Summary: Jesus is God’s way of earning the right to be heard. He comes to where we live, and he experiences what we experience. He is therefore credible.
I invite you to eavesdrop with me this morning. Listen and we can overhear some conversations.
Overheard in the grocery store aisle: a mother and a little girl, shopping dangerously close to the candies, the cookies and the other goodies. The little girl saying, "I want these and I want those and I want this too and I want, I want …" Mom saying, "No." "Why not, mommy?" "Because" "Because what?" "Because, just because" "But, because what, mommy; why not?" "Just because, that’s all." Silence. Deep thought. "Mommy, just because I want it."
Every parent knows that the day comes when "just because" doesn’t get the job done. And "because I said so" doesn’t last much longer. "Because I’m your father and I pay the bills" might make it another few months. But every parent knows that it gets harder and harder to be heard. Being heard, being listened to, just because we’re there doesn’t work. Something else has to happen. Maybe parents have to earn the right to be heard.
Overheard in the bookstore, very close to the first day of school, a father and a young man, browsing among the academic equipment, the young man saying something about the demands ahead of him, "Dad, the professor says I have to have a business grade calculator that will do compound interest and inverse percentages." Dad saying, "Nonsense; when I was in school we worked it out with charts or figured it out by ourselves." "But dad, he says it’s required and that we can’t keep up if we don’t have one." "Ridiculous, I never needed one in school and don’t need one now." "But dad, don’t you see? It’s required. It’s expected of me." "I think I’ve still got my old compound interest tables at home."
Every child knows that adults can get so caught up in nostalgia and so tied up in inertia that they can’t hear that change has come. The old ways seem to be the only ways, the old patterns the only patterns. Change threatens; and many of us decide that the best way to deal with the threat of change is just not to listen. We don’t hear the challenge of the hour. We choose not to hear the challenge of the hour. And those who would prod us into the future have to do something else. Maybe they have to earn the right to be heard.
Overheard in my own house: My wife saying, "Joe, I need you to help with this turkey. I need you to hold it open while I stuff it and then I need you to put it in the cooking bag; after that I need you to carry it to the oven and make sure the bag isn’t touching the burners anywhere." My lips saying, "Uh-huh. Lions 13, Bears 6." "Joe, where are you?" "Yeah, all right … if he can get the field goal." "I need you now." "Okay … uh, uh, what was it? Hold something open and stuff it where?"
Obviously, even those who matter the most to us have a hard time being heard. We are distracted, we are self-indulgent, we are busy being busy, we are pleasantly pursuing the pointless, and we do not hear. Something else has to happen; even those we care the most about have to get our attention, they have to earn the right to be heard.
Overheard down the long corridors of history, from before recorded time and up through this morning, a one-way conversation with God shouting at the eardrums of humanity: the Lord saying, "I love you; I want to be your God and I want you to be my people." And humanity, every last one of us, men and women, young and old, Jew and Gentile, every last one of us saying, "I want to be what I want to be." God wooing us again and again, "But I have loved you with an everlasting love, and I have redeemed you." But you and I insisting, over and over again, "I want to be me, I gotta be me, I gotta be free."
And so even God has to earn the right to be heard. He who spoke but a word and the sun sprang into space; He who spat but once and created vast oceans; He who lifted but a finger and the moon and the stars He had ordained came into being – that great and infinite God cannot, will not, be heard by that creature He had made a little lower than the angels. Imagine! Even God has to earn the right to be heard.
That is what the author of Hebrews means when he voices a thumbnail sketch of the history of God’s approaches to us: "Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things … Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it."