JESUS THE KINSMAN REDEEMER
He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever; holy and awesome is His name. (Psalm 111:9).
Slavery was a very common institution in the ancient world. There were a number of ways in which a man might become a slave.
Picture the situation of this last scenario. An Israelite living in the land of Palestine is hit with economic disaster. Perhaps a famine has come over the land and wiped out his crops. Rather than resort to begging, he sells himself into slavery, using the proceeds to pay off his debts and to care for his starving family.
And so, he becomes a slave. Can he ever regain his freedom? Yes. But it can only happen if the redemption price is paid.
Now if the means of a stranger or of a sojourner with you becomes sufficient, and a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to him as to sell himself to a stranger who is sojourning with you, or to the descendants of a strangerís family, 48 then he shall have redemption right after he has been sold. One of his brothers may redeem him, 49 or his uncle, or his uncleís son, may redeem him, or one of his blood relatives from his family may redeem him; or if he prospers, he may redeem himself." (Leviticus 25:47-49).
This was the Law of the Kinsman Redeemer. It listed four qualifications which were necessary for a man to fulfill the role of Kinsman Redeemer. It was only when a man possessed these four qualities that he was permitted to perform this task.
1. He must be a Kinsman.
The passage is very explicit that this redeemer must be related to the one whom he is going to buy back out of slavery.
2. He must be Free himself.
A slave was unable to purchase another slave. A Kinsman Redeemer must be himself free of the debt and of the bondage which had fallen on the one who was to be redeemed.
3. He must be able to Pay the Price.
If he did not have the necessary sum of money which was required to pay the purchase price, then he would not be able to redeem his relative.
4. He must be Willing to pay the price.
It was not enough to have a kinsman who was able to accomplish the work of redemption. He must also be willing to may the sacrifice of paying the price. I imagine that there were a number of slaves with rich uncles who just didnít want to spend the money to release their unfortunate relative from slavery.
Each of these qualifications was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. God sent Jesus into the world s slave market of sin to purchase men from their bondage of sin. He alone met the qualifications of the Kinsman Redeemer.
He became a Kinsman by taking on flesh and becoming a man. He was free from the bondage of sin. He was able to pay the ransom price. He was willing to pay the price.
THE PROMISE OF A KINSMAN
For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying, "I will proclaim Thy name to My brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing Thy praise."
And again, "I will put My trust in Him." And again, "Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me." (Hebrews 2:11-13).
The Old Testament prophets promised that One would come who would be the Kinsman Redeemer of all men. He would set right those things that had been made wrong by sin. He would set free those who were in bondage to sin. He would purify those who were unclean. He would sanctify His people.
For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father (2:11).
The work of Christ did much more than merely provide a fire insurance claim from hell. He set you apart. He sanctified you. He made you a part of a special people which is known as the family of God. This is what it means to be sanctified.
If you have come to Christ, then you have become a member of the family of God. God is now your Father. You are His child. You have entered into an eternal relationship.
This principle of sanctification was rooted in Jewish theology. To sanctify something meant to set it apart for a special purpose. For example, when a man went up to Jerusalem and gave an offering of money to the Temple, those coins were sanctified - that is, they were set apart for the use of the Temple.
The Jews were a set apart people. Their entire culture set them apart from the rest of the world. They ate differently than other people. They dressed differently than other people. They lived differently than other people. They worshiped differently than other people. They were different.
Jesus came to make men different. He loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to leave you the way you are. If you come to Him, then He is going to change you. He is first going to bring you into the family of God and then He is going to change your life so that there will be a growing family resemblance between you and your Heavenly Father.
The Jews were set apart on the outside. They did all sorts of exterior things to set themselves apart. But Jesus came to set you apart on the inside. He came to make you a child of God. He entered the family of men so that men could enter the family of God.
This is not a new teaching. It was prophesied by the Old Testament prophets.
I will proclaim Thy name to My brethren (2:12).
This quotation is taken from Psalm 22:22. It is a Messianic Psalm. It is the Psalm that opens with the cry of Jesus upon the cross when He screamed, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" It is the Psalm that focuses on the sufferings of the Messiah.
But now, He who was once crucified has been exalted. On the basis of the ministry of His death, He now proclaims the name of the Lord to His people. This is important. The reason that Christ became man and was made lower than the angels was so that He could call men His brethren. It is through Him that we can be known as the children of God.
I will put My trust in Him (2:13).
This second quotation is taken from Isaiah 8:17. Isaiah writes in a day when the Assyrian armies loom on the horizon. They will soon march against Israel and devastate the land. There will be only one way of escape ó to trust in the Lord and to wait for His salvation.
The book of Hebrews is written to such a people. Now it is the legions of Rome which loom on the horizon. Within a few years, the Roman general Titus will besiege the city of Jerusalem and the land will be laid waste. There will be only one thing that the people can do - trust in the Lord.
There is a lesson here. It is that adversity teaches us to trust in the Lord. One day after we had experienced a series of rather expensive automotive problems, my wife said, "I wish that someone would give us a lot of money." Now, I want you to know that I would not complain in the least if someone were to fulfill that wish. However, the Lord has given us those needs for a reason. They are given so that we will trust in Him.
Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me (2:13).
This third quotation is also from Isaiah 8. It quotes from the very next verse. It describes the identity of those who are trusting in God. They are the children of God. This is important. The Jews thought that they were the children of God because they were descended from Abraham. But a child of God is one who trusts in God.
The same principle is true today. Having Christian parents will not save you. Joining a church will not help you. Your faith must be in God.
THE COMING OF THE KINSMAN
Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook in the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Jesus fulfilled all of the requirements of the Kinsman Redeemer. We covered those requirements at the beginning of this chapter.
Each of these qualifications was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. They are seen in this passage.
Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook in the same (2:14).
Since the ones who were to become children were flesh and blood - that is, they were mortal men ó so also Christ took on flesh and blood and became a mortal man.
This was one of the requirements of the Kinsman Redeemer. He must be a Kinsman.
He must be related to the ones whom he is going to purchase from slavery.
And so, Jesus took on flesh and became a Kinsman to the human race in order that He might redeem men from sin.
Christ was our Kinsman Redeemer. He fulfilled all four of the requirements of the Kinsman Redeemer.
1. He became a Kinsman.
It was impossible for God to save us apart from the incarnation of Christ. God could not die for us because God cannot die. He is eternal life and He is the source of all life. Only by being born as a man and taking on human flesh could He experience death for us.
2. He was free from the bondage of sin.
Jesus Christ was the only man who has ever been free from sin. From the day that Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden to this day, all have been under that bondage. Only Christ was qualified to set us free.
3. He was able to pay the ransom price.
Even if there had been another man who had been without sin, the death of such a man would still be lacking the infinite merit to pay for the sins of the whole world. At best, the sacrifice of a finite man could only atone for the sins of a single man.
But the death of Christ was not the death of a mere man. It was the death of an infinite being. It was the death of God in the flesh. God died in our place. Only the death of such a One could have been sufficient to save the world.
4. He was willing to pay the price.
This is the most amazing truth of all. God loved us enough to send His Son to die in our place. When the venerable theologian, Karl Barth, was asked what was the most profound truth that he had ever learned, he replied:
Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
This is the great message of the gospel. It is the message that Godís love has triumphed over the work of Satan to set us free.
That through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil (2:14).
Here is the reason why Christ became flesh and joined the human race. It was so that He might nullify death. It was so that He might bring to naught the work of Satan.
What does Satan have to do with death? It was Satan who deceived the woman in the Garden of Eden and thereby brought sin into the world. Satanís plan was to undo Godís perfect work of creation. God had created man in His own image. Satan caused that image to fall. Christ, through His death on the cross, restored that perfect image and conquered death. Not all the hosts of darkness were able to keep the Son of God in the grave. He arose from the dead, proving that He had conquered Satan once and for all.
And might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives" (2:15).
Men have always suffered from a fear of death. You have only to watch the reaction of a man in his physicianís office as he is told the he has a malignant cancer to understand that this fear is a reality.
We have been set free from the fear of death. We can actually look forward to death. Death is no longer the end. It is now the beginning. It is a promotion to a higher kind of living.
THE NECESSITY OF A KINSMAN
For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham.
Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:16-17).
The writer now ties in these truths concerning the Kinsman Redeemer with the previous message about how Christ is better than the angels.
Jesus is better than the angels even though He took on flesh and became a little lower than the angels. He did not do that for the sake of the angels. He did it for the sake of the descendants of Abraham.
Do you remember the promise that was made to Abraham? It was a promise that God would bless him.
Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your fatherís house, to the land which I will show you; 2 and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; 3 and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Genesis 12:1-3).
God appeared to Abram and told him to leave his family and his country and to move to a new land. In return, God promised to bless Abram and to make him a blessing. Notice the last phrase of this promise. "In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." This blessing to Abram will have far-reaching effects. It will extend to all the families of the earth.
Donít miss this! You can partake of that blessing which was given to Abraham when you put your faith in the God of Abraham.
And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abrahamís offspring, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:29).
Do you belong to Christ? It is only those who belong to Him who will be heirs with Abraham.
Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things (2:17).
In order to bring salvation to Abraham and his descendents, Christ had to become one of Abrahamís descendents. He did not merely become a man. He became a Jew. He did this in fulfillment of the promise. He is the blessing through which all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
That He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God (2:17).
Here we see a theme introduced which shall be developed more fully in the chapters which follow. It is the theme that Jesus is our high priest.
The office of high priest was the highest religious office in Judaism. The high priest was the one who entered the Holy of Holies once a year to offer sacrifices for the sins of the nation.
The high priest in the days of Jesus had been Caiaphus. He was anything but merciful or faithful. He was a false shepherd. He was not merciful, for he was ready to condemn the One who had never sinned. He was not faithful, for he rejected the message of the Son of God.
But Jesus is the true shepherd. He is merciful with those who have transgressed against Him. He is faithful and just to forgive their sins. He offered the perfect sacrifice.
To make propitiation for the sins of the people (2:17).
The word "propitiation" refers to an appeasement, a payment which satisfies. This word was used by the Greeks to describe an offering that was brought to appease the wrath of an angry god. For example, in the midst of a violent storm, the people would think that they had offended Posideon, the storm god. In an effort to satisfy his anger, they would offer a sacrifice. When the storm ended, they would say that his anger had been propitiated.
But there was also another use of this word. In Jewish theology, the place of propitiation was located inside the Temple. At the very center of the Temple was the Holy of Holies. Within this room there had stood a single article of furniture. It was the Ark of the Covenant. It was a wooden box overlaid with gold. It held Aaronís rod, a bowel of manna, and the broken remains of the Ten Commandments. The cover of the Ark was made of solid gold. This was known as the Mercy Seat.
It also had another name. It was called the Hilasterion. It was called the Propitiation.
It was here that the high priest would come once a year to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the nation.
Jesus is our high priest. He has made an offering for our sins. He has appeased the righteous anger of God. He bore the wrath of God in His own body on the cross.
THE REDEEMER WHO SUFFERED
For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18).
Here is another reason that Christ became flesh and joined the human race. It is so that He might be tempted as we are tempted and that He might suffer as we suffer. Jesus didnít just come to earth and then die. He also went though all the hurts and the pains and the testings that are part of life.
He suffered bodily hunger. He suffered the grief of the death of a loved one. He suffered the betrayal of a friend. He suffered the taunts of his enemies. He suffered the temptations of Satan.
Because He suffered all these things, He is able to understand and empathize with our sufferings and our temptations. Are you going through hard times? Jesus understands.
He has been there. He went through those same kinds of experiences. He knows how to help. You donít have a cosmic God who is indifferent to your daily problems. You have a God who is intimately acquainted with your problems. You have a God who has been there. He has hurt where you hurt. He has cried where you cry. He has been tempted where you are tempted. And, because of that, He is able to help.