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Episode Info: Hebrews 5:11-6:12 Pastor Chris Tweitmann Last week we began exploring a new, extended section of the book of Hebrews. We transitioned from a reflection on who Jesus is to a broader consideration of not only what Jesus has done but also what Jesus continues to do for us. We were introduced to the idea of understanding Jesus (SLIDE #2) as our great high priest – as our ultimate intercessor and representative. All signs pointed to the writer of Hebrews gearing up for a detailed explanation of this framework for appreciating the work of Christ on our behalf. In particular, we might expect some further elaboration on his passing, cryptic reference to Christ being a high priest not (SLIDE #3) in the line of the Levitical priesthood but “after the order of Melchizedek.” But as we’re about to discover, (SLIDE #4) the exploration of this idea will have to wait as instead, our author pauses and makes an unexpected digression. The writer suddenly turns to look directly into the eyes of his listeners and speak to them. What results is one of the most intensely personal, hotly debated and highly controversial passages in this letter. (SLIDE #5 – #12) I hear this passage and I immediately react with a phrase my grandmother used all the time, “Well, somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed!” What are we to make of the sudden shift in the tone of this letter as the speaker dumps a shower of cold water on the heads of his listeners. From where does all this frustration come? Why the sudden, stern, & unsettling warning about falling away from the faith? How are we to understand and to receive all that is being expressed here? We need to remember this address is being given to Christians who are struggling, who have learned much about believing in Jesus but are teetering on the brink of never taking their first step in actually following Christ with their lives. This letter, this sermon, is NOT being addressed to those who are new to the faith. These are believers who’ve been baptized, who’ve received the standard curriculum of instruction. As the writer lays out in verses 1 – 3 in chapter 6, (SLIDE #13) this community has already got the basics, the essential truths, “the elementary teachings about Christ”: “repentance from dead works” They’ve been taught, one doesn’t rituals to square oneself with God – that Christianity isn’t about practicing a religion for God; it is about living out of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. “faith in God” They’ve learned not to put their trust in idols – not to rely on anyone or anything before, above, or at the same level as Christ, that there is only one Savior, only one Lord who has the words of eternal life, and his name is Jesus. “instruction about cleansing rites and laying on of hands” They’ve discovered while there is one baptism in Christ, our daily lives need to be shaped by a regular posture of confession and repentance, of worship ...
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