Here I was on the bus listening to the Message translation as I came to work this morning. I know. I know. If you are an amateur or even a professional biblical enthusiast or scholar, you are going to stop me and correct me. You want to remind me that Paul did not write Hebrews. I won’t debate that issue with you today. I am simply one of those that has taken the historical approach whereby scholars and academics from the last 1700 years have largely accepted Paul as the author of the Book of Hebrews. Whenever I have taught on the book and its content, I have usually used the disclaimer, “The author of the Book of Hebrews, whom I believe to be Paul…” I am just stating up front, so that you know, that I favor Paul as being the writer of this magnificent New Testament letter. OK. That is out of the way. That was easy.
Today on the bus I was listening to this being read to me. It is wonderful thing to actually have the Bible read aloud to you. In our family, from when I was dating my wife, to raising our daughters, and still dating and spending time with my wife, “read aloud” was a part of our day. Lori did a lot of read aloud with the girls as they were homeschooled. I read aloud from books, and from the Bible. So, for me to be read aloud too is a nice treat. I find it a wonderful thing to be read to. It allows be to grasp and take in the words and their meaning, and even use the power of imagination and visualize what I hear. It is worthy to note that having a “sanctified imagination” helps in taking in the language spoken and its content and meaning, and coupled with discerning and understanding, you can come to that place that I often come to. That place of an Ah ha! moment, and “I have never heard this this way before…” Then you hide that thought in your heart to think and ponder on it throughout the day.
My thoughts on the reading from Hebrews today have to do with chapter 7:
26-28 So now we have a high priest who perfectly fits our needs: completely holy, uncompromised by sin, with authority extending as high as God’s presence in heaven itself. Unlike the other high priests, he doesn’t have to offer sacrifices for his own sins every day before he can get around to us and our sins. He’s done it, once and for all: offered up himself as the sacrifice. The law appoints as high priests men who are never able to get the job done right. But this intervening command of God, which came later, appoints the Son, who is absolutely, eternally perfect.
I read and re-read these words and I am overcome with both joy and grief. I am realizing in a new and deeper way this morning, just how complete the “finished work” of Christ is for you and for me. It is so complete, that it is “once and for all”. The reality that Jesus is our High Priest and the Sacrifice, and that He freely offered up Himself causes me to have great joy and great sadness.
My joy is in the manifest glory of Christ and His love and mercy and grace freely given to all, and this morning I am making it pretty personal, for me. Words fail me. All I can do is offer Jesus thanksgiving and praise and live out my day in a heart that is filled with gratitude and blessing, and that I give away that blessing to others throughout the day.
My sadness, is at my callousness and hardness of heart and taking for granted the very thing I just spoke of. I don’t want to be indifferent and do not want to take what Jesus has done for us, for me, for granted. Jesus paid with His life, “once and for all”, so that I, so that you, so that we, could have a personal encounter and relationship with God, our very Creator and Redeemer. That thought confounds the mind and baffles the imagination, and for me it wells up tears. Oh, what a beautiful Savior.