We continue our weekly exploration into this unique but little-read book, The Letter to the Hebrews. We found these gems in the first couple of chapters.
God has spoken to humans!In the past His words of grace and mercy to his people Israel abound in the Old Testament (1:1) in a tremendous variety of methods: prophets, visions, dreams and so on.
But in these ‘last’ days God has spoken by an actual ‘son’, a one out of the eternal God and at the same time, miraculously, by becoming one like us, in human form (1:2).
God has surely spoken! Thisis the ultimate way for God to speak to us, coming in person, face to face, as a human being, born of a lowly girl and into a troubled society under the domination of a foreign power. It leaves us in no doubt about what God is like and what he has done for us.
Just think! God has visited us in human form. This one described as heir of all things, the creator, in the exact image of God himself, thus a son, the sovereign king, the purifier from sin, one superior to angels—has come in humility and servant-like and now gone (1:3-4). Gone, to the place of absolute sovereignty. Gone, but left us such a glorious deposit of the revelation of the eternal One. Gone, but yet wonderfully in touch with us!
So, we MUST pay the closest attention to this deposit of truth! This is worthy of our fullest attention. This message is so serious, so much is at stake, such a great salvation—a much more significant message than those who came before speaking of God’s acts. We cannot treat this with apathy. It is not an optional extra to a full agenda of interests. It demands our full attention (2:1-2). Urgent.
How can we escape awful consequences if we treat this message with apathy or disinterest? Jesus is the total answer for us, not just for the Jewish people but also for us (2:3).
As Frank Viola says “Christ is All, everything else is commentary”.
Jesus himself first brought this message—that’s enough, in person! And those who heard him gave the word to us—they were eyewitnesses of the blazing truth that had erupted before their eyes (2:4).
They saw what God did as well as said—amazing signs and wonders with gifts of the Holy Spirit upon his people (2:4).
2:8: The important question for all humanity arises from Ps 8:4-6:
“What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honour,
putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
That question raises another one—how come humanity is not seen like this but in turmoil?
But we do see it in the man, Jesus! Humiliated for a time, tasting death for us and but risen from death and NOW crowned, exalted, with all in subjection to him. (2:9) And he is one of us! A human.
He who was worshipped by angels (1:6) was for our sakes made a bit lower than angels. Such a great humbling! Imagine the enormous trouble that God has gone to, in his great love for us to bring us back from death and defeat. He has not abandoned the world. He suffered.
That’s not all. The world that is to come will be subject to Jesus, a man, a human being, not angels. One of us—a servant king who has established his worth, his credibility before our eyes. This king is different, worthy, gracious, loving, caring. He ticks all the boxes.
We are given in 2:10, the first of three reasons for his coming to save his people, in this passage: the pioneer of our salvation was made perfect through suffering—and that’s wonderfully fitting. Why? Because he came on an equal footing to all of us! He had no advantage. He underwent a process of maturity, of finishing, of complete completion.
There’s more! In v.11 we find that our saviour is of the same origin as us. We are one family—he is unashamed to call us brothers. This is sensational. No wonder this shook the world of man.
Again in vss.14-15, we are given another reason for Jesus’ death—to break the power of our enemy who holds the power of death and set free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. This has taken place. Isn’t that enough to sing and shout about?
To do this, Jesus had to become like us, fully human in every way, (2:17). See the huge stress on his humanity—he experienced our limitations and he was, 2:18, genuinely tempted.
That means he is able to help those who are being tempted. He will help us in our temptations and trials because as a human being like us, he has been here, not in breathtaking glory and majesty but in lowliness and servant-like. He knows our frailty, understands our situation. He faced suffering, abuse.
Isn’t this truly awesome?