The Pioneer of Salvation

“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” (Hebrews 2:10, NIV).

In 1775 Daniel Boone opened a trail through the Cumberland Gap enabling thousands of settlers to cross the central Appalachians and put down roots in Kentucky and points west that were previously closed to them. As a result he became a sometimes larger-than-life figure as one of the quintessential American pioneers, braving danger and hardship to open a rich new world for those who followed them.

Hebrews 2 talks about Jesus Christ in similar but incomparably greater terms. He is the “pioneer of salvation” (Heb. 2:10) through whom God will restore His glorious destiny for all mankind. Quoting from Psalm 8 and looking back to Genesis 1, Hebrews reflects on the divine intent for humans in creation: “you crowned them with glory and honor” (Heb. 2:7). Sadly, this was lost in mankind’s rebellion against God (Genesis 3). Restoring God’s original intent requires cleansing from sin (Heb. 1:3) that comes only by sacrificial death (Heb. 8–10). This restoration is rooted in God’s costly grace in providing salvation through the death of His Son (Heb. 2:9).

In this context the title “pioneer” carries nuances of “initiator,” “leader,” “trailblazer,” “one who is in solidarity with others” (Heb. 2:11, 14) and leads them through danger to a new situation (Heb. 2:10, 14–15). By His death and resurrection Jesus has broken the power of death and the devil. He has gained the victory for all those who follow Him, and He is leading “many sons and daughters to glory” (Heb. 2:10). Jesus came to share in our humanity (Heb. 2:14, 17), which we celebrate at Christmas, in order to restore us by His sacrificial death to the “glory” God intended at creation for all mankind (Romans 8:18–30). In doing so He opened for us a “world to come,” a new world of redemption and life with God for now and all eternity (Heb. 2:5).