Monday, October 29, 2012

Jesus the Bridge

Hebrews 1.1-4 & 2.5-12

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews begins by reflecting on the way that God has spoken to his ancestors through prophets like Moses, whom he would have believed to be the writer of Genesis. Genesis, as its name implies, talks about the creation, but the writer of Hebrews says there is something missing from its account. All of the things that Genesis describes were created through Jesus, God’s living wisdom.

He uses terms to describe Jesus which border on ideas that were later branded as heresy. Jesus is a bridge between God and creation. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the imprint of God’s very being. But is that quite the same as being God? Some later readers interpreted Hebrews as meaning that Jesus is not the same as God but like God, more like him than human beings but not totally and exactly the same. Whatever the writer really meant, these later interpreters were condemned for their pains.

The first men and women fell short of God’s plan for humankind. Their relationships with one another and with him were never as perfect as he had intended but Jesus has offered a sacrifice which makes purification for, or wipes out, those mistakes.

Human beings have been given a special role, the role of working in partnership not just with one another but with God. In the days before most people could afford to own a book, even copies of the books of the Bible, the writer cannot remember who said that human beings have this special place in creation. It’s actually the Psalmist. But, in any case, says the writer of Hebrews, it’s not really true yet - except in the person of Jesus who, by his own death on the cross, has tasted death for everyone. What does that mean? The Contemporary English version says that it simply means Jesus died for everyone, but I think it means a bit more than that. It means he has tasted our death, he knows what it will feel like for us to die and he will be there to hold our hands. So now he is not just the one who was present at creation, he is the one who will be present with us at the end too.

Jesus, not Adam, is the person who takes priority in all things. He died because God wants to complete and bring to perfection the project which he began  with Jesus in Genesis. The men and women who are described there, and their descendants, are Jesus’ brothers and sisters. Elsewhere we’re told that being married is also like being in the kind of self-giving relationship which Jesus offers. So Genesis tells us that human beings are meant to live together in relationship, and Jesus shows us how.

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