December 26, 2021
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says,
“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the assembly I will sing your praises.”
13 And again,
“I will put my trust in him.”
And again he says,
“Here am I, and the children God has given me.”
14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human 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. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Presents are only good if they work. If one of the toys you opened yesterday does not work, then it was not a good toy. From another point of view, if one of the toys you opened yesterday remained in its box and was never opened, then it does not work and is not a good toy. Or consider your frustration at getting monopoly money in a card rather than dollars or a check because monopoly money is not worth anything. Presents or gifts are good when they are used, and they work.
Samuel was one of his mother Hannah’s greatest gifts. We get a glimpse into the life of Hannah in the Old Testament book of 1 Samuel. She was married to a man named Elkanah who also had another wife. Hannah was not able to have children, while the other wife did have children. Hannah prayed to the Lord asking that she could have a son, and she said that if the Lord blessed her with a son, then she would dedicate him to the Lord. The Lord heard her prayer, and she gave birth to a son, naming him Samuel, which means “God has heard.” Hannah was overjoyed that God heard her prayer, but she also faced the difficult day when she dedicated her son, Samuel, to the Lord, leaving him with Eli the priest at the Tabernacle when he was only a little boy.
Sin causes you suffering. Hannah suffered because she had no children and because her husband’s other wife who did aggravated and taunted her for being childless. She also suffered when she gave up her son to live at the Tabernacle in service to God. You may suffer because you are deprived of something that seems so common to others. You may suffer because you gave something up to do what God wants you to do. Even at Christmas, you are reminded of suffering and sins as you say to yourself, “I wish things were like this all year.” The gifts, the giving, the thankfulness, the time off, etc. all remind us that most of life is not what we want it to be. God also wants things to be different. In Hebrews 2, we read, 14 “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” You were stuck in sin. That sin caused you suffering and filled you with the fear of death. The devil keeps you afraid of death because he tempts you into sin, causes you pain from the sins of others, and accuses of sin when you do give in, taunting you with your guilt and whispering all the time that God does not love you or want you because you do not work the way he wanted you to work.
God wanted things to be different for you. God did not want you to suffer, so he undid the work of the devil. He has saved you from temptation, sin, the devil, death and hell. In Hebrews 2, we read again, 14 “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Jesus became a flesh and blood human being so that he could break the power of the devil. We read in Luke 2, 52 “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Throughout Jesus whole life, even as a child, he was obedient to God and man, not giving into temptation or sin. Then in Hebrews 2, we read, 17 “For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human 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.” Jesus faced temptation and did not sin so that he could offer his life as a sacrifice of atonement, meaning he stopped God from being angry with you. God chose to be angry at the innocent, sinless Jesus putting him to death on the cross where he experienced hell, the separation from God’s love. Then rising from the grave three days later, he gave proof that the devil, death and hell had been defeated. Now, having finished his work, God has made things different for you.
Jesus made the way for you to escape suffering. Jesus made the way for you to escape suffering by suffering for you as we read in Hebrews 2, 10 “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.” Jesus did not remain in heaven as the holy, perfect and sinless God. If he had remained there, he could only judge you and condemn you to hell for your sins. Instead, he came to earth to reach his goal of being perfect as a human being. He is the pioneer or the first one to live an entire perfect life and make that life yours by suffering. We read in 2 Corinthians 5, 21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” You are the righteousness of God meaning the perfect, sinless people of God. You have become the sons and daughters of God because Jesus suffered and gave you his perfect record. That record is yours as we read in Romans 1, 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” By your faith in Jesus, you are righteous, perfect and sinless, and you will be taken from this world of suffering into the glory of heaven.
Temptation and sin still cause you to suffer in this life. Your sinful nature finds joy in giving into temptations, but they lead to death and hell. Your new heart of faith finds joy in suffering, in enduring temptation without giving into sin. Every temptation you face is too much for you, but we have this good news in Hebrews 2, 18 “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Jesus suffered to the point of death for you. He suffered to save you and to be able to truly sympathize with you. So that not only as the all-knowing God who created you and knows your inmost thoughts and watches every moment of your life with complete understanding and clarity and never sleeping or missing or forgetting a moment, can say he understands what you are suffering. He can also say he understand because he has been there. And he is still here to help you. Go to his Word when you are tempted and to those whom he has put in your life who will encourage you with the Word of God.
Presents are only good if they work. Hannah gave up one of God’s greatest gifts to her, her firstborn son, Samuel. Hannah agreed to give up one child, and then God answered her prayers giving her five more children as we hear in 1 Samuel 2. God gave up his Son, and he gained many more sons and daughters. In Hebrews 2, we read, 11 “Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.” You are Jesus’ brothers and sisters, God’s sons and daughters. Jesus did not remain in heaven, he came to earth to work for you. He spent every moment of his life keeping God’s commands suffering for doing good. He paid with his life, to give you the gift of life. He is still with you to help you when you suffer and are tempted. And one day, you will fully experience freedom from the fear of death, from temptation and suffering in heaven because Jesus became a human being to save you through his suffering. Amen.