Hebrews was written to a community of Jesus’ disciples, some of whom were bailing out – abandoning their calling. So the writer of the epistle of Hebrews set out to show them the exalted place that Jesus occupies in the mission of God.
- Jesus is greater than the angels – Hebrews 2:9.
- Jesus is greater than Moses – Hebrews 3:3.
- Jesus is the greatest high priest – Hebrews 5:1-6; 10:12
- Jesus is greater than Melchizedek – Hebrews 7:15-16.
Something that the Hebrew Christians needed to hear was the submissiveness of Jesus. In spite of the greatness of Jesus, the Hebrew writer said that Jesus learned obedience through suffering. In other words, Jesus was faithful, humble, persistent, and obedient. In one verse, Hebrews 5:8, the Hebrews writer gave his bailing-out disciples a clear and succinct picture of what it looks like to be obedient.
Suffering stands out in this text in clear contrast to the western reticence to experience any self-denial, difficulty, or suffering. It has made me think about what the Bible says about the perseverance and determination of the Christian call, which the Bible says a lot about.
Shortly after delivering the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew says that a scribe approached Jesus and offered to be his disciple. “I will follow you wherever you go,” he said. To which Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Matthew 8:20. This was Jesus’ way of saying, “Make sure you know what this will cost you.”
Paul used the athletic metaphor of “pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call.” Philippians 3:12-16. You can almost visualize this – a marathoner squeezing out the last bit of energy to reach the tape. The Bible repeatedly uses ideas of strenuous service to God:
- Hand to the plow, not looking back, Luke 9:62.
- Runners compete, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
- Good fight of faith, 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7.
- Lay aside every weight, run with perseverance, Hebrews 12:1-2.
Last week we considered what it means to lower the bar on commitment. This week we have looked at the contrasting image drawn for us by scripture. Would you say you are “lowering the bar” or “stretching with your last bit of energy to reach the tape?” It’s an important question.