Summary: The bok of Hebrews was written to Judaic Christians who were not too sure of His superiority over the Juwish religion. How does the book of Hebrews make sense to us today, especially in societies like India?
Relevance of Jesus in our times
How is Christianity relevant to us today? How is Jesus relevant to this nation that we live in? How do we handle people who believe that “all religions lead to God”. A nation where spirituality is equated with “Doing Good” where any religious organisation is automatically termed a “Charitable Institution” there by equating charity with religion and faith.
I do not presume to know more about evangelization than any of you sitting here. However I guess, that when we present the gospel to any one we usually depend on one the Gospel books of the bible. Have we considered sharing the gospel through the book of Hebrews?
The book of Hebrews was written to an audience who were struggling with faith, people who were Judaic Christians struggling with doubts about the relevance of Christianity, struggling to see if Christianity was in any way “better” than the Judaism that they were following. After all, Jews were a nation chosen by God. The most hunted and the most hurt people on earth (A well known Jewish writer went to extent of asking “God, I know we are the chosen people, but why did you not choose some one else?” ) So what is different about Christianity that they should follow this Jesus of Nazareth? What is different about him that they should take that plunge?
Does the book of Hebrews have any relevance to us today? Does the Christ portrayed in Hebrews make any difference in the way we live and present the Gospel to this country, that we have been called to save?
One commentator draws an analogy to the mountaineer’s dilemma when faced with a steep wall in front of him. When you are climbing a mountain and reach a place where these is a steep wall in front of you, with no footholds or anything else to hold , the mountaineer is forced to take a decision. One decision that he can take is to abandon the journey and return back to base camp. The other decision is to use the pendulum method to get across and continue the journey. The pendulum method is exactly what is sounds like, You attach a strong hook to the highest point that you can reach and then pass a rope that is attached to your body through the loop, go down a little bit, hang into empty space, with your foot placed against the wall, and then swing like a pendulum to the other side of the steep wall, where you could get a foot hold, once you , and your team, get your foot on the other side you pull out the rope from the loop and then you have lost all connection with the previous place you were in. The hook that you used is firmly out of reach for you, and there is only one way to go; up!! There is no going back, the only thing you can do is to keep going ahead. This is risky and requires a lot of courage. For many people , who are good, who are well off, who are successful, a decision to follow Jesus, is like this. At some point in time of their faith walk , they reach this position where they have to take a call, to return to the old faith or to take that plunge and keep going in the new faith, with no return. I am sure all of us are familiar with the song “ I have decided to follow Jesus, No turning Back, No turning Back”.
So how does the book of Hebrews help us in this context?
The book goes in depth in establishing how Jesus is greater than all other creations, prophets, angels etc… 1:1-4 (angels), 3: 3-6 (Moses), 7:15-25 (Aaron and all other priests) , In line of Melchizedek (Priest and King in one, priest forever) 7:1-10. The author of Hebrews clearly establishes the superiority of Jesus, as He is God himself. Now this might make sense to the Jews. How do we make this relevant to our times, and our country? Ravi Zacharia in his book, “Jesus among other gods” says “Philosophically, you can believe anything, so long as you do not claim it to be true, Morally, you can practice anything, so long as you do not claim it to be a ’better’ way. Religiously, you can hold to anything, so long as you do not bring Jesus Christ into it. How does one, to a mood such as this, communicate the message of Jesus Christ, in which Truth and absoluteness are not only assumed, but sustained?" The Indian challenge seems to be even harder. There are numerous studies , books and articles comparing Krishna with Jesus, going to as incredulous claims that the Jesus “story” is inspired by Krishna’s mythology. How do we proclaim the superiority of Jesus in these circumstances?