“For it was fitting for Him………..,in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10). This day is ‘Good’, for the Son of God was made perfect on the cross to blaze the trail for ‘many sons to follow on the path of glory. Apostle John has defined the Love of God for His creation in His Gospel (3:16) and Paul provided the perfect illustration of the same in Hebrews. That God “Has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom he has appointed heir to all things, through whom also He made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:2). It is this uniqueness of the Divine love that the Father speaks out to His wayward children and comes down to be like them, to be with them, to suffer for them to lead them back to His throne.
Man is made a ‘little lower than the angels’ and the One who had made everything and for whom and in whom all things exist chose to attain a status lower than part of His creation, the angels, to redeem and ‘bring many sons to glory’. What perfect love and what a way to reclaim that place of glory “which I had with You before the world was” (John 17:5). The Creator becomes the creature and dependent on others to cancel out the shame and unholy reliance on Satan of His brethren “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” (Hebrews 2:11). Those to whom access to the ‘Tree of Life’ was denied in the Garden of Eden, the selfsame Tree Himself came down to give life and glory to them.
Jesus- Apostle of God- An Apostle is one who represents God before man and reveals His character and righteousness. Lord Jesus became man to reveal God to mankind and as a true Apostle was and is truly faithful to the Father. Every event recorded in the Bible is an act of God to reveal Himself- whether it is the Law being given to Moses or the messages through the prophets; and the culmination was in the coming of the Lord. His categorical pronouncements “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:28). He was faithful to God even under the most difficult situation to pray “not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). As He is faithful to God the Father to represent Him before man to reveal His righteousness, so is He faithful to man as our High Priest to present our prayers before God keeping in mind the weaknesses of man.
‘The Captain of their salvation’ Himself decided to follow the path from shame and humiliation to perfection through exemplary and unimaginable sufferings to bring to completion one phase of the battle through the shedding of His own blood. This conflict that started in the heavens due to the pride of Lucifer, ‘one of the creation’, and of which the final and culminating phase will result in shedding of blood of the rebels flowing “up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs” (Revelation 14:20). He paid the price in full for the faults committed by ‘His own brethren’ and at another time the rebels will have to give account to Him. As the ‘Good Shepherd’ He traversed the path to perfection alone suffering temptations and trials in hunger and thirst to lead His sheep ‘to green pastures and still waters’.
Like in any march through difficult terrain, the leader has to perforce bear the brunt of facing all obstacles to cut through a path for those being led to easily follow, this Captain also did forsake all of His glory of the heavenly throne to face the odds to lead others on the difficult path. He came to His own, though ‘His own did not receive Him’ to bring release from their bondage and to do this “He himself likewise shared in the same (flesh and blood), that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). The ‘bruising of the heel of the seed of woman’ would be so severe and difficult could never be imagined, for the One who designed it and had to undergo it had to pray to the Father for a change of plan. The Captain cried out in the Gethsemane Park “O My Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).
We have all faced ourselves or seen our children facing various tests during their lives and a good teacher prepares his wards to face all possible situations to ensure success. But who could train the Only One through whose hands everything was made that was made; the one who teaches, tests, controls and judges everything. And the tasks assigned to Him to fulfill during His earthly sojourn were many and each requiring trials to be faced.
To become our High Priest- The primary duties of the High Priest were to appear before God to atone for the sins of his brethren, declare them clean from their uncleanness, lead in worship and bless. For doing this he had to first atone for his sins by offering a sacrifice and then in a ‘holy’ state appear before the Ark in the most Holy part of the Temple. “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 suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:17-18). Firstly, He had to be one of us to experience our situation first hand, suffer temptation and be tested, make propitiation for our sins and emerge victorious.
The trials and temptation started in heaven itself for He was required to empty Himself of all Divine power of His eternal throne as Son of God and become two steps lower than His position and become ‘little lower than the angels’. This step was taken for those, who not only had rebelled but were yet not ready to return and in this step the provider- Jehovah Jireh became the one who required provisioning. As Son of Man, He had to get participation of the fallen man to use His power to convert that in to abundance. This was accomplished and the silence of more than 400 years from the times of Prophet Malachi, when no Word was forthcoming from God, was broken by the cry of a baby in a manger- what a downgrade for God- but He loves us so beyond measure. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords occupied the lowly status of man to fulfill this requirement.
To face temptation- Facing trials and tribulations was not to start after He had attained some level of physical maturity but from the very beginning itself. The fleeing of Joseph and Mary to Egypt for the safety of the young Messiah was the first test, why not remove the cause of danger by using the ‘heavenly host’. Attempting to clarify the real intent of the Law as a twelve year old to the acknowledged ‘interpreters’ since they had divested the statutes of their power to ‘reveal God’ through various edicts. He became man not to be a token substitute but to meet all conditions and to be baptized for repentance of sins, not committed by Him was one, “for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Adam and Eve were tempted in the Garden of Eden, a place of abundance, in the company of each other and in prime physical condition belly filled with the choicest food. Jesus had to suffer the extreme, what none else had or will, alone in the wilderness, hungry and thirsty “with the wild beasts” (Mark 1:13) as company.
To die for and in our sins- The Law demanded life for life and the result of sin is death. Jesus came to meet the Law and He had to face death as a substitute for us and this death had to be with maximum punishment preceding this. Before the final test He had to suffer complete isolation from every source of comfort or compassion and be totally alone. The trial of Job was but a precursor to the grand finale that was to be faced by the Lord. To be let down by the most trustworthy, for the purse is given to such a one only, and to be alone, even during praying in the Gethsemane park, for strength to face the final and the most difficult test, was His fate. Those appointed by Him to worship Him, as per laid down edicts (Leviticus 21), were the ones who not only insulted and humiliated Him- slapping, spitting on etc but also tempted Him “to come down from the cross, saving Himself, so that they could then believe Him”.
Jesus died for our sins in the most horrific way so that he might “taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9) and we are saved that ordeal. He died in our sins for He bore our sins on Himself on the cross and had to bear the worst ignominy for us to cry out “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). We had been separated from God for our sins and He had to face this most crucial trial to lead us back to Him as His body, the Church “that he might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27). He suffered to make us holy and without blemish.
To achieve perfection- As Son of God Jesus was perfect and heir to the throne on the right hand of the Father but He had to achieve perfection through His sufferings as Son of Man to inherit the same throne not as a matter of right but having earned it through sufferings. The Captain had to be perfect to set the benchmark for us to achieve and to create a way for us- a way that leads to heaven and the presence of God. He did this that none of us could boast of having achieved this by our efforts but that we inherit this as a blessing and an act of God’s grace. He had to be perfect as man through His sufferings, like gold is made pure through fire, though there was no blemish in Him. “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5) and the Son in His perfect state only could be in God’s presence.
To reclaim dominion– God created man to rule the earth and the Lord came to pay the full compensation for our sins, through His sufferings, to reclaim the lost control. He declares after resurrection and before ascension, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore” (Matthew 28:18-19). He was perfected through His sufferings to obtain the lost authority and then charges us to use that power in His name to “trample over snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19).
Through His ‘emptying Himself out to become man’ and as man attaining perfection through the humiliation, rejection, isolation and physical abuse and with this He removes the curse of our shame and nakedness. Having removed the animal skins, He has blessed us with the authority to ‘put on His Divine glorious self’, thus declaring us also as perfect like Himself and heirs of what is His. His prayer to the Father is the greatest blessing to mankind “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them that they may be one as We are one” (John 17:22). He gives His authority, His power and His glory to us who “received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
This is the goodness of the Good Friday to be accounted as worthy of being called righteous, to have our sins forgiven, to be joint heirs with the Lord. And all this not because of any of our efforts but only because ‘God chose to love the world so much that He gave His Only Begotten Son to us to be God’s Lamb of sacrifice for our sins’. Our Lord and Savior declared and revealed to us the glory of the Father and dwells in us to help us attain that same level of perfection, not through suffering, but through His love and power.
The Lord declares His message for the day “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:26). He shares His love, His power and comes to live in us to do that.
Are we open to His message of victory and blessing to open our hearts to welcome Him & His name” (John 1:12).