Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. —Hebrews 2: 14– 15
Jesus became man because what was needed was the death of a man who was more than man. The incarnation was God’s locking himself into death row.
Christ did not risk death. He embraced it. That is precisely why he came: not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10: 45).
No wonder Satan tried to turn Jesus from the cross! The cross was Satan’s destruction. How did Jesus destroy him? The “power of death” is the ability to make death fearful.
The “power of death” is the power that holds men in bondage through fear of death. It is the power to keep men in sin, so that death comes as a horrid thing.
But Jesus stripped Satan of this power. He disarmed him. He molded a breastplate of righteousness for us that makes us immune to the devil’s condemnation.
By his death, Jesus wiped away all our sins. And a person without sin puts Satan out of business. His treason is aborted. His cosmic treachery is foiled. “His rage we can endure, for, lo, his doom is sure.” The cross has run him through. And he will gasp his last before long.
Christmas is for freedom. Freedom from the fear of death.
Jesus took our nature in Bethlehem, to die our death in Jerusalem, that we might be fearless in our city. Yes, fearless. Because if the biggest threat to my joy is gone, then why should I fret over the little ones? How can you say, “Well, I’m not afraid to die but I’m afraid to lose my job”? No. No. Think!
If death (I said, death— no pulse, cold, gone!)— if death is no longer a fear, we’re free, really free. Free to take any risk under the sun for Christ and for love. No more bondage to anxiety.
If the Son has set you free, you shall be free, indeed!
John Piper. Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent (Kindle Locations 550-552). Desiring God.
John Piper. Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent (Kindle Locations 546-550). Desiring God.