In the following passages from Hebrews we gain some insight into what was accomplished for us through the suffering of Jesus.
HEB 2:9-10 “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.”
HEB 2:14,15 “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil–and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
The devil held and wielded the power of death so as to enslave by fear. By his death, Jesus destroyed the devil, in that he rendered him powerless to enslave by the fear of death.
Except for enabling The Lord to experience resurrection life, the suffering of physical death was not primarily aimed at His perfection.
Rather it was in His capacity as a mediator that he was perfected by what he suffered, and the suffering in this connection was not so much His physical death as it was the temptation He had to face.
HEB 2:16-18 “For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
HEB 4:15,16 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
HEB 5:1-3 “Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he
himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.”
The temptation was designed in the purposes of God to perfect The Lord in His office as “high priest” to make Him merciful as He intercedes for, or represents man to God.
Again, the suffering here was not death, but temptation. We would like to look more closely at the nature of the temptation that The Lord suffered on our behalf.
HEB 5:7-10 “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
Whatever may have been the occasions when Jesus “offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death,” if indeed there was more than one, the one occasion when this must certainly have been true, was in the garden of Gethsemane.
The struggle here must not have been over His fear of death, even death by the cross as it was His fear of rejection, rejection by His Father. Jesus was a Father pleaser. He had come to do His father’s will.
Now, He who knew no sin was about to become sin. His Father could not look upon sin. In this connection, perhaps we could clear up something found in Isaiah 53:5. Here, sin becomes iniquities, and transgressions, taken together, a sickness, healed by His scourging.
Jeremiah asks the question, “Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there?”(8:22) According to Strong’s, the Hebrew word, here translated balm, has as its root meaning, “crack and cause to leak as by pressure.” In short, healing by the application of a poultice.
A poultice works by bringing the infection to a head, and drawing it into itself. The poultice becomes infused or saturated by the infection. Speaking of king Hezekiah, in Isaiah 38:21 we read, “Prepare a poultice of figs and apply it to the boil, and he will recover.” Also mentioned in II Kings 20:7, here is a Biblical example of a poultice. It is made of figs.
Jesus is that poultice. His “scourging” or “stripes” prepared Him as a poultice of figs. In this capacity, and by this means, he would become infused with our sins. As he hung on the cross, all the sins of the world in time and space came to a head, and “He became sin who knew no sin that we might be the righteousness of God in Him.”
That is what He was looking at in the garden. That is what He was struggling with to the point of “sweating great drops of blood.” That is what brought about the only conflict between His Father’s will and His own. It was the imminent horror of that reality that perfected Him for us – more specifically, the temptation in His identification with our sin and not ours only but the sins of the whole world.
Perhaps an illustration from life would help to make this clearer. It is written, “The sins of the fathers are visited on the children…” As a father, there have been more occasions than I would like to remember when I have had to intercede on behalf of my sons with their mother.
These were times when their behavior was incomprehensible, could I say, “almost unforgivable”? As one who had done the same things as a boy, I was in a position to reassure her both by words and example that this would not likely lead to an irredeemable life of crime.
As long as my sons did not do anything worse than I had done, I was in a very good position to provide this reassurance, even to be a merciful, even if not perfected “high priest” on their behalf. I could even identify with their sense of guilt and fear of rejection even terror. On one occasion, one of my sons did something I had not done as a youth. Now I was shaken, caught off balance, ineffective in my ability to provide mercy to the one and reassurance to the other. In a word I was useless as an intercessor or mediator.
Jesus is never taken by surprise. He is never caught off guard. He is never shaken. He has been perfected as our high priest. He experienced all the consequences of all the sin there ever was.
“Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” REV 7:10.
“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” REV 7:12
Jay Ferris – 1992
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