From Gospel Translations
“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” (Heb. 2:14).
- Hebrews 2:14–15
As the epistle to the Hebrews unfolds, the author tells us that Jesus, with regard to His human nature, has the same origin as His brothers. Far from being a Savior who stands completely apart from His people, Jesus the Messiah shares our common humanity with all of its original dignity.
Lest there be any doubt about this, 2:14 makes explicit what is implicit in the preceding Old Testament quotations. Jesus, like the children whom He sanctifies (2:11), partook of flesh and blood. Jesus freely chose to take on our humanity and identify with us. Here we have a clear teaching on the Incarnation. Far from being a doctrine found only in John’s gospel, the teaching that the Son of God became incarnate is also taught here, and throughout the rest of the apostolic writings (e.g., Phil. 2:7–8 Acts; 20:28; 2 Peter 1:1).
The Incarnation was not accomplished for the purpose of giving tribute to the glory and worth of humanity. To be sure, mankind possesses great dignity because man was created in the image of God. But due to the Fall, this image is shattered and is at best only a pale reflection of what it should be. Because of this, Christ became incarnate not to pay tribute to the image, but rather to rescue it. Verses 14–15 tell us that Christ partook of our nature so that by His death He might conquer the one who held the power of death and free those who were subject to lifelong slavery because of their bondage.
We are the ones who were subject to slavery. We feared physical death because we know it is the just punishment for sin. Even more than that, we feared the second death, the eternal punishment that we know is coming for all those who have sinned against the infinite God.
Christ has freed us from this slavery. His atonement in our place and on our behalf destroyed the devil and the power of death that he held over us. For a time, God gives Satan the power over death in order that it might be wielded over those who join Satan in rebellion. In Jesus, God takes that power away. On the cross, Jesus Christ destroyed Satan and now frees from Satan’s power all those who are drawn to Him in salvation. We need not fear death because Jesus has defeated the one who used it to enslave us, and He will one day eliminate its effects completely from those whom He came to save.
Christians know that Christ has already destroyed the devil and the power of death that he held. Because of this, we know that physical death will one day be eliminated as well. Thank Christ for His victory over the devil and remember that those who follow Christ need not fear death because He has rescued us from it.
Passages for Further Study