Summary: The Heart of the Message to the Hebrews is how to be faithful to Jesus. How can we demonstrate in practical ways our faithfulness to Jesus in light of His faithfulness to us?
I had an unexpected very emotional experience this past week.
At a little after 6 on Tuesday morning I came to page 884, the last page of probably the longest book I have ever read apart from the Bible. As I’ve mentioned previously, I have been reading the massive scholarly work written by Professor Craig S. Keener entitled Miracles, The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts. And as I completed reading the last few words of the book, I found myself reduced to tears, and not just momentarily, but for most of the next 30 minutes.
It seemed like an incongruent response. Massive, scholarly, intellectual books don’t normally elicit that sort of response from me. Of course, I don’t read many of them. But this one was different. Why was it different? I think it’s because it told story after story after story of the mercy and faithfulness of God demonstrated by His powerful and miraculous answers to prayer in working miracles not only through history, but especially in this present time. Keener sought simply to prove that it was intellectually feasible for scholars and intellectuals to believe that Jesus and the Apostles worked many miracles in the New Testament because there are eyewitness testimonies to millions of miracles which people all over the world have experienced that have occurred in our time. But in the process of sharing these stories, He reminded me of the mercy, the faithfulness and the power of God demonstrated through history toward sinners like you and me.
And that really is in part the story of the Book of Hebrews, and the whole Bible. That we have a merciful and faithful God who has powerfully worked to save us from our sins. More than that, He has sent His Son Jesus to represent His mercy and power and love in saving us from our sins, and since He has been so faithful to us, how can we be anything but faithful to Him. How can we even think about abandoning Him, even if circumstances make it difficult to be faithful to Him?
Now the issue nearly 2000 years ago, when this book was written, that was discouraging believers from being faithful to Jesus was persecution. Today, in might be said, that the issue has become the Pandemic. The reason why people in Judea in the first century were falling away from Christ, or thinking about it, was decades of persecution from unbelieving Jews because they followed Jesus. Now, there are different crises. One is the pandemic; the other is the drift of the culture away from morality and spirituality, so that I believe it was just this week for the first time a survey demonstrated that less than half the population of the United States claims to be in church on Sunday.
So the words of the writer to the Hebrews, the Word of God, are incredibly relevant in the U.S. today. Though the reason folks are falling away from Christ, the exhortation is the same. Since Jesus has been so faithful to you, be faithful to Him and to His people. Since Jesus has been so incredibly faithful to you, be faithful to Him and to His people. And in a few verses, he sums up what it will look like, what we will do, when we are faithful to Jesus. This is the heart of the message of the book of Hebrews. Don’t abandon Jesus. Be faithful to Him because He’s been so faithful to you.
Now we’ve just finished the major teaching section of Hebrews, that section which extends from Hebrews 7 through chapter 10 verse 18. The writer to the Hebrews has shown us that Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of all that the Law and the Old Testament sacrifices foreshadowed and essentially predicted. He is the great high priest who offered the one sacrifice once and for all time and people that takes away sin—the sin that could at best be covered by all the Old Testament sacrifices of bulls and goats. He was indeed the Lamb of God who alone takes away the sins of the world by the sacrifice of Himself on the cross. And he has now opened the way for us to come into the very presence of God Himself in prayer and in every other way, by His death on the cross that paid for our sins.
And so based on all that we see the word therefore in verse 19. It’s telling us that we are at a turning point in the Book of Hebrews. We go from the teaching of the truth about Jesus and His superior sacrifice of Himself for our sins, and its effect on our relationship with God to now our proper response. As the writer does so, He reviews the eternal and infinite impact, the change that has taken place in our relationship to God because of Christ’s death for our sins on the cross.