Christian theology and practice is only as sound as it is in full keeping with all that Scripture teaches about any given subject or practice. Hebrews 2:9 and 5:9 are two verses that provide a good means of testing the soundness of one’s beliefs and living as a Christian.
The writer of Hebrews declares, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (2:9). This verse presents some key truths about the death of Jesus, including the following: (1) He became incarnate in order to suffer death; and (2) He tasted death for every man.
What the Scripture writer specifies about the latter truth reveals an even more profound truth—Christ experienced death on behalf of others by the grace of God. With this teaching, he asserts that God’s grace to Jesus was vital in His dying for others.
In my experience, this truth has very rarely been stressed; nearly always, it has been Jesus’ laying down His own life that has been stressed. Hebrews 2:9, however, unmistakably asserts that Jesus died by the grace of God that was granted to Him.
We, therefore, must conceive of the death of Jesus in full accord with all that Scripture reveals about it: not only His laying down His own life of Himself (John 10:18), but also His receiving grace from God to do so. Regardless of whether or not we can understand how both these points can be true, we must maintain in our theology and practice that both are true.
In chapter five, we encounter another similarly profound truth that we must properly reflect in our theology and practice:
Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him (5:8-9).
These verses declare that Jesus was made perfect through what He suffered, and that His being perfected in that way was how He became the author of eternal salvation for all those who obey Him.
Strikingly, the author of Hebrews asserts that Jesus provides eternal salvation not simply by virtue of His intrinsic deity, which was true of Him throughout His entire life! Rather, His doing so vitally stems from what resulted from the suffering that He experienced as the God-Man. The profundity of this verse, as with 2:9, thus pertains directly to what we do with the truth of Jesus’ deity in relation to other vital truth about Him.
What a Proper Theology and Practice That Reflects These Truths Looks Like
The immensely profound truths revealed in Hebrews 2:9 and 5:9 require that we not overemphasize the deity of Christ in our theology and practice to such an extent that we fail to give other vital truths their proper emphasis. Discussions of the death of Jesus and His saving work must reflect not just His deity, but also the grace of God at work in His life and His saving people by virtue of what He experienced as the God-Man.
These truths, in particular, must shape how we evangelize people. We must not present Jesus’ death only as His exercising His divine power. Nor should we present Him as able to save people solely because He is God.
Instead, when we evangelize people, we should also emphasize the divine help that He received in His death. Moreover, we should present Him as the glorified God-Man who provides salvation to those who obey Him because of how He as the God-Man was perfected through His sufferings.