Hebrews 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.”
Death is a problem. Is that a statement of the obvious? We can even say that death is the problem. This is true on a number of different levels.
Death is the problem because it gives the devil power over us. It’s not just that death is painful to experience, destroys our earthly bodies, and ends our earthly relationships. Death is the consequence of our sin. We suffer it because we are members of the rebellious family of mankind, and we have mounted our own personal rebellions against God. Sin qualifies us to share the devil’s fate in hell. It disqualifies us for life in God’s presence. The power of death is its power to make sure we get what our sins deserve.
Since God is the one who determines when each person will die, he has power over death. But God doesn’t want to use death for its original purpose. “I take no pleasure in the death of anyone” he says through the prophet Ezekiel.
The one who infected humanity with death by leading our first parents to sin is the devil. The one who is constantly working to arrange for us to die in unbelief is the devil. Death, used for its original purpose to judge and destroy the enemies of God, is the power of the devil. He introduced it and still manipulates it to keep us from God and heaven.
Death is a problem because it makes us slaves to fear. Until we know what Jesus has done for us, we are “those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Fear is a powerful motivator. It gets you to do things you otherwise would not. It drives us to all kinds of bizarre behaviors. It inspires silly superstitions, like trusting in rabbit’s feet and avoiding the cracks on the sidewalk. It makes us selfish and unwilling to share with others. We horde and we hide because we fear the day when our own stock will run out, and we freeze or starve to death. It keeps us awake all night, afraid of the boogeyman as children, afraid of dread disease as adults.
Jesus became a flesh and blood Savior because he came to deal with our death. He does so by his own death. “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…” Death, by definition, involves a separation–whether the separation of the soul from the body, or the separation of the sinner from God. God is a Spirit. Neither of these separations are possible for him as such. So Jesus shared in our humanity so that he could die.
By his death he destroys the one who holds the power of death, that is the devil. He didn’t make the devil cease to exist. He took away his deathly power. He ruined the devil’s work of damning souls. Jesus’ death made himself look weak, but it is actually the most powerful thing in the world.
When you split an atom, that atom “dies,” if you will, and you unleash incredible power. When you split the flesh and blood Son of God from his soul, and from his Father, in his death at the cross, incredible power is unleashed. A chain reaction begins that serves the death sentence for everyone’s sin. Satan is left disrobed and disarmed, a whimpering little spirit whose deadliest weapon has been taken away from him.
Jesus also “shared in their humanity so that by his death he might…free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” The death of our flesh and blood Savior removes our fear because it promises us God is not going to punish us for our sins. It removes our fear that death is going to be the end. Now we know that it is the gateway to life that never ends.
This sets us free to live our lives without the guilt trips, and without the superstitions, and without the desperation and panic that comes with the belief that I have to look out for number one and save myself. Jesus shares our flesh and blood to deal with our death and end our slavish fears.