Monday, February 19, 2007

Hebrews 1:1-14

Some of us may be familiar with the “Mr. Bean” series from British television in the early 1990s. A truly odd yet often hilarious character, Mr. Bean appeared at the opening of each episode by dropping from the night sky in a beam of light and landing on an empty London street. This entrance onto the scene only heightened Mr. Bean’s singularity.

Many may view Jesus as something like Mr. Bean: a singular point in history; strange and rather out of touch with the world and regular life. In this perspective, Jesus seems to have come out of nowhere. His brief life flashed through Palestine under Roman occupation. Then he cruelly died through the collusion of Jewish and Roman authorities. A vague brightness lingers as an after image in the history of the world and perhaps in our personal lives, but otherwise he seems largely irrelevant to daily life.

The author of the treatise we call “Hebrews” knew differently. He knew Jesus to be crucial in the plan of God and the meaning of our lives: both in the day to day and in the end; then, now, and ever. Jesus focuses and culminates all that God has done and will do in loving and restoring people, first in Israel, then in the church, and finally in the entire world.

Jesus is singular, but not because he dropped out of the night sky on a beam of starlight one December long ago. Born of the Holy Spirit, he is singular because he expressly images and radiates the very being of God in the world. Born to a young Jewish woman in a Palestinian stable, he is also singular because he completely identifies with us in our living and our dying. When we see Jesus, we see God, and we see ourselves. He is truly divine and truly human. Hence, the opening of Hebrews soars with God’s grandeur and Jesus’ significance for the world!

So we cannot reduce Jesus to an irrelevance. We may choose to ignore or reject him. Yet we may not relegate him to a vague point in time long ago, or at best to just another in a set of good people in the history of the world. All things hold together in Jesus. He sustains all things. Or they fall apart. What will it be for our lives and our world?

Gregory Strong

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