The Epistle to the Hebrews closes like a letter. Not much else has sounded like a letter, but the ending does. Could the ending have been added to an essay to support Pauline authorship? Probably not, but authorship aside, the content of the wrapping up of this epistle has very interesting elements.
Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.Hebrews 13:20-21 NASB
Is it interesting that, while the benediction begins calling on God to equip the disciples, it ends with praise of Jesus specifically? It turns out this is somewhat unique to Hebrews. Although, considering the great length the writer has gone to deify Jesus, it should be expected.
This benediction also contains the only direct reference to Jesus’ resurrection in the entire letter (I had to go back and check that). Which is only true because Jesus’ resurrection is assumed in the many references to His ascension and intercessory work in heaven.
Notice what is prayed for. That the God who raised Jesus, the Good Shepherd, from the dead would equip the writer’s audience. And the equipment would “every good thing”, the purpose of which is the practice of God’s will (or Jesus’ will), and the method of equipping is God Himself “working in us that which is pleasing in His sight”.
Think that through for a moment. Once more, we see that the life we live is less about us than our Savior. It’s our life to live, is it not? Yet it is our Savior “working in us” which equips us to do His will. Like Paul wrote, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind”, or, basically, let it happen. Our role is submission, our achievement is the will of another not our own, and our participation is almost passive.
I say “almost” because we are held accountable for our participation. We are, in fact, supposed to participate in the work/will of our Creator. The struggle is to “discover” that work/will. We have so much baggage, so much self, so much we desire that we can barely hear His voice through all the noise.
The most amazing, unimaginable, fantastic, unbelievable opportunity in human history is to participate with the Creator of the universe on His projects. Instead, we choose to consume anything we want that we believe makes us safe, great, and powerful over others. We become about our clothes, our image, our rights, our comfort, our money, our…whatever. And we miss our Creator’s purpose.
When you consider the immense depth of love such a powerful Creator has for rebellious creatures, doesn’t it seem strange that we are so quick to dismiss His eternal powerful projects to focus on our own temporary weak goals? And yet, that describes humanity throughout human history. A world-wide flood resulted from this propensity, and yet, it continues.
Perhaps, on this day where a “world power” celebrates freedom from oppression, we can decide to trade our slavery to ourselves for freedom as slaves to our Creator? We can choose to do that because He is also our Savior. Celebrate submission, even as we celebrate freedom.
So, what’s your view through the knothole this morning?
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation