My passion is to preach Christ from all of Scripture. Should you wish to listen, I invite your reflection (and comments if you wish) as to whether the words you hear bear His character. Are they, like him, “full of grace and truth”? (John 1:14)
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Two reasons not to give up the Christian walk: God rewards patience, and God doesn’t lie. Therefore Christ can and will hold you always and forever.
Ordinary Sunday 29, Year C
Luke’s gospel frequently highlights the wider biblical theme of God reversing the status of the mighty and the lowly. The gospel itself is about the ultimate prize going to the least deserving. Here are two parables of Jesus which express the great reversal of the gospel. Focussing on the second of them (Luke 18:9-14) we meet today two types of righteousness: self-righteousness and God’s righteousness. God’s salvation is for those who trust only in his mercy.
John recounts the famous incident of Jesus walking on water, but much more briefly than Matthew or even Mark. John seems to want us to dig beneath Jesus’ assuring word “It is I” (ego eimi) to realise that God rules the world in his Son.
A pastoral warning against a stagnating faith that settles for the minimum, misses out on the riches of Christ, fails to multiply the word of grace, and risks the losing the prize within sight of the finish – even after tasting the delights of the age to come.
These verses serve to introduce the high priesthood of Christ, one of the major themes of the letter. Much of what’s introduced in summary here is filled out in the following chapters. The doctrine of the humanity of Christ is fundamental to the complete, eternal salvation we receive in him. Jesus, fully God and fully human, knows our weaknesses. Not only can he represent us to God, he can bring us right into the majestic and holy presence of God. And when that happens it’s for keeps.
Continuing from chapter 3, we consider the ‘rest’ that is still God’s promise to his people. God’s rest is kept for us in heaven, and is certain so long as we, unlike Israel, trust God’s capacity to keep his promise however bleak things may look. Finally Psalm 95’s plea to God’s people not to harden their hearts by unbelief is met with the best cure for hardened human hearts — the penetrating power of the word of God. Has your soul been pierced?
Here is the most extended warning in the book of Hebrews so far. The awful possibility in view is sliding into unbelief, even after seeing God’s mighty work in salvation. It happened to Israel in the desert. And church history has been the story of the waxing and waning of real faith and Christ-like living. How unwise we’d be to imagine it could not happen to us. Two antidotes to spiritual drift:
- Don’t stop thinking about Jesus;
- Encourage one another.
Jesus challenges a zealous crowd of materialistic political activists to invest their energy on the kind of food that lasts. This, the fourth ‘sign’ recorded in John’s gospel, points us to the raging spiritual hunger Jesus really wants to satisfy – forever.
Hebrews is a warning letter. The first of several warnings against ‘spiritual drift’ opens this chapter. We’re warned against sliding away from following Jesus by neglect. Having paused for the warning, the writer returns to extolling the perfections of Jesus. Jesus became one of us, and as such he is able to be the complete Saviour we need.
The message of the writer to the Hebrews might be summed up like this:
I want you to know just how gloriously splendid Jesus is, that he has no rivals. I want you to be left in no doubt about his matchless supremacy, so that from now on the very idea of giving up on him, or drifting off into some kind of spiritual half-life, or trying something else – will seem pure madness.
Jesus is uniquely God in person and action, superior to everything the old covenant could offer. (Just for starters, in this first chapter, there’s no comparison between his dignity and that of any angel.) Most importantly, his high priestly work of providing purification from sin is complete.