14 September 2018

Hebrews 5

There are two ways of doing the Incarnation. The Gospels of Luke and Matthew start with Mary and Joseph and Jesus’ conception.  An amazing story that blows our minds if we get beyond Xmas trees, food and presents.

Hebrews 4–5 does Incarnation differently, including telling his readers that he’s got a lot to say and explain but they are cloth-eared, dik-koppe (5:11ff.).

And why is Jesus is so significant? Well, think Jewish high-priest, for example. The high-priests who feature in the New Testament get a deservedly bad press, but Hebrews is thinking of the ideal incumbent who offers sacrifice and prayers to God on behalf of his people.

Now, speaking personally, I find the stories of the Gospels more straightforward than listening to elaborate analogies from Leviticus and elsewhere that work by drawing out similarities and contrasts, with various quotation snippets from the Old Testament in-between.

That said, I’m not Jewish or about to be imprisoned and slaughtered for attending TCC. The recipients of Hebrews were facing terrible persecution and needed courage not to return to Temple ways.

They might have buckled and slipped quietly back into being Jewish in a way that didn’t attract that hostile attention for following Jesus as the Messiah who replaced the high-priest and temple sacrifice. What’s the value of Jesus as High-priest? Not only was Jesus humanly tempted like us and so can sympathize with our weakness (Hebrews 4:15), but it hurt Him to do God’s will.

Hurt, because He was crucified? But also hurt because He suffered at Gethsemane: ‘While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the One who could rescue him from death, and God heard his prayers because of Jesus’ deep reverence for God.’

But God the Father, His Father, didn’t rescue Him! That’s the point. Jesus went through with it all despite being the Son of God.

This means Jesus will be there to welcome you into eternal life because He’s been there, done that obediently, and received much more than a Jewish high-priest T-shirt. Trust Him on this.”