Friday, February 27, 2009

He had to… (Hebrews 2:14-18) 270209

Thank God, it’s Friday! It will be a busy day for me today, as in I have to finish quite a number of works by the end of today. I have to complete my notes for Baptism class this Sunday and of course also to compile all the other teachers’ notes. I also have to prepare for my small group lesson, and collect a van from a friend. I have to sort of rush all these, because I will be on course tomorrow.

Today’s text informs me that being the children of God (v14), we have overcome the power of death (v14) and delivered from the fear of death (v15). And the author of Hebrews stresses that Jesus’ death and resurrection is for the descendant of Abraham, which is you and me (in spiritual sense) and not for the angels (v16). We are not second class citizens; we are in fact first class because of what Jesus did on the Cross and left an empty tomb.

Then the author uses a very strange description in verse 17. He says that Jesus ‘had to make like His brethren in all things’ and the reason is so that He can make propitiation or atonement for our sins. What is strange is the Greek word uses for ‘He had to’, it actually literally means ‘to owe or to be indebted’ in financial sense. And some scholars would propose that this word should be translated as ‘He was obligated to’.

I think if we reflect on this, we can be sure that how valuable we are in the sight of Christ. He who owes nothing makes Himself ‘indebted’ and ‘obligate’ to make propitiation or atonement for us. I am thoroughly touched and grateful. Because the propitiation or atonement Jesus made was not using another unblemished animal, but it is He Himself going to the Cross.

In Paul’s theology, it is commonly to be understood that he champion that Christ work on the Cross is a legal act of redemption or repayment and even representation. But in Hebrews, the author seems to be equating Christ work on the Cross as a cultic (as in religious) act of substitution of atonement using an unblemished sacrifice, in which this case is Jesus Christ the Son of God. But today’s mediation and reflection draws me to hold a view of both; Christ work on the Cross is both a legal and cultic act.

We owe God a holy life, and only by someone paying for us by sacrificing Himself, then we can be set free from our debt. Jesus did it. Jesus was obligated to do it. Jesus had to be there on the Cross so that He can both be our representatives and also our unblemished sacrificial offerings.
We are in the season of Lent. I don’t think it is coincident that my devotional study on Hebrews keeps leading me back to the Cross; because the message of the Cross is central and core to our faith in Christ. Jesus had to go to the Cross. He had to.

Then what do we have to do? I think we have to; or rather we are indebted to reflect on the Cross, especially during this season of Lent. Yes, you are indebted and obligated to sit at the foot of the Cross and be amazed by the completed work of Christ on the Cross. Take time to do this.
You had to!


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