The second chapter of Hebrews aims to prove that Jesus shared in humanity, so that he could be a forerunner of glory and honour, leading those behind him into the same (2:5–18). But sometimes we see Jesus as the perfect God so different from us, that we never consciously assume that he could have experienced temptation and suffering as we do.
Yet Hebrews 2 argues just the opposite: “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. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (2:17–18).
Jesus took on a human nature to deliver us from death, from the rotting of spiritual flesh as we walk through life as zombies—our bodies are falling apart but we just want more death, sin and twisted desire. He’s experienced this kind of life and come away unscathed, showing us we can too.
Unlike popular TV shows, Jesus cured the zombie virus; we no longer have to be the walking dead. And we have open access to patient zero, to Jesus who experienced a rotting life but without ever sinning, without tasting evil.
And if you’ve ever felt confused about how to overcome temptation and sin, our brother by adoption (2:12, 13) who teaches us to trust in God (2:13) has annihilated the devil’s power over us (2:14) and provided an example of how to overcome sin and temptation.
To pursue Jesus’ exemplar life, we might first consider the Gospels at the primary source. Yet Hebrews chapter 2 also provides some guidance.
1. Embrace Suffering to Gain Glory
God made Jesus a little lower than the angels, and Jesus experienced suffering and death (2:9). But through suffering Jesus found something precious: glory and honour. Likewise, we must learn to embrace our trials in trust, as we wait for God to act, delivering us from our pain in this age or the next. We may be tempted to despair in suffering, yet Jesus experienced suffering beyond what most of us will ever experience—and he did it because of the reward set up before him.
2. Embrace Living for Others
The reason why Jesus tasted death was to save everyone (2:9). Jesus did not love pain for some intrinsic value in it. No, Jesus embraced pain, so that he could serve others. He gave his life as a ransom for many. So also ought we live with an outward focused life, living for the benefit and redemption of others.
Sometimes our temptations or worries are summed in an overly “me” centered focus. We focus on ourselves to the extent that our molehill becomes Mount Everest. We’ll never be perfect or have a perfect life in this age; but we can live for the benefit of others as Jesus did to overcome our temptation.
3. Embrace Your Family
Jesus has become your brother by adoption into God’s family (2:12, 13). You are part of God’s family, with all the privileges of royalty. You will inherit the world and judge angels. The squabbles of the present are small in comparison. Jesus calls us “brothers” (2:12) and “children” of God (2:13). It is due to his love for the family of God that Jesus tasted death. And it can be through our love for our family that we avoid the temptations of sin. Have you ever noticed that sometimes the more you love someone, the less likely you will be to offend them—the more likely you will be to please them?
4. Embrace God’s Help
God the Father helped Jesus in his humanity, not the angels (2:16). God has a unique and specific love for humanity. Jesus knew well the love of God and lived by the Spirit of God (cf. Acts 10:38). We have divine favour, an open approach to the throne of grace. When temptation hits, we have the most powerful force in the universe at our side. Turn to him when temptation comes.
Jesus is not some ethereal being somewhere out there. He lived through the same life we did, and he has set out a way to live life apart from sin. Read the Gospels with new life, as they are examples of our forerunner of faith which will lead us to glory and honour.