Friday 30th October 2020 – Hebrews – More on Redemption
Hebrews 2: 10-18
It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 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 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.
Eight words: “Like his brothers and sisters in every respect” [verse 17]. Yet so significant. Years of doctrine and dissent, creeds and Christology, argument and antagonism and theology on an industrial scale – so much packed into so short a sentence. Who is this risen Jesus? Is he just a ghostly spirit or flesh and blood? Is he for real here and now? The questions have been debated for centuries and the answers are central to the truth or otherwise of the Gospel. The author of Hebrews put it to his fellow Greek speaking sophisticates quite simply – “He too shared in our humanity”.
They lived in a world where they believed angels and devils, principalities and powers ruled under God, and often made a mess of it. The ultimate beauty and perfection of creation was spoilt. That’s why bad things happened. We don’t believe in that anymore. We believe in GDP, Market Forces, global warming and social revolution, and all the nonsense tomorrow’s tricking and treating will bring when it is saints we should be remembering, not ghostly apparitions. The world is still in a mess and not the better place we believe it could be. Into the middle of this imperfection comes the perfect figure of Jesus Christ: conceived, born, crucified, dead and buried – and then risen, not as a ghost or a spirit or an angel, but as a flesh and blood human being like the rest of us. In sharing our physical humanity he affirms that God rules and redeems the human race, and Christ is still one of us despite the mess we make of it. Eight words in eight short verses, affirming that he is the way, the truth and the life – and that’s salvation in a nutshell.
Come my way my truth my life Such a Way as gives us breath, Such a Truth as ends all strife, Such a Life as killeth death. George Herbert
The Rev’d Peter Moth is a retired minister and member of St Andrew’s URC Kenton, Newcastle upon Tyne