Narrative Lectionary Hebrews Week 2
Additional Resources for Study & Proclamation
Hebrews 2:10-18 (Matt 12:46-50)
One of us! One of us!
Furthering the Power of God’s Story – Narrative Lectionary Commentary
by Pastor Ron Valadez
Depending on how you were raised or taught, dealing with Jesus humanity can be even more challenging that Jesus’ eternal nature. It didn’t take long, relatively speaking, for the early church to elevate Jesus’ divinity. Raising Jesus on a pedestal became second nature for us. However, lowering Jesus, to our level, has become increasingly problematic for many. The one time of year when preachers seem most comfortable with this is Christmas. Maybe talking about a chubby little baby is what makes this more palatable.
This week however, we get another opportunity to dive into Jesus’ humanity. Think of it as Christmas in July! Only instead of Jesus the cute little newborn, it’s the adult Jesus that our writer is reflecting on, in the fullness of his humanity. Our author points out a few different aspects of Jesus to put a spotlight on his human nature: 1) suffering; 2) siblinghood; 3) physically alike; 4) death; 5) made alike; 6) and temptation.
In a nutshell, our sibling (v11) Jesus suffered like we do (v10), was physically like us (v14), died like we do (v14), and was tempted like we are (v18). Oops, I skipped one! The fifth point that our author makes might be the most challenging. In v17, what does our author mean by, “he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way” CEB? Depending on your congregations Christology, the idea of Jesus being made might sound heretical, especially since last week we talked about Jesus’ eternal nature! The NRSV takes the easy way out and uses the word “become”, but most other translations use the more direct “made.” Either is accurate, but “made” certainly drives home Jesus’ human nature more forcefully, which is what our author was trying to do in the first place. Keeping these two in tension is our challenge before us.
So, what does Jesus’ human nature mean for our preaching? Have you ever noticed how sensitive topics like alcoholism, or mental health, or abuse are rarely spoken out loud, especially among strangers, until…one brave soul brings up the topic and those in earshot who have experienced it too suddenly share their experience? I’ve seen total strangers have an instant bond once they know they other have a shared experience, especially the kind that we don’t talk about in “polite society.” Or here’s another example, as a person of color, when I meet other people of color there is an unspoken bond that we have. We just know, that we have common experiences, both good and bad, because of the color of our skin. The #MeToo movement is yet another example of this.
This is the kind of bond that God has envisioned for us with Jesus. As we encounter Jesus while we go about our daily lives and we make eye contact, we can just give each other a wink or a nod that says it all, “I know. I get it.” And this bond comes from the fact that Jesus is one of us and has experienced all that we have and more.
Taken a step further, this is the kind of bond that God has envisioned for us to have with the rest of her world. The ability to see each other, really see each other, and all that makes us who we are, can make all the difference. To be able to find a bond of some kind with everyone that God places in our path could change the world, which was the plan all along!
While giving your congregation the comfort in knowing that Jesus gets us, sees us, and knows us—we also have the opportunity to challenge them to do that with each other and with the world outside their sanctuary walls, to participate in this bonding that our God has been so masterful at.
Some application questions: How comfortable is your congregation at being vulnerable with each other and with visitors? Do they look for ways to connect with people, even if it’s uncomfortable? In what ways have they bonded with people, even the most unlikely people?
Quick Jump Menu
The following links and resources are not produced or maintained by Clergy Stuff. However, at the time of this posting, the links were active and considered to be good source material for proclamation for the text for this week. Please scroll down or click on the quick jump menu you find below. For more free worship resources & planning materials, please visit RCL Worship Resources, a sister-site of Clergy Stuff.
In addition to the plethora of resources that you can find on sites like textweek.com, here are a few more to help ignite your imagination. Some old, some new, and some are a bit outside the box, but when your struggling with direction, sometimes a different approach is all that’s needed.
The Universal Christ with Richard Rohr—The Liturgists podcast invites Father Rohr to speak on this controversial topic.
The Religious Significance of the Humanity of Jesus—I don’t know if I’d make every conclusion that Gerald Birney Smith makes here but this is an in depth look at Jesus’ humanity from the American Journal of Theology (now The Journal of Religion).
My Hero—I used this for a Christmas morning sermon while on internship in Birmingham, AL. The ordinariness of Jesus is what makes him a hero for us.
A Good Read
The Universal Christ
by Richard Rohr
“Most know who Jesus was, but who was Christ? Is the word simply Jesus’s last name? Too often, Rohr writes, our understandings have been limited by culture, religious debate, and the human tendency to put ourselves at the center.”
Free Dramatic Reading For This Text (NRSV)
Readers: Reader, Congregation
Reader: It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Congregation: For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father.
Reader: For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, saying,
Congregation: “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.”
Reader: And again,
Congregation: “I will put my trust in him.”
Reader: And again,
Congregation: “Here am I and the children whom God has given me.”
Reader: Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.
Congregation: For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham.
Reader: Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people.
Congregation: Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.