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The Subjected Ruler

The Subjected Ruler

Radiant Church’s Lead Pastor Keith Welton continues his series on the Book of Hebrews with a sermon entitled, “The Subjected Ruler,” on Hebrews 2:5-18. Below, you can listen to his sermon, watch our whole service, and use the outline for a reference.

Missed last week’s sermon from Pastor Welton, entitled “Focused on Christ”? You can listen to it and watch the whole service here.

Hebrews 2:5-18

5 Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? 7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, 8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10 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 source. 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.”

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, 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, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

A theme of this passage is all things being subjected to one who himself was subjected. 

To “subject” someone is to:

  • cause or force to undergo (a particular experience of form of treatment): “he’d subjected her to a terrifying ordeal”
  • bring (a person or country) under one’s control or jurisdiction, typically by using force: “the city had been subjected to Macedonian rule”

One of the fundamental questions here is if Jesus is so great, greater than Moses, greater than angels, greater than all the prophets, as was said in chapter 1, then why did he die? Why did he suffer such a brutal death? And perhaps more importantly why am I following him and things are so hard? Why do the bills keep mounting? Why is my spouse always angry? Why have I watched so many people suffer? Where is he?

Remember the people in this church had their property confiscated. So Jesus is the Son of God to whom we are to pay attention. Now it unpacks what he has done and accomplished for us. 

V8. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him

1. The Work of Jesus

Jesus is great because of who he is, but also because of what he has done. We see people born into honor, a prince who is heir to the throne, and yet he is a complete moron with no work ethic. Jesus is great in his being, and that leads to him doing a great work. 

His work was to come as a man, to come as one under the law. He is made lower than the angels. And as a man he suffers as one under the law and under the curse. 

God’s original design. This world has not been subjected to the angels but to people. God created people to have dominion over the world. Why did Jesus come as a man? It is because God subjected this world to people. 

Verse 7 is a direct reference to the Old Testament, Psalm 8, written in 900 BC. It is quoted here because it relates to this theme of subjection. 

Verse 6 is one of my favorite verses. The authority quotes a Scripture and says, “somewhere it is written.” It makes me feel better for not remembering the exact reference. It probably shouldn’t, but it does. 

Psalm 8

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.  When I observe Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You set in place, 4 what is man that You remember him, the son of man that You look after him? 5 You made him little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You made him lord over the works of Your hands; You put everything under his feet: 7 all the sheep and oxen, as well as animals in the wild, 8 birds of the sky, and fish of the sea passing through the currents of the seas. 9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalm 8 is a wonderful song about the blessing of work and God’s design that he trusts people to care for his creation. It begins with “How majestic is your name.” There is a wonder that people are called to care for the world. Work is good. You were created to work. As we are in a time when people are content to sit at home and collect checks for not working and government is pleased to do that, it shows a divergence from how we were created. We are created to shape and care for creation and to bless others. Why do people get the blessing of caring for animals, livestock, etc. 

But something deeper is here. What is man? Mankind. Yes, that works. But it is singular. And “son of man” is singular. And “Son of Man” will become a catchphrase for the Savior, and Jesus will apply it to himself. 

Old Testament establishes a trajectory to understand Jesus. But Jesus also gives the full meaning of it. It’s an amazing way the Scripture builds and yet reinforces the meaning. Jesus is the Son of Man who accomplished the dominion God originally designed for his people. It’s not simply work, but work in perfect obedience to God. 

The one to deliver us must be under the obligation, under the blessing. Jesus comes to do the work necessary.

“At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” (Hebrews 2:8-9)

After the fall, people were guilty and corrupt. “Guilty” meaning they had broken a law and deserved punishment. “Corrupt,” rotten like apples and deserving to be discarded. Deserving of death. This is what we needed saving from. 

God sent his Son into the world like one under the law. Jesus willingly came to be under the law, under the obligations, under the penalty of the law, so that he might deliver us from it. 

Jesus’ work: If you want to marvel at God, it is not just that he made the earth, moon, mountains, stars, sun and all that is in it. Marvel also that he would come as one under the law to rescue those under the law. His suffering and death was part of the work he came to do. 

His work is to save from death. In order to do that he would have to taste death, experience it and overcome it. This suffering is the work he does in order to redeem people. 

Jesus comes to do this work. Him coming to work helps us see the dignity of work. But his work also helps us rest. He did the job we could never do. There is a degree of disconnect with all work. It is never complete, alway inadequate, fulfilling and emptying at the same time. Those days you are frustrated disappointed exhausted disillusioned you want to remember what he has done for you. 

Came as one to save them. 

The superhero is both savior and exemplar. The Gospel is the greatest story ever told and offers complete redemption. Other stories are good because in some way they connect to this story and what God has done. But they are all imperfect. Thor. Enough of a man to feel pain, privation, sympathize with people, and bear sacrifice. Enough of a God to save his people. Yet the battle is always again the physical battle between good and evil in this world.

Our debt was to God, the creator and sustainer of all things. We had to be saved from what our sin deserved. But God has no rivals. There are not powers that can stand up against him. We do not need to be delivered from evil villains, we need to be rescued from God and his complete holiness. That is our greatest need. How a sinner can stand in God’s presence. 

His work requires being made lower. It requires suffering. 

2. Vindication of Jesus’ Work

He is made perfect in suffering. Not that he was lacking in his being. He is made perfect in his qualifications of a redeemer. He must have been tested and proved obedient in order to merit the reward. 

If you imagine the greatest sports team ever. That team has to play the season, demonstrate who they are. Jesus is perfect and he demonstrates that in how work. He is perfect and is made perfect/seen to be perfect. His suffering makes him perfect, and it leads to his glorification.

Suffering leads to triumph. What is quoted here is another Old Testament passage. It comes from Psalm 22.

Heb 2:12 says, “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.”

Psalm 22. CH Dodd. When Old Testament is quoted they are importing a verse but also importing the context of the verse. 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.” (Psa 22:1-2 NIV)

“All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.'” (Psa 22:7-8 NIV)

“Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.” (Psa 22:11 NIV)

“Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. They open their mouths against me– lions, mauling and roaring. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.” (Psa 22:12- 15 NIV)

“They divided my garments among themselves, and they cast lots for my clothing.” (Psa 22:18 CSB)

“But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! 20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! 21 Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!” (Psalm 22:19-21 ESV)

*”I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you. You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!” (Psa 22:22-23 NIV)

“You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever!” (Psa 22:26 ESV)

This psalm begins with one who is forsaken by God, but this one will trust God through it all, and will be vindicated by God. Even more will praise God and be brought into the congregation of the faithful because of what this one goes through. 

Do you see this and the significance of it? 1000 years before Jesus is born there is a psalm that maps over to his death and defeat, but embedded in this is a clear proclamation that his defeat will actually lead to his triumph. Death could not hold him down. 

Jesus suffering took nothing away from him. It perfected him. Suffering takes nothing from you!

3. The Effect of Jesus Work

The effect of Jesus work is not to spare you from suffering. If he was made perfect through suffering then you will be too. Don’t run from suffering. Know it is achieving your perfection in holiness. It will lead to glory. 

  1. He abolishes death. 

Verse 9: “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

He tastes death for us. A mother will taste the food for her young baby. The mother doesn’t need the food. Rather she is showing the child the food can be eaten. Showing them the way to do it. Jesus tasted death for us to show that we do not fear it if we trust in him. 

We have a deliverer. He is the author and pioneer of our faith. A pioneer is someone who goes before all others and makes a way. When you see them do it you know that you can do it too. 

He went through death. Because he suffered and then entered into glory it gives us hope that we can do that too. Because he was made perfect through hardship we can expect the same. 

Verse 14: “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, 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, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”

Before I was a believer I was scared of dying. I remember getting so depressed about things, and would just want to end everything, but I couldn’t. I was scared to die. What happened? I was perplexed, confused, and scared, and assumed others were too and that is why they did not talk about them.  

Pascal, “Men, unable to remedy death, sorrow, and ignorance, determine, in order to make themselves happy, not to think on these things.” Bignon, 43. 

Kids ask the question, “What happens when I die?” And adults give really bad answers that are not consistent. “We go to a better place” is a common one. How do you know that and how can you say that as an atheist? How is that possible if we take a materialistic view of the world? The body is here. Is there a soul? If the soul goes somewhere else, how do we know? Does everybody go to this place? Even people who are really bad? If not then where do bad people go? How do I do enough good to warrant going to heaven?

This answer is simple for a Christian. Jesus defeated death for us and if we trust in him we can overcome too. Just as he was raised so also I can be raised. Just as he was made perfect through suffering I can be made perfect through suffering. 

  1. He makes propitiation. 

He is a merciful and faithful highpriest who makes propitiation for us. 

To be propitious is to be favorably disposed to someone. It means someone was once angry with someone else, but now they are friends. There’s a lot of debate on this word. There’s also “Expiation,” which means removal of guilt. This is important. But propitiation is more than this. If I go to Kroger and while in the parking lot I decide I just want to take my 1988 ford pickup and run it straight into your brand new Mercedes, you’d be mad. You ask me why I did it, and “I say I just felt like it. Get over it.” You are mad and rightfully so. I destroyed something that was yours. I treated you with contempt. I’m guilty. I deserve punishment.

But say I pull out a briefcase and give you in cash enough money for a new car and all your troubles. I’m no longer guilty. I have paid in full. But we may not be friends going forward. Expiation is guilt removed. Propitiation is reconciling as friends. It would be after paying you and all anger is gone, we decide to go to the tavern next door and have a meal together. 

Jesus has reconciled us to God. All your disobeying is forgiven. This is the Gospel. You could not pay what you owed. God wanted perfect obedience. You could not do it. God sent his son to suffer for you. His goal was to redeem, and he accomplished that. His suffering is a prelude to his reign, and his suffering is the source of your hope. Satan has no claim on you.

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