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Lesson 3: Humility

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh—a messenger of Satan to beat me—to keep me from exalting myself! Three times I begged God that it might leave me. And God said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”

– 2 Corinthians 12:7-8 (TIB)

Devotion: Read Hebrews 2:5-18. While we might find it easy to doubt that an all-powerful, all-knowing Creator can understand what it feels like to be human, Jesus is one of us. He shares our humanity, knows our sufferings, and has experienced death. Jesus is able to provide a path to resurrection precisely because he is one of us and has overcome death. This demonstrates the deeper connection between total humility and service. Jesus takes humanity and suffering upon himself in order to provide a path for others to find life. When we embody his teachings and open our hearts to the Spirit, we are able to follow him down the path of service through death and into eternal life. Do you desire to follow Jesus? Have you asked God to lead you? Is there a connection between the degree to which we follow and the amount of fear of death we experience?

Personal Worship Option: Read Revelation 1:12-18. Spend time in prayer, reflecting on your own death. Offer your thoughts, fears, longings, and desires about death to God.

Dig A Little Deeper:

Although tradition says Paul wrote Hebrews, scholars no longer believe that to be true. The book’s use of Hebrew Scripture suggest the author is a Jewish Christian, perhaps one of Paul’s disciples. 

2:5 Read Hebrews 1:5-14 to gain the context for the comparison between Jesus and angels. The writer points out human beings will one day be elevated and crowned over all creation (Mt 19:27-28; 1 Cor 6:2). He quotes Psalm 8:4-6, a passage celebrating that coming exaltation.

2:8 While the amazing claims of Psalm 8:4-6 have not yet been fulfilled for the entire people of God, they have come to completion in Jesus (Acts 17:31). He is the prophesied one who suffers humiliation for a time but is now “crowned with glory and honor” (2:9). If Christ’s followers take the path he laid out, they will come to that same place of honor. God’s grace means we do not have to necessarily suffer as he did; he blazed that trail through death to resurrection.

2:10 It is “fitting” that Jesus walked his perfect, sinless path through deep suffering, because his followers can be confident of Jesus’ compassion and the Spirit’s presence during their own trials. We can find kinship with Jesus, who is not ashamed of our struggles. The writer quotes Psalm 22:22 and Isaiah 8:17-18 to support his proclamation. 

Great challenges produce opportunities to demonstrate great faith. You do not know if someone is a hero until they face a dragon. Jesus’ obedience is only revealed and made complete (“perfect”) as he suffers through his greatest trial, the path from Gethsemane to the cross. His sacrificial offering demonstrates his complete obedience to God. Without that suffering, the extent of his obedience  would not be seen. 

2:14 As flesh and blood creatures, death holds enormous sway over our lives. There are times when our fear of dying is so vivid that we are enslaved to the threat of death (2:15). When that happens, we can hesitate to walk obediently down certain frightening paths. However, Christ took our nature to defeat death and break our enslavement to that fear. Death holds no ultimate power over him. What are some common fears regarding death? How would Jesus respond to each?

2:17 There are still those in the church who want to elevate Jesus beyond “fully human,” suggesting that we are incapable of following the path he created. The writer emphasizes again that Christ conformed himself in every respect to humanity, and as such, is the perfect priestly bridge between God and humanity. What must we believe about ourselves and the rest of humanity to believe we can become like Jesus?

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