Bible Verse: “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14)

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 10:1-39

As the curtain rises on Act Four, the plot really starts to pick up. We resume our story with Israel in captivity. This time she is not under the brutal rule of Egypt, Babylon, or Persia, but an enemy far worse: the Roman Empire.

The story of the long-awaited rescuer is the ultimate plot twist in this drama. His name is Jesus, or Joshua, which literally means “God saves.” Will he unite Israel in a violent revolt to restore freedom to their land? He has a plan, but it is basically the exact opposite of everything the people of Israel expected.

His life starts out, not in a palace where kings are born, but rather in a place of obvious poverty, a simple stable where the poor keep their animals. He forms a new family, not from the sons of a marriage, but from twelve of the most unlikely guys you could imagine for such a rescue mission. Among these twelve, a few of them are even sworn enemies of each other. We have some fishermen, a tax collector who’s on the payroll of the Roman Empire, a militant revolutionary who hates the Romans and their tax collectors, and a bunch of other nobodies. Talk about a motley crew.

The new community that forms around Jesus is inclusive. Both men and women learn together. Rich and poor sit side by side. Prostitutes, drunkards, and swindlers are freely given a second chance at life. He keeps telling everyone that he is the “son of man,” that “average guy” prophesied by Daniel. He proclaims that God’s kingdom is coming but declares that it is not of this world. It is a kingdom without borders or hierarchy or sword. The battle Jesus wages is against spiritual forces, not Roman soldiers.

Over and over again, Jesus confronts and casts out the demons that lurk in the shadows of the human heart and secretly oppress people. His miracles outdo the great works of Elijah. But his miracles come with a punch line. Again and again, Jesus breaks religious law and then performs a miracle to show that he has the authority to do what only God could do.

In all of this, neither his message nor his actions line up with what you expect of a good religious leader. He consistently does the opposite of everything the religious leaders thought God wanted. How could this man who trashes religion be the long expected rescuer from God?

Jesus’ followers come to see that Jesus, in a very real way, was “God with us.” As they reflected on his death and resurrection, they began to grasp the profound mystery that, through Jesus, God had come and done what only God could do. In his sacrificial death, Jesus somehow became the final sacrifice for all that is wrong in this world. Jesus selflessly triumphed over all self-centeredness, sin, religion, evil and even death itself. A new way was now open for people to be intimate friends with God.

— Tim Day in God Enters Stage Left
Copyright © 2013 by Tim Day

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