Last week as we began Advent in the first few verses of Hebrews we saw a grand truth: that the coming of the Son of God not only marked the first Christmas, it marked the beginning of the end, the beginning of the final act of history. For long ages, God spoke to His people by the prophets of old. But now, in these last days God has spoken His final and last word in the Person of His Son, the Lord Jesus, who is: the Creator of all things, the Heir of all things, the great sustainer of and ruler over all things, the Radiance and exact Imprint of the Father, as well as the One who made purification for sins by His death on the cross. That’s all true, and it’s brilliant and bright in its beauty. Yes and amen.

But a question remains, doesn’t it? In a sense last week we learned the ‘What?’ and this week we turn to the ‘Why?’ So Church, why, why did God speak through His Son? Why did God send His Son as flesh and blood? Why did the first Christmas happen? Let me answer that question with a confession. I don’t often admit this, but when I was young I was a huge fan of professional wrestling. It had all the things that make TV shows great: drama, suspense, courage, A-list acting. I would watch each week, follow the storylines, get the t-shirts, and play with the all the action figures in wrestling matches of my own. But of all the things I enjoyed most about it was the grand entrance each wrestler made into the arena. Each of them had their own trademark way of entering in, from running in quickly to jump into the fight, to walking slowly and scary trying to frighten their opponent, some would enter with an entire entourage of other wrestlers who had their back, and others would surprise everyone by popping up in an expected spot or at an unexpected time to change the events of another fight! Regardless how the wrestler did it, the entrance was aimed at one thing: displaying to all watching that this wrestler was a true champion and that no one could stand in their way to victory.

There’s something of Christmas in this. When Christ, our mighty Champion, made His grand entrance into the world, it truly was a moment of greatness and glory. But, unlike the wrestlers, Christ’s power and might were veiled in weakness and obscurity. And this continued on His ministry which seemingly abruptly ended in a flat out defeat as He died on the cross. But, what looked like great failure, folly, and weakness was nothing less than the power of God! So, let’s come back to our question: why did the first Christmas happen? There are many answers we could give to this. But our text today, Hebrews 2:14-15, says the first Christmas happened, so Jesus, our True Champion, could destroy and deliver.

Hear our text in whole before we see it in part. Hebrews 2:14-15, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same things, 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.”

Three headings today, all about Christ, our mighty Champion.

Our Champion Enters (v14a)

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same things…”

As v14 begins, we’re called children because in v13 those who are given by the Father to Jesus are referred as the ‘children.’ So continuing on with that imagery here in v14 we ‘children’ are said to ‘share in flesh and blood.’ This is simply a way of saying what we are. That we are human. That all mankind shares something together and has flesh and blood in common. So individually we’re human beings, and together we form humanity. This nature is common to all of us. That’s how v14 begins, but then v14 moves beyond us, beyond what is common to all of us, and speaks of something far greater than us.

“…He Himself likewise partook of the same things…” This is the incarnation, this is true God becoming true Man, this is the birth of the Lord Jesus, this is Christmas. But, the way this verse speaks about us and the way it speaks about Jesus isn’t the same is it? We have flesh and blood in common with one another. Does it say Jesus shares this with us? No, it says Jesus partook of the same things. What’s the difference? It’s a great difference. We share the same flesh and blood nature, us here, you and I. That Jesus is said to partake of flesh and blood means two things. First, it means flesh and blood was not His nature. Before His birth He was not flesh and blood. He was the Son of God, eternally existing ever with and alongside the Father and the Spirit. Second, that He partook of flesh and blood means He willingly and lovingly took on flesh and blood at His birth.[1] In other words, in His partaking of flesh and blood the Son of God, who had always been, became something He had never been before, human. So while man was made in the image of God, Christ took on the image of God in becoming man.[2] And the glory of it all is that in taking on a true humanity He did not lose and He did not diminish His true deity either! Truly and fully God He became truly and fully Man, partaking of our nature that we by faith would become partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4).

But, as wonderful as it is, was the incarnation of the Son of God enough? God now dwelling among us, is that enough to enable us to dwell with God? No, it’s not enough. There was an enemy to deal with in the Devil, and there was his great weapon to deal with in death. So the text has introduced us to our Champion who has now entered, but why did He enter? Keep on in v14 and see the first reason it gives us…

Our Champion’s Destruction (v14b)

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same things (why?)…thatthrough death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil…”

Destruction might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Christmas, it might not have ever come to mind as you’ve thought about Christmas…but destruction has everything to do with Christmas. Remember what the Gospels tell us. Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 12:29, “Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.” And lastly, John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” From these passages we’re shown that Jesus came…that Christmas exists, so He can plunder the devil’s house, so He can destroy the work of the Devil with a sword. How else is Jesus to nullify what this thief intends to bring and accomplish bringing about the abundant life He promised to bring? Jesus has come to destroy.

But look how v14 puts it. “…that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil…” How surprising is it, that the manner in which Jesus destroys the devil, who has the power of death, is through death itself? How wonderful that the death of Christ is what brought about the death of death![3] What infinite love we see in this! As the eternal Son of God He could not undergo death, it was something far below Him, but in great love He put on our nature to make it possible for Him to die.[4] This all means there are two ways, or two angles, to view this Christmas destruction. On one hand the destruction in view here is the destruction of the Son of God Himself on the cross for our sins as He hung condemned and died in our place. But on the other hand the destruction in view is the result of that work, the destruction of the devil.

Doesn’t this take us all the way back to the beginning?[5] In Eden all was once bright and beautiful. But the tempter came, promising Adam and Eve that they would be like God if they ate the fruit. Our first parents should’ve remembered the warning, “In the day you eat of the fruit, you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). But they ate, and death entered in. And Satan surely laughed, surely rejoiced in this fall as the hearts of men grew dark, as Adam and Eve hid from God, as Cain murdered Abel, as the men of Noah’s day were so wicked it grieved the heart of God, and on and on and on. Because of his temptation and deception, death is now the end of all men. Though they’ve been as humble as Moses, as regal as David, or as wise as Solomon, death finds us all. Only three times has death been overcome. First was Enoch, Genesis 5:23-24, “Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” Second was Elijah, in 2 Kings 2 he was taken up by chariots and a whirlwind into heaven. But third, the true Champion…the Lord Jesus Christ who one day entered into this dark world. He didn’t look like much in His birth, He was meek and lowly in life, and He died on a cross. All of hell surely rejoiced when Christ entered into the grave, but how they shuddered and feared when He walked out! In His great might, our Lord Jesus ripped the weapon of death out of Satan’s arms and used it against him, to conquer him, and to destroy him! Death now to us, has no sting, and it isn’t the final word.

So, Christmas is all about destruction. But joy upon joy, it’s also about deliverance.

Our Champion’s Deliverance (v15)

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same things 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.”

If I were to ask all of you to name your greatest fears, what do you think would be on the list? Heights, public speaking, spiders, drowning, loneliness, sickness, things like this? These are all common enough and would be on the list for most people. But if we were truly honest I think we’d all come to the conclusion that there’s a greater fear that’s common to everyone. Of course I’m talking about, death. Why do we fear death? A number of reasons.[6] We might fear the dying process and the pain it can bring. We might fear the separation death brings, from family and friends. We might fear the unknown of what may happen to us after death. And, we might fear Hell and eternal punishment. In these ways, and many more, death is truly one of man’s greatest fears. And what makes it so daunting is it’s not only a future fear, it’s a fear that meets us in the present and rules over us now, removing peace and leaving behind great anxiety.[7] Of course some say death is only a fear for the weak which causes people to turn to religion. As if religion were a kind of crutch for those who aren’t able to do life on their own. Many have boasted of such things and have expressed the same dread as they felt death draw near them. But, while this is true for all mankind, this isn’t true for Christians. How can I say that?

You see, v15 shows this when it says the fear of death is a kind of lifelong slavery. But it says more, that Jesus “…delivers all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” Be sure to note, it doesn’t say Jesus delivers us from death, but from the fear of death. All of us then, unless Jesus returns first, will have to pass through death. But what hope we have in Christ, because He willingly and lovingly put on our nature, killed death by His own death, and in His death has taken away what is fearful in death.[8] So we can face death head on with great confidence and eagerness to be with the Lord forever. With Paul we too can now say, “For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). For the Christian then, death might be painful, but it isn’t a jump into the unknown, it’s a homecoming. It’s the Jordan we cross to enter into the promise land. “It’s a return from exile, a going home to the many mansions where the loved ones already dwell.”[9] You see in Christ’s we’ve already been delivered from the power of sin and penalty of sin, at death we’ll be delivered from the very presence of sin. Death no longer our enemy. Death is the beginning of chapter one of the Great Story, which goes on forever, in which every chapter is better than the one before.[10]

Conclusion:

Church, many of you know these things, but my question for you as we end is this: do you celebrate these things?

It is sweet to die in the Lord. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15). No, we’re not far from home – just a moment will bring us there…for when our eyes close on earth they open in heaven.”[11] Why? Our Christmas Champion entered in, our Christmas Champion has destroyed, and our Christmas Champion has delivered. He has set us free and we’re free indeed!


[1] John MacArthur, Hebrews: MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, Ill: Moody, 1983) 69.

[2] R. Kent Hughes, Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul: Preaching the Word Commentary (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2015) 67.

[3] Spurgeon Study Bible, footnote on Hebrews 2:15, 1643.

[4] Calvin Commentaries, Hebrews 2:14 (accessed via Accordance Bible software, 12.4.20).

[5] Charles Spurgeon, The Destroyer Destroyed: Metropolitan Tabernacle Sermons, #166, morning of Dec. 6, 1857 (accessed via Accordance Bible software, 12.4.20).

[6] Hughes, 77.

[7] Richard D. Phillips, Hebrews: Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2006) 77.

[8] John Calvin, quoted in Phillips, 78.

[9] Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, morning reading, April 20.

[10] C.S. Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia: Last Battle.

[11] Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, morning reading, April 20.

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