Digging in Deeper: Hebrews 2:8b-9

“For in subjecting everything to him, he left nothing that is not subject to him. As it is, we do not yet see everything subjected to him. But we do see Jesus – made lower than the angels for a short time so that by God’s grace he might taste death for everyone – crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

What is it that makes Jesus so great? That, perhaps more than just about anything else, is the question the author of Hebrews is seeking to answer over the course of his letter. While there are several good answers to the question generally and three in particular to which he gives the lion’s share of his attention, we see his arguing for one here that may not be something we think about all that often. Let’s dig in to what he’s talking about this morning.

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Morning Musing: James 4:10

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Yesterday we talked about one of the great paradoxes of the Christian worldview. This was Jesus’ declaration that if we want to save our lives, we must be prepared to lose them. Our conclusion then was that even though these two ideas sound contradictory, they are nonetheless both completely true. This morning we’re going to look briefly at another paradox of the faith. This one appears in various places throughout the Old and New Testaments, so there were multiple different passages we could have looked at. This one from James has a context that puts a little more fire behind the observation. Let’s talk about the greatness found in humility and a good example from a man named, Ted.

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Morning Musing: Mark 10:41-44

“When the ten disciples heard this, they began to be indignant with James and John. Jesus called them over and said to them, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in high positions act as tyrants over them. But it is not so among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you will be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you will be a slave to all.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

In my household, there is a simple rule that regulates our interactions with our three boys. Perhaps you have a similar, if unwritten and even unspoken, rule in your own household. If one child gets something, the others must be treated in similar fashion. If one child gets a snack before bed, all three need a snack before bed. It wouldn’t matter if the other two had finished eating dinner only moments before. They are suddenly starving and couldn’t possibly be expected to make it to breakfast without one more bite of food. There’s another rule at play as well: If mom and dad put you in charge, you get to act like you’re in charge. Now, we didn’t make up these rules. They came part and parcel with the parenting gig. I suspect they came with your own gig too. The reason for that is simple: These rules are how people naturally think and interact with one another. The disciples put both rules on display here…and Jesus explains (again) that this isn’t how the kingdom of God works. Let’s talk about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 9:36-37

“He took a child, had him stand among them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one little child such as this in my name welcomes me. And whoever welcomes me does not welcome me, but him who sent me.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Are you a humble person? That’s kind of a tough question to answer honestly. I mean, on the one hand, you don’t want to say, “No,” to it because you’ll be outing yourself as prideful. No one wants that. On the other hand, if you say, “Yes,” you’re also outing yourself as prideful because surely no one who was really humble would claim such a mantle for themselves. But, if you say, “No,” and you really are a pretty humble person, you’re lying about it and humble people are fundamentally honest about themselves and so you’re either humblebragging or being dishonest which are neither one marks of true humility. Next question please? Well, how about this one: How can you spot a humble person? That seems like it should be an easier one to answer, but sometimes people who act the most humble in public are the least humble in private. Thankfully, Jesus gives us a pretty good litmus test here.

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Digging in Deeper: Mark 9:33-35

“They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the way?’ But they were silent, because on the way they had been arguing with one another about who was the greatest. Sitting down, he called the Twelve and said to them, ‘If anyone wants to be first, he must be last and servant of all.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Is there anything you do that you can say you’re the best in the world at doing? If you’re like me, while you may be good – even really good – at a few things, to say you’re the best in the world is probably not something you can claim honestly. Perhaps, though, you hold a Guinness World Record for doing something. You can search their archives for really obscure records and get them to come and watch you do it in order to claim the title. That would technically make you the best in the world until someone breaks your record. In spite of knowing we’re not the best in the world, though, most of us still want to be the best. We simply opt for a different level of greatness. If we can’t reach the pinnacle of world domination, then we’ll settle for being better than the people around us. This is a natural human tendency. It is a natural human tendency that Jesus here wanted the disciples to understand works very differently in the kingdom of God than it does in this world.

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