Sit in any crowd of people no matter how big and you can be certain that in 70-80 years they will all be dead! Gone! Forgotten!
Does that bother you? Does it make your stomach churn as I now mention it? Death is an enemy we have all feared! Hebrews 2:15 says that we are "held in slavery by our fear of death"! There is an inkling in all of us that fears death. The passage says that people are enslaved to the fear of death. So, how does our slavery to the fear of death show?
We all fear death! Why do you think we have vaccines, lockdowns, airbags, medications, seatbelts, peace treaties and hospitals? Because we fear death. People don’t won’t to die.
And this desire to not die isn’t wrong, because we were not made to die. God made us to live forever! It is so right that we feel sick and uneasy at the thought of death. And it should be feared because there is a God we will give an account to, who can destroy body and soul in hell. Death is not the end, but a gateway to living forever... either in heaven or in hell!
But death can be something we do not need to fear! Hebrews 2:14-15 shows us four things that Jesus came to do which work together to set us free from our slavery to the fear of death.
1. Jesus came to share our humanity
Hebrews 2:14 says, “since (or because) the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity”. At Christmas we remember how Jesus came to this world and took on humanity (Hebrews 2:11).
The verb in verse 14 shows that the way Jesus shared in humanity was different to us. How? Well our normal and beginning state is flesh and blood, but Jesus at a certain time took on humanity. Jesus had eternally existed before he was born. God’s son didn’t come into existence when He was born in a manager. No, he had always existed. Colossians 1 says “all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
So, when Jesus is born, he takes on the human nature! The God who spoke and brought all that we know into being, takes on humanity. He became fully man, while still being fully God. He took on a new nature without removing the old nature. Why did this have to happen? Because we are human and Jesus had to become a human to die for us.
2. Jesus came to die
The ultimate purpose and reason why Jesus came is so that He could die. Jesus was born to die! Hebrews 2:14 says “Since (or because) the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death..."
Why did Jesus take on humanity? So that by dying he might do something that we desperately need. And the only way he could die for us and do that, was if he became one of us.
The eternal God in all his greatness, who is beyond compare, who is like no other, who flung stars into space, became a man, to be nailed to a cross for us. Oh that we would see the wonder of this! In love, God the Son who had always existed, humbled himself and took on humanity to die for us (Philippians 2:6-8).
But why did he have to die for us? Why did Jesus come to die?
3. Jesus came to destroy the devil
Hebrews 2:14 “Since (or because) the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil”.
Jesus’ death destroys Satan’s power in death. But how does Satan hold the power of death and how does Jesus’ death take this power away?
The clearest answer to this comes in Colossians 2:13b-15. “God forgave us all our sins, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the powers and authorities, and put them to open them to open shame, triumphing over them in him.”
Colossians 2:15 says that Jesus disarms the powers and authorities. That’s Satan and all those with him. How does Jesus disarm Satan? Well, Colossians 2:14 showed us. God has forgiven us all our sins and cancelled the record of debt against us for all our sin, by nailing it to the cross.
We in our humanity rejected the very God who made us. We have all sinned, we are all deserving of hell and the wages of sin is death. There are only two ways the payment for our sin could be made. We face it or Jesus had to take on flesh, die and face it for us. For us to be forgiven, Jesus had to pay for our sin.
And He did! All we deserved is set aside and nailed to the cross. And so, death has no power over us because death is not a gateway to hell, but to heaven, for those who believe in Jesus. That’s why he died!
And this is how Jesus destroys Satan who holds the power of death. Jesus disarmed Satan of the one thing he has against us, which legally demands eternal punishment. The key weapon Satan has against us is our sin. But Satan no longer has the weapon of our unforgiven sin to condemn us before God (See Romans 8:33-39). Satan seeks to threaten and scare us with our impending death and all we will face for our rejection of God. But in Jesus, God’s anger has been absorbed for us, hell is gone and death has no power over us. Satan no longer holds this threatening power over us and so death no longer needs to be feared.
4. Jesus came to deliver us from the fear of death
Hebrews 2:14-15 says Jesus took on humanity to die, so that he might “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
Jesus came to set us free! All our lives we are held in slavery by the fear of death. But these verses show we are set free by Jesus’ death.How does Jesus death deliver us from this fear?
Firstly, because through Jesus dying, death is destroyed. 2 Timothy 1:10 says Jesus “has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” Death no longer has any power over us... it is no longer a gateway to hell, but to eternal life.
Secondly Jesus’ death delivers us because it didn’t end in death. He rose again. And by Jesus’ death and resurrection we will be provided with imperishable bodies. 1 Corinthians 15 shows death is swallowed up and its sting has vanished through Jesus’s resurrection because we have the future hope of resurrected bodies.
Finally, another reason Jesus death delivers us from this fear is because no charge can now be brought against us and nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8).
If you have all this, then you should not paralysed by the fear of death. Our ultimate future hope must change how we live in the present!
Christ died to set us free from our greatest enemies and fears. We do not need to fear sin, death and everlasting punishment. So why fear anything?
Why fear people, failure, correction, harm, disease, criticism or missing out now, when our deepest fear has vanished in Christ and we have the future hope that we do.
The Christian should live as someone free from the fear of death. We are free! Free to sacrificially serve others. Free to completely surrender our lives to God (e.g. Galatians 5:13). Free to give at great costs. All because Christ has set us free from the fear of death.
Do you have this hope? Is this your only hope? The hope of Jesus dying in your place, cancelling your sin debt and setting you free from the fear of death. Can you because of the victory Jesus has purchased, say “where o death is your sting.”
If you don't, I urge you to seek this gift above all else and cherish it! Lay aside all that you are, turn from your sin and come in desperate need of Jesus and all he has done, trusting Him alone! Conquer your fear of death in the victory He has won on the cross. And be set free from all fears that paralyse you, so that you may find joy in being a child of God, and thus free to fully follow him.