Community Group Study Guide — Human in Every Way
The season of Advent in the church calendar is focused on a longing that is rooted in hope. Advent means “coming” and during this time the church focuses on the first coming of Jesus in the incarnation and often we look forward to the second coming in Christ’s return. Advent shows us that God’s response to our lostness created by our sin and the darkness of this world. This response is a step towards what is broken and evil, with the intent to save and restore. The story of God’s redemption culminates in the life of Christ, which began with his birth. The creator of of the universe entered his creation taking on human form and being made “a little lower than the angels” (Hebrews 2:9-10). The scripture teaches that Jesus is one person with two natures which theologians call the hypostatic union. Jesus is one person and yet fully God and fully human (two natures). This stepping into creation and taking on human form does add to the drama of the story of redemption, but more that it leads to at least three practical gifts, as seen in Hebrews 2:10-18, that followers of Jesus receive as a result of the incarnation.
First, the humanity of Jesus leads his followers to become family.
The mission of Jesus is our redemption and by the grace of God he “tasted death” for everyone (Hebrews 2:9). His death on the cross was for the forgiveness of our sins and to defeat sin and death once and for all. But, notice how Hebrews 2:10-13 applies the mission of Jesus and his humanity. We’re told “it was fitting” for the founder of our salvation to be made perfect (complete or whole) through suffering. The suffering of Jesus, namely his death, was key to God’s redemptive mission. To make this happen, Jesus shared the “same source” or “nature” as us, namely human form. How does the writer of Hebrews apply this? Look at Hebrews 2:12-13: he is not ashamed to call us brothers and “behold the children God has given me”. The humanity and suffering of Jesus leads those who trust in him, and who have been delivered form their sin to also be brought into a family. Our justification leads to our adoption and belonging into a family. We are not just forgiven our debt and set on our way, we are chosen, loved and brought into a relationship with God the father because God the son took on flesh.
Second, the humanity of Jesus delivers us from slavery to fear of death
Jesus took on flesh and blood and died a real death in order to defeat the devil. The combination of Jesus being fully God and fully human means that even though he shared our nature he was without sin. Likewise, the scripture links his resurrection with the defeat of death (1 Corinthians 15:21, 54-57). The devil peddles fear like a schoolyard bully and his biggest weapon is fear of death. For those who are in Christ you need not fear separation from God because Christ has broken down the thing that separates us from God, sin and death. You may fear dying, that is understandable, but God has made a way for you to be delivered from the slavery of the fear of what death would bring. If this is a struggle for you, go to the Father in prayer, ask him to deliver you from this fear and meditate on the gospel truth that what awaits you after leaving this world is not separation from God, but rather embrace from the Father because of the work of Jesus you trust in.
Finally, the humanity of Jesus gives us a merciful and faithful high priest.
A priest exists to offer sacrifice on our behalf and communicate forgiveness and mercy on behalf of God. Both of those qualities are expressed in the humanity of Jesus. Jesus is able to be fully faithful to God; faithful unto death, in offering himself as a perfect and spotless sacrifice for the propitiation of our sins (Hebrews 7:26-27). Propitiation means that our offense against God has been fully paid and there is no longer any expectation of wrath from God. Jesus, our great high priest is full faithful to God. Likewise, he is merciful to us because he too was beset with weakness and was tempted and tried (Hebrews 2:18). The writer of Hebrews shows us that because of this Jesus can “sympathize” with us, meaning he can share in our pain. When we suffer and experience temptation in this world we can go to God with it and God the son can respond “I know what that is like”. Christ does not just know in some detached or intellectual way; Christ knows what it means to suffer in a real way through his own human experience. Do you understand what this means? It means that Christ fully understands what you are going through in even the hardest moments of your life, you are not alone, and God not only hears your prayers, he also knows.
In this season of Advent, know, trust and enjoy the gifts that God has left you in the darkness. This has been a difficult year for many of us and you know what, we will experience more difficult years in the future as well. But, praise be to God that he sees our sin and the brokenness of the world and moves towards it in love to redeem and restore!
The incarnation is a gift that displays God’s glory and love for his creation. God the son taking on humanity leads to his people belonging to a new family, being delivered from slavery to fear and them having a faithful high priest. The humanity of Jesus is more than a nice picture of a quaint story; the incarnation leads us to a deeper relationship with God the Father.
At your community group:
Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.
How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week?
Read Hebrews 2:10-18
What are some of your favorite traditions related to Christmas time?
What does it mean that it was “fitting” for God to _________? What connection is the author of Hebrews trying to make for us?
Our salvation includes forgiveness from sin and it leads to being brought into a new family. How does Hebrews 2:10-13 teach us this?
In what ways are people enslaved to a fear of death? How does the humanity of Jesus deliver us from this fear of death? Look at Hebrews 2:14-16, as well as 1 John 3:8 and 1 Corinthians 15:20-28.
How does Jesus being a merciful and faithful high priest change your prayer life?
What is your main takeaway from the sermon, scripture or study guide this week?