Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross. However, we know what happened that day and why it is absolutely vital for us. This evening, as we continue our look at the Uncomplaining Lamb, we are reminded that THE DEATH OF THE LAMB OF GOD 1. Has Defeated The Enemy and 2 Has Taken His Fiercest Weapon Away.
First of all, the writer to the Hebrews reminds us of whom Jesus was. It says, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity.” (Verse 14) Jesus had to be a flesh and blood human, like you and me. One of the reasons for this is the fact that this was the only way that he could serve as our Substitute. He had to be a human being so that he would be subject to the law, just as you and I are. If Jesus had only been God, he would not have been subject to the law, because he is above it. For example, as God, he cannot steal, because everything in the universe belongs to him.
Jesus had to come to the earth as a human being to live perfectly under the law, because you and I cannot. Each one of us has broken God’s laws time without number. We have broken God’s law with the things that we have said to others that hurt them and the times we have remained silent when we should have spoken up. We have broken God’s law when we have taken what didn’t belong to us and the times when we didn’t do what we could to help others. We have broken God’s law when we thought the worst about others and held a grudge against them rather than having a loving attitude toward them. God has made it clear in his Word that he will only allow perfection to enter through the gates of heaven. Since you and I are not perfect, Jesus shared in our humanity. He lived a perfect life and gives that perfect life to us. This is the first reason that Jesus had to share in our humanity.
The second reason is found as we go farther into verse 14, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death.” We recall what the apostle Paul tells us in Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death.” This is what you and I deserved because of our sins. This is why Jesus had to be true man as well as true God. He came to die in our place. The cross was the destination that Jesus had in mind while he was here on the earth. There were so many times that Jesus plainly told his disciples that he would be put to death on the cross. Jesus came to be our Substitute by dying on the cross on Good Friday.
To the casual observer, it would appear that the story of Jesus on the cross was a gross miscarriage of justice. It is the story of a person that was hated so much by the Jewish leaders that nothing would satisfy them short of putting him to death. However, as God has revealed to us in his Word, there is more to the death of Jesus Christ than that. The writer to the Hebrews shows us the benefits that are ours because Jesus died on the cross. Again, we read in verse 14, “so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil.” By his death on the cross, Jesus broke the power of the devil. Another way to translate the words “break the power of” is “to render ineffective or nullify.” At first, that might sound odd to our ears. There are many times when the Scriptures talk about the power of the devil. For example, we read in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” How can we say that the power of the devil has been broken, that he has been rendered ineffective?
Remember that the devil is described in the book of Revelation as “the accuser of our brothers and sisters.” (Revelation 12:10) What does he accuse us of? Our sins. However, he is no longer able to accuse of sin. This is not because we do not sin. As we noted earlier, we have sinned times without number. However, he cannot make those accusations stick. The reason for this is the fact that Jesus paid for all those sins on the cross. This is why we come annually to meditate on Jesus’ death on the cross. We know what happened there. Jesus suffered and died on the cross to pay for all our sins. He took the punishment that we deserved. He suffered the torments of hell in our place. Because of that death on the cross, the devil can no longer accuse us of sin. They are gone. The devil’s accusations have been rendered ineffective.
In addition, because Jesus has nullified the devil, we do not have to listen to the devil’s temptations. We are no longer his slaves. Through the power of the Lord Jesus, we can say “No” to the devil. We can say, “I don’t want to do that. I want to live in such a way that thanks God for all that he has done for me.” This is not to say that the devil has given up or will give up tempting us. He will. He wants us to fall away from our faith. He wants us to spend our eternity apart from God’s love with him. However, because Jesus suffered and died on the cross, the devil’s temptations can fall on deaf ears. The death of the Lamb has nullified the power of the devil and defeated him. For this, we praise our crucified Savior.
In the defeat of the devil, Jesus took his fiercest weapon away from him: “By his death he might break the power of 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.” (Verses 14-15) By Jesus’ death, we have been set free from the fear of death. The devil uses death to make people afraid. Yes, ultimately, it is God who controls death, determining when and how people will die. In bringing sin into the world, the devil brought death on earth and in hell as sin’s wages. For this reason, people are afraid of death, because they know, whether they want to admit it or not, that they will have to stand before a holy God. As a result, mankind spends a lifetime of cringing in fear. Satan cracks the whip, repeating those words, “The wages of sin is death.”
However, because Jesus took on human flesh and blood and died, his holy death has freed us from our bondage to sin. Jesus used the very thing with which Satan was bullying and bothering people to take that weapon out of his hands. We do not need to fear death, because we know that when it happens, we will stand before our holy God perfect. God will not see a single sin clinging to us. They were all paid for on the cross of Christ. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, we know that the verse from Romans 6:23 continues, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
For that reason, we can have the same confidence that the apostle Paul had as he wrote in Philippians 1. He was writing about the fact that he was in prison, and he did not know if he would be released or put to death. While he talked about the blessings that would happen if he were released, he also made this statement, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.” (Philippians 1:23) What could allow him to speak that way? It was because he knew that Jesus had suffered and died to take away his sins. He knew that, if he were to die, he would be in heaven. This calmness was his because he knew that Christ had taken the fierce weapon from the devil’s hands. He knew that, if he were to die, his death would be the passage through which he would enjoy all that Christ had done for him.
You and I can have this same confidence. Yes, the thought of our death can be somewhat unsettling. Many people don’t want to talk about it or think about it. However, because Jesus died on the cross and rose again, we know that, if we should die before the Lord comes again in glory, we will be in heaven. We can be at peace. We can pray: “Teach me to live that I may dread The grave as little as my bed. Teach me to die so that I may Rise glorious at the awe-full day.” The Lamb has torn this weapon, the fear of death, from the devil’s hands.
In the hymn verse we just sang, we find the words, “Your cross affords me cooling shade, When day’s hot sun is glowing.” At first glance, those words might seem odd. However, think about it for a moment. Think about a day when you are outside and the sun is just beating down on you. How do you feel when that is happening to you? You feel hot. You feel tired. You feel overwhelmed with the heat. Now, think about how good it feels to get out of that heat and into some shade. This is the comfort that we as Christians have. The world that we live in can be difficult. There are problems. There are heartaches. There are disappointments. Think also of when our consciences are digging in at us. The guilt for a sin that we had done years ago suddenly rears its head. How blessed we are to be able to go into the shade of the cross and find our relief. There we see our sins forgiven. As a result of what happened there, we know that heaven’s gates are wide open for us. Yes, to some, it might seem odd to gather annually to think about someone’s death. Yet, when we as Christians look at that cross, we don’t just see death. We see victory. We see the defeat of our enemy Satan. We rejoice to hear our Savior cry out “It is finished.” We also know that in three days, our Savior will show us that death has been defeated as he rises from the grave. For that reason, we can rejoice in the death of the Lamb, for through it, we have victory and peace. Amen.
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