Reading Hebrews 1.1-2 with Nicholas Lash

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October 24, 2013 by jmar198013

Off and on over the past few months I have been meditating on the opening words of the Epistle to the Hebrews:

In the past, God spoke through the prophets to our ancestors in many times and many ways. In these final days, though, he spoke to us through a Son.

This is quite a startling claim. God is communicating to us through the person of Jesus. It’s not simply that Jesus spoke God’s words when he preached, like the prophets who came before him. Jesus is the medium. Jesus is the Word. His life is God speaking.

Along these lines, Nicholas Lash wrote that:

The God whom we traditionally confess as christians is transcendent, wholly mysterious, wholly other: whom we confess as Father. But this same God has expressed himself concretely in our history, has become part of the form and meaning and texture of that history, as a man. Where the authority of truth is concerned, no man effectively exercises authority in respect of others unless he persuades, by the quality of his life, and character, and speech. The God whom we confess is a God whose self-expression as a man has convinced us, wooed us, compelled us to answering recognition, love, and trust. (Voices of Authority. Shepherdstown, WV: Patmos Press, 1976. 11)

God speaks to us through this man–this man who declares clean what was unclean. Who invites losers and sinners to his table. Who spits on the eyes of the blind to heal them. Who overturns tables in the temple. Who laments a system that robs widows of their last dime. Who tells us to turn the other cheek when struck; to go naked when someone demands our robe; to carry a burden that is not rightfully ours for an extra mile. He tells us to love our enemies and welcome strangers. And then, he is struck and does not fight back; he is stripped naked; he carries a burden that is not rightfully his. And in Jesus’ suffering of these things, God is speaking love to his enemies and welcome to strangers.

Behold the man. What is God saying to us through him? How shall we respond: with “answering recognition, love, and trust”? Or otherwise?


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