Thursday, April 24, 2003

Gleanings from Hebrews

Jesus and the New Covenant(4)

This marks the second division of a series that introduces the Book of Hebrews. To start at the beginning, click here.

One very central tenet in Hebrews is the superiority of Jesus and the New Covenant over Moses and the Old. This second section of Gleanings from Hebrews will cover this central message.

Jesus: Our Kinsman

If my brother and I had lived in the times of the Judges of Israel, we would have responsibilities towards each other. 

  • If my brother had to sell his family property to pay his debts, I would have to work to buy it back.
  • If my brother had to sell himself as a slave, I would have to do all I could to redeem his freedom.
  • If someone killed my brother, it fell to me to find his killer and avenge his blood.

All these responsibilities would have come from the blood relationship. As kinsman and we would have had responsibilities to seek the welfare of our close relatives. 

This kinsman-redeemer concept is central to the drama in the Book of Ruth and a key factor in understanding why Jesus became a man.

The Apostle John wrote, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14, NASB) The author of Hebrews tells us why:

But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, “I will proclaim Your name to My brethren, In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.” And again, “I will put My trust in Him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me.” Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:9-18)

Note the following, "Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same." He became our kinsman and took on the responsibility for our welfare. He paid the debt, redeemed us from slavery, and will avenge our blood:

When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also. (Revelation 6:9-11)

He knows our frame and is able to help in human specific ways. There is no temptation that we face that He did not face. His being made like us enables Him to be our high priest in things pertaining to God, giving us direct access to the throne of grace. Eventually he will bring us to perfection:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Friday: Jesus, Our High Priest

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