Let’s Begin: Hebrews 1
The year is 66 A.D. (or C.E.). You are a Jewish disciple living in Jerusalem. For 103 years the Romans have occupied your homeland; in your life you’ve never known a time when Roman soldiers weren’t commonplace and now Nero’s procurator, Florus, is more onerous than any Roman official before him. He’s blatantly stolen silver from the Temple and suddenly the underground zealots…the Ka-na-im… aren’t whispering in the shadows anymore. Florus has handed them what six decades of guerrilla warfare wasn’t able to produce; every Jew’s temper is boiling and whole scale rebellion is in the air. They had survived Caligula over 20 years earlier trying to desecrate the Temple with the erection of his statue. They had survived gross taxes and indignities: scrolls from the Torah being burned, Roman soldiers relieving themselves inside the Temple, old men being forced to carry burdens for one mile. The tipping point had finally been reached and Florus pushed the Jews too far. Yes, the Jews are mad and won’t take it anymore.
They riot in Jerusalem and attack a Roman garrison stationed outside the Temple court to the north. Startled, every Roman soldier in the garrison is massacred by the furious horde that swarms like killer bees. Syrian officials hear of the slaughter and send a force of soldiers to quell the mob. They underestimate the insurgents and can’t break into Jerusalem.
The Ka-na-im are dancing in the streets. Their numbers grow and every Jew is recruited. Come join us!
You are Jewish, but you are something else as well. Something that you gave your heart and soul to. Something that makes you a brother, a sister to anyone of any nation…yes the gentiles too…if they are part of what you committed your life to. You are a disciple of Jesus Christ and your allegiance to Him surpasses everything. You’ve accepted ridicule for your faith and prevailed. You’ve been called less than human, but you never quit, you never gave up.
But now you’re being told that you are Jewish. You may be in a weird sect called Christian, or the Way, or His Disciples, but you’re a Jew. You’re one of us. Come help defend your people; help repel the Romans.
“We can win this if every one of us fights. We need every man, every woman, every child who can throw a stick to join together and fight for your home. Fight for your blood. Fight for Jerusalem!” The impassioned plea of the Ka-na-im saturates the city and you can’t escape their demand: decide who’s side you’re on. You’re either with us or against us. And for the first time that you can remember you’re given a choice to be included among the nation without denouncing your faith.
Then you receive a message from one of the deacons of the Jerusalem church. A special meeting is called and the whole church gathers in homes through out the city. The elders have asked everyone to come and hear a letter that was recently sent to the believers in Jerusalem. Copies have been made so that the hundreds of groups meeting can read this together. You’re familiar with the practice; you’ve read letters from that man Paul before, and just a few months ago you finally heard Peter’s last words in this same way. These letters were always important and exciting. And they seemed to come at just the right time. What would this one have to say?
You quickly take care of your day’s chores and set out for the home you know so well; it’s your friend’s home, the one who first convinced you that Jesus really was the Son of God. You’ve met here every week for years, communing together, laughing, crying. Now you go in and see your church family crowding in. All of you are thinking the same thing. While the whole city is in a turmoil readying for revolution, you’re all engrossed in the mystery of a letter!
A small clay lamp is lit and from its’ light your friend makes out the words and begins to read aloud:
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son; today I have become your Father”? Or again,
“I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”? And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.”
In speaking of the angels he says,
“He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.” But about the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy.”
He also says, “In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed, but you remain the same, and your years will never end.
To which of the angels did God ever say, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
…to be continued…