Saturday, February 18, 2012

pre-requisite to a bigger Jesus

The Word for today:
Hebrews 2

The theme of the book of Hebrews, boiled down to one phrase, is “Jesus is better.” (‘Better’ is used 13 times in Hebrews; ‘perfect’ 15 times.)

Or, if you prefer a visual word (as Stand in the Rain does) you could just as correctly say that the theme of Hebrews is “Jesus is bigger.”

But at the same time, one of the great verses of this great book is found in 13:8—
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

How can both be true at once? In today’s article, Stand in the Rain pursues that paradox…
If ever you go to college, you will have to endure registration.

Registration is when you sign up to take the courses you need to take. It can be very discouraging to attempt to fit the courses into the cracks between the hours you work, or to schedule them so they coordinate with the local bus schedule.

Most frustrating of all is when you find the course you are required to take, on a day you can take it, at a time you can be there, only to fine that the course has a pre-requisite.

So you scramble to get into the pre-requisite course, which is inevitably full by the time you get there. Which means you can’t take the requisite course next semester either.

In my last semester of college, when I was just a few courses shy of graduation, I waltzed into registration without any worries, because the college I attended had a policy which said that last-semester students could waive pre-requirements for courses they needed to take in order to graduate.

That meant that I could sign up for course X without having taken course Y.  So I did.

Well, I want you to know that my final semester was hell on wheels because of that one course. The other students, who had all taken the pre-requisite course, were having no problem with it. But I was barely able to stay afloat.

Hebrews is like that.  Hebrews should come labeled like this:
The student seeking to enroll in this course must verify, prior to registration, the successful completion of the following courses:

“Intro to the Books of Moses (Genesis to Deuteronomy)”
“Leviticus, part I”
“Leviticus, part II”
“Survey of the Historical Books (Joshua through Esther)”
“Survey of the Prophets (Isaiah to Malachi)”
That doesn’t mean you can’t get through Hebrews without those prerequisites. (I mean, I managed to graduate --barely -- after struggling through Hell on Wheels 201 in that last semester.) We’ll guide you through and you’ll learn a lot--but nowhere near what you’ll learn someday, after mastering those prerequisites.

Make no mistake about it, Bible study is not easy. It’s a big book and the concepts are supernatural, so they do not come naturally to us. Real Bible study comes down to raw sweat and tenacious diligence.

I don’t mind telling you that for me to stay with the concepts presented by Isaiah or Hebrews is intellectually akin to a sparrow trying to fly with eagles. I’m just not that smart.

But I have a good Teacher who poured some of his Spirit on me to help me keep up:
But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. (1 John 2:20)

And you will keep up, too, if you set before you the great rewards to be had for the struggle: the new vistas of thought; the lilting lyrical language; the deeply profound poetics; the sheer hope and the inexhaustible inspiration that your sweat and tenacity will discover.

And all of those are as nothing compared to the real reward: the ever-deepening relationship with an ever-bigger Jesus.

That’s why we complete the prerequisites, sign up for the course, show up for the course, take the course, run the course, finish the course, and keep the faith.

Because every time you make your way ‘round the circuit of those 66 books (each one a prerequisite to every other) you will be met at the end by a bigger Jesus, so much bigger that you might hardly recognize him.

And you’ll wonder, every time through, how the great book of Hebrews can say Jesus stays the same (13:8) when you know for a fact he’s grown two miles taller since you two first met.

Paradoxically, the book of Hebrews is right about him never changing, while at the same time your eyes aren’t lying as they see him ever increasing. What you’re experiencing is the same thing Lucy, in the Chronicles of Narnia (1), experienced when she saw the lion Aslan – Christ—shining white and huge in the moonlight:
“Welcome, child,” he said.
“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

(1) The quotation is from Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis.

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