Agonizomai: Heb 2:10-13 - Christ - Suffered Willingly and Deliberately

Monday, November 09, 2009

Heb 2:10-13 - Christ - Suffered Willingly and Deliberately

Heb 2:10-13 - Christ - Suffered Willingly and Deliberately

Heb 2:10-13 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying, "I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise." 13 And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again, "Behold, I and the children God has given me."

For it was fitting... This is by way of an explanation of the condescension of Christ described in the preceding verses. "It was fitting" is the introduction of the readers to the idea of Christ’s total identification with those he came to save. He took on Himself humanity. He became a man, though He was fully God. He never gave up His godhood even though He put aside, for a time, His glory and (in a sense) His power in order to live completely as a man lives, yet without sin. He came in both active and passive obedience as representative man - just as Adam was representative man - in order to both expiate our guilt by suffering God’s eternal wrath in our stead, and forge a faith by which His righteousness could be counted as our very own.

In view of God’s eternal purposes, in view of His desire to glorify His Name, in view of the love with which He loved his own from eternity and purposed the redemption to be the means by which His glory would be magnified in the eyes of all creation - with these things in view, it was fitting, appropriate, apt, suitable, meet, the right thing, that Christ should not only take on human flesh, but that he should do so for the purpose of suffering.

Though he deserved not to suffer, and though there was none that could cause him to do so (for there is none greater than God that he might be compelled) yet nevertheless he so identified with his people that he condescended to make his Own suffering the means by which he would forge the salvation of those who deserved to suffer eternally. What love is this?! How this God is to be feared that he could devise, and would implement such a means of salvation! If he spared not his own Son how we ought to tremble before such wisdom, such wrath, such love and such absolute authority!

This is not something to be passed over lightly, this concept of Christ’s condescension and his identifying with the objects of his salvific love. It is a union. It is an eternal union forged upon the cross at the junction between God’s eternal love settled upon undeserving creatures of his own choice, and his eternal wrath upon their sin. If Christ were not fully human - if he was not the federal representative of elect humanity - if he did not live his entire life as a human being, by faith, in hope in the faithfulness and promises of God - then no one could possibly be saved. A man had to satisfy God. A true human being had to live a life totally honouring to the Father. Yet the value of that human life was infinite because of the nature of the Person who lived it. The Person who lived that fully human life was no less than God the Son.

It is in the Son, in Christ that salvation was wrought and is found. Don’t minimize the prepositions. "In" is not some ethereal or quirky way of expressing arcane mystical truth. It is actual union. Christ in us and we in him. It is indissoluble intimacy by the Spirit. Human union in marriage, even before the fall, stopped at emotional and physical oneness. It was, in the best sense of the word, something fleshly - Adamic. It was always, to some degree, experienced externally. This is certainly the case with fallen human relationships. Yet, even so, they do approximate or stand as analogies of what is to be enjoyed with God in the Spirit.

The same principles exist in both - principles of unity without loss of identity - of a union in which distinction is never lost. But union in and with Christ is vastly more than we could ever imagine in the here and now. Christ draws not only Himself and, with him, the Father, into this union - but also all the saints. There is community in which exists a unity by the spirit (God’s Spirit) composed of great diversity and infinite wonder and complexity.

All of this community, diversity, unity and intimacy was purposed by God and forged upon the cross in Christ, where it was made a reality and a certainty in the world of men, in the historical sense. Eternal things happened at Calvary and in the Incarnation in general. Unalterable and unutterable things. All things were being reconciled there in Christ - only some of which we now grasp but faintly.

But ... the one origin of which the writer speaks is not Adam. The writer is speaking of the common origin in the Spirit of the Christ and those who are in Him. Christ was born into this world of the Spirit of God and we are born into heaven, the kingdom, eternal life, by the same Spirit. Christ proceeded from heaven at the behest of the Father and we proceed to heaven at the behest of the same Father. Our common source with Christ, our common origin, is God. We are born of God. All other human beings are born of Adam alone. We are heavenly seed, just as Christ is the seed of Abraham promised by heaven. Christ was given to us by the Father and we are given to Christ by the Father. God is all in all.

Now do we begin to get an inkling of what God was doing in Christ? Do we see something of the exchange that took place for we who believe? Righteousness for sin, life for death, union for separation, unity for fragmentation and selfishness. Do we see the fitness of God’s methodology? Do we stand in awe and bow the knee in wonder? Do we snatch a glimpse of the infinite condescension of the Eternal Son? Do we get some concept of why He was universally believed by the true church to be both fully human and fully divine, and why only this reality could possibly save us?

It is because of this heavenly connection - in the Spirit - the fact that we are born of God that the Son of God is not ashamed to call us brothers. He sanctifies us (makes us holy by setting us apart) and we are the ones who have received that sanctification. It is all in Him. Holiness is of the Lord and from no one and nowhere else. If we are holy it is because God has declared us holy on account of Christ. If we are being experientially sanctified it is because he is sanctifying us according to his eternal power and purpose in Christ.

The writer goes directly to what is, perhaps the most lucid and direct prophecy of the cross work of Jesus Christ, which is Psalm22. "I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise." {Ps 22:22} But it is the preceding verse of the psalm that tells why this rejoicing in praise bursts forth from the Saviour’s lips.

The first half of Psalm 22 describes the suffering of the cross, but right in the middle comes a prayer from Christ to the Father (vv 19-21), followed by the thunderous joy of "You have answered me!" It is the ordained end of the cross - the "It is finished" signifying that the work that the Father gave to the Son was accomplished in history and would bear fruit for eternity.

And the writer goes on to quote from Isaiah - from a passage that is also prophetic, speaking in the immediate fore-context of the Lord being a sanctuary to the prophet, and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to both houses of Israel. {Isa 8:13-15} Undoubtedly we see in this passage a double application, for this was spoken to and through Isaiah initially, yet is a clear picture of the coming Christ. So we come to the words, "Here I am and the children God has given me," {Isa 8:17-18} given in the midst of an injunction to bind up the testimony and to seal the law (v16) and a warning that those who do not speak according to the law and the testimony have no light in them (v 20).

Isaiah may well have been taken in his time to be speaking of himself and those faithful ones gathered around him at the time of writing, but the writer of Hebrews sees Christ as the One who was given children by the God the Father, presenting them to Him as the fruit of His promised labours - made acceptable in Him.

And we also see once more some evidence that the writer was quoting the Septuagint, in which verse 17 is rendered "I will put my trust in Him." I say this because the Hebrews were scattered by one, or perhaps two, Diasporas throughout the known world of the time - and that the language of that world was Greek. This is why a number (supposedly 72) of scholars translated the Hebrew Scriptures into the Greek some 1-300 years before the birth of Christ; it was the common language of all Hebrews born into the world throughout the world. It therefore behoved the writer of this general letter to the race to use the translation most familiar to the universal audience, and there is evidence that this is what happened. Scholars readily acknowledge that the Septuagint was also frequently cited by the Apostles and early Church Fathers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Bible contains such freedom, peace, and joy! When we see what Jesus accomplished on the cross, it is utterly amazing news. i wish more people could have access to these studies.

8:10 am  
Blogger agonizomai said...


It's not just the acreage that matters - it's also the robustness and fertility of the seed. I don't know how God grows things, but I do know that He does.



10:17 am  

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