14Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
Our reading for this Christmas Eve speaks of those who were subject to a lifetime of bondage. Who were these in bondage as slaves? All mankind—ever since the Fall of Adam—from the very beginning. And the Word of God, in every place, shows that this bondage is to sin—sin that leads to eternal death. The very thought of death causes fear, for death has great power over us; death is inevitable, it stalks every son of Adam, and every daughter of Eve. But what if there were a remedy for this deathly bondage? What if there was Someone Who could rescue us, Who could redeem us? The Hebrews writer declares that there is such a One! The Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is that One. He Whom the prophets foretold took on flesh and blood; He was made like us, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the virgin Mary. He came to this world of death to defeat death, by suffering death in our place. By His death, He destroyed Satan’s hold over us (our former slave-master), and now we are released into a glorious liberty. Christ has set us free, we are free indeed! Is it any wonder that the Advent/Christmas Season is a time of joy, of singing, and feasting? So let us do what this old Christmas carol says:
—Pastor Brian Penney, Christ Covenant Church, Copiague, New York
Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, in Your great wisdom You sent Your Only-begotten Son to be our Savior. We thank and praise You that He has accomplished for us what we could not do ourselves. We thank You that He made propitiation for our sins, appeasing Your righteous wrath, and delivering us from sin and death. Help us, by the Holy Spirit, to be filled with gratitude and joy for such a great deliverance! Help us to rejoice in the Advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we look forward to the Day of His appearing, when we shall be made like Him, and inherit eternal life. AMEN.
Review and discuss with your family the questions found at Lord’s Day Five and Six in the Heidelberg Catechism. Discuss how God is both perfectly just and at the same time perfectly merciful.
Lord’s Day Five
Lord’s Day Six