Monday, January 23, 2006

Hebrews 8:1-13

During Jesus’ life on earth, and in those first years after his death, the critical question was this. Who was Jesus? This question really had two dimensions. Who was Jesus in relation to God? Who was Jesus in relation to humankind? For those who encountered Jesus directly or heard of him from others, there was little room for neutrality in responding to the question of who he was. He could not be taken lightly or casually as just another good person in the club of such men and women in human history. The claims Jesus made about himself, and the claims his followers made about him, made neutrality or even casual respect toward him non-options. Either he was devilishly deluded – and hence, not from God, but terribly dangerous to people. Or he was uniquely, definitively, and compellingly connected with God, with God’s loving and saving purposes on behalf of humankind.

In the framework of Israel’s worship and history, this is what the author of Hebrews conveyed about Jesus in today’s passage: Jesus’ unique, definitive, and compelling connection with God and with God’s purposes for us. In liturgical terms, Jesus was the high priest who represented God to us and us to God. In historical terms, Jesus was the mediator of God’s new covenant or relationship (only deeper and stronger) with us. Jesus came down from God to us. Jesus raised us up to God. Jesus connected God to us and us to God, for God’s glory and our ultimate and everlasting good. Neutrality and casual respect toward him were not possible. Some adored him and gave their heart, mind, and soul to him in love. Some rejected him and crucified him.

Yet God raised Jesus from death. Jesus continues to live with and from God! In God’s love and power, Jesus continues to act as high priest and mediator. He connects God to us and us to God. Those who give their life to Jesus in love become new people in him, whence they live with and from God. God, through the infusion of his Holy Spirit, writes the very life and character of Jesus into their hearts. This is God’s new heart-dwelling, pledge-binding, life-transforming relationship with people in and through Jesus. Will I be one of these people? Will you? In short, will we give our heart, mind, and soul to Jesus in love?

Gregory Strong

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