Summary: Christ as the one who leads the way for believers, even in the most difficult times.
In our modern world, and especially as the 21st century is upon us we are still in many ways bothered by the notion that God sent his son to suffer and to die. We are bothered because it seems to us, as it would seem to any rational person, like a very harsh thing for a god of love to do. Especially if we picture God as a god of love, a view that is wrapped up in so many human notions of what love is that the divine idea is lost in a torrent of sappy sentimentality.
But the picture scripture gives us is of a God who makes his son “perfect through sufferings.” (v.10) Jesus Christ is made perfect through sufferings. And we know from scripture the story of the suffering of Jesus. We know the abandonment of his friends, his disciples, those who had walked with him, and promised to be faithful. We know the crown of thorns placed upon his head. We know the insults hurled at him, the spit directed at him. We know the nails that pierced his hands and feet. We know the spear that pierced his side. That is the suffering that he underwent. And here it says in Hebrews 2:10, Jesus Christ is made perfect through sufferings. Not only does it say that Jesus Christ is made perfect through sufferings, but it also says “it was fitting that God” did this.
We are left to wonder “it is fitting that God” did this to his son. This must have been a puzzle from the beginning of the Christian era. The first disciples had to wonder about that. They were left to wonder about the eternal cost. Why did it cost so much to redeem us?
It was done as we know for a purpose. The writer does not say God does this from some distant place, far away from the world of human concern. There is a purpose, God “in bringing many children to glory should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” We are following someone. The point the author is trying to make in this section is to tell us clearly that the evils that he fought, that the forces that he destroyed, the forces of sin hell and the grave, the forces of evil, the things that overwhelm us and overcome us, as these things are destroyed and Christ begins to lead us to a different place. Christ begins to lead us in a new direction, away from the things that destroy us, towards the things that give us life, and life abundantly; the things that give us grace, and grace triumphant; the things that do not pass away, as opposed to those that do pass like the withering grass.
And this is part of the reason he uses suffering as an example. Because suffering passes away. For the son of man, as he was on the cross, he knew the suffering would pass away. How did he know that? Here the author of Hebrews turns again to his Old Testament, to the quote in verse 12 from Psalm 22. Psalm 22 is important as a messianic psalm, because it was on the lips of Jesus as he hung on the cross. “My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?” And as Psalm 22 goes on, we see time after time the words echo as words of curse and pain. “They mock at me” “They shakes their heads” I am scorned by others, despised by people. The psalm talks about all the things that will happen to him: the groaning and the pain. He talks about a great ravine that stands between himself and God. And Psalm 22 opens in this painful place. And that is where we begin. We begin understanding that god can be far from us. We begin understanding that God can be absent from us, that suffering overcomes us.
But Jesus said as Psalm 22 continues (in the voice of the author of Hebrews), “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.” The god who had forsaken him in the beginning he now will proclaim his name. The God who has been absent in his suffering, now will be praised in the midst of the congregation. the point that this author is trying to make, even later in the quotes from Isaiah 8, is that even in a time when god seems to be absent , to have abandoned his people, but there are always those who sit in the congregation of the righteous, those who stand up and say I will praise him. When no one else’s voice can be heard, my voice will ring out. When no one else’s actions can be seen, I will act for him. When no one else trusts in him, I will trust in him.