May 3, 2011

Wednesday after the First Sunday after Easter


Lectionary

Morning – Psalm 22, 23, Ex.14:5-14, 19-30, Heb. 2:9
Evening – Psalm 25, Is. 40: 18, 21-31, 1 Pet. 2:1-10

Commentary

It may be good to recall that when the Lectionary only lists one verse in a chapter, as in Heb. 2:9, it means to read from verse 9 to the end of the chapter.  Thus, our reading for this morning is Hebrews 2:9-18, and it reminds us again that God became a real, living human being.  This theme begins in verse 9 and culminates in verse 16.  Christ was made “lower than the angels” (2:9) and of the seed of Abraham (2:16).  It is necessary to have this fact firmly in mind to understand the main point of this passage because an angel could not accomplish what Christ accomplished for us.  If an angel had become human and gone to the cross his death would be as unable to atone for our sins as the blood of bulls and goats.  Why?  Because God must bear the cost of our sins, just as we must bear the cost of sins against us if we are going to continue in relationship with other people.  So God, somehow remained God, yet also became fully human and participated fully in the human condition even to the point of death.  He allowed Himself no special privileges.  He had to live by faith, He had to live by the power of the Spirit, and he had to obey the Scriptures just as we all have to do.  “Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren” (2:17). But unlike us, He accomplished it all without sin.

Having made the point that Christ always was/is/will be nothing less than God who became flesh, we are now told why He did so, “that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (2:17).  His full experience of the human condition allows Him to know by experience what we face in life.  He was tempted.  He knew physical weakness, hunger, weariness, and sickness.  He was constrained by time and space.  He suffered these things, and having experienced them, He is able to succour us (2:18).  “Succour” summarises this whole passage, for it summarises the work of Christ.  It means to have empathy and to feel our sorrows and needs.  But it also means to apply healing and help to our wounds.  Our wound is our sin and the wrath of God.  He heals that wound by bearing it in Himself on the cross, reconciling us to God.  But His work does not end there.  It continues, as He calls His people unto Himself, builds up His Church, leads us into God by His Word and Spirit, and, finally, places us in His immediate presence in that land where sin and sorrow will never touch us again, forever.

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