As the author of Hebrews comes to the conclusion of his sermon, he lists behaviors that should come from followers of Jesus based on the unique opportunity we have to live in a relationship with him.
As Rudy Ross prepared to help produce videos on Hebrews and James today, he prayerfully read through the Sermon on the Mount. Rudy accurately perceives Jesus’ teaching in the concluding thoughts of this letter.
Today’s article will connect Jesus’ teaching in his sermon with the admonitions of Hebrews.
Pursue Peace and Holiness
Since we have a personal relationship with the Ultimate High Priest, who has sacrificed his life on the cross to give us access to heaven, our behavior should reflect that fact.
Pursue peace with everyone and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12.14).
Jesus reinterpreted the Old Testament law to reflect the love that was evident in the way he lived his life.
He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
“But I say to you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
“So that you may be children of your Father in heaven, for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous” (Matthew 5.43-45).
Paul knew what it was like to be an enemy of Jesus. If Jesus had hated Paul, we would never have had an opportunity to witness this incredible human.
Jesus conquered his enemy, Paul, by making him his friend. Because of Jesus’ love, we also can be friends of God through Jesus.
Paul wrote about the experience of God’s love: “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life” (Romans 8.10).
Since we have such a great High Priest who is seated at the right hand of Majesty as our friend, should we not imitate him and the way he conquers his enemies?
When we love and pray for our enemies, we imitate our Savior. We also begin to resemble his character.
Holiness and a Pure Heart
The author of Hebrews challenges his audience to pursue holiness (verse 14). He tells us that we are not able to see God without holiness.
Jesus said the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5.8).
What is holiness? The person who lives a Jesus-kind-of-life is a holy person.
It makes sense that the highest aspiration in life is to be like the greatest Being to walk the face of the earth.
Besides developing a character and personality like Jesus, we have the opportunity to “see” God. Our relationship with God can be so real that we “see” him before being in his presence in heaven.
Knowing all that God has done for us, why should we not make this our goal?
There are many reasons why humans can be resentful of painful people and events in their lives.
However, there are even more reasons why humans should release resentments to the grace of God.
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God, that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble and through it many become defiled (Hebrews 12.15).
Jesus gave the antidote to our problems with resentments in the Sermon on the Mount.
“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder,’ and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’
“But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment, and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council, and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.
“So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you,
“Leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5.21-24).
Jesus connected words and thoughts with resentments. Angry words and insults play again and again like a broken record, as we re-create how we feel we have been injured.
Jesus’ solution is to forgive and reconcile with the problem person. In some instances, this may seem extremely difficult or impossible.
One thing you may try doing is to turn Galatians 2.19-20 into a prayer.
I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.
And the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2.19b-20).
Every time you begin to re-create your anger and resentment, try this prayer.
Lord Jesus, when you died on the cross, I died with you. I am alive because you live in me. I can’t forgive (state the name of the offender), but I know you can.
Please forgive (the name of the person) through me. I trust you that you are doing this because you love me and gave yourself for me on the cross.
When thoughts that lead to resentments come to your mind, let them draw you immediately to this prayer. I believe that over time – possibly a long time – God will release you from this “root of bitterness.”
Rudy Ross and I talk about Hebrews on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.