15 January 2011

Hebrews 4:12-16

"The word of God is living and active" (v. 12)


We have already seen that the author of Hebrews has a high regard for Scripture. In a previous passage, he talks of Scripture as the Holy Spirit speaking to us. And in yesterday's reading, he talks of an everlasting principle of obedience - a principle which isn't just something which applies to some ancient tribe wandering in the desert but which applies throughout time.

Just so, God's word is now portrayed as something alive and active - as something which is able to see through time, as something which cuts through the darkness of our lives and reveals everything to God. It's quite an aggressive picture - a word which is sharper than a sword used for slashing, which can be used like a butcher's knife cleaving apart the bones. God's word is not a tame, passive word sat on the page. God's word is active, living - according to John's Gospel - the Word incarnate who become flesh and whose glory was seen by the people (John 1:14).

This word, this message, this sacrifice is offered to us by Jesus the great High Priest. As one who became as we are, this High Priest empathises with us - he knows what we go through, he has lived a life like we live with all its problems and worries and temptations. But he survived intact - he did not sin. Where we are broken, he remained whole.

As such, this priest shows us the way home - shows us the way to God's throne of grace. Jesus the High Priest is the pioneer of our salvation - the one who leads us to God that we might receive the rest promised to us for all time. This promise remains forever. It is not a passive promise. It is not a promise we need to make up ourselves. It is a promise revealed through Jesus and through God's word which lasts forever.

To Ponder

The idea of priesthood isn't very popular today - what images do you think of when you think of Jesus as the great High Priest?

"God word is living and active" (v. 12). Is this a comfortable or challenging thought? Why?

Take some time to approach God's throne of grace - you might want to use a hymn such as And can it be to guide your journey there.

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Pete Phillips

Pete Phillips is secretary to the Faith and Order Committee and research director for CODEC at St John's College, Durham. CODEC is exploring Christian communication in the digital age.