Hebrews says that Jesus adopted our human nature so that He could represent us and could die for us (Heb. 2:9, 14–16; 10:5–10). Here is the foundation of the plan of salvation and our only hope for eternal life.

The expression “flesh and blood” emphasizes the frailty of the human condition, its weakness (Eph. 6:12), lack of understanding (Matt. 16:17; Gal. 1:16), and subjection to death (1 Cor. 15:50). Hebrews says that Jesus was made like His brothers “in all things” (Heb. 2:17). This expression means that Jesus became “fully human” (NIV). Jesus did not simply “look like” or “seem to be” human; He truly was human, truly one of us.

Hebrews also says, however, that Jesus was different from us regarding sin. Jesus did not commit any sin (Heb. 4:15). And now, as High Priest, while our Brother, Jesus was “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners” (Heb. 7:26, ESV). We have evil tendencies. Our bondage to sin begins deep inside our very nature. We are “carnal, sold under sin” (Rom. 7:14; see also 7:15–20). Pride and other sinful motivations pollute even our good actions. Jesus, however, was not marred by sin. It had to be this way. If Jesus had been “carnal, sold under sin” like us, He would have also needed a Savior. Instead, Jesus came as a Savior and offered Himself as a sacrifice “without blemish” to God for us (Heb. 9:14, ESV; 7:26–28).

Then Jesus destroyed the power of the devil by dying as the sinless offering for our sins, thus making possible our forgiveness and reconciliation with God (Heb. 2:14–17). Jesus also broke the power of sin by giving us the power to live a righteous life through His fulfillment of the new covenant promise to write the law in our hearts (Heb. 8:10). Thus, Jesus has defeated the enemy and effectively liberated us so that we can now “serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14). Satan’s final destruction, meanwhile, will come at the final judgment (Rev. 20:1–3, 10).

The apostle also says that God made Jesus “perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10; see also 2:17, 18; 5:8, 9). This expression is surprising. The author has said that Jesus is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3, ESV) and that He is sinless, spotless, undefiled, and holy (Heb. 4:15; 7:26–28; 9:14; 10:5–10).

Hebrews does say, however, that Jesus underwent a process of “perfecting” that provided Him the means to save us. Jesus was perfected in the sense that He was equipped to be our Savior.

1. Jesus was “perfected” through sufferings in order to become the Captain of our salvation (Heb. 2:10). Jesus had to die on the cross as a sacrifice so that the Father could have the legal means to save us. Jesus was the perfect sacrificial offering, the only one. As God, Jesus could judge us; but, because of His sacrifice, Jesus can also save us.

2. Jesus learned obedience through sufferings (Heb. 5:8). Obedience was necessary for two things. First, obedience made His sacrifice acceptable (Heb. 9:14; 10:5–10). Second, His sufferings enabled Him to become our example (Heb. 5:9). Jesus “learned” obedience because He had never experienced it before. As God, whom would He have to obey? As the eternal Son, and one with God, He was obeyed as the ruler of the universe. Therefore, Jesus did not progress from disobedience to obedience, but from sovereignty and dominion to submission and obedience. The exalted Son of God became the obedient Son of Man.

3. Sufferings revealed Jesus as a merciful and faithful High Priest (Heb. 2:17, 18). Sufferings did not make Jesus more merciful. To the contrary, it was because of Jesus’ mercy that He volunteered to die on the cross to save us to begin with (Heb. 10:5–10; compare with Rom. 5:7, 8). Yet, it was through sufferings that the reality of Jesus’ brotherly love was truly expressed and revealed.