Reflections on Hebrews
March 14, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
This Sunday, I will preach my last sermon in our series on the letter to the Hebrews. This is my 37th sermon in the series. Preaching through a book of the Bible like this helps me become well acquainted with it. I have translated the entire book of Hebrews from the Greek language. I have traced the author’s argument paragraph by paragraph. I have outlined the structure of the book. I have analyzed specific words and grammatical constructions. I have thought long about the original audience and why the author communicates what he does for them (and for us).
As I come to the conclusion of this series, I have been reflecting on what I have learned from the author of Hebrews. Perhaps you have as well. Let me share a couple of my takeaways from this study.
- The Supremacy of Christ does not merely carry theological importance. I have studied and taught Hebrews before this sermon series. I knew the supremacy of Christ was the central theme of the letter. I didn’t realize, though, that this doctrinal emphasis was so pastoral. Theologically, Hebrews helps us understand with great clarity the personhood and work of Jesus Christ, especially in relation to the old covenant under Moses. Jesus is the superior high priest, temple, sacrifice, and atonement. He is superior to the angels, to Moses, to Aaron, and to Melchizedek. The central verse of the letter captures the richness of this doctrinal picture of Christ: “Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven” (8:1).
The letter to the Hebrews, however, is not a theology book, per se. It is a pastoral letter, seeking to encourage and exhort a beleaguered body of believers in a hostile environment to cling to Christ. This is an incredible insight. Theological study feeds practical living. Since Christ is “such a high priest” we have:
- Confidence to come to God for help in the time of need (4:16),
- Assurance of forgiveness of sin (2:17),
- Promised victory over the devil (2:14),
- Hope for renewal and sanctification (10:14), and
- Strength to endure trial, discipline, and hardship (12:3).
And this is just a partial list of the benefits of having “such a high priest”! The author is caring for his congregation, one that is tempted to abandon their faith and is threatened by further persecution, by pushing them deeper in their understanding of and delight in the supremacy of Christ. Knowing Christ and his greatness impacts all of life. I feel I have only begun to scratch the surface of this glorious truth in this sermon series.
- The Body of Christ is vital for spiritual health and growth. Okay, I already knew this comes out in Hebrews, specifically in 3:12-14. What I have been struck with as I’ve preached through the letter, is that this message is emphasized throughout. The warning passages (2:1-4; 3:12-14; 6:1-3; 10:26-31; and 12:15-17) and all of the commands are addressed in the plural to the whole community. There is a community responsibility to “watch out” for one another and to help each other fix our eyes on Jesus. There is spiritual danger for the Christian who separates himself or herself from the body of believers. We “look to Jesus” by joining with the community of faith in studying and celebrating the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ. We need the body!
What have you been gleaning from our study in the letter to the Hebrews?