Tuesday 13 October 2015

Bible Book:

“... but we do see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” (v. 9)

Hebrews 2:5-13 Tuesday 13 October 2015

Psalm: Psalm 107:17-32


Now, at the risk of sounding a bit nerdy, we need to understandthat there are some problems here with the translation of thebiblical text. Today's passage begins with a slightly paraphrasedquote from Psalm 8, which in the original Hebrew refers tothe special created status of all humanity - made "a little lowerthan God, and crowned with glory and honour". But the Greektranslation of the Old Testament (called the Septuagint) uses wordswhich can be taken to refer either to one individual man or to thewhole of humanity. Which did the writer of today's passage (writtenin Greek) have in mind? Is this passage about the specialness ofall humanity, which the human Jesus shares with us, or is it justabout the specialness of the uniquely divine man, Jesus? The NRSV,for example, goes for the former, while the NIV goes for thelatter. And the NIV is probably right, because the argument inthese opening chapters of Hebrews (which may seem a little odd tous today) is all about Jesus being 'superior to the angels'. Soit's Jesus who is special, not the rest of us. That's certainly notwhat Psalm 8 originally meant, but that's what the writer to theHebrews wants it to mean.

However, although the writer doesn't regard humans ascreated special, he does believe we canbecome special. Through his suffering Jesus "saves"and "sanctifies" (v. 11) us and makes us his "brothers and sisters"(v. 12) as children of his Father. Jesus shares some of hisspecialness with us, thus making us special too. The passage endswith supporting quotes from Psalm22:22 and Isaiah 8:18, which the writer claims were wordsof Jesus, although there is no evidence for that in the fourGospels. But don't let that spoil a good sermon!

To Ponder

  • Are all humans created special in God's sight, or do they onlybecome special when they are 'saved'? Are we all 'God's children',or only Christians? Why does this question matter?
  • Many New Testament writers (and many Christians still today)regard the Old Testament as referring quite specifically to Jesus,even though that was clearly not the original meaning of the text.Is there a danger of being disrespectful to what have been theJewish scriptures for far longer than they have been the Christian'Old Testament'? And why does this question matter too?
  • Who do you think should decide what the biblical text means?Can it mean different things to different people at differenttimes? What problems might arise as a result?
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