Hebrews 3:1 “Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.” Chris Wood, the bassist for jazz trio Medeski, Martin & Wood once said “when I feel myself loosing the groove, I take notes out until I get it back.” Jazz licks are complicated, and mastering them takes a great deal of technical competence. But like most nuanced subject matter, the essence of jazz music sometimes proves surprisingly simple. Today I started prepping for a sermon I’ll be delivering in a couple weeks on Hebrews 3. (My posts here might get a bit more intermittent in my usual pre-sermon prep period.) Hebrew Christians of the early church were a learned bunch. A rich religious tradition and keen intellects required a thorough theological presentation to bring them back to the gospel. So there’s a lot of nuance and one can get lost in the cross references here, but upon meditating this morning I felt God relay that the essence of this passage, the whole book of Hebrews, and maybe even all of scripture itself can be distilled into three Greek words from verse 1. “Katanoeo Christos Iesous” or “consider Christ Jesus” or here in the NIV translated as “fix your thoughts on Jesus” just about sums it up. Yes it’s important to remember that God’s son is greater than the angels, greater than Moses and greater than the priesthood. It’s important to understand the meaning of God’s rest and why the ancient Israelites lost out on it while wandering the desert for 40 years. It’s important to understand the hall of faith and why Melchizedek’s encounter with Abraham validated the coming savior. But why? All of these important theological points serve to support the most important point, the essence of everything, that we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Lord, thanks for reminding me of the simplicity of your message. You’re more loving and more powerful than words can describe. So I can’t help but turn my thoughts towards you today. In your son’s name, Amen.
Hebrews 1:6 “And when he brought his supreme Son into the world, God said ‘Let all of God’s angels worship him.’” One night at the dinner table I remember my mom telling me that I had this tendency to place too much importance on influential people. I was an ambitious 25 year old, hustling in the very hierarchical society that is Seoul, Korea. “Of course I need to focus on influential people!” I thought to myself. “How else will I achieve anything?” Her point was not that they are evil, but that pandering to powerful people can bring your focus away from the most powerful person. In today’s passage, the author quotes their own holy texts to explain to Hebrew Christians that Jesus stands supreme above even the angels they placed in such authority. Many of my mentors have been real messengers from God, just like the old testament angels. But I’ve found that God uses them most powerfully when I honor them within the context of the Son’s supremacy. I got to thinking about the angels in my life today. My new personal trainer has really opened my eyes to a new understanding of my body. My founders demonstrate a sacrificial intensity that points straight to heaven. My dad’s new doctors usher in a glimmer of hope when statistically there should be none. I honor and bless these angels today. But I do so knowing fully that the ultimate honor goes to the big guy upstairs. Lord, thank you for using your angels. Bless them and their families today. I thank you for the gift of relationship with these incredible messengers of your love. But I also pray that I maintain my focus not only on the gifts, but ultimately on the giver. In your son’s name, Amen.
Hebrews 1:1 “Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son.” On Saturday one of my friends at House Church asked “I have this urge to watch Netflix instead of spending time with God. Something about that doesn’t feel quite right. Is there anything we can do to make quiet time more attractive?” We discussed the importance of keeping at it even when we don’t feel like it, but I also added that “the tech and media industries have managed to hack the pleasure center of our brains so we keep on using their products. The Netflix series ‘Social Dilemma’ and Nir Eyal’s book ‘Indistractable’ unpack some of these ideas. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough believers leveraging these same tactics to get us to read scripture or pray more.” My wife Elaine brought up The Chosen and suggested that our friend have a look. I’ve talked about it before but for recent additions I’ll say it again. If you haven’t checked it out, it’s really, really worthwhile. Creator Dallas Jenkins explained that “Netflix creates all these binge-worthy shows, but I couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a similar show about the most binge-worthy story in the history of the universe.” In today’s passage, the author of Hebrews contrasts the amazing stories of the old testament with the most amazing story of God’s son. It reminded me this morning of the singular specialty of this story. So I watched an episode of the Chosen, and as usual, I was deeply moved. Lord thanks for the good news. Thanks for recruiting Dallas Jenkins and a new generation of creators to create insanely addictive experiences of your love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.