The Death of Death

March 16, 2014
Psalm 71
Hebrews 2:14-18


  1. In the past several sermons in Hebrews we have seen a two-fold reason why Christ had to take on a human nature: atonement and sympathy.
    1. Atonement: He had to be made like us that he could die for our sins and make us righteous before God. As in the sacrifice of firstfruits, kind had to represent kind. Like had to stand in for like: wheat for wheat, fruit for fruit, man for man.
    2. Sympathy: He had to suffer like we suffer that he might sympathize with us in our weakness, so that in him we could find a God who is always willing and ready to help us in our weakness.
  2. vs 9 (focusing on the atonement):
    1. "[he] was made lower than the angels"
      1. One of the reasons the Jews thought less of Jesus is because he was made lower than the angels, not realizing that for the very reason of sanctifying them was he made so low. For this reason God crowned him with glory and honor.
    2. "[he was] crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death"
    3. "he might taste death for everyone"
      1. he made atonement for us all in this death
  3. vs 10:
    1. "For it was fitting"
    2. "make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering"
    3. Fitting to meet God's justice, fitting to help us who suffer being tempted.
      1. It would not be fitting for God who is holy and just to simply pass over sins. His standard of justice must be met. Christ therefore is the fit sacrifice in that he perfectly meets God's standard of justice.
      2. It was also fitting that Christ should be made into the perfect Captain of our salvation. He is our captain on this incredible, dangerous, and perilous journey of salvation. Being made perfect to this task in this way: because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
  4. vs 11:
    1. "he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source nature"
    2. "not ashamed to call them brothers"
    3. He is one nature with us and so able to represent us, atone for us, and thus to redeem us. In this he sanctifies us.
    4. He also sanctifies us in that he helps us in our weakness and failings to bring us steadily on in our heavenly journey.
  5. vs 12-13
    1. Psa 22 I will tell of your name to my brothers
    2. Psa 18 I will put my trust in him
    3. In these we saw how Christ threw himself to the mercy of God, our exact condition and that God proved to be faithful to his Son, and all of this on our behalf.
    4. On our behalf because we needed such a savior. One who both paid the penalty for our sins and knows and is intimately acquainted with our condition of helpless condition.
  6. vs 14 (now)
    1. Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things
  1. This again addresses our need for a savior who could make atonement for us who are flesh and blood.
    1. And so he became flesh and blood so that he might die on our behalf.
    2. [So] that, through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
    3. In other words, one of the results of Christ's making atonement for us was to destroy the devil who had enslaved us through our fear of death.

Satan / Death link

  1. Several things to be attended to here:
    1. What does it mean that the Devil had the power of death
    2. What does it mean that through fear of death we were enslaved
    3. What does it mean that Christ destroyed the devil, and that, by death
  2. The Devil had the power of death
    1. Link between sin and death
      1. In the garden, the consequence of sin entering the world was that all men must die as a judgment of sin and men are in great bondage as a result
        1. Genesis 2:17 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” ESV
        2. Romans 6:23 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ESV
        3. Romans 5:12 12Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— ESV
        4. James 1:14–15 14But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. ESV
        5. Ezek 18:20a The soul who sins shall die.
      2. There is an unalterable, fixed, and unchangeable link between sin and death. The wages of sin is death. Sin when it has fully grown brings forth death, death came into the world through sin. The soul who sins shall die.
      3. Life is a reprieve, a suspension of execution. Under this condition of sin we will all die as a judgment of sin.
      4. Most men look on death as the common lot and condition of mankind, upon the account of their frail natural condition; as though it belonged to the natural condition of the children, and not the moral, and were a consequent of their being, and not the demerit of their sin. They consider not that although the principles of our nature are in themselves subject unto a dissolution, yet if we had kept the law of our creation, it had been prevented by the power of God, engaged to continue life during our obedience. Life and obedience were to be commensurate proportionate, until temporal obedience ended in life eternal. Death is penal, and its being common unto all hinders not but that it is the punishment of every one.
    2. Sin came in through the Devil
      1. The Devil, our enemy, the father of lies, and the prince of this world. Has a tie and a link to sin.
      2. He is the first to have sinned in all creation
      3. He it is who tempted Eve to sin, and all other sins entered the world through his sin.
      4. Satan then, was the means of bringing both sin and death into the world
      5. Sin and death being thus entered into the world, and all mankind being guilty of the one and obnoxious unto the other, Satan came thereby to be their prince, as being the prince or author of that state and condition where-into they are brought. Hence he is called “the prince of this world,” John 12:31, and the “god” of it, 2 Cor. 4:4; inasmuch as all the world are under the guilt of that sin and death which he brought them into.
      6. God having passed the sentence of death against sin, it was in the power of Satan to terrify and affright the consciences of men with the expectation and dread of it, so bringing them into bondage. And many God gives up unto him, to be agitated and terrified as it were at his pleasure. To this end were persons who were excommunicated given up unto Satan to vex them, 1 Tim. 1:20.
      7. God hath ordained him to be the executioner of the sentence of death upon stubborn sinners unto all eternity; partly for the aggravation of their punishment, when they shall always see, and without relief bewail, their folly in hearkening unto his allurements; and partly to punish himself in his woful employment. And for these several reasons is Satan said to have the power of death
  3. We were thus enslaved to the Devil through fear of death
    1. Fear of death, as penal, renders the minds of men obnoxious unto bondage
    2. All the power of Satan in the world over any of the sons of men is founded in sin and the guilt of death attending it.
    3. Here lies the foundation of his power, even in sin
    4. All sinners out of Christ are under the power of Satan. They belong unto that kingdom of death whereof he is the prince and ruler. “The whole world lies in the power of this wicked one.
      1. 1 John 5:19 19We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. ESV
      2. Colossians 1:13 13He the Father has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, ESV
    5. All humanity, out of Christ belongs to the kingdom of Satan and are his subjects.
  4. Christ destroyed the devil and he did so by his own death
    1. How is it that Christ is said to have destroyed the Devil
      1. It is not applied unto the nature, essence, or being of the devil, but unto his power in and over death;
        1. John 12:31 31Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. ESV
    2. The means whereby Satan was thus destroyed is also expressed. It was "by death" that is by the death of Christ
      1. Sinners, under the rule of sin and Satan were sentenced to death. This was all his power over us. This power Christ destroyed. Christ severed the un-severable link between our sin and our death. In so doing, he dissolved all of Satan's power and therein is he destroyed.
      2. "When the sinner ceases to be obnoxious unto death, the power of Satan ceases also."
      3. Satan's power consisted in the bringing of sin into the world. This is dissolved by Christ's "taking away the sin of the world," John 1:29
    3. Nor can he longer make use of death as penal, as threatened in the curse of the law, to terrify and affright the consciences of men: for “being justified by faith” in the death of Christ, we "have peace with God," Rom. 5:1.
    4. Jesus death was the means of delivering us from death.
    5. In this, we see, the death of death in the death of Christ.
  5. Moreover:
    1. The first and principal end of the Lord Christ's taking on a human nature, was not to reign in that nature, but to suffer and die in it.
      1. He could not have died if he had not been made partaker of our nature. For this very reason he took on our nature. So that he could die on our behalf.
      2. In this, he is our Jacob.
        1. Jacob loved Rachel and was content to submit unto any terms, to undergo any condition, to have her.
        2. So Christ was content to submit unto any terms to undergo and condition so that he might save and enjoy his beloved church.
      3. And therefore, "when the people would have taken him by force, and made him a king," he hid himself from them, John. 6:15; but he hid not himself when they came to take him by force and put him to death, but affirmed that for that hour, he came into the world,
      4. John 18:11 11So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” ESV
      5. John 18:37 37Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” ESV
      6. We have seen in Hebrews how Christ testifies to the truth, not by reigning as King but by dying on a cross.
    2. Christ suffered willingly for our sake, so to ought we to suffer willingly for his sake.
      1. Because it was all for the salvation of the children, he was contented with it and delighted in it.
      2. How, then, ought we to be contented with the difficulties, sorrows, afflictions, and persecutions, which for his sake we are or may be exposed unto, when he on purpose took our nature, that for our sakes he might be exposed and subject unto much more than we are called unto!
    3. Satan triumphed not over Christ
      1. Satan labored to undo Christ. He tempted him, stirred men's hatred towards him, and incited actings of this hatred, until at last he succeeded in seeing the Son of God dead. And what great victory did he thus gain? Only this, his own destruction and Christ's exultation together with the redemption of Christ's bride who Satan thought to be his subjects.
      2. Satan thought to triumph over Christ in his death, but where O death is your sting?
      3. In the bruising of Christ's heal. Satan's head was crushed
      4. God can bring light out of darkness, and meat out of the eater. He can disappoint his adversaries of their greatest hopes and fairest possibilities, and raise up the hopes of his own out of the grave. He can make suffering to be saving, death victorious, and heal us by the stripes of his Son.
    4. Why is this brought up?
      1. I suspect for this reason.
      2. Satan is by all accounts we have a chief angel a mighty representative of his kind, mighty enough to have persuaded a third of the angels to rebel against God and to become what the scriptures call the god of this world.
      3. If Christ was able to triumph over Satan a mighty angelic being, how can you think of him as inferior to the angels.
      4. What is more, Christ defeated Satan in his lowest estate, when he was at his weakest, abandoned by men and forsaken by God he dies. If Christ thus made weak defeated Satan, how would the strength of Jesus now reigning in power be compared to the power of Satan. The Hebrews were tempted to think Christ lower than the angels, look then to angels at their strongest and Jesus at his lowest and compare the two. There is no comparison to be made between Jesus and angels. Jesus far exceeds them all.
  6. Verses
    1. Hebrews 9:15 15Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. ESV
    2. John 12:24 24Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. ESV
    3. Romans 14:9 9For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. ESV
    4. Isaiah 25:8 8He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. ESV
    5. 1 Corinthians 15:54–55 54When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” ESV
    6. 1 Corinthians 15:25–2625For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. ESV

He takes the seed of Abraham

  1. Compared
    1. For verily not anywhere doth he take angels, but he taketh the seed of Abraham Owen
    2. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. KJV
    3. For he in no sort took on him the Angels’ nature, but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Geneva
    4. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. ESV
    5. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. NASB
    6. For, as we all know, He [Christ] did not take hold of angels [the fallen angels, to give them a helping and delivering hand], but He did take hold of [the fallen] descendants of Abraham [to reach out to them a helping and delivering hand]. AMP
  2. Translated as
    1. Seized, catch, take, help, arrested, took
      1. Luke 23:26 26And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. ESV
      2. Matthew 14:31 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” ESV
      3. Mark 8:23 23And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” ESV
  3. For surely he did not take on the nature of angels, but he has taken on the nature of man.
  4. This was the great expectation of the Hebrews, that the Messiah should be the seed of Abraham.
    1. Genesis 12:7 7Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. ESV
  5. And so he was
    1. Galatians 3:16 16Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. ESV
    2. Romans 9:5 5To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. ESV
  6. Not one word is anywhere spoken that he should be an angel, or take their nature upon him
  7. This, then, the apostle teaches us, that the Lord Christ, the Son of God, according to the promise, took to himself the nature of man, coming of the seed of Abraham,—that is, into personal union with himself; but took not the nature of angels, no such thing being spoken of him or concerning him anywhere in the Scripture.
    1. John 1:14 14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ESV
  8. For a sinning nature to be saved, it was indispensably necessary that Christ should take on that nature.
  9. 2 adjuncts of this
    1. The nature of angels being not taken, those that sinned in that nature must perish for ever;
      1. See in this how gracious God is towards man. It was within his sovereign right to leave us, as he did the fallen angels to our own ways and means, never to have any hope of atonement and rescuer. God, in his love, and his own free determination, chose to save us. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son...
    2. Those that hold out hope for a possibility of salvation by any other way but by satisfaction made in the same nature that did sin, seem not to have considered aright the nature of sin and the justice of God.
      1. Had any other way been possible, why does the perishing of angels so inevitably follow the non-taking, the non-assumption of their nature? This way alone, then, is the way of salvation.
      2. Had any other way been possible, why does God at great cost to himself and great harm to his Son determine to save men by this way. It makes God out to be unjust for him to send his Son to die if that death was not necessary and needful. This is the way of salvation. There is no other.
  10. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect
  11. This ends our apostles treatment of Christ as compared to angels, answering the Jews complaint that Jesus should be made lower than the angels. Christ was indeed made lower than angels but he is now seated in power at the right hand of God, and that for this very reason:
  12. Phil 2:6b-8 [he] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
  13. Phil 2:9-11 9Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.