Why God the Son Came Into This World
Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 7:00 p.m. Sermon #: 1696
Pastor Don Horban
Hebrews 2:14-15 - “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.”
These two verses are densely packed with the biggest ideas in the whole world. To taste the truth of these two verses is to have the keys to unquenchable joy. To unpack these verses and implant these truths in your mind and heart is the greatest Christmas gift I’m capable of giving you. God grant us all the ability to sense and appreciate the impact of these stunning words today.
The ideas, while profound, come apart so nicely in these verses. The phrases pull apart the way good Christmas oranges come apart into segments:
1) “SINCE THEREFORE THE CHILDREN SHARE FLESH AND BLOOD....”
That’s you and I. This is what we all have in common. We all share in flesh and blood. We aren’t angelic beings. We are human, and we are fallen human. And the beautiful truth presented here - the truth with which the meaning of Christmas is launched - is God knows who and what we are. And God knows what it is we most desperately need.
Before we see anything else in these verses we learn that salvation is tailored for the human condition. The angels celebrated Christ’s birth, but He didn’t come for the angels. And He didn’t come for the animals. He came with hope and love and life for all the children who share in flesh and blood.
2) “HE HIMSELF LIKEWISE PARTOOK OF THE SAME THINGS....”
When the writer says of Jesus that “He partook of the same things,” he is referring back to the words “flesh and blood.” He means Jesus, in His Incarnation, partook of flesh and blood. And His flesh and blood was just like our flesh and blood.
That verb “partook” is an important one. It speaks of a voluntary action on Jesus’ part. You and I had no choice in assuming flesh and blood. Somewhere, somehow, that decision was made for us when we were conceived. But this was not the case with Jesus Christ, God the Son.
Jesus Christ existed before His Incarnation. He didn’t have flesh and blood at that time. The Apostle John tells us the Son existed from eternity past. In words that bend our imagination, but bespeak the reality of the Trinity, John says Jesus was God from all eternity and was also with God from all eternity.
Then came the time of the Incarnation - the birth of baby Jesus - the baby of “flesh and blood” - flesh just like your flesh and blood just like your blood. John says the “word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). There is great mystery here. Jesus became fully human. But He remained fully God.
It’s very important that we absorb these deep thoughts. We need to soak them up and regurgitate them regularly. If we’re not careful, even though we can recite these truths, this world of ours tends to treat them like the stuff of myth and legend. Never let these pungent, historic facts congeal into lovely fairy tales.
Next the writer of Hebrews is going to tell us why these truths must be kept red-hot in our thinking:
3) “THAT THROUGH DEATH....”
Just that much for now. The writer is talking about Jesus’ death. Not ours. The striking, stunning truth about Christmas is that the reason Jesus, the eternal God the Son, came into this world as a man, was to die. That is the only reason He came. He brought us great miracles, but He didn’t come to perform miracles. He enthralled the crowds with the richness of His teaching, but He didn’t come to teach.
Jesus said He came to die. He said He came to “give His life, a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). That means death didn’t just happen to Jesus. He died intentionally. He offered His own life for others. Death didn’t take Him off guard. He brought a profound sense of understanding and mission to the Cross.
In fact, Jesus’ death on the cross was the whole reason He came and “took on flesh and blood.” All of the separate truths of these verses are only separate in sermons and on paper. In reality each of them is intertwined with the others. The reason we need to be so clear on the Incarnation is the nature of the cross. I repeat, Christmas cannot be understood at all apart from Good Friday.
As we already said, God the Son didn’t begin to exist when He was born into this world. He always existed with the Father. But He existed in Spirit-form. Then comes Christmas and the Incarnation. The writer of Hebrews allows us a rare and precious glimpse into a conversation among the Godhead before creation began. The Son speaks words about His birth into this world that is yet to come:
Hebrews 10:4-5 - “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.  Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me....”
Why does the Son need a “body?” Or, in the words of our text, why does He have to “take on flesh and blood?” The answer is simple and direct. The eternal Son needs a body because you can’t pound nails through a Spirit.
Michael Card penned such striking and clear words in one of his songs. In describing the Incarnation he says that Jesus, “took flesh and blood so He could bleed and make a way divine.” That’s it exactly.
4) “HE MIGHT DESTROY THE ONE WHO HAS THE POWER OF DEATH, THAT IS, THE DEVIL....”
These are profound words. They’re too easily read quickly without feeling their due weight. Two questions need to be asked if these words are to have their proper impact: how does the Devil have the power of death? And second, how does the death of Jesus destroy the Devil’s power?
First, question number one: how does the Devil have the power of death? We know that the decree of death didn’t initially come from Satan, but from God Himself: Genesis 2:16-17 - “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
We know that all through the Bible our times and seasons are in God’s hands. The Psalmist knew that it was God who “returns us unto the dust.” So how does the Devil have the power of death?
The simplest answer is the Devil has the power of death in the sense of his power of darkness and sin to lead people, as he did Adam and Eve, into distrust and rebellion against God. Our guilt turns death into an eternal nightmare of punishment and separation from God.
In other words, Satan’s ultimate weapon against us is our own sin. Our heart condemns us. We know we are guilty before God. And we know death will usher us into His presence, and that fills us with dread and terror. And even if we don’t have the good sense to fear God’s judgment, we will all still face God’s judgment when we are standing before Him. And we’ll certainly fear it then.
Now we need to consider the second question: how does the death of Jesus destroy the Devil’s power? It does seem strange doesn’t it? How can death destroy the power of death? How can this possibly work? How does the death of Jesus, God the Son, who took on “flesh and blood,” destroy the power of death the Devil has over us?
Christ’s death destroys the Devil’s power by covering all our sin. Christ’s death was an atoning death because He was perfect. He fulfilled the law perfectly in every way. And, in our own flesh and blood, He offered Himself up for our sin. That means Satan has no legitimate ground to condemn us before the throne of God. Satan is defanged because he cannot make a case against those who are trusting in Jesus Christ’s death on their behalf:
Romans 8:32-33 - “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.”
God is the one who justifies. But He doesn’t just say we’re forgiven and justified. He justifies us through the death of Christ Jesus on the Cross. And, says the Apostle Paul, the justifying death of God the Son on the cross has a devastating effect on the power of the Devil. Death, while still present, doesn’t usher us into eternal separation from God. Paul says our death has been so transformed through the death of Christ that to die is gain. Death, through Christ’s death on the cross, no longer ushers us into the fearful judgment of God. Rather, it unites us with Christ in paradise.
This is all exactly what John meant when he said Jesus came to “destroy the works of the Devil.” These words are so frequently misunderstood they need a quick study before I comment on them:
1 John 3:5-8 - “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.  No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.  Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.  Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
When John talks about “destroying the works of the Devil” he’s talking about the putting away of sin from our lives. He says this is why Jesus came - “He appeared in order to take away sins”(5). Jesus destroys the power of sin in our lives. Never instantly. Usually through trials, temptations and struggles that come from living in this fallen world. But, through His death on the Cross and His risen life in us, His new life spills over into holiness and love for Father God.
So, through His death on the Cross Jesus “renders powerless him who had the power of death, the Devil.” Actually there are wonderful Biblical pictures of this victory that most Christians don’t even know are in the Bible. Let me give you just one great example:
Luke 1:67-69 - “And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,  “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people  and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David....”
“He (Father God) has raised up a horn of salvation (Jesus)....” These wonderful words are spoken prophetically by Zarachias at the birth of John the Baptist. God is going to use John to point the way to Jesus - the great “horn of salvation.”
The problem for most of us is we don’t know what that phrase is really all about. We can’t get our heads around the imagery of a “horn of salvation.” But this wasn’t a problem for the people of John’s day. The Old Testament is actually quite full of great references to this horn imagery:
Psalm 92:9-10 - “For behold, your enemies, O LORD, for behold, your enemies shall perish; all evildoers shall be scattered.  But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox; you have poured over me fresh oil.”
Micah 4:13 - “Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion, for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hoofs bronze; you shall beat in pieces many peoples; and shall devote their gain to the LORD, their wealth to the Lord of the whole earth.”
When we were kids we used to watch “Bonanza,” and before that, “Rawhide” on television. Sometimes we were allowed to watch “Bonanza” on Sunday night, after church. Back then, when television was a brand new concept in the Horban house, that was about the most exciting hour of my whole week. Many times I can remember sitting with my head bowed and my eyes closed while dad wound up his sermon with an altar call on Sunday night. I can still remember thinking, “Somebody put a hand up quick. Hoss and Little Joe are saddling up and getting ready for action!”
I can remember seeing the cattle - big Texas long-horns. They didn’t impress me as greatly as they should have then. I, like you , have seen countless water buffalo on National Geographic specials. But they all run in huge herds and look small on the vast open spaces.
Then I saw a huge bull close up for the very first time. I couldn’t believe it. Its back was higher than my head. Its shoulders were as wide as my desk. Its neck was thicker than a barrel. And those horns! They were six feet from tip to tip, and as fat as two baseball bats at the base.
I can remember thinking, “What if that huge animal, with those gigantic horns ever got mad?” This is what the Psalmist had in mind. In a day when there were no tanks or jets or aircraft carriers, these huge creatures with those massive horns provided the perfect image for the might and power of an awesome, untamed God.
And when Zachariah prophesied about the coming “horn of salvation” this is the picture to keep in mind. This is how God, through Christ, destroys the work of the Devil. And yes, the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking those he can devour.
But if I were designing a Christmas card in the light of this teaching I’d have a picture of a huge Texas Long Horn bull, standing all alone against the sky at sunset - just some shrub and cactus blowing around. It would be so dark you could just see this huge silhouette of the huge bull. And on the end of one of his massive horns would be hanging the impaled, shredded carcass of a dead lion.
5) “....AND DELIVER ALL THOSE WHO THROUGH FEAR OF DEATH WERE SUBJECT TO LIFELONG SLAVERY”
This is the final aspect of Christ’s Incarnation and death on the Cross. Here we see that Christmas isn’t sentimental. It’s immensely and powerfully practical. God means for our ultimate victory in Christ to have an immediate effect on our lives. If we have been freed from our greatest threat and our most powerful enemy then we are freed from all the other as well.
We don’t have to bite our nails through life. Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. We can risk great things for God because we know we don’t have to secure our own future. We are freed from the useless pursuit of toys and trivia because we know we have treasure in heaven. We are free to love and forgive even our enemies because we know ultimate justice is with God. And we know nothing in earth or under the earth can ever threaten the awesome power of Jesus, the Horn of Salvation!
Merry Christmas, everyone!