Fully Qualified (Hebrews 2:10-18)

Almost every job posting you look at has a list of qualifications. It’s a way for the applicant to determine if they should even bother applying for the job, but this list doesn’t fully qualify you for the job. The truth is you’re not fully qualified until you’ve actually done the job. Your resume may be a perfect fit, but it’s getting in there and doing it that makes you the most qualified person for the job.

Jesus had a perfect resume, but it was fitting that God sent him here and “perfected” (fully qualified) him to be

The founder of our salvation
Our brother
The destroyer of death
Our merciful high priest

Founder of our salvation

It was fitting—it made perfect sense—that Jesus would walk down the path of suffering and be perfected through it. Why? Because He was all in for us—all in for every human experience. And a real human experience for those who follow Him is sanctification—perfection through suffering. As we live this Christian life, by His grace we are being sanctified, and I think we can all agree this is not always a walk in the park. The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that sanctification is the process of dying to ourselves more and more. In John 17:17, Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified in the truth—God’s word.  Jesus didn’t pray that we’d be happy and comfortable. He prayed that the truth of God’s word would kill our sinful nature. And he knew that would be a painful, ugly process sometimes—He knew because he bore the crushing weight of our sin on his body. He knew because he is the founder of our salvation.

Jesus didn’t pray that we’d be happy and comfortable. He prayed that the truth of God’s word would kill our sinful nature.

Our brother

This is why He’s not ashamed to call us his brother. Did you catch that? Jesus—creator, eternal, sitting at God’s right hand, God—unashamedly calls us family. Have you ever had that family member you were embarrassed to be associated with? Maybe you’ve felt like you are that family member that no one wants to acknowledge. Well, not with Jesus—there are no black sheep in His family.

Destroyer of death

Because Jesus has tasted death and made us family, he is fully qualified to “destroy the power of death—the devil”. Though we will experience physical death, there is no power in it—the wages of sin is death, but Jesus has paid them in full. The devil can no longer act as our accuser (Col 2:14-15)—Jesus has delivered us from the soul-crushing, enslaving fear of death. Satan loves hopeless and fearful people—they are easy to ensnare, they are easy to embitter, they are easy to paralyze.

We can all breathe a collectively huge sigh of relief because Jesus has destroyed the power of death.

When I was little, I went to a workshop with my mom about poisonous household plants. I ended up figuring out that one of the plants in our house (and it was large for a house plant, taller than me at the time) was poisonous. Even the tiniest piece of this plant would cause a swift and horrific death. I developed such a fear of this plant I wouldn’t go in the same room with it; I had nightmares about accidentally eating a piece of it and my throat swelling shut and suffocating me. Over a few weeks, this fear became all-consuming. Finally, I told my mom about it. She threw away the plant. This is what Jesus has done with the power of death. We can all breathe a collectively huge sigh of relief (bigger than I did when my mom got rid of the plant) because Jesus has destroyed the power of death.

Our merciful and faithful high priest

In the Old Testament, the priests were set apart from the rest of the nation of Israel for special service to God and the people. They were chosen by God’s grace to “make propitiation for the sins of the people”. It’s a long story (it takes the whole Bible to tell it properly), but to get at this word “propitiation” the basic story is that our holy, just, good, almighty, creator God has every right and reason to be angry (beyond angry, really) at sinful humans. If you propitiate someone, you appease them or satisfy them in order to assuage their anger. The role of the priest was to present offerings to God on behalf of the people to satisfy his wrath. Jesus has become the high priest for us. God’s wrath was poured out on him—he consumed it; he appeased it completely; he fully satisfied it. He is our merciful and faithful high priest.

Your Turn

  • In what area is God sanctifying you? Is it painful? How is that fact that Jesus was perfected through suffering comforting to you?
  • Are you fearful? Of what? Why? How might this be affecting you spiritually?
  • Do you ever buy into the lie that God is still mad at you? If you are in Christ, this isn’t true. How does this passage reassure you?

Pay Much Closer Attention (Hebrews 2:1-9)

 

God has spoken by his Son. His Son who is

Creator
Eternal
Sitting at God’s right hand

His Son who is God. This is an amazing truth. In chapter 2, we see the implications of this truth. The writer starts this chapter with one of my favorite words in scripture: “therefore”. The word “therefore” always heightens my expectation. It is a word that connects the why to the how, the heart to the hands, the indicative to the imperative. And here’s what the writer tells us, “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” It is a reliable message; it’s a message none of us can afford to neglect. Seems simple, doesn’t it? But I, for one, am easily distracted.

So what have I been paying close attention to? Lately, it’s been Facebook, negative bloggers, and others who’ve been tearing apart my church and trying to bring down my pastor. Their messages have made me ashamed. I’ve found myself not wanting to mention the name of my church and hoping that people will stop asking me questions.

But then I realized I’ve paid close attention to the wrong messages—to the messages that say,

“Your church should meet all your expectations.”
“Your pastor should be the perfect example of Christian living.”
“You shouldn’t have to put up with the failings of your church.”
“There are other churches out there doing it better.”
“You don’t want the church you attend to tarnish your reputation.”
“It would be easier and less messy if you just left.”

Those are not the messages the writer of Hebrews is urging me to pay much closer attention to. I need to pay attention to the message I have heard—the message about Jesus, and so the writer puts Jesus before me again.

…he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:8-9

What comfort, what conviction!

  • Nothing is outside Jesus’ control, even if it doesn’t look that way right now. He is not surprised by any of my circumstances.
  • In the midst of whatever I’m going through, I see Jesus—who also suffered, but who was crowned with glory. And God has this in mind for his people as well (James 1:12).
  • Jesus tasted death for everyone. When I feel angry toward those causing so much hurt, especially those who claim to be brothers and sisters, or when I start feeling ashamed of my church or my pastor, this is the great equalizer. We are all sinful; He tasted death for us all.

It is Him I stake my hope, my life, and my reputation on. That is the message I must pay much closer attention to.

 Your Turn

  • What messages are you paying close attention to? How might those messages be incorrectly shaping your view of God, Jesus, yourself, and others?
  • Have you ever considered that nothing is outside God’s control? How does this change your perspective?

Actions Speak as Loud as Words (Hebrews 1)

Yes, I purposely misquoted the old adage, “Actions speak louder than words.” Why? Because I’m not so sure it’s true. Lately I’ve seen words have a pretty profound impact—most of it not in a good way. But God, in His goodness, has brought me to Hebrews for a season. There is a boat load of truth packed into this book, but here is what’s hitting me in this first chapter: God spoke. And He spoke in word and action.

He spoke to our fathers by the prophets.
He has spoken to us by his Son.
He upholds the universe by the word of his power.

And then the writer of Hebrews restates some of the words that God had already spoken about Jesus in the Psalms:

He is God’s Son.
Let all the angels worship him.
His throne is forever.
He laid the foundation of the earth from the beginning.

God spoke. He was speaking from the beginning, “And God said…” He’s been speaking ever since. He’s been telling us the story of his Son—the one who was promised, the one who lived a perfect life, the one who gave that perfect life to save undeserving people.

He foretold the Story through the prophets.
He displayed the Story through the incarnate Christ.
He writes the Story on the tablet of our hearts.
He reminds us of the Story through His Word.
He continues the Story by the Spirit he placed in his people.

There are times when I just so badly want God to “speak” to me—to give me an answer to some specific problem, to make me feel better when something has me down. And now I realize, he has spoken by His Son who loves me—who loves me in word and in action.

Your Turn

  • What have you been asking God to speak to you about?
  • How have you been ignoring the ways in which he has already spoken? Have you been avoiding time in his Word, the community of believers, hearing his Word preached? Why?
  • What voices have you been substituting for his voice?