Do you look forward to getting the mail? When was the last time something good was delivered? Well, imagine getting something that would change your life – for eternity.
You live in Judea two thousand years ago. Your people’s lineage dates back centuries to the prophets Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Your community is dedicated to living under the law as encoded by Moses. In recent times, you’ve heard rumors about someone special, someone who lived, and then died, not far from your town. But you really don’t know much about this person. And then a letter comes. It’s addressed to the Hebrews. It begins:
“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” (Hebrews 1:1 – 3)
God has sent his Son to share His Word on earth? And this man is said to be the successor to the prophets. More than that, this man is presented as the exact nature of God.
How can this be? The life of a Hebrew is devoted to the law and the prophets. There is nothing more. The letter anticipates your skepticism and cites a passage from a psalm in the Hebrew Bible:
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Hebrews 3:15)
You know the psalm containing that verse. So you pause to reflect. You take a deep breath and you open your heart to consider this new person, this new voice. You continue reading the letter:
“Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him. (Hebrews 5:7 – 9)
You learn that this new voice is named Jesus Christ. You are told that this perfect being is the source of eternal salvation. Go on, you say to yourself as you continue reading the letter, I want to know Christ more:
“We have much to say, but it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.” (Hebrews 5:11 – 12)
Yes, you understand why this is difficult for you and your peers to comprehend. You’ve all lived a life deeply committed to the wisdom of ancient teachings. Was that a mistake? No, says the letter:
“Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:9 – 12)
You are assured that God will remember you justly for the love you’ve shown in His name. But now God delivers a new promise – the new covenant:
“Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:15)
To people everywhere, whether they be Hebrews or Gentiles, rich or poor, slave or free, man or woman, God offers the greatest deal of all time: eternity.
But you need to believe in Jesus Christ to be party to the new covenant. You wonder how it is you will come to have such faith:
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebrews 11:1 – 3)
And now, having learned the truth of Jesus Christ, the words he offered, the miracles he performed, and the new life he revealed in his resurrection from death, you take as your own the words written at the conclusion of the letter:
“Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1 – 2)
So you decide to take up the faith, to run the race as a follower of Jesus Christ and one day be raised to new life with God in eternity.
It’s amazing what one letter and an open heart can do.
These Gospel stories are re-imagined in the book series:
Share this with friends