WHY JESUS CAME - John Piper
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. —Hebrews 2:14–15
Hebrews 2:14–15 is worth more than two minutes in an Advent devotional. These verses connect the beginning and the end of Jesus’s earthly life. They make clear why he came. They would be great to use with an unbelieving friend or family member to take them step by step through your Christian view of Christmas. It might go something like this… “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood…” The term “children” is taken from the previous verse and refers to the spiritual offspring of Christ, the Messiah (see Isaiah 8:18; 53:10). These are also the “children of God.” In other words, in sending Christ, God has the salvation of his “children” specially in view. It is true that “God so loved the world, that he sent [Jesus] (John 3:16).” But it is also true that God was especially “gathering the children of God who are scattered abroad” (John 11:52). God’s design was to offer Christ to the world, and to effect the salvation of his “children” (see 1 Timothy 4:10). You may experience adoption by receiving Christ (John 1:12). “…he himself likewise partook of the same things [flesh and blood]…” Christ existed before the incarnation. He was spirit. He was the eternal Word. He was with God and was God (John 1:1; Colossians 2:9). But he took on flesh and blood and clothed his deity with humanity. He became fully man and remained fully God. It is a great mystery in many ways. But it is at the heart of our faith and is what the Bible teaches. “…that through death…” The reason Jesus became man was to die. As God, he could not die for sinners. But as man he could. His aim was to die. Therefore he had to be born human. He was born to die. Good Friday is the reason for Christmas. This is what needs to be said today about the meaning of Christmas. “…he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil…” In dying, Christ de-fanged the devil. How? By covering all our sin. This means that Satan has no legitimate grounds to accuse us before God. “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33). On what grounds does he justify? Through the blood of Jesus (Romans 5:9). Satan’s ultimate weapon against us is our own sin. If the death of Jesus takes it away, the chief weapon of the devil is taken out of his hand. He cannot make a case for our death penalty, because the Judge has acquitted us by the death of his Son! “…and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” So we are free from the fear of death. God has justified us. Satan cannot overturn that decree. And God means for our ultimate safety to have an immediate effect on our lives. He means for the happy ending to take away the slavery and fear of the now. If we do not need to fear our last and greatest enemy, death, then we do not need to fear anything. We can be free: free for joy, free for others. What a great Christmas present from God to us! And from us to the world!
In today’s world of movies and media we’re surrounded by super heroes, from Superman to Luke Skywalker. They all have their own distinct personalities and each has a list of amazing abilities to help them fight evil. Many of them wear strange uniforms and have terrible social skills, but we admire them anyway and we cheer them on just the same. But the part we love best, the scene we always wait for is that inevitable battle between the good guy and the bad guy to save the world. It’s usually an epic duel with lots of flash and fighting and in the end, the super hero wins the day! Wild cheers and throwing of popcorn!
If you think about it, Jesus was the greatest super hero of all. He battled the most terrifying and sinister villain ever, and when he won he saved the entire world from death itself. And he did it without a funny costume and his only weapon was the love of his Father and the willingness to sacrifice everything for us all.
But here’s the thing. To win he had to lose. At the critical moment, the greatest super hero in history lost his life in a most painful way, and at the time it felt like such a terrible loss that even his faithful sidekicks abandoned him. Satan spent three days gloating and strutting around, thinking he’d won the biggest battle of all time. But wait! Not dead, false ending! And the return of Jesus marked the beginning of an entirely new age of believers, a worldwide army of good guys who from that point on had grace, the secret weapon that would always and forever defeat Satan every time. Wow.
NOW who’s your favorite super hero?