Thursday, February 25, 2010

There is no one like Jesus!

Good morning my friends. As we continue to read through Hebrews it is important to understand that this letter was written as a general letter to be shared with the Jews scattered around the known world. It is difficult to write a "devotional" from it as it becomes more like a study. However, there is good information here that leaves us with a clearer view and understanding of Jesus: who he is, what he has done and who we are because of him.

We need to appreciate how Jesus is the first born of what we will become. We always talk like we have already received everything promised by God and like we have already been transformed but what we have received is a promise and a deposit guaranteeing that promise. We see what we will be in the resurrected Jesus. The author of Hebrews explains it:

It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified:
   "What is man that you are mindful of him,
      the son of man that you care for him?
   You made him a little lower than the angels;
      you crowned him with glory and honor
      and put everything under his feet."
(Hebrews 2:5-8)

This was God's intended plan, that everything would be subject to us but obviously it has not happened. This is a promise we have not been able to claim yet we see it fulfilled in Jesus:

In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (2:8b-9)

Obviously we could not pay the penalty of death so Jesus took our place so that one person paid the penalty for everyone. Jesus, who is greater than all things, had to be made exactly like us, a little lower than the angels, in order to pay our penalty. It is an amazing thing. It is the only way that we could come to that place of having everying subject to us. Now understand the relationship we have with Jesus because of this:

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. (2:10-11)

Jesus, the author and perfecter of our salvation, the King of all creation, the one who holds all of creation together, is our brother. He has paid the price so that we may also be transformed and brought to a new place, being a new creation, to become the sons of God, to be the brothers of Jesus. I say brothers because we are all considered as sons of the Father, male and female.

We are given two more reasons why Jesus had to become just like us. The first is because he had to rescue us from our greatest fear:

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (1:14-15)

Sin is what caused death in us. Sin prevented us from stepping into the life that God held out for us. Jesus destroyed that death when he brought us freedom from our sinful nature. That freedom then left us able to choose for ourselves whether we would take  life from God or step back into the death offered by the enemy. Many have nullified the sacrifice of Jesus by freely choosing death. I hope we have chosen life and will remain there until we have received the promise of full salvation.

Another reason Jesus had to become like us:

For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (1:17-18)

Jesus is also our High Priest who intercedes for us with the Father. He is an effective High Priest because he became us and understands our weaknesses, our fears and the temptations we face. He is better able to understand the grace we need to make it through each day. He knows, he understands, and he helps our Father understand the suffering of our temptations.

It is good to see these concrete images of Jesus from the Word of God. Too often we rest on what other people say about him. We listen to testimonies that are sometimes embellished with things that are not in the Word. Sometimes people decide to add their own thoughts to things they do not clearly understand. This is the reason we need to get our understanding of Jesus directly from the Word. Now we know why Jesus had to be made like us. We know why he calls us brothers. We also know how he is a great High Priest, always working for our benefit. It is from this understanding that we are able to enter this day with praise and worship flowing from a heart of thanksgiving. There is no one like Jesus!

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