I am preaching through the book of Hebrews, and expect to post on Hebrews many times in the weeks ahead. While Hebrews looks a little like a letter (epistle) in many ways it is more like a sermon. That makes it really easy to preach.
I recommend reading Hebrews 2. When I preach this sermon, I read most of it as the text; it isn’t long. The writer of Hebrews contends that Jesus tasted death for everyone, and that his suffering has made him the perfect founder of our salvation. Because of it he is not ashamed to call us brothers. Through death, he defeated the one with the power over death – the devil. Because Jesus suffered, he can relate to those who suffer. He suffered when tempted, and understands the human condition of being tempted. We do not have a god that cannot relate. He is a better high priest because of it. James 1 teaches that God does not sin, and is not tempted to sin. Jesus was tempted, but did not sin. He can empathize with our situation.
I found reading 1 Peter 2 helpful in dealing with the suffering issue (particularly vv. 18-25). Jesus suffered as an example for us. He did not revile when wrongly accused. He did retaliate; he returned evil with good. Peter says Jesus acted with kindness and gentleness even to those who were evil. It is a credit to us and brings glory and honor to God when we his children do not return evil for evil. It was in God’s plan for salvation for Jesus to do these things. Isiah said it pleased God to crush him. Isiah 53, which Peter quotes, tells us that by his stripes were are healed.
It may be hard to understand. The love of God surpasses understanding. No matter what we suffer, it can never compare to what Jesus suffered on our behalf. Whatever we face in this life, he can relate. He is an ever-present source of hope and strength. The reward in the next life far outweighs anything we endure here to obtain it. In spite of his suffering, at the end of Jesus’s ministry his desire was that we share in his joy.