Last week we thought about the superiority of Jesus as the messenger and message of God. Listening to Jesus gives us the voice of God in high fidelity stereo.
The problem: Can you approach a superhero?
But it can leave us a little uncomfortable. If Jesus is so superior, how can I approach him? Can you approach a superhero? He’s not like me.
There was a series called The Great American Hero. The main character found an extraterrestrial suit but without instructions. The series was about this normal man who becomes a superhero. The musical theme deals with this question of being human and being something more:
Believe it or not,
I’m walking on the air.
I never thought I could feel so free
Flying away on a wing and a prayer
Who could it be?
Believe it or not, it’s just me.
Superheroes are good to rescue the day, like Jesus on the cross, or visit the sick in the hospital, like Messi, but, to really know me, relate to him for real?
The privilege of being human and the failure of being human
This letter offers us a perspective on the matter. To begin, the letter focuses on the wonder, the privilege of being human. We read in verses 5 to 8 a quote from Psalm 8:
It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. But there is a place where someone has testified:
‘What is humankind that you are mindful of them,
a son of man that you care for him?
You made them a little lower than the angels;
you crowned them with glory and honour
and put everything under their feet.’
This calls attention to the role of human beings in the purposes of God’s creation. Human beings are different. That’s why we save the whales on the beach and it’s not the apes that respond. We are more than monkeys.
Psalm 8 has the perspective of the new creation, of the account of Eden. That is, the lion is not the king of the jungle, it’s human beings. We are meant to be The Greatest American, Spanish, Catalan, Galician, Australian, British Hero …
But the superhero costume does not fit us. Why? We read in verse 8: In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.
The lion is the king of the jungle. There are few people who want to fight with a lion. There is a conflict between what God wants for us and what we are. We experience it every time our will fails. We are made for the role of Adam and Eve but we cannot fulfil it.
But someone did. Adam at last, verse 9:
But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honour because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
The hope of Psalm 8 is not only a happy memory of Eden but a living hope, seeking the reality that God has not abandoned his creation and finally, Adam at last came in Jesus. The fiercest lion, satan, paid attention to him.
Why does the answer and hope deal with death? It’s obvious, right? Death really is the problem. We could not fulfil Psalm 8 because the lion eats us. In other words, death teaches that something is wrong. The word in the Bible to describe the situation is sin. If you do not believe in sin, God responds by saying, look at your fear of dying. Verse 15: and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
In his life Jesus showed the hope of Psalm 8 for human beings, because death did not have this effect on Jesus.
Why in this way?
But it would have been enough to do it like other superheroes, right? Just rescue us, and leave us thinking: “Who was that masked man?” Why did the superhero take off his mask and reveal his humanity? You can see that, right? To rescue us, Jesus did not come like a god but like us.The letter gives us at least three good reasons that show the depth of God’s commitment to us and why Psalm 8 is so profound about who we are.
In the first place, God seeks his family. Let’s read verses from 11 to 12:
Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.He says,
‘I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the assembly I will sing your praises.’
God wants us to be his sons and daughters. It may be that we do not appreciate this idea. We live in a world where our identity comes from what we can do more than our family. We ask: What do you do? more than, Who are your parents? So, stop and think how amazing this statement is. The Creator considers you his family.
Secondly, the nature of the problem is trust. As this text impels us to think about creation, we also find there why we have lost the glory of Psalm 8. Adam and Eve did not trust God and his word and it turned out that they hid from each other by putting on clothes and hid from God by not answering his call. From the first words of the Bible we find the idea that the words of God are life. God said: “Let there be Light!” And there was light. This is not a poetic way of speaking but a profound reality in which we participate every day. Our words do the same. We say: “Let there be cake” and then we have cake. We do not find ourselves making a cake asking ourselves: How did this happen? It starts with words, a thought, which is a word, “Let there be cake.” Of course, our words are not enough to create the cake, but it should be. Look at the man Jesus and the wine he made from the water.
I’m digressing. By not trusting in the word of God we find fear and death. They are things of reality because the word of God is reality. Not listening to the word of God results in another reality of fear and death.
Then we read verse 13:
‘I will put my trust in him.’
And again he says,
‘Here am I, and the children God has given me.’
Verse 13 quotes Isaiah 8:17 which says in entirety: “I will wait for the Lord, who hides his face from the house of Jacob, and I will put my trust in him.” That is to say, Jesus trusted in the promises of God even though the circumstances. It is the reverse of Adam and Eve, Jesus trusted in the word of God even in the face of death. This action broke the power of the distrust of Adam and Eve that we have participated in. Now we can see that God does not abandon us to the grave if we trust in his word; trust is restored by the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Thirdly, the effect of this confidence is that Jesus understands us. We read in verses from 17 to 18:
For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
What does suffering mean in this context? Chocolate can help to understand it. Dad says you can not have it until after dinner. And we think that suffering is having to wait, or not having it. Actually, not trusting your parents that it will be yours after dinner is the real suffering. The nature of the problem is trust and that is where the real suffering is. Suffering is the feeling that I have doubts.
And in this Jesus was tempted. But as the child who endures this suffering and receives the chocolate, so also Jesus triumphed over the temptation not to trust.
With this understanding, Jesus knows exactly every moment of “suffering.” The greatest suffering we face is distrusting the word of God. In general, I want to understand suffering selfishly: why me? God is trying to gently tell us, “my dear child, the reason is bigger than you.” At the root of every moment of suffering is the doubt of Satan: Does God really care about you? Can you trust him? If we only look at ourselves, we will not understand how Jesus went through the same temptation to doubt and give into suffering, but in the end he triumphed. Jesus tells us, Come with me and I will teach you how to endure.
For all this, the arguments of the letter encourage us to see that Jesus’ superiority does not affect his ability to be accessible, actually the other way around. God’s way through Jesus means that he restores to us the privilege of being human: We are family! We can trust! He understands!
Change the way you think
So, verse 1 of chapter 3:
Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.
Like last week, the way to respond is to be attentive. What happens when we fix our thoughts on McDonald’s? What happens when we fix our thoughts on Ikea? What would happen if we fixed our thoughts on the person and work of Jesus?
Have you noticed how Jesus can quote the words of God? We cannot trust what God says if we don’t know what he has said.
Have you noticed the time Jesus gives to prayer? We cannot trust God’s presence if we don’t speak to him.
Have you noticed how Jesus deals with suffering? We cannot endure suffering if we don’t understand what suffering is.
In the past, people used the church bells to mark their time, even to think about Jesus. Have you thought about how to use your mobile for the same purpose?
Jesus is the supreme superhero who wants to restore us to the glory of being human. He has the power to do it and he has the confidence that we can fulfil it.