Hebrews 2:10-15 – “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what He suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So, Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters…Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by his death He might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”

That Jesus needed to take on humanity for the sake of our salvation seems evident throughout Scripture. However, did Jesus need to be conceived by the Holy Spirit, in Mary’s womb for 9 months, born as any other baby, and grow up like any other boy? Could God not have done exactly what He did with Adam and simply created a grown body for Jesus? God does not act without purpose and this passage within Hebrews gives us an indication of what Jesus was doing by submitting to this plan of God–Jesus was sharing in our humanity. Of course, part of what it means to be human is to be conceived, to be born, and to grow up.

We see this same association on the part of Jesus in His baptism (Mt 3:1-17). John the Baptist is on the edge of the Jordan River, proclaiming the need for repentance from sin. John warned people that God’s Kingdom was near and if they were not right with God, they would not participate in that Kingdom. Many people from all over the area came to hear John and many of them confessed their sins and were baptized as a recognition of their need for repentance. One day, Jesus shows up in front of John asking to be baptized and John is bewildered. Jesus is the One that John has been prophesying about–the Promised One, the Messiah who would come and baptize people with the Holy Spirit, representing their eternal association with God Himself. Jesus was going to accomplish all this and Jesus comes to John to be baptized for… what, repentance? John says, “I need to be baptized by you and do you come to me?” (Mt. 3:14). Jesus’ reply is cryptic at the time–“Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt. 3:15).

In order for us to receive the righteousness of God through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we would need to be fully associated with Jesus. In order for Him to be the one through whom God’s righteousness is made available to us, He needed to be fully associated with us. So, the sinless one was baptized in a baptism of repentance not for Himself but for us. He endured our suffering and, on the cross, became our sin (2 Cor. 5:21). Hebrews 2 says that in order for Jesus to be our High Priest, in order for God’s righteousness to be made available to us, His life had to overlap our life completely–He had to become like us in every way.

And that included the grave. Have you ever wondered, when Jesus said on the cross that ‘It is finished,’ why did Jesus have to be in the tomb Friday, Saturday, and a portion of Sunday? Why death? Why, if He had completed everything that needed to be completed did He not simply come off the cross when it was finished? Because He had not yet shared completely in humanity. To be certain, the atonement for our sin was completed on the cross… but there is more to the plan of God than simply atoning for our sin – much more. In order for that plan to be accomplished, Jesus needed to experience death, even as we experience death. He has walked down the path that we all walk down so that through faith in Him, we might walk with Him down the path He walks down. Jesus did not simply live the life of broken, frail, mortal humanity so that our broken, frail, mortal lives can become the best that they can be. He walked down the path of broken, frail, mortal humanity so that we, through faith, might walk with Him into a complete, empowered immortality.

On this Good Friday, let us not forget that Jesus experienced every aspect of humanity from conception to death and the grave. Jesus understands you not just because He is omniscient – He understands you because He lived a fully human life from conception to death. However, let us also not forget the other end of the grave that will become empty on Resurrection Sunday, blazing for us the only way into eternal life. He went to the grave so that we might exit the grave with Him.

Dr. Russell L. Huizing is the Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Department Chair of the Ministry Leadership Department at Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa, GA. He is also the Pastor at the Sky Valley Chapel in Sky Valley, GA.