"Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy 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" ( Hebrews 2:14-15 )
Growing up in the late eighties and early nineties it was not uncommon to hear about a hijacked plane or a hostage situation. It seemed every time you turned on the news there was another breaking story of this kind. It was so prevalent even a good friend of mine was a passenger on a plane that got hijacked. He was leaving for basic training and ended up in Cuba under armed escort.
Hijackers take hostages to have negotiating power. Holding the power of life and death they barter lives for their objective. The same was true for humanity. Satan held mankind prisoner to use as a bartering chip. Jesus saw the helpless of mankind which is why he stepped into humanity to rescue us. "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." ( Romans 5:6 ). When Jesus took on human form, he fell under the jurisdiction of that kingdom the same as mankind. He literally became Satan's hostage the moment he left heaven.
Jesus Disarmed Death from the Inside Out
"He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification." ( Romans 4:25 ).
Jesus shared in humanity to destroy death and the one who held the power of death. I John tells us that, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work" ( I John 3:8b ). He did this by trading his life for ours. He rescued us by becoming hostage in our place and defeating the devil. Do you know how Jesus defeated Him? The Resurrection. He died as payment for our sins so we could be right with God, but He defeated the power that held us captive in slavery overpowering it by rising from the dead. Once the power is broken it no longer holds control. The proof of the resurrection shows that our sins are forgiven and His rescue mission worked. Death could not hold him in the grave.
David prophesied this very thing, "because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay" ( Psalm 16:10 ). He knew that God's Blessed Hope would one day defeat death and free those held captive by it. David looked forward to the time of Christ with hope because he knew death was not the final chapter. Jesus subjected himself to everything by which mankind was held prisoner so he could crush it and free us. Because of Jesus, death holds no power over us.
God's redemption plan was brilliant! I am sure that the powers of darkness were celebrating when they had Jesus hanging on the cross thinking they owned him. But that was the beginning of the end. The cross was the means to defeat and overpower them. But they didn't understand this until it was too late. If they had realized, they would never have killed Him. "None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" ( I Corinthians 2:8 ). Once death had Him it was too late and it was over! The power living inside Jesus was too great to be held by anything, even death. When He arose, he ascended and led the captives free! ( Ephesians 4:7-10 ).
We Have Been Set Free!
My friend, who ended up in Cuba recounts that the hijackers were shot and killed shortly after landing in the foreign country. Then the passengers were freed and treated very nicely until the time they could be returned to the United States. With the threat gone, they were safe and in good hands, even though Cuba was an enemy of the US.
This is a good illustration of what happened for us. Christ defeated death and took every accusation against us nailing them to the cross where they stayed. "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross" ( Colossians 2:13-15 ). As He ascended He passed through the heavens right by every power and authority making a bold and public display of them. He paraded them through the heavens as defeated, conquered and powerless.
This is an amazing truth; we have been set free! No longer do we live under the threat of death because we know that Jesus defeated and freed us from it. We know that we will rise again and live forever with Him simply by accepting the truth of Jesus. He traded His life for ours, becoming the hostage in our place so that we could be reunited with the Father. Jesus came in the flesh to destroy the works of the devil and disarmed all powers and authorities that opposed Him and held us captive. Now he offers us the free gift of life, sets us free and gives us hope for a future!