Thursday

29 October 2015

“By God’s will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (v. 10)

Psalm: Psalm 119:1-16


Background

When Charles Darwin published 'The Origin of Species' in 1859, human understanding of the evolution of life on earth and the interconnectedness of all living creatures changed forever. There can be no going back.

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews believed that the self-offering of Jesus on the cross at Calvary, in voluntary obedience to God's will that we should confront sin and evil only with humility and love, marked a decisive step change in the relations between God and humanity. While remaining thoroughly 'earthed' in local cultures and everyday concerns, at the spiritual and moral centres of our inner beings we may now enjoy open access to the presence and love of God. We may be guided and helped to have in our hearts values and purposes which please God - worshipping God and serving God by dedicated attention to our neighbour.

Our author scores their point by using metaphors which mean little or nothing to us. In the Jewish world, the decisive change effected by Jesus was marked by liberation from the system of animal sacrifices laid out in the law and practised in the Jerusalem temple. As many commentators in the Old Testament had declared, the sacrificial system in itself could not deliver communion between sinful humanity and the holy God. Inner purification of conscience and a new heart and spirit within were needed (eg Psalm 51:10). In Psalm 40:6-8 (cited in verses 6-7) the author saw the clue he needed. It is God's intention to dispense with animal sacrifice and bring people into fellowship with God by providing someone (a 'body') who would do God's will completely.

Christians made the link with Jesus. Through him, we all have a potential new status with God, as God's children. We make that real through a decision to align ourselves with Jesus in faith.


To Ponder

  • Reflect on what is happening when we confess our sins in Church. Are we seeking to recover our status as God's children? Or, confident about our status as God's children, are we seeking God's forgiveness for the inevitable shortcomings, failures and stupidities of everyday living and God's encouragement for our continuing journey of faith?


Bible notes author: 
The Revd David Deeks

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