After we finished the last part of our series on the book of Romans, Acting Out Our Faith, we briefly (and for the last time) revisited the Bible book of Acts, wherein we left off with the apostle Paul just beginning to serve a two-year sentence of house arrest at the city of Rome in 60 A.D. Now, we’re going to leave Paul for a little while, in order to examine other historical developments and Holy-Spirit inspired Biblical writings, which were taking place at approximately the same time.
Although, perhaps we are not leaving Paul at all, let me explain…
We are first going to delve into the Bible book of Hebrews; and although the author is anonymous, many biblical scholars believe the author to be Paul. (Others believe the author to be associates of Paul – either Barnabas or Apollo.)
The title of the book / letter suggests that it was directed at a Jewish audience; and some of the scholars calling for a Pauline authorship of the book of Hebrews, believe that because Paul’s primary mission was to evangelize to the Gentiles, he penned this letter anonymously to prevent the formation of any rife between he and the apostle Peter (whose primary mission was to evangelize to the Jews).
The purpose of this letter appears to be for bolstering the faith of the Jewish converts to Christ – especially to a group who had somehow gotten the notion that Jesus was going to return immediately. However, because sixty years had gone by since Christ had ascended to heaven, the Jews were beginning to question whether or not following Him was a wise decision. The author goes into great detail reassuring them that it was…
Who is Jesus?
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds. Heb. 1:1, 2. NKJV
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty, having become as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. Heb. 1:3, 4. ESV
There’s a lot to glean here. We learn that as soon as Jesus was resurrected, the ‘last days’ of the earth commenced. You might retort with saying, “These ‘last days’ have lasted over two thousand years!” True, but that’s just a blink of an eye to a universe that is believed to have stood for over sixteen billion years!
We see too that God now speaks to us through Christ, whom we know petitioned His Father for the Holy Spirit in order to deliver those words. In addition, God tells us that His Son is comprised of His exact imprint – reaffirming that whatever comes out of the mouth of Jesus is the word of God.
In addition, the Holy Spirit reminds us that God made the universe through Christ, and that Jesus Himself is still holding that universe together.
Finally, at the point of Jesus’ resurrection, He received His crown from God to rule over the earth as our King of kings and Lord of lords after He completed God’s plan for our salvation. As King, God exalted His Son over all things (including the angels).
Why hope in Jesus?
For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we heard so that we do not drift away from it. For the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Heb. 2:1 – 3. NASB
The Holy Spirit is appealing to the Jew’s knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures, which showed that every time an angel would appear, its pronunciations invariably came to pass. The Jews are well aware that the angels also testified of the coming of the Messiah.
Then, the Holy Spirit-inspired author asks them to consider ‘present-day’ proofs for the veracity of Jesus as being the Messiah:
It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to His will. Heb. 2:3, 4. ESV (In essence, the author is saying, “How much ‘proof’ do you need?”)
What had to happen before Jesus could fulfill His purpose?
First, though we’ve seen that Jesus in heaven is exalted above the angels, Jesus on earth could not be; He had to take on mortality:
But we are able to see Jesus, Who was ranked lower than the angels for a little while, crowned with glory and honor because of His having suffered death, in order that by the grace (unmerited favor) of God [to us sinners] He might experience death for every individual person. For it was an act worthy [of God] and fitting [to the divine nature] that He, for Whose sake and by Whom all things have their existence, in bringing many sons into glory, should make the Pioneer of their salvation perfect [should bring to maturity the human experience necessary to be perfectly equipped for His office as High Priest] through suffering.
For both He Who sanctifies [making men holy] and those who are sanctified all have one [Father]. For this reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren… Heb. 2:9 – 11. AMP
Angels do not die. Jesus had to be mortal so that by His sacrifice He could nail our sins to the cross forever. He also subjected Himself to the ‘human experience’ so that He could compassionately identify with our weaknesses and our suffering, while He serves as our High Priest as the right hand of God.
Furthermore, Jesus calls us ‘brothers and sisters’ – acknowledging our connection to His human side, when we accept Him in full faith with our spiritual side:
Since, therefore, [these His] children share in flesh and blood [in the physical nature of human beings], He [Himself] in a similar manner partook of the same [nature], that by [going through] death He might bring to naught and make of no effect him who had the power of death – that is the devil – and also that He might deliver and completely set free all those who through the [haunting] fear of death were held in bondage throughout the whole course of their lives. Heb. 2:14, 15. AMP
Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make a propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. Heb. 2:17, 18. NKJV
Jesus conquered death for all who choose to follow Him. We will not feel death’s sting and therefore need not fear it. Our transition will be immediate and glorious. Until that time, our High Priest can identify with anything that we are going through in this world, ( He Himself being a conqueror of all of them), and He does not hesitate to send help, compassion, and healing, our way, in any situation.
There is still so much more that rounds out our Hope. Next time…
Good night and God Bless.