John 8:51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death. 52 At this they exclaimed, ‘Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that whoever obeys your word will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?’
These verses are such an odd exchange. It reminded me that the politics of power is nothing new. It can even impact faith. No I’m not talking about the “R” or “D” kind of politics but the dictionary kind: “activities associated with governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having, or hoping to, achieve power.”
Jesus’ words: “Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death” challenged the Jew’s power over their people and that was the real conflict they had with Him. Their political authority gave them the ultimate power to end life, but Jesus continued to proclaim He had the ultimate power to end death.
Believers in Jesus Christ already have been given the promise of the power over death wrapped in the mystery of being “born again.” Born again is the indefinable personal moment of recognition that Jesus Christ guarantees your “new” life will not see or taste death. That life has already begun in you. You are living it right now. It doesn’t promise you won’t die but that by obeying His word in this life you will be able to see and taste the power of life that continues beyond death.
22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,
23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
The Church of the Firstborn
I started this journey through Hebrews knowing it was new territory with less traveled roads to explore. I’ve been kind of like a tourist who’s hit the high spots and I’m ready to leave.
I was hoping for a quick recap but there’s something here I don’t want to miss before I leave. I want to be a part of the “joyful assembly” of The Church of the Firstborn where:
• Birth order is trumped by born again and firstborn is now my birth right.
• Jesus speaks a better word on my behalf than any sacrifice I could make.
• My name is written in heaven.
gene ther·a·py – noun – 1 the transplantation of normal genes into cells in place of missing or defective ones in order to correct genetic disorders.
From Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“…The Pharisee is that extremely admirable man who subordinates his entire life to his knowledge of good and evil and is as severe a judge of himself as of his neighbour to the honour of God, whom he humbly thanks for this knowledge. For the Pharisee every moment of life becomes a situation of conflict in which he has to choose between good and evil…”
Bonhoeffer describes the personal life of a Pharisees pretty clearly in that first paragraph. That phrase “knowledge of good and evil” made me think of the Garden of Eden. There was only one tree Adam and Eve were NOT to eat from. It was the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” We’ve all got a little a little bit of that same Pharisee DNA in us and that’s a tough sentence to live with.
But God has a plan to get us out of that genetic trap. It’s the very first, and most effective form of Gene Therapy to replace those defective cells. Some call it born again. I call it Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.