Imprinted from Joseph Taber on Vimeo.
2Some Pharisees came, and to test him they asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ 3He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ 4They said, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her.’ 5But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. 6But from the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.” 7“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,* 8and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’
10Then in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; 12and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’
13People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. 14But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. 15Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ 16And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.
This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God
Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12
1:1In the past, God spoke to our ancestors in many times and many ways. 2But in these final days, he spoke to us through a Son. God made his Son the heir of everything and created the world through him. 3The Son is the light of God’s glory and the imprint of God’s being. He maintains everything with his powerful message. After he carried out the cleansing of people from their sins, he sat down at the right hand of the highest majesty. 4And so, the Son became so much greater than the other messengers, such as angels, that he received a more important title than theirs.
2:5God didn’t put the world that is coming (the world we are talking about) under the angels’ control. 6Instead, someone declared somewhere, What is humanity that you think about them? Or what is the human being that you care about them? 7For awhile you made them lower than the angels. You crowned the human being with glory and honor. 8You put everything under their control.
When he puts everything under their control, he doesn’t leave anything out of control. But right now, we don’t see everything under their control yet. 9However, we do see the one who was made lower in order than the angels for a little while - it’s Jesus! He’s the one who is now crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of his death. He suffered death so that he could taste death for everyone through God’s grace.
10It was appropriate for God, for whom and through whom everything exists, to use experiences of suffering to make perfect the pioneer of salvation. This salvation belongs to many sons and daughters whom he’s leading to glory. 11This is because the one who makes people holy and the people who are being made holy all come from one source. That is why Jesus isn’t ashamed to call them brothers and sisters when he says 12I will publicly announce your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you in the middle of the assembly.
This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God.
Last weekend, I went to my 10 year High School reunion. Freedom High School, class of 2005. Not quite 500 people crossed the stage at our graduation there on the banks of the majestic Catawba river.
We began, as most reunions do these days, by contacting one another over social media. We joked about old stories, we brainstormed ideas about getting together, and we expressed excitement about reconnecting with old high school friends.
Although, some of the "excitement" was feigned. Some of it was genuine, to be sure. But some of it was just being polite. Not every friendship drifts apart unintentionally, and most of us had become very different people over the past decade.
The night of the big dinner event came, and Leah and I made our way to downtown Morganton. I had a secret list in my head of people I actually wanted to see. It was MUCH shorter than the actual guest list.
There were people there I was very excited to see. There were people there I had no interest in seeing. I probably made those same lists for other folks there too. We’ve all got folks we don’t want to see sitting at the table.
There’s a book in our church library, right outside that door, called Christian Doctrine, by Shirley Guthrie. Dr. Guthrie is one the legends of Columbia Theological Seminary, he is brilliant enough to take very complex ideas about God and write them in a way that is very easy to understand.
To give you an idea how good Christian Doctrine is, the copy in the library is almost falling apart. It’s seen a lot of use over the years.
Legend has it that Dr. Guthrie was once brought up on charges of heresy. He was accused of being a Universalist, the belief that everyone goes to heaven no matter what. The story goes that he beat the charges basically by questioning if the folks who charged him with heresy were saved…
The way I heard it, he appeared before the committee and said, “I believe that when we all get to that great messianic banquet, some people will look at who else is seated at the table, and they will turn around and leave.”
We’ve all got folks we don’t want to see sitting at the table.
Hebrews was probably not originally a letter. Not in the way that Paul wrote anyway. Most scholars point to it as a sermon manuscript, meant to be read aloud as a part of worship. At every turn, Hebrews lifts up that no matter what lies behind us, or before us, Jesus the Christ is greater. There’s a lot to unpack in Hebrews, and the picture it draws of God is beautiful. It’s worth reading, and it’s worth reading aloud.
But the focus of these excerpts from that ancient Christian sermon is that Christ is holding us together. Simply by being himself, Christ holds humanity together with God. “The Son is the light of God’s glory and the imprint of God’s being. He maintains everything with his powerful message.” He is the definite Word of God, who reestablishes humanity’s natural relationship with God. Jesus is the complete image of what it means to be human, and he is the fullest expression of who God is.
An encounter with Jesus, the imprint of God’s being, leaves its mark upon all who experience him, and we cannot leave unchanged.
But that change is ongoing. Hebrews 2:8 points us to the Lordship of Christ over all things, he is already crowned with glory and honor, but not yet do all things obey that authority. We surely see in our own lives, after all, we’ve all got folks we don’t want to see sitting at the table. We rebel against Christ’s authority when we try and push others out of the grace of God. We have forgotten Christ’s love when we try and distance ourselves from the imprint of that same grace.
Today is World Communion Sunday, when Christians all over the world set aside their differences, and celebrate a reunion around the LORD’s table. We may find ourselves tempted to get up and leave, we may have folks we wish were not seated with us, but God the Son maintains everything with his powerful message. Jesus’s powerful message takes us into suffering, and then to resurrection on the other side. “It was appropriate for God, for whom and through whom everything exists, to use experiences of suffering to make perfect the pioneer of salvation. This salvation belongs to many sons and daughters whom he’s leading to glory.” We are the sons and daughters whom Jesus is leading. He who is already crowned with glory and honor invites us to sit with him and share a meal, so that we may find ourselves imprinted with the love of Christ.
“This is because the one who makes people holy and the people who are being made holy all come from one source.” No matter the distinction we may try to make or enforce, no matter how many folks we do not want to see at the table, all of us belong to God.
“That is why Jesus isn’t ashamed to call them brothers and sisters when he says I will publicly announce your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you in the middle of the assembly.” We come to this table, joining this assembly and every other gathering in Christ’s name, at the LORD’s own invitation. And Christ is the one who leads our song of praise to God.