God's Plan for Jesus: "Sent to Suffer!"
Dear Father in heaven, we honor and praise You for sending Your Son into this world as our brother. He took on our human flesh so that He might deliver us from Satan, sin, and death. May we draw ever closer to You and our dear Savior as we gather to sing Your praise, to hear Your Word, and to offer to You our prayers. Amen.
God has a message for the nations: He has redeemed His people and ransomed them from Satan, who is stronger than they are. He will shepherd them turning their sorrow into endless joy!
Jesus worshiped His heavenly Father as a twelve year old in the temple, amazing those who heard Him with His wisdom. Yet in obedience to that heavenly Father, He subjected Himself willingly to His earthly parents.
Text: Hebrews 2:10-18
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified, are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.” And again: “I will put My trust in Him.” And again: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.” Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
In Christ Jesus, our blessed Savior and by the grace of God our dear Brother, fellow redeemed:
When a newborn son or daughter is placed into the hands of his or her parents for the first time, what wonderful thoughts go through the mind! The pride—the joy—the bonding is incredible! Mothers love their new baby and will go to great lengths to care for him or her. Fathers are determined to protect that little child and provide the very best of everything for him or her. The desire of parents is so often that their child will have it better than they did—less privation, more education—they want a life for their child that is filled with hope, accomplishment, and happiness!
What parent would bring a child into this world with the intent that the child should suffer? Were that the case we would probably suggest that there must be something wrong with such a parent. Perhaps that parent is sadistic. We might even conclude that such a parent should not have even have had a child! Yet, shockingly, God our heavenly Father did just that. He sent His Son into this world for the express purpose of suffering. In our text the writer to the Hebrews reveals GOD’S PLAN FOR JESUS—He was “SENT TO SUFFER!” As we shall see, however, God’s plan had nothing to do with sadism or mental illness. Rather our heavenly Father sent Jesus to save us. In fulfilling that plan Jesus suffered as our brother—to release us, to redeem us, and, finally, to assist us!
The writer to the Hebrews begins his epistle telling us about the two natures of Christ. He first reveals that Jesus is the Son of God and not merely a created being like the angels. Then he points out that Jesus is also a true man, just like we are. The Son of God became true man for a very specific purpose—to bring us eternal salvation! To do that according to God’s plan, however, would require Jesus to suffer. Our text opens, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified, are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying: ‘I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.’ And again: ‘I will put My trust in Him.’ And again: ‘Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.’”
Yes, Jesus, who as true God sat upon heaven’s throne, came down to this earth—was born of the Virgin Mary and placed in a manger in Bethlehem as a true human being. Jesus, whom our text calls the “captain of” (or the One leading to) our salvation, had to become human for the very purpose that He might suffer, for it would take suffering to sanctify us sinners. As true God in heaven above Jesus could not suffer, for He was and is all-powerful. He was above suffering. Yet by becoming true man, He became subject to suffering. Why is that? St. Paul tells us, that when Jesus was “born of a woman,” He was at the same time “born under the law” (cf. Galatians 4:4). That means that He became subject to the demands of the law and the punishments of the law. As true God, Jesus was not subject to the law for He was the law’s originator; but as true man, Jesus was obligated to keep the law. This He did for us, as our substitute. As true man, He became subject to the punishments of the law—“The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4c). While Jesus never sinned Himself, He did bear the punishment for our sins on the cross. This He did, our text tells us as one of us, so that He might claim us as brothers and sisters before God. Yes, GOD’S PLAN FOR JESUS was that He would be “SENT TO SUFFER” as our brother!
As our text reveals, Jesus suffered to release us! We are told, “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” We live in a society that emphasizes youth, vitality, and life. Yet we are a society in bondage to death. We grow old and become weak. We become sick and eventually die. It was most interesting this past week to hear a local funeral home suggest that a wonderful Christmas present would be a pre-arranged funeral. We are subject to death, and by nature we fear death and its cruel master, the devil.
We cannot deal with devil and overcome our bondage to him by ourselves. That was very evident after our original parents, Adam and Eve, fell into sin. God dealt with them in a merciful fashion, providing them with opportunities both to confess their sins and repent of them, but this they did not do. They blamed each other. They blamed the creation around them. They even blamed God Himself for their sins. It was then in the Garden of Eden—certainly not our finest hour as a human race—that God first promised to send a Savior. Already at that time, God knew that our salvation would require suffering, and while that suffering would have to be experienced by a human being, it would require Someone greater than a human being to overcome the power and control of Satan. Consequently, God stated that He would send “the Seed of the woman” to crush the head of the devil, even as the devil would “bruise His heel” (cf. Genesis 3:15). That conflict between the devil and Jesus took place throughout His life, as Satan tried to end Jesus’ life as a child, as he sought to lead Jesus into sin with the wilderness temptations, and as he succeeded in having Jesus nailed to Calvary’s cross. What joy there must have been in hell the moment Jesus breathed His last! For a short time the devil no doubt thought he had triumphed, only to go down in defeat when Jesus emptied His tomb on Easter Sunday. As Jesus Himself explained to His disciples, “My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:17-18). When Jesus took back His life, He in so doing also released us from any need to fear death, for the Scriptures assure us that He was “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). He was first, but we shall follow, for God sent Jesus, Who suffered to release us from the bondage of Satan and any necessary fear of death!
Our text further reveals that Jesus suffered to redeem us! We are told, “For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” God sent Jesus to save us fallen human beings. He did not send Jesus to save the devil and his hosts, whose rebellion disrupted the harmony of heaven and led to our downfall here on earth. God’s plan is often described in Scripture with the term “redemption.” For instance, the apostle Paul writes in his epistle to the Romans, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24). Redemption involves paying a sufficient price to buy something back. In our text we are told that God sent Jesus “to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” That means Jesus was to pay the redemption price for our sins. How did He do that? How could He do that? Once again we return to God’s plan that Jesus would suffer.
The writer to the Hebrews informs us later in this epistle that “according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). In order to redeem us, Jesus had to offer Himself in death for us. He did so, not as a mere man, for a mere man could not redeem his brethren. The Bible tells us so, when the Psalmist reminds us that “None of them (no man) can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him—for the redemption of their souls is costly” (Psalm 49:7). No, Jesus could and did offer Himself as the redemption price for all of mankind, because He was also true God. As the apostle Paul would later explain in his exhortation to the pastors of Ephesus, they were “to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). When Jesus died on the cross, it was the blood of God’s Son, which redeemed us—paying the price for our sins! Yes, GOD’S PLAN FOR JESUS was that He was “SENT TO SUFFER” in order to redeem us!
And, finally, we see from our text that Jesus was “sent to suffer” in order to assist us! Our text concludes, “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” My dear friends, God’s plan for Jesus not only releases us from the devil’s bonds and our fear of death. It not only redeems us from our sins and promises us the gift of eternal life. It also serves a very important role in our everyday lives as Christians here in this world. When God sent Jesus into this world to become our brother—true man, even as He is true God, part of His intention was that Jesus would experience all of the trials and temptations that we ourselves experience. His purpose in having Jesus undergo those trials and temptations was so that He might fully understand our human circumstances and be in a position to help us overcome those same trials and temptations as we experience them.
There are times when we feel very isolated and alone. We are facing difficulties in our lives and in our minds no one seems to understand or be able to provide just the right counsel or advice. Our heavenly Father wants us to know that there is Someone to whom we can turn at any time and under any circumstance. That Someone is Jesus. He does understand the frailties of our human nature and the distressing circumstances of our human condition. He serves now as our “Advocate” before the Father (cf. 1 John 2:1). Consequently, our heavenly Father wants us to turn to Jesus with full and complete confidence. He will listen; He will respond; He will help us overcome any trial or temptation we face in this life, for it is His express purpose and promise to bring us safely to heaven—the ultimate goal of God’s plan of salvation for each of us.
My dear friends, GOD’S PLAN OF JESUS, Whose birth we have once again celebrated, was thatHe was “SENT TO SUFFER!” It was not the plan of some celestial maniac, but rather the plan of a loving Father moved by His own grace and mercy to rescue us from sin, death, hell, and Satan, and to bestow upon us forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting