Daily Devotion for Thursday 4th July 2024

Hebrews 2:5-18 (with OT quotes in italics)
 
Now God did not subject the coming world, about which we are speaking, to angels. But someone has testified somewhere,
      ‘What are human beings that you are mindful of them,
      or mortals, that you care for them?
7     You have made them for a little while lower than the angels;
      you have crowned them with glory and honour,
 8    subjecting all things under their feet.’

Now in subjecting all things to them, God left nothing outside their control. As it is, we do not yet see everything in subjection to them, but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, 12 saying,
      ‘I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters,
      in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.’
13 And again,
      ‘I will put my trust in him.’
And again,
      ‘Here am I and the children whom God has given me.’
14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. 16 For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.
 
Reflection

‘He’s no angel.’ We might say this to label someone a rogue or a villain. But when Hebrews says it of Jesus, the point is different. As ascended Lord, he is higher now than all the hosts of heaven. And in his earthly years he came to a lower world than they inhabit. He covers, he bridges, the whole distance between humanity and heaven, with a life that belongs in both of these places.
 
Jesus was human – of us, among us and for us – not floating angelically above our human nature, but immersed in it. He was flesh and blood, with us as family. And his ascension gives our humanity a new dignity, a fuller contact with the majesty and mercy of God. He realises the full intent of Psalm 8, quoted in vv.6-8: ‘human beings … crowned with glory and honour’. He is the waymaker, ‘the pioneer of salvation’, the prototype who brings ‘many children to glory’ (v.10).
 
Yet Jesus achieves this, not by a grand display of force, but by sharing our weakness, facing and bearing suffering, and dying an utterly human death. His death draws the sting of ours. He lifts our fear away because he was lifted onto the cross. As he was humbled, we are made holy.
 
Two ideas in these verses will crop up again: priesthood and perfection. Hebrews says a lot about Israel’s ancient priests, and sees Jesus as ‘a merciful and faithful high priest’ (v.17), linking our nature and needs to the life of God. ‘Perfection’ (v.10) is not really a matter of beauty or polish; it means being whole and complete. Jesus learned from experience. Suffering enabled him to grow and to give in new ways. It gave him empathy and connection with us when we are ‘tested’ (v.18).
 
Prayer

Merciful God, all my sorrows and all my joys are open to you.
You know the experiences that test me,
    the situations that frighten me,
    the memories that shame me,
    the times when I feel alone.
Thank you that Jesus has shared all this,
    and that he can help me handle it
    with hope and courage, even today.

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