Reading for Friday, July 20: Hebrews 2
Chapter 2 begins with a sober warning: “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it,” (v1). A superior covenant requires superior attention to detail. If the Old Covenant was declared by angels, God commands our attention in these days as He proclaims through His Son. “How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (v3). This word salvation is used seven times in Hebrews, more than any other NT document. God’s action in Christ is to save us, to make us whole, to complete us in light of God’s full revelation.
It seems that infatuation with angels was en vogue as the Hebrew writer set out to preach. But he is quick to note that God did not turn the world to come over to angels (v5), but to one was at one time made a little lower than angels in order that he might now be “crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone,” (v9). What follows is incredibly rich: All things exist for and because of God (v10), the one who is bringing many sons to glory. I like how N.T. Wright translates v11: “For the one who makes others holy, and the ones who are made holy, all belong to a single family.”
In v14-15, we’re given two reasons for the Incarnation: first, to destroy the one who holds the power of death; and then, to liberate those who all their lives were enslaved by fear. Jesus participates in our life through the Incarnation: “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God,” (v17). And so, a final reason for the Incarnation emerges: “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted,” (v18). What angel can understand the powerful urges of the flesh? The New Covenant is superior because of the identification of this high priest with His people.
Jesus understands temptation because He’s been there.