Our writer has made a strong case that Jesus is superior to Old Covenant prophets, to angels and to the Old Covenant, because he is God. A staggering claim for a first century Jew (or anybody for that matter!). Now he starts to apply it. If there is anyone who read his opening argument and was left thinking "yes, but so what?", now they start to get some blockbuster answers.
Answer 1: Because Jesus is superior, the world to come is subject to him (2:5). ie if you want eternity in Heaven with God, Jesus is the person who have to go to
Answer 2: It isn't just the world to come that is subject to him, everything in the world now is subject to him (2:8). He is the Lord of the Earth
Immediately someone is going to chip in and say "but it doesn't look that way to me. There seem to be all kinds of things that are out of control and anti-God in this world. It doesn't all seem good, there looks like a lot of evil and random suffering. How can you say everything is subject to Jesus?"
The writer's answer is "you are right, it doesn't all look that way at the moment, even though it is the reality of the situation (2:8b). But what we do see is Jesus coming into the suffering to die on behalf of everyone else (v9). For which he gets glory and honour." The passage is very clear that this dying is not just some nice example - even the greatest example - of sacrificial love or God identifying with suffering that he allows or causes. It achieves something, something: it brings many people to glory with Jesus v10) and makes them part of God's family (v11-13).
The rest of the chapter is a bit like a Q&A:
Q. Why did Jesus have to come and die like this?
A. Because we are human, we are flesh and blood, if God was going to taste death for us - in order to overcome death for us - it had to be as a human (v14)
Q. Overcoming death sounds good. Did the death of Jesus do anything else?
A. Yes, it overcame Satan who holds the power of death (v14) and frees us from the slavishly fearing death (v15)
Q. So what is Jesus' relation to us now that he has done all this? Is it purely historical or is he still doing anything?
A. There was a once for all time historical part to what he did: he made atonement for sin (v17). But there are two things he is still doing off the back of it: (a) he is a merciful and gracious high priest who mediates between us and God (v17. NB that's why we DON'T have human priests any more, and the reason we don't pray to Mary or historical Christian figures. Jesus is the mediator, not anyone else. we go through Jesus to the Father, and we don't have to go through anyone else to get to Jesus); (b) because he became human he experienced suffering and temptation which means he is able to help those who are tempted or suffering (v18).
To sum it up: because Jesus is supreme and everything is under him for this world and the next:
- He will get us to heaven if we turn to him
- He will take away the terror of death because he died for us
- We don't need to fear the devil because Jesus has beaten him and destroyed his power
- We don't have to fear that we will get condemned for being sinners because he mediates for us
- We can know God's comfort in suffering or temptation because our high priest draws near and he knows exactly what it is like
If you read this and you belong to a tradition that encourages you to pursue these things through a priest or through praying to saints, or in any way suggests that Jesus is remote, judgemental, threatening or disinterested, Hebrews 2 tells us the opposite. He drew near precisely so that you can know him, and through him you can know the Father, without any other layers in the way.