There is something wonderful and comforting in shared experiences. When I get together with my brother, we share stories of our time growing up together. The times we laughed. The times we were embarrassed. The times we mourned together. When we meet someone new, we do this same thing. We begin to tell each other stories. Finding points of commonality between ourselves. Being able to relate to one another because we can share stories about what we both have experienced.
In yesterday’s reading, we find the author pontificating on the fact that Jesus came to us not only as God but as human as well. There is a cosmic paradox in this person Jesus. He is fully human and fully divine all at the same time. And the author wants us to see the humanity of Jesus in this moment.
What does it matter that Jesus came to us as human? Why does it matter that Jesus left his place in heaven to be with us? The author answers that in our reading today. To be our sibling. To share in the experience of being human. Not only to show us how to live but to be able to empathize with us. It is hard to empathize with someone when you have not experienced anything like what they have experience. Christ has experienced what it is to be human and because of this, he is highly qualified to be our high priest, to be our advocate before God. And through Christ’s death, God has adopted us and we are made co-heirs and siblings of Christ. We have the shared experience of being Christ’s sisters and brothers.
As you go about your day, remember that God come to us in Jesus and he has experienced what it means to be human, the heartaches and the joys. Jesus laughed and cried with his friends. Jesus knows what it is to be lonely and to be surrounded by his friends. No matter what is happening around us, Jesus is always as close as our siblings.
– Pastor Drew
The author of Hebrews comes out of the gate swinging.
Unlike some of the other New Testament letters we encounter before Hebrews, this missive does not contain a familiar greeting, an identification of the sender/recipient, or any of the more personal touches that one comes to expect from the books of the New Testament. Instead, we hit the ground running with four verse of intense theology, a high Christology, and confessional statements that make most seminarians’ heads spin. It is a dense four verses we are given to start the book and it is appropriate for us to dwell a bit in the language, the assertions, and the tone that is being set for the chapters that follow. The author insists that Jesus is king, prophet and priest and he is far above and beyond our wildest expectations of Emmanuel (God with us).
First, we should acknowledge the historical, theological and literarily contextual debate surrounding the authorship of Hebrews. It is unlike any other text we have in the New Testament. It contains a complicated structure from start to finish. It is full of Old Testament references and allusions. The title of “Letter to the Hebrews” was a later addition, coming sometime in the 2nd century after the text was already being touted as having been written by Paul. It’s unlikely that Paul is the author since the words, the themes and the history of Paul do not seem to match up with anything we see in this book. In Chapter 13, we will get some personal references from the author, but nothing so definitive as to make us believe Paul is behind this book.
It reads more like a sermon or theological essay than a letter. I think that is why I enjoy the notion of studying this book together this Lent. It is full of callbacks to the law and prophets, along with numerous eloquent and convincing theological concepts about the identity of Jesus Christ.
This Lent, we are preparing to be confronting by this same Jesus at the cross and again at the empty tomb. But who do we think, know, believe and hope Jesus is? When we describe him, what language do we use? What truths do we lean upon? I would challenge you to consider three questions throughout this study through Hebrews. Ask these questions each time you read the passage and see what God reveals to you through your interpretation.
1.) Who does the text say Jesus is?
2.) Who do I believe Jesus is?
3.) How do the answers to these two questions impact my life?
I look forward to your comments, questions, thoughts and wonderings as we read Hebrews together this Lent.
Peace be with you!
– Pastor Andrew
Posted in Reading Through Hebrews, Uncategorized
Tagged Andrew Pomerville, Discipline, Faith, Hebrews, Hebrews 1:1-4, Hebrews in Lent, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Lent, New Testament
We’re using a narrative lectionary (http://www.workingpreacher.org/narrative_faqs.aspx) this year at The Peoples Church. Ideally, we’ll hit a number of narrative passages throughout the school year, taking us from Genesis through the journeys of the disciples. I’m loving it so far. This week, we reread the story of Sarah laughing at the reminder that she will bear a son in spite of her advanced years.
Best part about this passage for me? Even though she doubts and cynically laughs at God’s announcement, God is still faithful.
God gives even when we don’t believe.
It gives me a ton of hope.
In doubt, there is still the faithfulness of God. It seems like we have this misguided notion that God will only love us, reward us, provide for us or forgive us when we are so holy, religious, and righteous enough to warrant such gifts. This passage reminds me again that I have it backwards.
Sarah actually laughs at God…and God still provides.
Check out this week’s take on this type of faith:
Posted in Andrew Pomerville Sermons
Tagged Andrew Pomerville, Cynical, Doubts, Faith, Faithless, Genesis 18:1-15, Laughter, Narrative Lectionary, Refugee Services, Syria, The Peoples Church of East Lansing