Again this week due to light duties I’ve time for a Sunday blog which provides a meditation on one of the readngs for today from the Episcopal Lectionary.
10 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.11For 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,*12saying,
‘I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters,* in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.’
‘I will put my trust in him.’
‘Here am I and the children whom God has given me.’
14 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,15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.16For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham.17Therefore 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.18Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.
The way the author of Hebrews talks about God and Jesus is fresh and startling. There are two topics which are always in the background of his letter: the issue of angel-worship; and the Jewish system of sacrifice. The author wants to warn against any obsession with angels and takes every chance to emphasise Jesus’ humanity; while he also argues that in Jesus all the functions of priesthood and sacrifice in the old religion are perfected and therefore superseded.
The language he uses is innovative: God is “bringing many children to glory”; Jesus is the” pioneer of salvation”, who is “made perfect by suffering.” Jesus is not ashamed to call us “brothers and sisters” since he “shares our flesh and blood”. But is also our high priest who has “offered a sacrifice of atonement” for the sins of humanity. This sacrifice is no hocus pocus but a real offering of his life, which “tests” him is such a way that he can sympathise with others who are going through testing experience.
The greatest test is the fear of death. Only one who has faced and overcome this fear can help us mortals. The spiritual says,”you gotta walk that lonesome valley and you gotta walk it by yourself” but the book of Hebrews tells us that there is One who has walked the valley before us as a pioneer, and raised from death by God, comes back to walk it again with us.
As I look ahead to 2013 and the tests it will provide for myself and for all God’s creatures, I’m grateful to the author of Hebrews for the image of Jesus as the “pioneer who is made perfect though sufferings.”