Traditions* (Subject to Change)
For many of us, the Christmas season is about traditions, family meals, familiar songs, and other predictable things. The comforting rhythm of our Christmas experience is much different than how first-century people felt about the arrival of Jesus. Everything about Jesus – his birth, life, death, resurrection, and message – was anything but predictable. To his contemporaries, the whole idea that God became a man and fully represented what it meant to be fully human and fully divine was … strange. To reconnect with the message of Jesus requires us to recapture how revolutionary he was and still is. This series will be based in the book of Hebrews.
November 29 – Jesus Speaks for God
Jesus was an unlikely spokesman for God. He came from a nondescript family. He didn’t have the educational credentials that typical rabbis had. It’s understandable why the religious elite would either overlook or dismiss Jesus. But rather than speak to us through intermediaries such as prophets, God chose to speak to us directly through his son. Jesus himself understood that he was speaking at the direction of God: “For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say” (John 12:49-50).
Hebrews 1:1-2 … 1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
December 6 – Jesus Represents God
The disciples often struggled to understand the relationship between Jesus and the Father. One time, the disciple Philip said to Jesus: “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” On the surface it seems like an innocent – even a fair – question. Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:8-10). The Hebrew writer says that Jesus is both the radiance of God’s glory (his greatness, beauty, and perfection) and the exact representation of God’s being. In other words, Jesus represented the very essence of God – in terms of his character, holiness, and purpose. But Jesus does more than represent God; he allows us to have access to God.
Hebrews 1:3a … 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
December 13 – Jesus Removes Our Shame
Under the old covenant, there was a continual need to offer sacrifices as a way of dealing with sin. Guilt and shame are the results of our disobedience. When we place our faith and trust in Jesus, our shame is removed and new life begins. Our justification in Christ is immediate and complete. As the Hebrew writer says, “such a high priest truly meets our need” (Hebrews 7:26).
Hebrews 1:3b … After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
December 20 – Jesus is Superior
One of the major themes of Hebrews is the superiority of Jesus when compared to the old covenant. “Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself” (Hebrews 3:3). “If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?” (Hebrews 7:11). “Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” (Hebrews 7:27).
Hebrews 1:4-8 … 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. 5 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”? 6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” 7 In speaking of the angels he says, “He makes his angels spirits, and his servants flames of fire.” 8 But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
December 21 – Jesus Offers New Life
At Christmas, we celebration the incarnation of Christ – the fact that God became flesh. Jesus shared in our humanity so that he might break the power of the evil one and to set us free from our fear of death. In order to become a “merciful and faithful high priest” Jesus had to be “fully human in every way.” This is what gives the cross its power to defeat sin.
Hebrews 2:10-11 … 10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.