Epiphany 4 – Jesus’ teaching with authority identifies him as the Prophet
Sunday, February 7, 2021
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Carefully Consider Jesus
When you stop thinking, the problems start. Each of us has scenarios in our lives where we are forced to think them through at first. But then we get used to them. And that’s where the problems start. It takes so much time to learn how to drive. But then, when we have been driving for years, it’s so easy to take it for granted. We look at the texts on our phone. We look at the snowy landscape or the clouds. And who could blame us? But we also need to look at, and consider what we are doing right now. That’s the sort of challenge God’s word brings to our attention today. The writer to the Hebrews invites us to carefully consider Jesus. In Hebrews 3, we read: “1 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was in all God’s household. 3 For Jesus is considered worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder has more honor than the house. 4 Now every house is built by someone, but the one who built everything is God.” (Heb. 3:1–4 CSB17)
We are told to carefully consider Jesus. Why? Jesus was faithful to his Father. Jesus was faithful to his house. Here, when it says, “house”, it means the temple—and what happens in it. We are told here that Jesus is our high priest. But what does a priest do? A priest sacrifices stuff. All the priests leading up to Jesus were faithful in that they sacrificed animals as was their duty. But Jesus was faithful because his sacrifice made them all valid and sacred. His sacrifice paid for sin.
And that’s why these words are so meaningful to us today. How many times did Jesus have the temptation to ask the question, “why bother? Why bother telling people boldly and caringly about their sin? They will just push back and reject me. Why bother sacrificing myself instead of an animal? They will rejoice for a little while. But then they will go back to their lives.”
But my friends in Christ, Jesus was faithful. Jesus first of all spoke to you. He reached out through parents and pastors and shared with you his word to correct you, knowing that there would be times you didn’t want to be corrected. And even more than that, he sacrificed for you. And he didn’t sacrifice an object or an animal. He sacrificed himself. And with that payment he put an end to all the Old Testament sacrifices and payed for your sin.
And from that fact, notice what the writer to the Hebrews invites us to do. He invites us to carefully consider Jesus—who he is and what he did.1 It is so easy for us, like driving a car, to take him for granted. So, that’s why we are so thankful that we have opportunities like we have right now, to stop for a while and consider and contemplate Jesus. During lent, for example, in one of the Good Friday liturgies, we sing, “Lamb of God, Pure and Holy.” The hymnwriter took such special care to have us pause so that we could ponder and not rush the words. We have the opportunity to recognize and realize who Jesus is and what he did for us. So take these opportunities and make use of them. Consider Jesus. For he was faithful to his house. But my dear friends, there’s more: “5 Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s household, as a testimony to what would be said in the future. 6 But Christ was faithful as a Son over his household. And we are that household if we hold on to our confidence and the hope in which we boast.” (Heb. 3:5–6 CSB17)
Carefully consider Jesus because he is faithful to his house. But notice where these words take us. We also carefully consider Jesus because he was faithful with his house. Notice how the writer changes the meaning of words here. In the previous paragraph, “house” was the temple and what happened in it. Here he lets us know that we are his house. And this is naturally a fact we can be bold with and boast about. There’s a danger in that though. The danger is that we can be bold and boast. But it also means we have to finish the race Jesus has put us in. Years ago there was a little girl who ran in a race. And she started out so fast and strong. She was passing so many of the other little boys and girls and even making fun of them. But after about 200 yards she gave up and cried. She didn’t have the stamina to finish the race.
The write to the Hebrew paints the same picture for us. We have every right to be bold and boast in the Lord. For we are his house. But he adds an “if” to the end of this statement. He says, “If we hold strongly to the very end.”2 And there’s where we see our own fault and failure. For we, in our own spiritual race, have been like that little girl. We boast that we love God’s word. But then we find it hard to read it. We are bold enough to pray to God, but sadly, only when we are in dire need. We hope in God—at least while it’s easy. Then the challenges come. And we have the real temptation to give up and give in.
That’s why it’s so amazing to consider the fact that Jesus isn’t just faithful to his house. He is also faithful with his house. He is faithful with us. But how do we see this? First, he is faithful in that he disciplines us. The people that the writer was speaking to were undergoing hard and harsh tests to their faith. We know that they hadn’t been tested to the point where they died for their faith. But it was tough for them. But God used that testing for good. He uses that discipline to make us consider what is really important in this life—what has value and meaning.
As he disciplines us, what also does he do? He intercedes for us. Remember that the writer to the Hebrews told us that Jesus is our High Priest. Here is where it’s good to go back to the Old Testament for just a moment and figure out what a priest did. A priest had two main roles: First, he sacrificed stuff. The priests sacrificed animals. Jesus completed that by sacrificing himself. But they also did more. They were go-betweens. they interceded for the people. That is what Jesus is doing for us right now. Jesus is praying for each of us. He is saying to his Father, “Give him strength to admit his sin. Give her courage to take to heart words of forgiveness. Give my entire house the strength and boldness to get up each day and not give up.”
So, my dear friends in Christ, consider that. When you have traumas, trials, and tragedies, consider Jesus. Think through his promises. You may not be able to say to yourself, “this is fun and fulfilling.” But you do have the ability to say, “God, in a way I don’t fully understand, will use this for good. He will discipline me so that I can finish the race.’” Consider that. Consider the fact that right now, Jesus is interceding for you, both that the Father would forgive you. But also, he intercedes, asking the Holy Spirit to be with you. For Jesus is faithful. He is faithful to his house. And Jesus is faithful with his house. Amen.
1 “ⲕⲁⲧⲁⲛⲟⲏⲥⲁⲧⲉ” (Heb. 3:1 GNT-ALEX)
2 “ⲙⲉⲭⲣⲓ ⲧⲉⲗⲟⲩⲥ ⲃⲉⲃⲁⲓⲁⲛ ⲕⲁⲧⲁⲥⲭⲱⲙⲉⲛ” (Heb. 3:6 GNT-ALEX)