12 January 2011

Hebrews 2:14-18

"Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things." (v. 14)


C S Lewis' novels The Chronicles of Narnia are currently being made into blockbuster movies. This has brought the stories of Aslan and the children back into the limelight. In the most famous, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan the Lion hands himself over to the Ice Queen and her minions so that he can be killed to save the rest of creation from an unending winter. He is shorn and ridiculed, and eventually slain on an old table altar. But that is not the end. As dawn approaches a crash is heard and the children race to the table to find that Aslan is gone and the table is cracked in two - the old magic has been broken. Aslan eventually appears resurrected.

It's a good analogy of the Christian faith in so far as it goes. It explains something of the sacrifice, and something of the hold of our fallen nature over us. But the problem with Aslan is that he isn't human and that is the most important thing about Jesus. Here in Hebrews, the author makes that quite clear - he had to be like us, fully human in every way. In the end, the death of a lion, though sad and cruel and horrific, is not the same as the death of a human being. A lion cannot give its life for me. But when a human being offers to die for me and lays down his life in obedience, it is truly awe inspiring.

The author also provides some rich teaching on why Jesus died. He dies to make atonement - to restore our relationship with God - to put us right with God. But his life, suffering and death also means he can empathise with us. Whatever we go through, we know that Jesus has been through his own suffering, even to death. When we go through our Gethsemane (ie our deepest struggles and agonies - see Matthew 26:36-45), we can be assured that our brother has been through his own. And that means he can help us to go through our Gethsemanes too.

To Ponder

You might want to get hold of a copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and read of Aslan's death.

Reflect on what you know about Jesus - in what ways is he human like you? And in what ways is he different?

"Because he himself ... suffered, he is able to help ..." (v. 18) - reflect on the times when you have been in need - have you looked to Jesus to find help? What happened?

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.