March 27, 2017 – Identifying with Christ’s Suffering

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.

Hebrews 2:10

 

Christians can identify with their Master because like Him, they suffer to enter their glory.

Christ said to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:25–26). Our Lord had to explain that future glory required that He suffer. We should expect the same.

The path to glory for Christ was the path of unjust suffering. That’s our path also. Jesus endured suffering with perfect patience and was exalted to the highest point of glory. He is our example of how to respond to suffering.[1]


Our Salvation Author

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. (2:10)

The phrase it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things refers primarily to God the Father, though it obviously refers to the Son as well. It was fitting means that what God did through Jesus Christ was consistent with His character. It was consistent with God’s wisdom. The cross was a masterpiece of wisdom. God solved the problem which no human or angelic mind could have solved. What He did was also consistent with His holiness, for God showed on the cross His hatred for sin. It was consistent with His power, being the greatest display of power ever manifested. Christ endured for a few hours what will take an eternity for unrepentant sinners to endure. It was consistent with His love, in that He loved the world so much that He gave His only Son for its redemption. Finally, what He did was consistent with His grace, because Christ’s sacrifice was substitutionary. The work of salvation was totally consistent with God’s nature. It was entirely fitting for Him to have done what He did.

What was fitting for the Father was equally fitting for the Son. Christ’s suffering humiliation for the sake of man’s salvation was consistent with His loving and gracious nature. Though all things were both for Him and through Him, He became for a little while lower than the angels in order to bring many sons to glory and become the perfect author of their salvation through sufferings. Here is the second perfection that His humiliation accomplished—Author of salvation. Jesus had to become a man and He had to suffer and die in order to be the perfect provider of salvation.

The Greek word for author is archēgos, literally, a “pioneer” or “leader.” In Acts 3:15 and 5:31 the term, used both times of Christ, is translated “Prince.” It always refers to someone who involves others in his endeavor. For example, it is used of a man who starts and heads a family, into which others are born or married. It is used of a man who founds a city, in which others come to live. It was commonly used of a pioneer who blazed a trail for others to follow. The archēgos never stood at the rear giving orders. He was always out front, leading and setting the example. As the supreme Archegos, Christ does not stand at the rear giving orders. He is always before us, as perfect Leader and perfect Example.

He lived for us the pattern of perfect obedience. “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:8–9). By His own obedience He set the perfect pattern for us. He also set us the the pattern for suffering. “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21).

For most people, life becomes most anxious and dreadful at the point of death. That is the point beyond which we cannot go a single step by ourselves. But the Author of our salvation promises us that “because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). The world’s ultimate question is: “Has anyone ever cheated death?”—to which the Bible replies: “Yes, Jesus Christ.” The second most important question is: “If He did, did He leave the way open for me?”—to which the Bible also replies, “Yes.” He did leave the way open. All we have to do is put our hand in His hand and He will lead us from one side of death to the other. When we accept Him as our Savior, we can say with the apostle Paul, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55).

As the great Pioneer of redemption, He blazed the trail through death and resurrection. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25–26). God made Christ for a little while lower than the angels so that He could come down to us, be our Archegos—our spiritual Pioneer and Example—and bring us to the Father.[2]


10 We are first reminded of the purpose that underlies the whole divine plan: it is to “bring many sons to glory.” (TNIV has correctly changed “sons” to “sons and daughters,” since no one believes the author thought only males were to be saved; such changes are rightly made throughout the letter wherever masculine terms such as “sons,” “brothers,” and “men” are used in an inclusive sense, and I shall from now on take them for granted rather than draw attention to them individually.) “Many” is in contrast with the one Son through whom the many are brought to glory (rather than restricting the scope of “everyone” in v. 9; cf. the “many” of Isa 53:11–12). The nature of that “glory” will be explained more fully later, for instance in terms of the heavenly “rest” (4:1–11) and the festivities of Mount Zion (12:22–24). Salvation is thus not merely a rescue mission but the positive fulfillment of the “glory and honor” for which humanity was created (Ps 8:5), sharing in the authority and glory of the living God, “for whom and through whom everything exists.” (Note that this clause echoes closely what was said of the Son in 1:2.) And it is the role of the Son to be the “author” of that salvation; the term archēgos (GK 795) means both “leader” and “originator,” and probably here as in 12:2 suggests not only the one who makes salvation possible but also the one who has gone on ahead to prepare the way (cf. 6:20). Some versions helpfully translate archēgos as “pioneer.” But his ability to fulfill that role depends on his first undergoing suffering on our behalf, so that it is “through what he suffered” (TNIV) that he becomes “perfect” as our savior. “Perfect” here, as always in Hebrews, is not a term for moral rectitude but speaks of the completion of God’s purpose (see Introduction, p. 32); Peterson, 66–73, argues in detail for a “vocational” sense here. There is no suggestion Jesus was at some time “imperfect” in the moral sense (cf. 4:15; 7:26).[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 99). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 65–67). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 54). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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