Passage: Hebrews 2:5–9
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
People hold all kinds of beliefs about who Jesus was, but many struggle to understand the practical difference Jesus makes in the lives of those who follow him. In this Advent series in Hebrews, we’re exploring the difference that Christ makes in our lives, particularly in this hard time. Hebrews was a letter written primarily to Jewish Christians who were experiencing persecution, and the aim of the letter was to present Jesus in all his beauty and worth as the linchpin of their faith, in order to encourage them to keep following him. Though at present, we, like the original readers, “do not see everything subject to Jesus” (2:8), we can “see him”—and that understanding of who Jesus truly is helps us to persevere.
Hebrews 2:5-9 in particular highlights the difference it makes that Christ, our Messiah, shared in our humanity—that he was truly one of us. The heart of the passage is an exposition of Psalm 8, which is itself an extended reflection on Genesis 1, and God’s creation of humanity. Psalm 8 reveals that God’s “majesty” and glory consists not only in his power as creator, but even more so in his instinct to include human beings in the stewardship of his creation. His very nature is to involve weak people like us in that work which is most precious to him—even to the point of giving us “dominion over the works of his hands” and “putting all things under our feet” (Ps. 8:5-6). This shows that God longs for a relationship with us and has built us for a relationship with him. Jesus exemplifies this heart of God, and when we grasp this it will lead us to include others—particularly the weakest among us—in that which is most precious to us.
But the Son of God took on human flesh not only to exemplify God’s heart for us, but to “taste death for everyone” (2:9). Though we sinned and destroyed both the relationship and the very creation project God was inviting us to share with him, he chose to move closer to us, not farther away, tasting the death we deserve on the cross—choosing to lose his own life rather than lose the relationship. God is therefore a God who is close to suffering people, choosing to share not only in our suffering, but even in our sins. When we grasp this, we too will move close to suffering and sinful people, in reflection of the God who so loved us.
- Jesus Redefines Greatness (Hebrews 2:5-8; Psalm 8)
- Jesus Redefines God’s Place in Our Suffering (Hebrews 2:9)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage (Hebrews 2:5-9)
Jesus Redefines Greatness (Hebrews 2:5-8; Psalm 8)
Q) INTRO QUESTIONS: What images come to mind when you think of human greatness?What images come to mind when you think of God’s greatness? How would you finish this sentence: “God is great because __________”?
Q) Hebrews 2:5-8 is a reflection on Psalm 8. Read Hebrews 2:5-8, then all of Psalm 8 as a group, and consider:
- What is this Psalm saying about God?
- What is it saying about humans?
- What is the paradox found in this Psalm?
- What does this paradox tell us about God’s nature and character? How does it redefine what true “greatness” is?
Q) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby shared this quote from Matt Canlis: “When God put Adam in charge of his garden, God stood to lose more than manicured grass. You can almost hear the angels whispering: ‘He did what?! God put a human child in charge of the galactic nursery? Why would God involve such amateurs? Why risk messing everything up?” God involved his children because he would rather garden with us than garden alone. Gardening with God taught Adam and Eve that they were primarily made for relationship.” What difference does the truth that God wants to include his children in his work make in how we relate to God? What difference does it make in how we think of and relate to others?
Q) What examples can you think of in Jesus’ life of him exhibiting this instinct of God’s to include his children in his work?
Q) What is a practical way that you can include others in what is precious or important to you? Where in your life do you find it difficult for you to do this?
Jesus Redefines God’s Place in Our Suffering (Hebrews 2:9)
Q) Re-read Hebrews 2:7-9. According to these verses, how was humanity “crowned with glory and honor” (vs. 7)? How was Jesus himself “crowed with glory and honor” (vs. 9)?
Q) Meditate together on Hebrews 2:9 (to “meditate” on Scripture together is to reflect on it, think through it, enjoy it, and draw out its implications). In particular, why do you think Jesus’ passion was referred to as his “tasting death for everyone”? What is communicated by the image of “tasting”?
Q) Pastor Bobby said that this passage reveals a God whose heart is to move closer to, not farther away from suffering and sinful people. Is it your instinct to view God this way? Why or why not? When thinking of your friends and neighbors who are not Christians, do you think it is their instinct to view God this way, why or why not?
Q) What is one practical way you can reflect the heart of Jesus this Advent season by moving close to people in their suffering? Knowing yourself, what would keep you from doing this—and what has kept you from doing so in the past?
Q) CASE STUDY: A long-time friend of yours was diagnosed over a year ago with an aggressive form of cancer. This friend is a father of teenagers and is not a Christian. Throughout the past year, you’ve listened to your friend, prayed for him, and served him and his family in many practical ways.This friend has been very guarded in talking about faith, but one day he asks you, “If there is a God, where is he in all of this? I want to believe in a God, or some sort of higher power right now, but I can’t imagine worshipping a God who wouldn’t let me see my kids’ graduation.” Based off of this week’s passage and sermon, how might you share with your friend?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and
outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.