Bayou City Women is walking through the powerful and mysterious book of Hebrews this spring. You’re invited to follow along with our study notes as we dig into a letter that calls believers to stand firm in the face of suffering. We can do this because Jesus is greater. Sisters, we want to follow Jesus by following Scripture through the power of the Holy Spirit, alongside each other in relationship. If you are craving connection during this season of social distancing, please check the notes at the end for ways you can still be a part of the Church. Whoever and wherever you are, you’re welcome here!
The book of Hebrews is a quirky, brilliant letter which compares and contrasts God the Son to significant Old Testament concepts to drive home a single point: Jesus. Is. Greater. Because of who he is, we can live faithfully through his example and sacrifice.
The message of Jesus is greater than that of any other. What other messengers are there? Before Jesus, God typically spoke through prophets and angels. They delivered the word of the Lord to humanity. Today we are taking a peek at prophets and angels, and hearing from one of the women of our church about what Jesus means to her personally.
It’s easy to assume the king must have been the most powerful person in government. He wore the crown, after all. He sat on the throne. He was the public figure, the leader in battle, the one who got the glory. However, the account in 2 Samuel 12 of a confrontation between the prophet Nathan and King David demolishes that theory. Entering the royal court intent on rebuking the king, Nathan told a tragic story with a surprise ending. He spoke with God’s authority, exposed David’s secret sin, and doled out consequences. In any other nation, a humble messenger who shamed the king might have lived to regret it. As part of God’s kingdom, David knew his kingship was a mere symbol of the true King, so he immediately submitted to the word of the Lord revealed in the prophet’s message and repented.
God has delivered his word through prophets since the beginning and throughout scripture.1 He continues today.2 The Kingdom has always been a theocracy: a people ruled by God himself. In ancient Israel, the theocracy was staffed by three human offices: king, priest, and prophet.
The king was a political leader who kept the nation obedient to the law.
The priest represented the people to God.
The prophet spoke for God to the people.
Angels both proclaim God’s message and fulfill his will, and are mentioned in nearly every book of the Bible.3 As created beings, they are God’s witnesses and envoys on earth. Even though angels are mentioned over 300 times in scripture, they are still fairly mysterious! One thing is sure: even the heavenly messengers bearing eyewitness testimony of God’s glory and grace are no match for the Ultimate Messenger, our Jesus.
The message of Jesus is his revelation, the word of the Lord, the gospel. It is divine truth wrapped in human suffering.
The first people who heard the gospel of Jesus were familiar with prophets; they had been taught by prophets for thousands of years. But they recognized this message as different. He came to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. They asked a question we all must answer: Who is this Jesus?4
He is the Risen Lord and Exalted Messiah. Acts 2:29-36
He is the Word of God made flesh, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-5, 14
He is the image of God, supreme over all, and Head of the Church. Colossians 1:15-20
He is seated at the right hand of God, and everything is under his feet. Ephesians 1:18-23
“These are wonderful passages, full of confidence in the achievement of Christ and replete with promise for sinners. Hebrews offers a picture of the human Jesus as rich in some ways as any in the Gospels…no book of the Bible, not even Colossians or the Gospel of John, combines the two poles of Christ’s exalted divinity and his suffering humanity as explicitly as does Hebrews.”5
Q&A with Susan
M: What does the “exalted divinity and suffering humanity” of Jesus mean to you?
S: The exalted divinity and suffering humanity of Jesus means that Jesus was fully God and fully human. Therefore, as he lived on this earth, suffered temptation, rejection, betrayal, crucifixion, he had the power to stop it all. But he didn’t. Because of his incredible love for us, he had to live for us, and show us how to live and die well.
M: The gospel of Jesus is greater than any message in history. How does focusing on his message over any others change your life?
S: Focusing on the message of Jesus helps me focus on what is important in life. It affects every area of my life. It helps me to discern what I should allow into my life and what to avoid. It reminds me to love people and to persevere in what he’s called me to do, because he is worthy. Focusing on his suffering, death, and resurrection reminds me that he is worth anything I must go through in this life.
M: What advice do you have for someone who longs to hear his voice?
S: Hearing his voice is one of my favorite things about being a Jesus-follower. It doesn’t happen every day, but when it does, it’s usually during prayer or Bible reading. Sometimes he meets my need through timing a devotional on the day I need to hear it. Or putting the same verse in front of me three different ways over a short period of time. There have been three times when he has spoken (not audible but almost!) when I was praying. So, my advice for someone who wants to hear his voice is to read his word, pray, listen for him, and pay attention to what he’s doing in your life.