As a child, I didn’t mind a little turbulence when flying. I thought it was fun. But as an adult, not so much. When I’m on a flight that starts getting bumpy, I immediately tighten my seatbelt and grip the armrests. Don’t we tend to do this when things get shaky? Have you ever been in an earthquake, the passenger in a car going too fast, or on a boat rocking back and forth? What do we do in these situations? We look for something to hold on to that will steady us.
We don’t know who wrote the book of Hebrews, and we don’t exactly know who the original audience was. But we know that the original recipients of the letter had experienced some turbulence in their lives. In chapter 10, the author recounted how they had endured a hard struggle with suffering, had been publicly exposed to reproach and affliction and had even joyfully accepted the plundering of their property. Clearly, following Jesus came at a high cost for these believers. While they had endured thus far, the author of Hebrews was concerned that over time they might be tempted to look to something or someone other than Jesus to hold on to. Most likely, they were Jewish Christians tempted to return to their Jewish way of life under the Old Covenant, which would have been an easier path with less opposition.
Due to these trials and temptations, Hebrews expounds on the supremacy of Christ and the need to hold fast to Jesus. Regarding the supremacy of Christ, the author described Jesus as superior to angels, Moses, the tabernacle priesthood, and the sacrificial system. In short, Jesus is far better than anyone or anything.
In expounding the glory and supremacy of Christ, the author had a purpose for his audience. He referred to his letter as a word of exhortation (13:22). Thus, the superiority of Christ served as the basis to exhort his audience to endure and persevere in the faith.
Throughout the letter, we see many words of exhortation, including ‘don’t drift ‘(2:1); ‘guard your heart against hardening unbelief’ (3:12); ‘strive to enter God’s rest’ (4:11); ‘don’t fall away’ (6:6); ‘hold fast to the hope’ (6:18); ‘let us hold fast to the confession of our hope’ (10:23); ‘do not throw away your confidence’ (10:29); and ‘run with endurance’ (12:2). The author was clear that the judgment for those who reject Jesus is severe, while the cost of following Jesus is worth it.
As followers of Jesus, we can expect to experience trials and turbulence in our lives. By God’s grace, we have a sure and steady anchor to whom we are called to hold fast. His name is Jesus, and there is nothing and no one greater than him. We have many heroes of the faith who have gone before us, enduring suffering for the name of Christ. Whatever we might endure to follow him is worth it, just as it was for them. Therefore, let’s resist the temptation to drift away and remain confident in Jesus Christ as we run the race with perseverance.
In prepation for our Hebrews sermon series, we did a three-part sermon series going through the book of Leviticus. If you did not get a chance to listen to the sermons you can find them here: Leviticus