Have you ever felt like you needed a faith-refresher? Was there ever a season where the weight of doubt, striving and insecurity made you forget why your relationship with Jesus began in the first place? Or have you ever felt a dullness, a numbness to God’s work in your life?
Every now and then, we need to go back to the place we began.
At the time the book of Hebrews was written, the recipients were considering turning away from their new faith in Jesus and back to the old faith practices of Jewish law. Though no specific author or audience is named (some think Paul wrote it, but we can’t be sure), it becomes clear that the author is writing to a group of Jewish converts who’s faith is wavering. This letter was written to refresh the the faith of these believers by connecting their new Christian faith with all God had promised and revealed throughout the Old Testament. It was written to illustrate and remind some of these earliest Jewish converts to Christianity that Jesus is better: the better prophet, the better High Priest, the better covenant, and the better atoning sacrifice. He is greater than everything that came before Him.
Journey with me as we dive into all that makes Jesus exactly what we need. Hear his Word and be refreshed.
Hebrews 1 & 2: The Fully God, Fully Human Savior
Hebrews begins with a reminder of who Jesus was: he was both divine and human. The author exalts Jesus above the angels, specifically, for several reasons: 1) his unique quality as the Son of God and 2) his humanity as the Son of Man, making him the perfect “founder of their salvation” (2:10). Note how often the author cites from the Psalms and the Old Testament prophets as he describes Jesus. His point is to show that Jesus’s story was being told since the very beginning, and that all things were ultimately pointing to him.
In chapter 1, Jesus is declared greater because he is the Son of God. He is God’s final and definitive revelation, surpassing the ways he had revealed himself in the Old Testament (v. 1-2). He is named the agent of creation, the very glory and nature of God, and the purifier of sin (v. 2 and 3). He is exalted above the angels, and the author cites several Old Testament passages comparing what God says about the Son to what God says about the angels (v. 4-14).
In chapter 2, the author exalts Jesus as the founder of salvation…or in other words, the founder of our faith. Not only this, but he is the perfect founder. Why? Though he is the divine Son of God, his sacrificial suffering and death required him to partake in humanity. Jesus was sent for us…and therefore was made like us so that in his death, our human sins would be atoned for. In this way, he becomes our “merciful and faithful high priest” (v. 17), a term we’ll unpack more in a few chapters.
Being fully human, he communes with us in our suffering and our temptation…in other words, he gets it, because he’s been there. But being fully God, he not only remains sinless, but he does what we could not do: purify us of our sins so that we can commune with God.
In the middle of all this we find verses 2:1-4. A warning. It’s here we first see the author’s intent in writing this letter. “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (2:1). The author implores the reader to remember the faith to which they were called, to remember the story that opened their eyes to the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:6). He appeals to their reverence and understanding of Jewish law. Essentially he says, “if the Law really is the Law, then what hope do you really have if you reject what Jesus offers?” (my take on verses 2-3).
Often I need this reminder. In my striving and in my weakness, in my successes and in my failures, in every season: I will never not need Jesus. He is the only thing enough to save me, redeem me, make me whole. I can’t work my way out of sin or clean myself up for God. This is what I mean by a refreshing of faith: sometimes, to come alive again, out of the dullness and into the full technicolor of faith, I need a reminder of my deep need for Jesus.
A lot of times, being reminded of that need doesn’t feel very lively. It feels dark at first, like looking in the mirror for the first time after a long time and being reminded of what’s really there looking back at me. I remember how much I suck without Jesus. How incapable I am of working my way out of sin or smiling my way out of insecurity or singing my way out of inadequacy.
The key is just to not get stuck there.
If, then, I’m also reminded of Jesus…everything he is and everything he’s done and all that he’s capable of doing…then the refreshing happens. It’s as if another mirror is placed in front of the first one and reflects back to me all that God says I am, in Jesus: his child, chosen, saved, redeemed, precious, beautiful, made for good things, justified, pure.
That is why we need the faith-refreshing power of God’s word in our lives. Forgotten who he says he is and what makes him worthy of praise? Open your Bible…it’ll remind you. And we also need each other, echoing the words of scripture back to one another, reflecting words of truth that remind us of what our story is really about, and how we got there in the first place. Sharing our testimony and lifting one another up with encouraging words carries a refreshing power too.
- Jesus is better. Being fully God and fully human, can call us (believers) brothers and sisters. He is holy, and therefore his sacrifice makes us holy. He was sent for us, so he had to be made into flesh like us so that his redemptive work would be both meaningful and worthy of praise.
- Don’t forget what you’ve already heard and what called you to believe. Remember who Jesus is and what he has done. Trust the Holy Spirit to bring about this learning, and turn to God’s word for reminders of Truth.
For God’s glory,