Bible Reading Hebrews 2:1-4
We ought, therefore, to pay the greatest attention to the truth that we have heard and not allow ourselves to drift away from it. For if the message given through angels proved authentic, so that defiance of it and disobedience to it received appropriate re-tribution, how shall we escape if we refuse to pay proper attention to the salvation that is offered us today? For this salvation came first through the words of the Lord himself: it was confirmed for our hearing by men who had heard him speak, and God moreover has plainly endorsed their witness by signs and miracles, by all kinds of spiritual power, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, all working to the divine plan. (PHILLIPS)
Message God’s Ultimate Revelation Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:9-18
I was on a youth canoeing trip (I wasn’t a youth, I was a youth leader) in the Grand Rapids area, and the way it worked there is you drove out of town and then canoed back towards town. And as you get to a certain point in that trip, there are signs posted out in the middle of the Flat River saying, “Get off”. I don’t remember how the signs were worded, but they said “get off here”. And the reason wasn’t just because they wanted everyone to visit the river side park and so you “must end your journey here”. It was because they had built (I think it was for utility power, but I can’t really remember) a structure across the river that was not safe. It was dangerous and not passable. Even if you wanted to continue down the Flat River, you had to exit there, bring your boat to the other side and then re-enter the water and continue on down the river. The signs are in the middle of the river because as you are canoeing, boating, or whatever mode you are coming, it is easy to get caught up in the sights and sounds and beauty all around you and you may not notice a sign on the shore, and the current can take you right past the point of no return.
The reading you just heard tells us that there were signs in the Old Testament clearly depicting what God wanted -- given by angels. That is not in the biblical record, but in Jesus’ time it was a common Jewish tradition. Then how much more clear is the message of salvation in Jesus Christ. He is the sign, the marker right out in the middle of the stream of our life -- teaching us who God is, what He wants from us, what we can expect from Him, how to navigate the structure of sin and its destructive forces -- showing us the way to safe haven. We dare not to drift by so great a deliverance.
The author has already explained why Jesus is such a clear message. Just these few verses:
Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names
. (Hebrews 1:1-4 (NLT))
The author of Hebrews goes on to elaborate what and how this best sign of God has done so much for us, and why He deserves our worship. Listen to Hebrews 1:9-18
What we do see is Jesus, who for a little while was given a position “a little lower than the
angels”; and because he suffered death for us, he is now “crowned with glory and honor.” Yes,
by God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for everyone. God, for whom and through whom everything
was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make
Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation. So now Jesus
and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them
his brothers and sisters. For he said to God, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.
I will praise you among your assembled people.” He also said, “I will put my trust in him,” that is,
“I and the children God has given me.” Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh
and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and
only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way
could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying. We also know that the
Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. Therefore, it was
necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be
our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take
away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is
able to help us when we are being tested. (NLT)
Jesus becomes human
He uses David’s description of humanity’s place in the Universe in Psalm 8 to say that that Christ is [temporarily] made a little lower than the angels (made human). Why would the Son of God do this?
During a bitterly cold blizzard, a farmer noticed some birds that couldn’t manage the wind and had landed and were wandering around the farmyard. He knew they if they did not find some sort of shelter, they would not make it through the night. He bundled up best he could and went out and opened the door to his barn. It wasn’t heated protected from the wind and would be enough to keep the birds alive. The farmer began to call them, and coax them, and the more he tried the more they scattered because to them it was just like this big monster chasing them around. Finally, he went back into the house, frustrated and dejected because he could not make them go into the bard. And he thought, If I could only make myself be one of them, then I could understand and communicate and lead them to salvation. The Son of God took upon Himself the nature of humanity to communicate with us in a way we can understand that God is not a big mean bully chasing us around the earth, but is lovingly trying to bring us to safety .
Jesus enters our suffering
Christ didn’t just experience humanity, he entered into the suffering of humanity. How many times has someone said. "I know exactly how you feel because" and then tell a story that convinces you that they have no clue how you feel.
But Christ went through temptation, testing, and suffering -- he experienced our experiences. He faithfully comes alongside of us and enters our lives, understanding our highest joys as well as our deepest pains that come from living in a world whose good design is damaged by sin. Right alongside and within the beauty and grandeur of God's glorious creation is the terror and horror of chaotic distortion and disorder. God's design is broken We -- are broken, and the brokenness of our universe seeps into us like a deadly venom.
Jesus takes the sting of sin
Jesus came -- to be stung -- to be stung by all this venomous sinfulness.
A father took his son on a trip. His son happened to be deathly allergic to bee stings. For reasons not now known, they did not have an EpiPen with them. They weren’t driving very long before they heard the buzz of a bee inside the car. The father immediately pulled over, and -- like the farmer with the birds, except with the opposite motivation; tried to catch that bee. The father finally aggravated it and caught it in his cupped palms and held it for a while, and then he let it go, and pulled back out onto the road. The boy heard the buzzing again and again began to panic, cowering down onto the floor of the car. But the father told him to not worry, and showed him the nail -- I mean, the stinger in his palm. For all the noise his wings could make, for all the bashing against the child it could do, it was powerless to hurt him anymore, because a bee only has one sting. The only way that boy could get hurt is by not trusting and overreacting and thrashing against the noisy wings and light touch of a powerless bee.
Jesus exposed himself to venom of sin so that we wouldn’t have to. He took the sting of death for us so that we could have a - reaction-free, poison-less, God-filled - life! He is also the destroyer of death’s sting. He loves us, offers us forgiveness, cleanses us, and gives us new and eternal life. He injects his “EpiPen” of life into a death-dominated world.
Jesus buys us back
And in doing so, he bought us and brought us back to the God of life. A father and son worked for months building a large toy sailboat in their garage. Dad would come home from work every night and they would spend hours together building their craft. They did it because they loved each other, and they loved the craft they were making. Finally, when it was all finished, they went to a local lake to test it out and see how it would go. The father tied a string to the stern and they let it go way out there. It was sailing perfectly -- no leaks, it was doing a wonderful job. But it was way out there, and a motorboat came in between the model and pair standing on the shore. Its propeller caught and cut the string and the sailboat sailed on out of sight. And they looked and they looked and they looked, but they could not find it. and was lost -- their creation was lost. A few weeks later, the boy was coming home from school passed his favorite toy store and there he saw his boat in the display window. He ran in and told the story I just told you to the owner of the store. The store owner said. “That’s great, you may have created it, but I found it and its mine, but you can have it back for $200.
The boy was shocked -- it was his! He lost it, but it was his. And now he had to pay a dear cost for that. But the boat was precious to him and so he went out and found every job he could find and finally got together all the money he needed and went back to the store and bought his boat. He brought it outside and lifted it up - its paint glistening in the sun, and he said, “Now you are mine and I can have you forever.”
God made us, but we got cut off from him by sin, who found and took possession of us. Despite the immense cost, God sent and Jesus willingly came to regain and restore ownership over his creation.
Jesus leads us to wholeness
And because he did take ownership, he rescues those who were held under the sway of the fear of death, gave aid to his human brothers and sisters pointing them to the way of healing, wholeness and new life.
Jesus makes us family
The Son of God, Jesus, willingly, proudly, (for the joy set before him the author says in another place) becomes human, enters our suffering and breaks the curse of brokenness and buys us back from it, leading us to abundant, full life -- and if you read the text again, you will hear it over and over again -- family relationship words -- father, children, brothers and sisters. He repeats them over and over and over to emphasize the fact that God has done all this to make us his family.
Biblically speaking, "family values" are about the Jesus-modeled life of sacrifice, service and self-denial for each other because it becomes the nature of God's children take on God's character and concern for the whole world because we see all who are created -- as created and loved by God. Christ did all of this so that we all can be in full communion with him as our Father, and with each other as brothers and sisters -- because we are all in the same boat -- journeying together in this one world, so let’s remember our communion and not drift by the great signs that God has placed before us -- and especially the greatest sign of Jesus himself.