Text: Hebrews 2:14-18
Main Point: Because of Jesus, we have nothing to fear.
Merry Christmas! Let’s talk about fear and death.
You see, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year but not because of the lights, the food, or the presents. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year because we are afraid to die. The two main reasons we are afraid to die are the finality of death proves our insignificance and death brings judgment.
In 2012, YOLO became popular internet slang. YOLO is an acronym that stands for you only live once. YOLO is the encouragement to do big things and don’t hold back because you are going to die soon and then it’s all over. In our culture, death is the end, so you better get to living. You only live once, and death is coming!
Alongside YOLO has developed its evil twin, FOMO. FOMO is an acronym that stands for fear of missing out. If its true that a person only lives once, then it makes sense that she would be terribly afraid of missing the good life. Today, the good life is defined as the unending experience of increasing pleasure. We live meal to meal, purchase to purchase, party to party, and vacation to vacation. Looking at social media and the apparently awesome lives of others compared to our own lame existence doubles us over with regret. We are missing out and must therefore be losers! For this godless person, death is the ultimate missing out; the end of experience. The inability to do is the worst of all evils.
Another fear can grow in the biblically minded person; this is the fear of judgment. This person does not fear missing out on doing something, instead this person fears God’s judgment for what she has already done. Here we experience the fear of standing before God and being judged for what we have done.
Merry Christmas! Jesus is the answer to both the fear of missing out and the fear of judgment. Because of Jesus, we have nothing to fear. Because Jesus has taken on flesh, lived a joyful and faithful life, overcome every temptation, died an atoning death, and rose victorious from the grave we have nothing to fear.
Let’s read, understand, believe, and live.
I. Christmas is for death (14-15)
Initially it is a downer to hear, “Christmas is for death” but that’s only because we fear death. Jesus came so that we can not only face death but so that we can like the apostle Paul boldly say, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). Christmas is for death and death is gain. Death is gain because through death we become present with the Lord. When Jesus talked with the disciples about his death and their grief, he gave them a hard word. Jesus said, “If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). Jesus understood that death is gain. Our goal today is to believe in Jesus so that we rejoice in life and in death.
- Christmas is about flesh and blood
The things that make us human are flesh and blood. The angels don’t have flesh and blood. God, who is spirit, does not have flesh and blood. No matter what nation we come from, no matter how light or dark our skin, every human shares this property: we are flesh and blood.
Verse 14 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things.” The Son of God became a man for us.
We stand in a place of failure and defeat. We cannot win. We need a champion to come and live for us, die for us, and rise again for us. Jesus took on flesh and blood in order to come and do battle with sin, death, and the devil.
Remember, Christmas is about death. The express reason the eternal Son of God became a man is to die.
- Christmas is about death and resurrection
Look back at the middle of Hebrews 2:14, “he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.”
Jesus was born to die and rise again. Without flesh and blood, it is impossible for God to die. But when the Son of God took on himself the nature of a man, he took on the capability of death as a man. Jesus became a man in order to die and rise from the dead.
Death and resurrection are the way the devil is defeated because through death and resurrection, Jesus the man for men, “being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him (Rom 6:9). God as God is immortal in himself. God as man secures eternal life for men.
Think deeply about this; Jesus became human for humans. Jesus the man lived as a man for men. Jesus the man died as a man for men. Jesus the man was raised from the dead and given immortality as a man for men. As God, Jesus possessed immortality. But immortality does not translate to us humans in the same sense that Jesus’ atonement does not translate to angels. We humans, slaves to death, need a deliverer.
Here is the gospel. Jesus became a man in order to live a righteous life and give that righteousness to men. Jesus became a man who died an atoning death on the cross in order to make that sacrifice for sinful men. Jesus became a man who rose immortal from the grave in order to give that immortality to men. Jesus’ humanity is for the glory of God and the redemption of humanity. Christmas is about death and resurrection and
- Christmas is about destroying the works of the devil
Look back at Hebrews 2:14, “he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.”
I say Christmas is about death and resurrection because if Jesus had not been raised from the dead then the devil would have won; death would have conquered the Son of God. The defeat of the devil is proof of the resurrection.
But what does it mean that Jesus destroyed the one who has the power of death? Read Luke 11:19-22.
In life, Jesus proved his superior strength by casting out demons, healing the sick, raising the dead, and commanding the wind and the waves. At Christmas, we celebrate the fact that the stronger one, the strongest one, has come to rescue us. We have the only trustworthy champion.
Through his death, Jesus took our sins upon himself and therefore removed the devil’s power of accusation. By laying our sins on Jesus, the Father has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12)
Jesus submitted himself to the devil’s power of death, but through his resurrection, Jesus defeated the devil. Romans 6:9 says, “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.”
The power of the devil is temptation, and Jesus defeated that. The power of the devil is demon possession, sickness, and destruction, and Jesus defeated that. The power of Satan is to accuse us of sin and demand God’s just punishment, and Jesus took all of that. It appears that the power of Satan is to deliver death because of sin, and Jesus took all of that. Jesus took all that Satan could muster to defeat him and Jesus, God who became man for men, rose immortal from the battle.
Here is the gospel. Jesus took on himself everything the devil could do to a human, especially death, and Jesus rose immortal and victorious from the dead as a man for men. This is great news, but how does Jesus’ death and resurrection destroy the devil?
Here we need to connect some biblical dots. Romans 8:20 tells us that God subjected the world to futility. God subjected the world to corruption because of sin. Genesis 3:14-19 reveals that God cursed all of creation because of Adam and Eve’s rebellion.
The means by which God works out that curse and futility is by allowing the destructive work of the devil and his demons. It’s common to ask, “Why does God not go ahead and throw the devil and his demons into hell?” God allows the devil and his demons to continue to exist as an act of judgment on the world because of our rebellion. Under the sovereignty of God, the devil and the fallen angels deliver God’s judgment on us and on the world.
So, when we think about the destruction of the devil we need to think in terms of the already and the not yet. The devil has not yet been cast into the lake of fire to be tormented forever. Revelation 20:10 promises that the devil’s demise is coming. But the devil has already been defeated because everything he has to bring against Jesus’ brothers has been removed. Temptation to sin, accusation for sin, and death because of sin have all been swallowed up by Jesus.
When a honeybee stings and flies away it leaves its stinger and rips open its abdomen causing its death. The devil did that to Jesus. The devil stung Jesus and Jesus represents all his children. All the devil has, was spent on Jesus, Jesus rose victorious from the battle, and the devil has secured his own destruction. Jesus has swallowed up all of Satan’s power. The serpent’s fangs have been broken off in the Son of Man. Yes, the Son of Man died but being fully God and perfectly righteous man, Jesus rose again defeating the devil. The devil did all he could, the devil spent all he had, and he could not defeat the Son of Man. All that remains is for Jesus to return and crush the serpent’s head. That day is coming soon so we pray, “Come quickly Lord Jesus.” Christmas is about the destruction of the devil and
- Christmas is about liberation from fear
Remember, we’re afraid to die because we are afraid of what we will miss out on because of death and because we are afraid to die and face judgment. The devil keeps us all tied up in knots. What will it feel like to die? What will it feel like to face judgment? I don’t want to die. Hebrews 2:15, “through fear of death we are subject to lifelong slavery.”
By promising immortality, Jesus takes away our fear of death. Of course, we are going to miss out on things on this earth. Of course, we can’t do everything, see everything, and experience everything. Now instead of YOLO, the truth is YODO. Christian, you only die once. All those who refuse to follow Jesus die twice. All those whose names are not written in the book of life experience hell which is the second death (Rev 20:14). Hell is the experience of forever dying while the new earth is where the redeemed enjoy eternal life. All those who trust in Jesus are raised and given glorious bodies in order to live forever on a renewed earth in the fullness of the presence of God.
The Christian can look at every good on this earth, miss out on that good, and shrug it off knowing we’ll get the good in abundance the next time around. Look at Jesus. Because of the resurrection from the dead and the renewal of all creation you will experience the good. You don’t have to fear missing out. Let the world chase pleasure. You follow Jesus.
You follow Jesus through death. Romans 8:37 promises us that we are conquerors through Jesus who loved us. It is true that Jesus continues to love his brothers and sisters. The “loved” of Romans 8:37 points to the past events of the incarnation, obedient life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is proof of love. Your bank account or health or marriage is not proof of Jesus’ love. Jesus’ death and resurrection is love and nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. Nothing can separate you from the power and good of what Christ has done for you. Death cannot separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Christian, believing in Jesus means believing what is true of him is true of you. Jesus, the Son of Man, went through death and possesses immortality. Jesus will see you through death and give you immortality. Yes, you will experience the first death. These broken mortal bodies must be put off. But what is true of Jesus will be true of you. You will rise. Christ will conquer your death. These bodies will be raised and changed.
Death is not an unstoppable enemy to which we must surrender. No, death is a doorway to the immediate presence of God, the eventual resurrection of the body, and the eternal experience of a glorious life on a renewed earth. Death is gain. May God grow our faith so that we can look at the death of our 30-year-old brother and rejoice knowing he is going to the Father. May God grow our faith so that we look at our own deaths and the deaths of those we love and rejoice knowing we are going to the Father. Christmas is about liberation from fear of death. Jesus has won the victory for us.
But what about today? What about the suffering and struggling of his people today? Here is our second truth and we must move quickly now.
II. Christ is our help (16-18)
- Jesus takes hold of his people (16)
Look with me at Hebrews 2:16.
The word help means to take hold of. In Matthew 14, the disciples are in the boat, but stayed behind on land. Being God of the universe in control of every molecule, Jesus walked on water. When Jesus came near the boat, Peter asked to go out to Jesus on the water. Jesus called him and Peter stepped out. But Peter took his eyes off Jesus, looked at the strong wind, and began to sink. Here’s the safety of Christ, Matthew 14:31, “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him.”
Christmas is the act of God to reach out his hand and take hold of his people. Jesus helps us.
- Jesus helps us by being our high priest (17)
Look with me at verse 17, “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest.”
And what does the high priest do? He makes intercession for the people. What is Jesus doing right now for you in your difficulty and in your blessing? Jesus is making intercession for you. Jesus is praying for our strength, our joy, our faithfulness, and our holiness. Jesus will never leave the Father’s right hand where he is seeking our good. And the Father who knows the hairs on our heads and our needs before we ask him, looks after us. The Spirit is with us while the Father and Son look after us. Friend, you are covered. Jesus helps us by being our high priest and
- Jesus helps us by being our atoning sacrifice (17)
Continue on in Hebrews 3:17, “Jesus became a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” The high priest who prays for you is the same high priest who offered himself for you. Jesus did not give his lambs or his cattle or his gold. Jesus gave himself for you. Jesus gave himself for you to be the (here’s the big important word) propitiation for your sins.
To propitiate means to move someone from an attitude of wrath to an attitude of kindness or favor. The God who was angry at you because of your sin is the same God who is now kind and loving toward you only because, and precisely because, of Jesus. Jesus lived for you, died for you, and rose again for you, all as a man in your place.
So, why does God look favorably on you now? It is only because Jesus is the propitiation for your sins. Why will God accept you into his presence upon your death? It is because Jesus is the propitiation for your sins. Why will God raise your mortal body and clothe you with immortality? It is because Jesus is the propitiation for your sins. Jesus helps us by being our atoning sacrifice and
- Jesus helps us in our temptations (18)
Help is a different word in verse 18 than in verse 16. The variety shows us the sufficiency of Christ. There, in verse 16, help means to take hold of; Jesus taking hold of Peter when he was sinking. Here, in verse 18, help means to assist by providing what is needed.
Celebrate Hebrews 2:18 with me, “For because he himself suffered when tempted he is able to help those who are being tempted.” There is no temptation that Jesus has not faced. There is no depth of temptation that Jesus has not plumbed. You and I always eventually succumb. We experience the temporary relief from temptation by giving into it. Jesus never felt that relief. He endured the strongest of temptations and he stands as your faithful high priest to help you in your temptation.
What must we do? Admit to Jesus when we are being tempted. Are you tempted to be envious because you can’t buy your children the presents that other people buy their children? Talk to Jesus about your temptation. He understands and he is able to help. Are you tempted to take an offense because someone said or did something that hurt you or hurt your family? Jesus knows what that is like. Admit your temptation to the one who knows how to overlook an offense and he knows how to confront for redemption. Are you angry at God because you think you are missing out on some experience?
Friend, the only fear of missing out you should experience is the fear of missing out on Jesus. He is the greatest good and the greatest helper. Jesus is the taker of shame and the giver of righteousness. Jesus is the defeater of death and the source of eternal life. Jesus does not promise you an epic Instagram account with thousands of likes. Jesus promises you eternal life with the fullness of joy and pleasures forever more in the presence of God; the glories of which Instagram cannot capture.
So, what is holding you back? What do you fear? Pray to Jesus today knowing that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Jesus will defeat your fear of death. Jesus will help you. Look to him and cry out to him because in him you have nothing to fear. Look to him and cry out to him for help because he loves you.