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Monday, February 23, 2015
Hebrews 2:11-18 - For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying,
“I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters,
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”
And again, “I will put my trust in him.”
And again,“Here am I and the children whom God has given me.”
Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters[e] in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.
The Psalms are a tricky beast: hard to get a handle on, and often hard to fit into our modern worldview.
Talk of enemies abounds, and often it’s us against them with God on our side. For instance, Psalm 52 decries a wicked man and predicts his doom.
“5 But God will break you down forever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living."
The Psalmist gets to point out an evil person and pronounce judgment on him, an act that feels oh-so-good but is sometimes hard to do in our complex and nuanced world. Not all Psalms go this way. We should be careful, because a day could come when the finger gets pointed in our direction. Psalm 44 says this judgment can happen to us, too.
"11You have made us like sheep for slaughter, and have scattered us among the nations."
Let this be a warning to us that we should keep God's word in perspective. A "winners vs. losers" mentality breaks down quickly when dealing with God. The Jewish people knew this all too well.
The New Testament offers a different approach. Jesus comes to disrupt us, disrupt those ways we have of finding favor in our own actions. Hebrews Chapter 2 elucidates an idea I had never given much thought to before now.
We are called children of God. Why is this? Well, God is our creator, so that would be enough, but this passage shows us another way of looking at it. We are sons and daughters of God because of our connection to Jesus. It is His father after all, but we get to share in the blessing.
"11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters,"
He calls us brothers and sisters, and thus we receive a new parent. This way of viewing the incarnation gives me solace. The divine is a series of connections, and because God "gave his only son" we get to share in the riches.
There's a downside to all of this, though.
14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, ... 17 Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect ... to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people."
The cross turns into the very real manifestation of all the suffering the world can dole out, and because Jesus became like us, he suffered, too.
How do we deal with the sadness inherent in this state of affairs? By thankfulness and a recognition of the love we have all around us.
(Psalm) "52:9 I will thank you forever, because of what you have done. In the presence of the faithful I will proclaim your name, for it is good."
As we come together during this season of Lent, how can we as faithful people, gather in each other's presence and give thanks? How can we see the love we have for each other and our God and proclaim that "it is good"?