Some denominations — the Catholic Church, mainline Protestant churches and a few others — celebrate Lent during this time of year. It’s an annual reminder of the sufferings of Christ, a time for personal reflection, and the time leading up to Good Friday and Easter or Resurrection Sunday.
During Lent, some Christians abstain from favorite things as a reminder to them of the suffering of our Savior. So, there are special meditations, meals, observances and the like, taking place during this time. And through it, we’re reminded of that what Christ suffered and did on our behalf; suffering which cannot be repeated nor added to. Therefore, it’s good to remind ourselves of what God has to say about this great event. From the book of Hebrews, second chapter, we read, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore, he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (verses 14-18, ESV).
As usual, even short passages of the Bible say a lot; so, let’s look at it together. First, it says that because we’re made of flesh and blood, Jesus, also, needed to be human — just like us! In his gospel, John assures us that the person we know of as Jesus is the long-expected Christ, the one who has always existed and is God (John 1:1-18). Because Jesus was more than mere man — not only being the “seed” of woman as spoken of in Genesis 3:15, but also the “Seed” of Abraham, as in Genesis 12:7. In Galatians 3:16 we that the “Seed of Abraham” is Christ, that he is the heir spoken of.
The suffering servant was a promise God made to mankind, saying, “Our griefs He Himself
bore, … Our sorrows He carried, … stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted, … He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, … by His scourging we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5). Because of this, Jesus Christ is able to put an end to death, which previously was the power Satan held over us. Thus, Paul could exclaim: “O Death, Where is your victory? O Death, Where is your sting?” (I Corinthians 15:55). Thus, when Christ Jesus arose from the grave he took away the devil’s power, his “victory” over us. Jesus also promised us that he would return one day to gather all those who belonged to him, so that they might be where he is now.
See, dear people, this life is not all there is. In fact, this life is not even “the real McCoy,” for what comes next is very much more real than is this life!
Our Hebrews passage continues with this thought: “For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.” Of all God’s creation, only man — men and women — were created in His image. Not angels. Not animals. Only people! Therefore, we find that the “offspring of Abraham” are the offspring of the promise, that Jew and Gentile become Abraham’s offspring through faith in Christ (see Galatians 3:27-29). And, because Christ came as a man, he “had to be made like his brothers in every respect.”
There’s been long and vigorous disagreement over the true nature of Jesus Christ. The book of Philippians tells us that when Christ came, he “emptied” himself (2:7). Thus, one of the mysteries of God.
Soon, we’ll be celebrating the mystery of Christ. That’s a good biblical word, for “mystery” means something we could not know on our own; something God had to reveal to us.
I like a good mystery, don’t you? It keeps things interesting. To ponder how the King of kings and Lord of lords could stoop low enough in order to suffer for us. Why the One who breathed all the stars into existence would take the punishment due us? Or as it’s put elsewhere, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (I Corinthians 5:21).
I hope you’re interested in God’s mysteries too. And, as usual, I find that the answer is usually found at the end of the Book!
Until we meet; blessings, Pastor Bill Williams
Bill Williams is pastor of Ontario’s Sunrise Christian Church, Ontario. He can be reached in care of The Argus Observer, 1160 S.W. Fourth St., Ontario, OR 97914. The Argus Observer weekly faith column features a rotation of writers from many different faiths and perspectives.