December 31 – Hebrews 3

December 31 – Hebrews 3 December 30, 2013

Christ Carrying the Cross - El GrecoHebrews 3

Good day, partakers of Jesus Christ!  Partakers, that is, if you hold the beginning of your confidence steadfast to the end and if you do not depart from the living God.  But I am persuaded of better things for you.

God has called you to be a partaker of Jesus Christ.  If you partook of the Holy Communion recently, then you were a partaker of Jesus Christ at that time.  But that’s not the only way we are made partakers of Jesus Christ.  You have a heavenly calling from God, and every time you are faithful to this calling, you are partaking of Jesus Christ.  This is such an important truth, that I’m going to repeat it, as if I were a preacher, slowing it down for emphasis: You . . . have a heavenly calling . . . from God . . . and every time you are faithful to this calling . . . you . . . are partaking . . .  of Jesus Christ.

Moses had a calling from God, and he was found faithful.  Jesus Christ had a calling from God, and He was found even more faithful.  Moses was a reluctant hero and martyr and saint and failed God at least a few times.  But Jesus Christ was completely faithful to Him who appointed Him.  Moses was a servant in God’s house.  But Jesus is the house of God, and the Builder of that House, the holy Temple where God comes to be with man.

What is this calling?  This calling is to faithfully confess that Jesus Christ is the heir of all things, the One who made the worlds, the brightness of the glory of the Father, the express image of the Father’s person, the upholder of all things by His Word, the One who has purged our sins, and the One who is sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high.  We faithfully confess this Christ not only with our lips, in praise and thanksgiving, but also with our lives, by what we actually do.

It is possible, therefore, to deny Jesus Christ in either word or deed.  You can depart from God by unfaithfully proclaiming that He doesn’t exist or isn’t the Savior or isn’t God Almighty or saying “I tell you, I do not know Him.”  But a more common way of denying Him is to deny Him by the way we live.  Once again, faith means faithfulness, doing what God has commanded us to do.

What else does this calling involve?  It involves living faithfully in every detail of the very life that God has specially given to you.  It means faithfully proclaiming Him to others, it means living a holy life, and it means obeying the Lord in your daily tasks, whatever those might be.

The writer of Hebrews asks us to consider Jesus Christ, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.  Consider Him.  Considering Jesus Christ means meditating on Him.  It means slowing down, pushing aside all other obligations and concerns, and considering Him in detail: who He is and what He’s done.

But then it means considering what He is commanding you to do.  And what He is commanding you to do is to follow Him in being faithful to your calling, as He was.  God the Father sent Jesus as His Apostle, the One He “sent” into the world to redeem it.  So Jesus did it.  God the Father called Him to be conceived in Mary’s womb as a holy zygote.  So He did it.  God the Father called Him to be born as a helpless infant.  So He did it.  God the Father asked Him to spend 30 years maturing as a human and growing in stature and wisdom.  So He did it.  God the Father asked Him to proclaim the Good News that the Kingdom of Heaven was here and that salvation was now available to those who had faith in Him.  So He did it.  But God the Father also asked Him to suffer and die on the Cross.  So He did it.

Consider the heavenly calling that God has given you.  Obey the will of the Father in your life, and in this way, you will be made a partaker of Jesus Christ, who made the good confession before Pontius Pilate and who obeyed the will of the Father to the point of death, a death on the Cross.

You, too, must make the good confession before all men.  Don’t be a wimp about it.  This is not a time to be shy or of those who shrink back.  This is the time to be bold and courageous, a hero, a saint, and a martyr.

Because we are all together God’s Temple, one of the greatest things we are called to do is to exhort one another.  Some of us will be tempted to depart, that is, to leave God’s holy presence.  Some of us will drift away.  But He has commanded us to “exhort one another daily, while it is called Today, lest any of you be hardened through deceitfulness of sin” (verse 13).  The saddest thing I experience in my life as a pastor is not the suffering or death I see: it’s those who I see drifting or walking or running away from God.  I give my most loving, impassioned exhortations to turn from deadly sin and disobedience to God and His holy commandments, to turn from deadly substances, to turn from deadly self – only to see many people choose to continue in their sins and continue to have an evil heart of unbelief.

But in order to be able to exhort one another daily, we must intrude into each other’s daily lives.  This was the way it was in the early church, where they broke their bread daily from house to house with gladness.  Only in such an intimate Body in which our lives are truly shared, do we have enough leverage with one another to hear the exhortations of others and to have ours be heard.

If you want to be a partaker of Jesus Christ, you must be a partaker of His calling, which is to obey the will of the Father in your life – in all its aspects.  You must be faithful to your heavenly calling, as was Jesus Himself.  This is the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer, when we pray: “thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  For you to do God’s holy will as it is done in heaven, that is, to do God’s holy will faithfully as Jesus Christ did, there are 4 things you must do with all that God has commanded you to do in your life.

1.  There is the speed of your obedience.  You must obey God immediately, not only when you find it convenient.  Though Moses hesitated when he was called, Jesus Christ did not.  When the first disciples were called, they immediately followed Jesus.

2.  There is the quantity of your obedience.  You must obey God completely.  Yes, this means you must fold all of the laundry or clean up the toys under the bed, too.  Don’t look for the minimum you can do to qualify as having done the job God gave you: go the extra mile.  Good businesses, especially ones that sell information, know that you give the customer more than he expects.  If we know that in our petty human businesses, then maybe we can figure it out when it comes to the business of heaven.

3.  There is the quality of your obedience.  You must obey God to the best of your ability (which is often much greater than you believe!)  Do you remember the excellence with which you pursue your leisure time activities or hobbies or goals in life?  Pursue obedience to God with an even greater intensity and passion.

4.  There is the attitude of your obedience.  You must obey God cheerfully.  Don’t obey God or give yourself to Him begrudgingly, for God loves a cheerful giver.  Don’t obey God only because He’s stronger than we are, or because we’re mercenaries, saying, “O.K., I’ll obey – but you owe me big time!”  We are to obey cheerfully, out of love for God.

On this, the last day of the civil year, let us examine ourselves once again, remembering that if you obey God in the way described above, then you will have become a partaker of Jesus Christ, the Apostle and High Priest of your confession.

Prayer:  Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen. 

Point for Meditation: 

1.  Consider in detail the speed, quantity, quality, and attitude of your obedience to God.

2.  Consider one way in which you may exhort another Christian who is drifting or walking away from God, even if in a seemingly small way. 

3.  Consider one way in which you may faithfully confess Jesus Christ before someone today. 

Resolution:  I resolve to consider Jesus Christ today and His heavenly calling on my life.  I further resolve to set aside time to consider the way in which I have been obeying His will in my life. 

© 2013 Fr. Charles Erlandson

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