In my last post, we saw how Paul told Timothy, “Remember Jesus Christ.”
Here we see similar words by the author of Hebrews: “Consider Jesus.” (3:1)
I have probably read Hebrews dozens of times, but as I’ve been reading it through this time, I’m starting to see what the author is saying more clearly. I’ve always seen how he was talking about the superiority of Christ: to angels, to Moses, to the priests, to the animal sacrifices.
But this time, something else struck me even more strongly: Why was the writer of Hebrews talking about all this?
I’ve mentioned in my first blog postings on Hebrews, that the book of Hebrews was written by a Hebrews (Jew) to the Hebrews, telling them to stop acting like Hebrews and start acting like Christians.
In other words, because of persecution, these Jews were being tempted to go back to their old Jewish rituals in order to obtain their salvation. But the only way to do so would be to turn their backs on Jesus and his message of salvation.
And that was the main point of all that the writer of Hebrews was warning against in these four chapters (and for the rest of the book for that matter.)
In chapter 1, the writer says,
Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. (1:1)
He then lists the qualifications of Jesus:
- He is the heir of all things.
- He is the creator of the universe.
- He is the radiance of God’s glory.
- He is the exact expression of God’s nature.
- He sustains all things by his powerful word.
- He was confirmed by the Father as God’s Son.
- All the angels worship him.
- His throne will last forever.
- He is flawless in justice and righteousness.
- He is eternal.
- All things are put under his rule.
And it is because Jesus is all these things, the writer of Hebrews says this,
For this reason, we must pay attention all the more to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away. (2:1)
Why? Because if the law which was brought to Moses by angels was binding and required obedience on pain of punishment, how much more is the word of Jesus binding on us and requires our obedience? How do we dare ignore the message of salvation he brings.
And the writer makes it clear that it was Jesus himself that spoke of this salvation that we have, right after his resurrection from the dead. (Luke 24:44-47)
The apostles then testified to that same message. (Acts 2:22-39, among other places.)
For that matter, God in Trinity attested to this message that Jesus brought: the Father through signs and wonders, and the Holy Spirit through the distribution of his gifts.
In chapter 3, the writer then points out that Jesus is the Son over God’s house, and that we ourselves our God’s house. The implication? That we are answerable to Jesus. And we are to obey him.
And then here’s the kicker. The writer quotes Psalm 95, something that clearly refers to Yahweh, and applies it to Jesus.
Today, if you hear his (Jesus’) voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion…(3:7-8)
In the desert, they tested Jesus, and so Jesus swore to them in his wrath, “They will never enter my rest.” (3:11)
No less than three times in chapters 3 and 4 does the writer reiterate, “Don’t harden your heart to Jesus’ voice. For if you do, you will never enter his rest.”
And so the writer encourages us,
Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people. For the person who has entered his rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from his. Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience. (4:9-11)
But then he warns us,
For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. No creature is hidden from him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account. (4:12-13)
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Jesus himself is called “the Word of God” by John. And the writer of Hebrews warns us: we cannot simply ignore him. For everything is exposed before him and we will give an account to him for what we’ve done.
And again, the main point of this whole passage is Jesus’ specific word on the way of salvation. There is no other way but through him.
So many people want to say that there must be other ways. That God wouldn’t be so narrow as to limit the way of salvation to Jesus.
But there is no rest or peace apart from Christ. There is no salvation apart from him. And if you choose to ignore him and his message of salvation, only his wrath remains.
As John put it,
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. (John 3:36)
How about you? What will you do with the word of Jesus?