Bible blog 1036

This blog gives a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily bible readings along with a headline from world news:

Alex Ferguson retires

no challenge to his status

no challenge to his status

Hebrews 2:5-18

Good News Translation (GNT)

The One Who Leads Us to Salvation

5 God has not placed the angels as rulers over the new world to come—the world of which we speak. 6 Instead, as it is said somewhere in the Scriptures:

“What are human beings, O God, that you should think of them;
mere human beings, that you should care for them?
7 You made them for a little while lower than the angels;
you crowned them with glory and honor,[a]
8 and made them rulers over all things.”

It says that God made them “rulers over all things”; this clearly includes everything. We do not, however, see human beings ruling over all things now. 9 But we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, so that through God’s grace he should die for everyone. We see him now crowned with glory and honor because of the death he suffered. 10 It was only right that God, who creates and preserves all things, should make Jesus perfect through suffering, in order to bring many children to share his glory. For Jesus is the one who leads them to salvation.

11 He purifies people from their sins, and both he and those who are made pure all have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his family. 12 He says to God,

“I will tell my people what you have done;
I will praise you in their meeting.”

13 He also says, “I will put my trust in God.” And he also says, “Here I am with the children that God has given me.”

14 Since the children, as he calls them, are people of flesh and blood, Jesus himself became like them and shared their human nature. He did this so that through his death he might destroy the Devil, who has the power over death, 15 and in this way set free those who were slaves all their lives because of their fear of death. 16 For it is clear that it is not the angels that he helps. Instead, he helps the descendants of Abraham. 17 This means that he had to become like his people in every way, in order to be their faithful and merciful High Priest in his service to God, so that the people’s sins would be forgiven. 18 And now he can help those who are tempted, because he himself was tempted and suffered.

Who could resist this angel?!

Who could resist this angel?!

It seems from the wording of this letter that some of its readers had special reverence for angels and maybe even saw Jesus as a kind of angel. Today also there are many people committed to angel worship, most of it a sugary mix of sentimentality and science fiction. The author of Hebrews uses the need to counter these beliefs to emphasise two truths about Jesus:

1. Jesus was completely human

2. He has been raised into the life of God. (made perfect, crowned with glory)

The theological story he tells links these truths. In order that mortal human beings should be rescued, Jesus, the Son of God who bears the” impress of God’s being”, becomes a man of flesh and blood, and experiences human death on the cross, making to God the perfect offering which no-one else could give, thus destroying the power of sin.  By his resurrection has has destroyed also the power of death. This means that he is a pioneer on behalf of all humanity, who can now, through him be reconciled with God and enabled to put “all obstacles under their feet,” as the scripture has promised.

Much worldly authority is used in such a way that it keeps others in their lower position. Even those who admire Alex Ferguson say that he only likes people if they accept he’s the boss. Just as Jesus’ weakness unites him with mortal human beings, so his ascension to God and his authority over all other powers, is shared with his human brothers and sisters so that their lives also may be perfected. He doesn’t pull the ladder up after him. 

Today the Christian Church celebrates the Ascension of Jesus, which is not a story about Jesus taking off like a rocket into the sky, but is the conviction of Christian disciples that in following Jesus they are being drawn into the life of the One Who Is Beyond All Worlds. According to the author of Hebrews, this transformation happens to those who trust Jesus as their great high priest and share in his offering of his life to God.  evolution-of-men-and-women1

The Letter to Hebrews is a difficult writing because of its use of Jewish sacrificial imagery, but it offers a bold theology which is very relevant to the theory of evolution. Jesus is the pioneer, the mutant, who is simultaneously part of the old humanity and the new. whose spiritual descendants can adapt to the environment of God’s city.

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