For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same…
We fear death with a double fear. There is, first, the instinctive fear, shared also by the animal creation, for the very brutes tremble as the moment of death draws near. Surely this fear is not wrong. It is often congenital and involuntary, and afflicts some of God's noblest saints; though doubtless these will some day confess that it was most unwarrantable, and that the moment of dissolution was calm, and sweet, and blessed. The child whose eyes feast upon a glowing vista of flower and fruit, beckoning it through the garden gate, hardly notices the rough woodwork of the gate itself as it bounds through; and probably the soul, becoming aware of the beauty of the King and the glories of its home, is too absorbed to notice the act of death, till it suddenly finds itself free to mount, and soar, and revel in the dawning light. But there is another fear of death, which is spiritual.
1. We dread its mystery. What is it? Whither does it lead? Why does it come just now? What is the nature of the life beyond?
2. We dread its leave-taking. The heathen poet sang sadly of leaving earth, and home, and family. Long habit endears the homeliest lot, and the roughest comrades; how much more the truehearted and congenial; and it is hard to part from them.
3. Men dread the afterdeath. "The sting of death is sin." How can mortal man be just with God? How can he escape hell, and find his place amid the happy, festal throngs of the Golden City? All these fears were known to Christ. And He knew that they would be felt by many who were to be closely related to Him as brethren. If, then, He was prompted by ordinary feelings of compassion to the great masses of mankind, He would be especially moved to relieve those with whom He had so close an affinity, as these marvellous verses unfold. But in order to do it, He must die. He could not be the death of death, unless He had personally tasted death. He needed to fulfil the law of death, by dying, before He could abolish death. But He could only have died by becoming man. Perhaps there is no race in the universe that can die but our own. Others die because they are born; Christ was born that He might die.
I. BY DEATH CHRIST DESTROYED THE POWER OF DEATH. Scripture has no doubt as to the existence of the devil. And those who know much of their own inner life, and of the sudden assaults of evil to which we are liable, cannot but realise his terrible power. And from this passage we infer that that power was even greater before Jesus died. "He had the power of death." It was a chief weapon in his infernal armoury. The dread of it was so great as to drive men to yield to any demands made by the priests of false religions, with their dark impurities and hideous rites. Thus timid sheep are scared by horrid shouts and blows into the butchers shambles. But since Jesus died, the devil and his power are destroyed. Destroyed! Certainly. Not in the sense of being extinct. Still he assails the Christian warrior, though armed from head to foot; and goes about seeking whom he may devour, and deceives men to ruin. Yet he is destroyed. Are we not all familiar with objects which are destroyed without being actually ended. Destroyed as objects of dread, though they linger in an attenuated and impotent existence. Satan exists as a strong man; he is no longer armed, and is the attenuated shadow of his former self.
II. BY DEATH CHRIST DELIVERS FROM THE FEAR OF DEATH. A. child was in the habit of playing in a large and beautiful garden, with sunny lawns; but there was one part of it, a long and winding path, down which he never ventured; indeed he dreaded to go near it, because some silly nurse had told him that ogres and goblins dwelt within its darksome gloom. At last his eldest brother heard of his fear, and after playing one day with him, went with him to the embowered entrance of the grove, and, leaving him there terror-stricken, went singing through its length, and returned and reasoned with the child, proving his fears were groundless. At last he took the lad's hand, and they went through it together, and from that moment the fear which had haunted the place fled. And the memory of that brother's presence took its place. So has Jesus done for us.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
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,