For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same…
Of all the passions that have place in the human mind, there is not one that takes a stronger hold of it than fear; and of all the objects that operate on that passion, there is not one that does so more strikingly and more impressively than death. Nor is this to be wondered at. For what is death? That from which there is no escape. That which not unfrequently comes when least expected. That which terminates every earthly relationship, acquisition, anticipation, enjoyment. Not only does it do what it does with all the eagerness of willinghood, but also with all the callousness of insensibility. Dwellings it disinhabits, families it scatters, and ties the most endearing it dissolves, without any compunction or regret. But much though death be the object of natural fear, the fear of it is in no slight measure increased when that which is natural has superadded to it that which is slavish. For though, like others, sinners fear death on account of what death is in itself, yet their fear of death, arising as it does from a consciousness of ill-desert, is rendered trebly fearful by the inward bitings of remorse, and by a sense of merited wrath. Is there no remedy for their dismay? The text answers the question. It were a mistake to infer that the power of the devil in reference to death is absolute. Such power, whether in reference to death or in reference to anything else, is not possessed by any finite being. It is the exclusive, the incommunicable prerogative-of Him, and of Him alone, who is infinite; of Him who, as occupying in His own right the throne of the universe, has the "keys of death." The power of the devil in reference to death is simply permitted power. But though the power of the devil in reference to death be simply permitted power, it is not limited to temporal death. It extends to, and, as here spoken of by the apostle, embraces more particularly, eternal death; in other words, the state of misery to which the term is applicable in its most aggravated signification. It is awful to think that there is in the universe a being possessed of such power, as. "the power of death"; of power not only to tempt to sin, "the wages of which is death," but to render the sinner the instrument of his own exposure to misery through all everlasting! It would be still more awful were that being invincible, indestructible. And how by His death has Jesus done this, in order that His death might be an antidote to the fear of death?
I. BECAUSE BY HIS DEATH HE TRIUMPHED OVER HIM WHO HAD THE POWER OF DEATH. For this He became incarnate; for had He not become incarnate, He could not have been the surety of the guilty, nor as their surety could He have died. By it the violated law was magnified and made honourable; for the obedience of which it was the consequence was the obedience not only of a Divine Person, but of a Person absolutely faultless. Such was the result of the death of Jesus, because by His death sin was substitutionally expiated, by the expiation of which the devil lost his power of death, the loss of which was his own destruction. What a triumph I Never was triumph like it; for though He who conquered fell, by His fall He conquered. What, then, have they to fear from death who trust in Jesus, the destroyer by death of the destroyer?
II. BECAUSE BY HIS DEATH HE DIVESTED DEATH ITSELF OF ITS STING. Death has been represented as coming in the order of nature; and hence it has been called the debt of nature, as if our original destiny could not have been carried into effect without its payment. For what is the fact, and therefore the teaching on this subject, that is credible? Is it that death is the work of nature? On the contrary, is it not that death is not the work of nature, but the work of sin? While he was sinless, was not man deathless? And is sin merely the procuring cause of death — that to which death owes its existence and prevalence? Were this all, it would be evidential in no slight degree of the deadly tendency of sin. But this is not all. Not only in having originated it does sin lead to death as its moral consequence; but it is that from which death derives all its painfulness, all its hatefulness. Well, then, may sin be denominated not only the cause, but the sting of death. If this, then, be what sin really is; if it be that which renders death indescribably deadly, can language too strong be employed to express our sense of obligation to Him who died for sin? His death being sacrificial and propitiatory, by the stroke which slew Him, death lost its sting. The last arrow in the quiver of death was spent. The very dregs of the cup of trembling were wrung out. The malignant fury of the curse of the broken law was exhausted. So that now death may be a blessing, but can never be a curse, to those who trust in Him who died for sin. What, then, have they to fear from death? "The waters of Jordan" have applied to them a misnomer when they are called by the name Marah, for the bitterness of the curse is removed. There is " no lion" in the dark valley, neither does "any ravenous beast " walk therein. The "dart" of death is pointless, its wound must be harmless.
III. BECAUSE BY HIS DEATH HE PURCHASED THE RIGHT TO REDEEM FROM DEATH THOSE TO WHOM DEATH WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN THE PATHWAY TO ETERNAL MISERY. It is much that Jesus should have stooped to combat with him who had the power of death, it is still more that He should have submitted to the endurance of the sting of death itself; but His experience of the one, and His triumphing over the other, would have failed to accomplish the object He had in view, were the bestowment of the good problematical or uncertain, which He thus sought and gained for those whom He represented. Their enjoyment, however, of that good depends not on a peradventure; their being put into possession of it is exposed to no jeopardy, and can be hindered by no casualty. As indicative of the high authority with which as their successful surety He is invested, He says, "I will redeem them from death." Having been the originator of the life that has been taken away, is there anything incredible in His being its restorer? If not, then, instead of having uncertainty attached to it, the future resurrection of the body is considered aright, when it is considered not as questionable, but as positively certain. What, then, have they to fear from death who trust in Jesus? To them, death is not to be the entire extinction of their corporeal, any more than it is to be a cessation of their spiritual being. What, then, have they to fear from death? Trusting in Jesus, they trust in Him who is the resurrection and the life. In short, trusting in Jesus, they trust in Him who died that they might live, and who lives that they may never die, but live. Where? Where there shall be "no death," where the darkness of the tomb shall be for ever excluded by the light of life, where the night of the grave shall be for ever lost in the day of immortality.
(Alex. Jack, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
WEB: Since then the children have shared in flesh and blood, he also himself in the same way partook of the same, that through death he might bring to nothing him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,