Proper 28 (B), November 16, 2003
Christ’s Work And Our Part
Hebrews 10:11-25

Imagine you lived near
Jerusalem either shortly before or soon after the destruction of
Jerusalem in A.D. 70. How would this momentous event influence your
faith? This might be the very setting for the writing of Hebrews. Add
to that the “delay” in Christ’s expected return. What words of
encouragement would “lift one’s spirits?” In our passage the author
suggests “The Task that Christ Completed” and “The Tasks that
Continue for Us.”

Christ’s Work is Complete

Our
author reflects on the efforts of the priests who daily go about
their temple duties. In the temple there is no chair; no place for
the priests to rest. This is evidence of their “on-going” unfinished
efforts. Their redemptive work continues on a daily basis. But when
Christ completed his work “. . . He sat down . . .” (vs. 12) He sits
at the Father’s right hand!

From the cross
His word, “It is finished!,” is now triumphantly completed! He sits
and He waits for the defeat of His enemies! Is this the final victory?
And nothing more to be done? No, not at all. While His work is
completed, ours has only begun! The transition? (vs. 19)

Therefore . . .

Our Work for Him Continues

As Christ has now completed His work, the text suggests five expectations of us in response. Each begins with “Let us . . .”

1) Let Us Approach: “. . . draw near . . .” (vs. 22)
2) Let Us Abide: “. . . hold unswervingly . . .” (vs. 23)
3) Let Us Arouse: “. . . consider how we may ‘spur’ one another to love and good deeds . . .” (vs. 24)
4) Let Us Assemble: “. . . not give up meeting together . . .” (vs. 25)
5) Let Us Assist: “. . . encourage one another . . .” (vs. 25)

We
live in a “postmodern” world. As in A.D. 70 our predictable stable
structures of school, church, family, community no longer provide
security. In times of discouragement, when the stable structures are
collapsing around us, we need to hear, to be reminded, to
re-experience Christ’s completed work and this five-fold expectation
of us.

As I was preparing this message, a
young single mother called me for counseling. In a relationship that
was painful and sinful, her life as she described it was “empty.” She
had long since dropped out of church. In fact, her past church
experience had been defeating, demanding, de-humanizing. Since she
had given up drugs some months before, she was now “lonely. I don’t
have friends anymore.” Christ has done His part on her behalf. But what
of us?

Look again at the progression! Even the ordering
of them is suggestive. Approach Christ! Abide in Him! Arouse God’s
people to acts of love! Assemble together for mutual fellowship and
support. Then Assist; encourage!

Do
we put Christ and our relationship with Him first? Do we invest
ourselves in enriching that relationship? Do we then commit ourselves
to the helpful, enriching relationships with others in our faith
community? For then and only then do we come to the place of
supporting; encouraging; comforting others.

__________

Sermon brief provided by Earl J. Nichols, Pastor, Garden Community
Church, Bradenton, FL

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