Summary: Life is often a matter of focus? As we follow Christ, we can focus on the struggles and persecution we might endure. Or we can focus on the benefits, eternal and glorious, of continuing to follow Christ. Hebrews 2 encourages us to do the latter.
The Cost of Abandoning Christ
A few years ago we had what we called a water bottle outreach at Lazy 5 Recreational Area. It was during one of the music festivals they used to have there, before Covid, on weekday summer evenings. We would hand out water bottles and invitations to our church. And it came about that the three of us, I believe it was Steve, Blair, and one other, and we shared a picnic table with a real estate agent who was willing to talk about spiritual things. So I shared the Gospel with him and found that he had a number of issues with coming to Christ. The first was his background. He had been brought up in a large Catholic church in Reno and was immensely bitter about his experiences there, especially with the priest, whom he said deserved to be in prison. And his second issue was his recreation. He was a fisherman like I am, and he enjoyed going fishing on Sundays where he felt he could worship God in creation.
As I talked more and more with this fellow, it became evident that he was a person who loved God’s gifts, but in loving God’s gifts, had little interest in loving the giver, God Himself. And so in a sort of last-gasp effort to help him understand where he was in his relationship with God, I offered him a sort of parable. I asked him how he would feel if he had a son who loved all the things that he gave him but didn’t take the time to show his love and appreciation for him personally. That he was always off enjoying the things given, but if he was, as it turned out, a near complete ingrate in relationship to the one who had provided all the good things he enjoyed.
Well, I didn’t get far with that illustration when he admitted, “You got me.” For, as he would explain, he had precisely that kind of son, an 18-year old who so thoroughly enjoyed all that his father had given him that he had had little time or interest in loving the source of all the things he enjoyed, his earthly father.
I tell that story this morning because that apparently was much the situation for the Jewish Christians in Judea who had been suffering so long for their faith, and who were contemplating abandoning Christ and returning to Judaism to find some relief. They had nearly begun to forget all the benefits of knowing Christ, and being loved by Him, and instead had become so focused on the struggles of continuing to follow Christ that now they were beginning to think the whole exercise was not worth it.
And isn’t it true, in my life as well as yours, that our attitude toward life is determined by our focus. If we choose to focus on the difficulties at the expense of the benefits of any part of our life, we will inevitably be drawn away from that part of our lives. But if we remember the benefits, especially of our relationship with Christ, we will be drawn toward Him. And I seem to remember a Psalm, 103:2, that goes something like this with regard to our relationship with God, “And forget none of his benefits.”
And that seems to be the focus and encouragement of the writer to the Hebrews as we come into the second part of chapter two this morning. He is focused on helping these struggling Hebrew believers to continue in their walk with Christ by reminding them of all the benefits that are theirs in their relationship with Christ. He is in effect telling them, “don’t abandon Christ, forget none of his benefits! He is your future king, your wonderful Savior and a faithful and merciful high priest.
In Hebrews 2:1-4 we encountered the first of the warning passages in the book of Hebrews. In light of the fact that these Jewish Christians were thinking about returning to Judaism, he had warned them that in light of the greater salvation that the Son of God Himself had offered, how would they escape if they neglected so great a salvation. As you might remember, he had been comparing the Old Testament Law and the revelation that had come through angels, as it did in the Old Testament, and the fact that God had lately revealed Himself in a most personal and ultimate fashion—by means of the Son of God, God in the Flesh, Jesus Christ Himself. Now he returns to the matter of comparison. Not only is God’s revelation through Christ greater than the revelation through angels, but Christ Himself will rule and reign in the Kingdom to come. And His first point in verses 5 through 18 seems to be this: