Pastor David B. Curtis


Christ - Our Pioneer to Glory

Hebrews 2:9-13

Delivered 09/10/2000

Let's review for a minute the sequence of thought in chapters one and two of Hebrews. The writer wants us to realize that Jesus Christ is not an angel. He is worshiped by angels:

Hebrews 1:6 (NKJV) But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: "Let all the angels of God worship Him."

He is worshiped by angels because he is himself God:

Hebrews 1:8 (NKJV) But to the Son He says: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom.

He was God's final decisive word to the world in the last days. God has spoken in the last days by a Son:

Hebrews 1:2 (NKJV) has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

Last Days: Nowhere is the phrase "last days" used to refer to the physical planet, but, rather, it is referring to the "last days" of the nation Israel. It is referring to the "last days" of Old Covenant Israel.

The writer wants us to join the angels in worshiping this great God-revealing, God-expressing Son. So he piles up glories in 1:2-4: he is the heir of all things; through him all things were made; he is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of God's nature; he upholds the universe by the word of his power; he made purification for sins once for all time and then sat down at the right hand of the Majesty of God in heaven where he reigns today.

In chapter one of Hebrews, there are no commands for the church. They are not told to do anything. The whole chapter is a declaration and celebration of God's final word to the world - Jesus Christ the Son of God.

In beginning of chapter 2, the writer is warning believers that if they do not vigilantly pay closer attention to the Word of God, we will float by - they will drift away from God's word.

Hebrews 2:3 (NKJV) how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,

He says it is suicidal to hear about such a great Savior and such a great salvation and then to neglect it while we busy ourselves with other things, and prove by our neglect that we do not think it is great.

So, chapter 1 has filled our minds with the glories of the deity of Christ. Chapter 2 is about to do the same with the glories of his humanity and of his sufferings.

Let's pick up our study this morning with verse 9. We looked at this verse in our last study, but I want to look at it a little closer this morning.

Hebrews 2:9 (NKJV) But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

"Suffering of death" - this is not simply referring to physical death. It would not be enough to experience the separation of the body and the spirit. He must endure separation from God, which was the ultimate curse of sin. The death He "tasted" was separation from God. That is something that will not be tasted again by those in Him. Because of the work of Jesus Christ, believers will never be separated from God.

John 11:26 (NKJV) "And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

Are you clear on WHY Jesus "tasted death for every man"? First, death is the appointed consequence of sin - any sin and every sin.

Romans 6:23 (NKJV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Second, men could not recover from death, the Son of God could. Because He died vicariously, or in substitution for us, and not for His own sin, God would bring Him back from the dead. He would rise again! He would recover from the curse, crushing the head of the serpent in the process. Never forget, He did this as our Representative!

The aim behind the sending of Jesus must be seen. He came to die - that He "by the grace of God, should taste death for every man!" He did not come into the world to make it a better place to live -although that will result wherever He is embraced! He did not come to eliminate poverty and illness -although His Presence has an impact upon these unfortunate realities. He certainly did not come into the world to institute a superior form of earthly government, or to stabilize an existing one - although He does have an impact upon this arena! It is essential to remember the mission of Jesus did not revolve around human experience, but the settled will of God. He came into the world to die!

His other activities were secondary to that appointed mission. Jesus spoke clearly of this matter when He walked among men. As He approached His death He said:

John 12:27 (NKJV) "Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour.

Again, He said:

John 10:17-18 (NKJV) "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 "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. This command I have received from My Father."

The seriousness of the human condition is accentuated by this mission. Without His death, nothing would be remedied! Mankind could not be saved in any other way, it required a death - an undeserved, but necessary, death! The alienation from God, introduced by man's fall, could not be resolved by a Divine fiat! The worlds were summoned into existence by God's Word. But humanity is only reconciled through the death of His Son! That is why Jesus came into the world. In His death, He brought an end to the Adamic order, terminated the reign of Satan, and satisfied God!

Now, I want to focus for a moment on the last phrase in verse 9, "might taste death for everyone."Let me ask you a question, DID JESUS DIE FOR "EVERYONE"? Or "For whom did Jesus taste death?" Ask 100 evangelical Christians in America that question, and 75 will probably say, "Everybody."

The answer that 75% of evangelicals would give comes from a desire to say what the Bible says. But to say what the Bible says and to mean what the Bible means are not necessarily the same thing. Our job is to seek to know what the Bible means by what it says.

John 3:16 (NKJV) "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Does this verse teach that God loves everybody in the world? It may sound that way, but when we compare it with other verses, we find that God does not love everybody.

Romans 9:13 (NKJV) As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated."

Let's put this is the form of a syllogism.

Major premise: God hated Esau. Do you agree with that? That's what the Bible says.

Minor premise: Esau is part of the world. Do you agree with that? I hope so.

Conclusion: God doesn't love everyone in the world. What other conclusion can you come to?

The word "world" in John 3:16 is not used to mean the entire human race. God told the Israelites that he only loved them.

Amos 3:2 (NKJV) "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities."

The word "known" has the idea of loved. God knew the other nations, he knows everything, but he didn't love them. Why did God only have a special relationship with Israel and leave all the other nations to walk in darkness? Because he didn't love them, and He loved Israel.

What John 3:16 does teach us is that whoever believes in Christ will not perish but have eternal life. Everyone who puts their faith in Jesus Christ is justified and accepted with God on the basis of Jesus' shed blood.

No one can say, "I really want to be saved by believing Jesus, but I can't be because he did not die for me." No one can say that. There is no one who believes for whom Jesus did not taste death.

Suppose you say to me, "I believe that Jesus died for everyone," and I respond, "Then why isn't everyone saved?" Your answer probably would be, "Because you have to receive the gift of salvation; you have to believe in Christ in order for his death to count for you." I agree, but then I say, "So you believe that Christ died for people who reject him and go to hell in the same way that he died for those who accept him and go to heaven?" You say, "Yes, the difference is the faith of those who go to heaven. Faith connects you with the benefits of the death of Jesus."

There are several problems here. Let me mention one. If this is what you believe, then you are missing out on the depths of covenant love that God has for you in Christ by understanding it to be the same as the love he has for those who reject him. And you are, in one serious way, "neglecting your great salvation," which, we saw in Hebrews 2:3, we must not do. There is a greatness about being loved with Calvary love that you will never know if you believe that those in hell were loved and died-for the same way you were.

Here's the problem with saying Christ died for all the same way he died for his bride: If Christ died for the sins of those who are finally lost the same way he died for the sins of those who are finally saved, then what are the lost being punished for? Were their sins covered and canceled by the blood of Jesus or not? We Christians say, "Christ died for our sins" (1 Corinthians 15:3). And we mean that his death paid the debt those sins created. His death removed the wrath of God from me. His death lifted the curse of the law from me. His death purchased heaven for me. It really accomplished those things!

But what would it mean to say of an unbeliever in hell that Christ died for his sins? Would we mean that the debt for his sins was paid? If so, why is he paying again in hell? Would we mean that the wrath of God was removed? If so, why is the wrath of God being poured out on him in punishment for sins? Would we mean that the curse of the law was lifted? If so, why is he bearing his curse in the lake of fire?

One possible answer is this: one might say that the only reason people go to hell is because of the sin of rejecting Jesus, not because of all the other sins of their lives. But that is not true. The Bible teaches that the wrath of God comes on the world, not just because of its rejection of Jesus, but because of its many sins that are not forgiven. For example, in Colossians, Paul said:

Colossians 3:5-6 (NKJV) Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience,

Notice that he says, "Because of these sins the wrath of God will come." So people who reject Jesus really will be punished for their specific sins, not just for rejecting Jesus.

The redemption which Jesus obtained for me by his blood is the wiping out of all my sins, covering them, bearing them in his own body, so that they can never be brought up against me again - never. That's what happened when he died for me.

Hebrews 10:14 (NKJV) For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

Perfected before God for all time by the offering; his life! That's what it means - that he died for me. He bore my sins. He really suffered for them. They cannot and they will not fall on my head in judgment.

If you say to me, then, that at the cross Christ only accomplished for me what he accomplished for those who will suffer hell for their sins, then you strip the death of Jesus of its actual effective accomplishment on my behalf, and leave me with what? An atonement that has lost its precious assuring power that my sins were really covered, and the curse was really lifted, and the wrath of God was really removed. That's a high price to pay in order to say that Christ tasted death for everyone in the same way.

What Does "Everyone" mean?

The question here is whether "everyone" refers to every human without distinction, or whether it refers to everyone within a certain group. As, when I say at our cell group meeting, "Is everyone here?" I don't mean everyone in the world. I mean everyone in our cell group. What is the group that the writer has in mind; all of humanity without any distinction, or some other group?

Let's let him answer as we trace his thought in the next verses. Verse 10 is the support for verse 9 - Christ tasted death for everyone:

Hebrews 2:10 (NKJV) 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.

In other words, immediately after saying that by the grace of God Christ tasted death for everyone, the writer explains that God's design in this suffering of Christ was to "bring many sons to glory." So, verses 9 and 10 go together like this: Christ tasted death for everyone, because it seemed fitting to God that the way to lead his children to glory was through the suffering and death of Christ.

This means that the "everyone" of verse 9 probably refers to "everyone of the sons" being led to glory in verse 10. In other words, the design of God, the aim and purpose of God, in sending Christ to die was particularly to lead his children from sin and death and hell to glory.

Christ died not merely to make possible the salvation of all mankind, but to make certain the salvation of all that the Father had given to Him - the sons.

John 10:26-29 (NKJV) "But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand.

Christ died for "his" sheep.

John 17:2 (NKJV) "as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him.
John 17:9 (NKJV) "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.

Notice that Christ doesn't pray for the world but only for his sheep - the elect.

Matthew 20:28 (NKJV) "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

His life was a ransom not for all, but for many.

Hebrews 9:28 (NKJV) so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.

Again, Christ bore the sins of many, not all. The essential issue here concerns the nature of the atonement. Jesus' atonement involved both expiation and propitiation. Expiation - Christ removing our sins. He paid for them. Propitiation - satisfaction of sin before God. If Christ bore in His own body on the tree the sins of all men, without exception, then none will ever go to Hell. Payment cannot be twice demanded by God, first by Christ and then again by those in Hell. People go to hell because of their sin, but why would they if Christ paid their penalty? For example; if you break the law and I go down to the court house and pay your penalty for you - then you cannot be made to pay it again. Either Christ paid for your sins or you spend eternity in hell paying for them yourself. Payment cannot be demanded of both Christ and you. Christ's atonement was only for the elect,

You can see this in the next verses too:

Hebrews 2:11-12 (NKJV) 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, 12 saying: "I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You."

In other words, the sons that God is leading to glory through the death of Christ are called Christ's brothers. It was for everyone of these that Christ tasted death.

Verse 13 goes on now to call them not only "brothers", but in another sense "children" of Christ:

Hebrews 2:13 (NKJV) And again: "I will put My trust in Him." And again: "Here am I and the children whom God has given Me."

Notice, the sons that are being led to glory through the death of Christ are called "children that God has given to Christ." They don't just become children by choosing Christ. God sets his favor on them and brings them to Christ - gives them to Christ. And for every one of these he tastes death and leads them to glory.

So glory in this, Christian. Glory that your sins really were covered when Jesus tasted death for you. Glory that your guilt really was removed when Jesus tasted death for you. Glory that the curse of the law really was lifted and that the wrath of God really was removed, and that the precious faith that unites you to all this treasure in Christ was a gift purchased by the blood of Christ.

Christ tasted death for everyone who has faith. Because the faith of everyone who believes was purchased by the death of Christ.

Verse 9 ends by saying that he tasted death for us. Then verse 10 explains why this was fitting, or appropriate:

Hebrews 2:10 (NKJV) 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.

The writer is doing what we need to do often; he is meditating on the way God accomplished salvation. And he is pondering why Christ suffered. He is probing into why it was "fitting."

"For whom are all things" - this affirms that the most High God is the final cause of everything.

Proverbs 16:4 (NKJV) The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.

"By whom are all things" - every creature that exists, every event which happens is by God's own appointment and agency. God governs the world which He has made. The suffering and death of Jesus Christ was no accident but part of the plan of the sovereign God in making salvation's Captain perfect.

Here is something that reveals the nature of God - the assignment of Jesus to "suffer." At the last supper, Jesus said:

Luke 22:15 (NKJV) Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;

After His resurrection, the Savior told His disciples:

Luke 24:26 (NKJV) "Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?"

The word "suffering" refers more to the inner man than the outer man. An unconscious person, for example, does not "suffer" under excruciating difficulty as much as the one that is conscious and perceptive. With Jesus, it went further than this. The impact of being forsaken by His Father transcends the capacity of our understanding. Also, being rejected by those He came to save registered heavy upon the heart of the Savior. Who is capable of discerning the force of these words upon the heart of the Savior?

Luke 9:22 (NKJV) saying, "The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day."

However, we must not allow our thinking to stop here! There was a Divine purpose that mandated the suffering of Christ! The Father "perfected" the Son through this suffering. What does that mean? Does it mean that Jesus was sinfully imperfect and had to suffer in order to rid himself of sin? No, because this book more than any other letter is insistent that Christ was free from sin (4:15; 7:26; 9:14). What then? Hebrews 5 gives the answer:

Hebrews 5:8-9 (NKJV) though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

Here being "made perfect" means "learning obedience" through suffering. This does not mean that he was once disobedient and then became obedient. It means that Jesus moved from untested obedience into suffering and then through suffering into tested and proven obedience. And this proving himself obedient through suffering was his "being perfected."

"The captain of their salvation" - the word "captain" is the Greek word archegos, [ar-khay-gos] which comes from ago, which means: "to lead or go" and arche which means: "first." Thus it means: "one who goes first, a leader, ruler, originator and founder." It may be used of one who begins something as first in a series and thus supplies the impetus. In this sense, the word "Pioneer" may almost capture the idea of the passage.

Most Americans know that in 1804-1806 two explorers, Captain George Clark and Captain Meriwether Lewis, were sent by President Thomas Jefferson to find a way across the old, trackless West from St. Louis to the Pacific Coast. Such an exploration involved tremendous preparation, special provisions and wise decisions. It was accomplished through great danger and many hardships, as the Lewis and Clark journals make clear. When the explorers returned, the whole American West lay open to development. This is the thought behind the word archegos. Jesus, our archegos, opened up a completely new spiritual country, the realm of universal dominion for the human race, which was originally intended for us but was lost by Adam. Those who trust in Jesus now are fitted to live in that new world as they walk in the footsteps of him who has gone before.

As a pioneer of redemption, He blazed a trail through death and resurrection. In the process, He robbed Satan of death as a weapon to be used against us, destroying death's power over us and thus bringing us to glory.

The glory of the many sons -

God's purpose in redemption involved "bringing many sons to glory," and that job was given to the Son. God knew the difficulties related to getting these "sons" to glory, or into His presence.

What glory is he talking about? It's the same glory promised in Psalm 8 and in Hebrews 2:7, "You have crowned him with glory and honor." This is the glory we have fallen from in our sin and rebellion against God. But now God has provided a "great salvation." He sent his Son to taste death for us, deliver us from the futility and defeat and misery and condemnation of sin and death, and lead us to glory.

Believers, we have been glorified! Glorification is nothing more than dwelling in God's presence. And dwelling in God's presence became a reality for all believers at AD 70.

So, he is our Forerunner. He becomes a human being. He suffers and he dies in our place; He rises from the dead victorious, and he enters into glory. Why? So that he might "lead many sons to glory."

In order to encourage them in their Christian walk, the Spirit declares the Son's attitude toward believers. Hear His words, and allow them to rejoice your heart:

Hebrews 2:11 (NKJV) 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,

Some of the other versions reveal the power of this text.

Hebrews 2:11 (NIV) Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.
Hebrews 2:11 (GWT) Jesus, who makes people holy, and all those who are made holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus isn't ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.

The act of making holy implies the impartation of a new life, the life of God himself, since only God is holy. Those who by faith become sons of God are made holy (sanctified), because they share the life of the Son of God. John 1:12 declares:

John 1:12 (NKJV) But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

Because of this shared life, the writer of Hebrews can say they are, literally, "all of One" (ek henos pantes), which refers to the Father. (The NIV's "of the same family," to my mind, somewhat weakens the force of this declaration.) Jesus, who is of different rank and origin, still is not ashamed to call them "brothers", since he has made them holy by imparting his own life to them.

"He who sanctifies" is the Greek ho hagiazon. It is present active articular participle of hagiazo."Those who are being sanctified" is hoi hagiazomenoi. This is a present passive participle of hagiazo. Both of these indicate that this is a process. This is NOT talking about the process of practical sanctification. It is talking about positional sanctification - justification or being made righteous. These believers in the transition period were being made holy. All believers since AD 70 become holy the moment they believe.

The recipients of the New Testament letters lived in what the Bible calls the "last days"- they were the last days of the Old Covenant. Those "last days" began at "in the time of Christ" and ended at AD 70 when the Jewish temple was destroyed. We now live in what the Bible calls "the age to come", which is the New Covenant age. The forty year period, from Pentecost to Holocaust, was a time of transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. In this transition period, the New Covenant had been inaugurated but not consummated. It was a time of "already but not yet." They were "being built" for a dwelling place of God (Eph. 2:22). When Christ returned, all believers were made like Him. To be like Him is to have His righteousness. This is something the transition saints didn't have but hoped for.

Galatians 5:5 (NKJV) For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

The words translated "eagerly wait" are the Greek word apekdechomai. This Greek word is only used seven times in the New Testament, and every one of them is in reference to the Second Coming. Thus, righteousness comes at the second coming. (See The Transition Period.)

What a marvelous affirmation! The One who sanctifies, or makes holy, is the Son of God. The ones who are made holy are those in the Son. Both the Son and the sons have a common origin - the Father. It is this condition (being of God) that allows the Son to not be ashamed to call us brethren. It is not because of our moral attainments. It is our common Father that makes the Son unashamed of us. Oh, you must see this truth! Hear the words of Jesus, uttered as He prepared to return to the Father.

John 20:17 (NKJV) Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'"

Do you know to whom these marvelous words were spoken? It was not to Paul, the Apostle that "labored more abundantly than they all" (1 Cor 15:10). It was not to Peter, who was used to open the door of faith to both Jews and Gentiles. Who, then, was it? It was to Mary Magdelene, out of whom He had cast seven demons (John 20:1-17; Mark 16:9) What qualifications did she have to present?

Believer, Jesus was not ashamed to claim the Father of Mary Magdelene as His own. He was not ashamed of her, and He is not ashamed of you! Can you believe that?

Your Father in heaven is His Father also! This is a truth that must get into the heart and soul of God's people. Their minds must be able to entertain this thought without fear. If this is the way Jesus views us, how ought we to view one another?

Hear the remarkable words credited to Jesus.

Hebrews 2:12 (NKJV) saying: "I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You."

This is a quotation of Psalms 22:22. To what does this refer? This alludes to Christ's exposition of the Father to His people. He once declared:

Matthew 11:27 (NKJV) "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.

This teaching is the declaration of God's name - the proclamation of His Person. The objective of the declaration is to acquaint us with the Lord.

Hebrews 2:13 (NKJV) And again: "I will put My trust in Him." And again: "Here am I and the children whom God has given Me."

Here is one of the most remarkable statements concerning our Lord. The spirit of this expression is found in 2 Samuel 22:3 and Isaiah 8:17.

2 Samuel 22:3 (NKJV) The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.
Isaiah 8:17 (NKJV) And I will wait on the LORD, Who hides His face from the house of Jacob; And I will hope in Him.

The historical context is the alliance of Pekah of Israel and Rezin of Syria against Ahaz of Judah. In response, Ahaz sought the help of Assyria presenting himself as a vassal to Tiglath- Pilesar. The prophecy rebukes this alliance and the failure to trust God instead.

Isaiah 7:9 (NKJV) The head of Ephraim is Samaria, And the head of Samaria is Remaliah's son. If you will not believe, Surely you shall not be established."' "

Point: the secret to victory in the experiences of life is: "trust in God." In 8:17, the Messiah himself waits for God and trusts in Him.

When Jesus was among us, He lived by faith. He trusted in God! In this, He identified with the people He came to save. In trusting in God, our blessed Savior was "not ashamed" to call us "brethren."

His lack of shame certainly was not owing to the advancement of the disciples - or of you. It was because God gave them to Him. He loves His people, and he has brought them to glory. He will strengthen them, feed them, and lead them. There is no resource they require to please the Father and overcome the world that He will not provide for them. Their responsibility is to abide in His love, and live by faith.

All this is to encourage the Hebrews and us not to neglect our great salvation. Do you neglect your salvation? Do you take the greatness of it for granted? One of the reasons for weakness in the Christian church is that so many neglect the greatness of their salvation. What is the opposite of neglecting your great salvation? Hebrews 2:1 says it's "paying close attention to what we have heard."

Not neglecting your great salvation means applying yourself to think about your salvation; and to meditate on why it is great; and to focus on the greatness of Jesus Christ, the Forerunner, Captain, Pioneer and Perfecter of our salvation; and to pray for help in all of this at the throne of grace. Not neglecting is the opposite of coasting and then forgetting.

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