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THE BLESSING OF PROPITIATION
Hebrews 2:14-18

I. Introduction: 

 When I was growing up my dad always told me that I would not understand how much he loved until I had a son of my own. Of course, being a ‘know-it-all’ teenager, I always thought that was a weird thing for him to say. Yet, here I am, a father of four years and I know exactly what he was talking about. I understand now that such love cannot really be explained in a conversation but only experienced in real life. In our passage tonight from Hebrews, the author tells us that Jesus had to become like us for a reason. It was more than just to gain understanding through experience or to be able to relate to us. What was it then? Why did Jesus have to be made like us?

II.  The Passage:

 A. Context: The author of Hebrews wrote his book to demonstrate the superiority of Christ.  He is greater than all of the former ways that God had spoken to His people.  He is greater than angels and Moses.  His priesthood is greater.  His covenant is greater.  He is the fulfillment of their promises.  The author of Hebrews wants us to see the greatness of Jesus Christ so that we would turn from our sins and trust in Him with all that we are.

 B.  Blessing: So then, if Jesus is so great, why did He have to be made like us?  Why did He have to come in the flesh?  The author of Hebrews actually lists three reasons in 2:14-18.  First, He took on flesh that through His death He might destroy the one who has the power of death…and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.  Christ came in the flesh to set us free from slavery to death and the Devil.  He did this through death.  How exactly did this work out?  I mean how did Christ’s death free us in this way?  In order to answer we need to consider the two other reasons that the author gives for Christ coming in the flesh.  Second, He took on flesh so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God.  The office of the priest was to represent the people before God and God before the people.  It is an office of mediation.  Jesus took on flesh, He became human, to be the mediator between us and God.  The reason why we need a priest is because of our sin.  Our sin has separated us from God and made us slaves to death and the Devil.  In order to be free from them, we need a remedy to our sin, which leads to the last reason.  Third, Jesus took on flesh to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  Jesus took on flesh to deal with our sin problem.  He did this by becoming a priest and offering Himself as the sacrifice.  To propitiate for sins means to satisfy the righteous wrath of God against our sin.  When Jesus died, He took the wrath of God in our place.  God’s holy wrath against my sin fell on Jesus Christ.  He offered Himself in my place.  By doing this, Jesus set us free from our sins, free from our slavery to death and the Devil.  This is why He had to be made like us.

 C.  Response: Our response to Jesus’ propitiation for our sin should be to repent and believe in His work for us at the cross.  Those who refuse to follow Him as Lord remain enslaved to their sin and to Satan and to death.  The glorious good news of Christmas is that the Savior has come.  He took on flesh and died on a cross to save us from our sins.  If you have never trusted in Christ as your Savior, then let tonight be the beginning of your following after Him.  If you have trusted in Him, then I encourage you to continue repenting of your sin and trusting in Christ for victory over your sin.  As the author of Hebrews writes, He has suffered when tempted so that He can help us when we are tempted (another reason for the incarnation).  Look to Christ and His coming in the flesh and death on the cross for strength and encouragement in your battle against sin.  Never lose sight of His sacrifice.  He was made like us to offer Himself as the propitiation for our sins.  Live in light of that glorious blessing.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 18 December 2012 )

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