Verse of the Day Devotion. Hebrews 2:17
“Therefore, he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” – Hebrews 2:17
This is a very interesting section in Hebrews, for it speaks of why the salvation of man was accomplished as it was. Starting in verse 14 we read. “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,” Hebrews 2:14. Because mankind were fleshly beings with blood, He also needed to spend this time with the same limitations. Remember, there was only one way to pay the penalty for our sins. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23. However, it must be a perfect sacrifice, not from us who are imperfect. “And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” 1 Peter 1:17-19. This is why it was essential that a perfect person had to die. No one can pay for their sins, for they are not perfect. In essence, once you sin you can never pay the penalty for that sin.
It even becomes more powerful in the next verse. As a continuation of the previous verse, “and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” Hebrews 2:15. Christ delivered us who were destined for eternal misery and torment, with no possible deliverance. Paul put it this way. “For as by a man came death, by a man has also come the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:21-23. Now it is important that we do not see this as a ransom, as some think. Theologian David L. Allen puts it this way. “The ransom theory of the atonement claims that the death of Jesus somehow paid a ransom to the devil. But, as Oden rightly noted, this theory is contrary to Hebrews 2:14–15 where the author explicitly stated that the death of Christ was a triumph over the devil, not a ransom paid to him.”
Now, coming to our focus verse, “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Hebrews 2:17. In order for Him to have paid the penalty for us, He had to be made like us. I like the wording here “in every respect”. There was absolutely no difference in how we were and how Jesus was. And this indicates that the likeness is not a superficial one. It will later be qualified only on the matter of Christ’s sinlessness. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15. The purpose served by this likening explains to some extent the nature and end of the Son’s perfecting. The incarnation and suffering of Christ took place so that he might be a High Priest characterized by mercy and fidelity.
And this is why man’s salvation was done in this way, why it was necessary for Christ to come here and die. He was the only one who could die for all in order to save all if they turn to Him. We could not even die for our own sin, so He died for them all. This is love in it’s true form. And this is the love God has for us.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.