We will be reading through several books in the month of October, but one I want us to pay extra attention to is the book of Hebrews. There are some complicated passages in the book, which Christian scholars have wrestled with throughout the centuries. However, almost all agree as to the overall theme of the book: Jesus is better.
Hebrews was written to a largely Jewish Christian audience. These new converts to Christianity were facing a growing threat of persecution and even martyrdom under the Roman emperor Nero. Therefore, many were considering whether to neglect their public faith in Christ and revert back to a form of Judaism in order to avoid suffering.
In order to discourage these new Christians from turning from Jesus, the author writes this letter. He addresses the main pillars of Judaism: angels, Moses as the greatest prophet, the priesthood, the law, and the heroes of the faith. And with each pillar he exhorts the recipients not to place their hope in these things, but to continue their hope in Jesus for He is better.
Today, many of us profess faith in Jesus, and claim that He is our ultimate peace, joy, hope, and love. Yet, when trials arise, we often fail to practice such faith. Instead, we frequently run to worldly forms of comfort.
When we fear the end of this world is near, we scramble to find peace in the safety of the government, military, and stockpiles of food and guns. When we are discontent, we run to find our joy in sports, TV shows, and new purchases. When we encounter medical hardship and the future is murky, we rush to find hope in medical procedures, world-class doctors, and home remedies. When those in the church hurt us, we scurry to find acceptance in jobs, hobbies, and romantic relationships.
We run to these things because deep down we believe these things will satisfy. We believe they will provide the peace, joy, hope, and love we desire. But when we encounter hardship and suffering, the message of the book of Hebrews reminds us over and over of one thing: Jesus is better.
When we fear the end of the world is near, we remember that God is both sovereign in His power to accomplish His purposes, and also good in that His desire is to work suffering out for good. Jesus is better. When we are discontent, we remember that we have been given the greatest gift in Jesus, who not only is our greatest joy in this life, but also promises joy in a future salvation through faith in Him. Jesus is better.
When we encounter medical hardship, we remember that there is no healer like our God, no comfort in times of anxiety like Him, and no one who is more present in times of suffering like Him. Jesus is better.
Finally, when those in the church hurt us, we remember that, though there is no church that is perfect, God is always working to grow His church in godliness and no one on this earth can love us like the person who has Christ’s love in their heart. Jesus is better.
So as we read through the book of Hebrews this month, and as you encounter suffering and hardship this month as well, may our God work in you to always run toHim. To run to him for peace, joy, hope, and love as you remember that Jesus is better.