Jesus Shared


Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, he likewise shared in their humanity, so that through death he could destroy the one who holds the power of death (that is, the devil), and set free those who were held in slavery all their lives by their fear of death. For surely his concern is not for angels, but he is concerned for Abraham’s descendants. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in things relating to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. For since he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted. (Heb. 2:14-18, NET)

As I outlined last week, there is a divine order to the relationship between faith and works. Before we can imitate Jesus, we are meant to receive from him. Martin Luther explained it this way: “The chief article and foundation of the gospel is that before you take Christ as an example, you accept and recognize him as a gift, as a present that God has given you and that is your own…Now when you have Christ as the foundation and chief blessing of your salvation, then the other part follows: that you take him as your example, giving yourself in service to your neighbor just as you see that Christ has given himself for you…Therefore make note of this, that Christ as a gift nourishes your faith and makes you a Christian. But Christ as an example exercises your works. These do not make you a Christian. Actually they come forth from you because you have already been made a Christian.” [1]

In other words, “What Would Jesus Do?” is not the first question we ought to ask. The first question we ought to ask is “What Did Jesus Do?”

Hebrews 2:14-18 offers us five answers. The first one is this: Jesus shared.

“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, he likewise shared in their humanity.”

Humans are material beings. We have spirits, but we were made from the dust. We are physical, tangible, earthy creatures. God, though, is spirit. This is one of the great distinctions between us and him. He is creator, we are creation.

After God created us fleshly children in his image, he declared all things good. But we turned on him and ran away from home. We spurned our Maker, and in doing so, we cut ourselves off from the Good. From this point on humanity began a downward descent toward death and decay. The more we tried to fix our problems, the more problems we created for ourselves. As history progressed, one thing became clear: we needed an external rescue. God would have to intervene if the story was to have a happy ending. J. Ryan Lister puts it this way: “What if [God] has been telling you from the beginning of the drama that the only way to overcome the great conflict is by his breaking into the storyline?” [2]

When God breaks into the storyline to save, he executes one of the most scandalous acts of all time. The eternal Word of God, the second person of the Trinity, actually takes on flesh and is born as a human. We call this event the Incarnation, and it is glorious. Before we can move on to anything else Jesus accomplished for us, we have to start here. This is where the author of Hebrews starts — with Jesus sharing in our humanity.

Karl Barth sums it up well: “The nativity mystery ‘conceived from the Holy Spirit and born from the Virgin Mary’, means, that God became human, truly human out of his own grace. The miracle of the existence of Jesus , his ‘climbing down of God’ is: Holy Spirit and Virgin Mary! Here is a human being, the Virgin Mary, and as he comes from God, Jesus comes also from this human being. Born of the Virgin Mary means a human origin for God. Jesus Christ is not only truly God, he is human like every one of us. He is human without limitation. He is not only similar to us, he is like us.” [3]

He is human like every one of us. And the author of Hebrews goes so far as to say he had to be made like us. In order for this divine rescue mission to work, Jesus had to get dirty. He had to step down from his throne and enter our broken world. This blessed condescension made it possible for Jesus to stand in the gap. Jesus, the God-man, now mediates on our behalf.

This changes everything. Why? Because since Jesus shared in our life, we can share in his. Because Jesus stooped down to meet us, we can be exalted with him. Because Jesus took on human nature, we can become partakers of the divine nature.

The downward descent of humanity has been reversed. History changed. Our destiny altered. And now we find ourselves headed towards glory rather than destruction.

Jesus shared — in every sense of the word. He participated with us in our fallen condition, and he invited us into the life only he possessed.

Jesus shared.

And it’s good news he did.

[1] Martin Luther, A Brief Instruction on What to Look for and Expect in the Gospels

[2] J. Ryan Lister, The Presence of God

[3] Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline