Do you know anyone (maybe a parent of a small child) who always seems to be saying things like “Listen up”, “Listen to me”, or “Pay attention”? Children – and others – often need to hear key messages from those who are more mature, lest they get hurt or into trouble. Some speakers like to punctuate their lessons with “Listen!”, which can be helpful to wake us up so that we can pay attention to something important. Other times, they are just trying to reclaim focus from an audience whose minds have drifted away onto other things. (We live in a noisy world, after all.)
The author of Hebrews provides us with a number of reminders in the first four verses of the second chapter:
We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
Hebrews 2:1-4 NIV
What Jesus taught (and His disciples continue to pass on) is important, and we need to pay attention. This isn’t an optional message for us to just try and catch up on when we have some spare time. I admit that I have a list of books that I have – at one time or another – intended to read. (Several haven’t even been started, I’m afraid.) However, the message of Jesus cannot be skipped: it is critical to your and my walk with God, both here on earth and in eternity. Staying focused on this message should also help keep us from falling away. (A commentator points out that this would be especially important to persecuted Christians in the first century [Girdwood]. I think that it is still an important reminder for Christians today, regardless of our absence or presence of persecution.)
Jesus’ message isn’t merely good news, though (although it is). There are consequences to ignoring Jesus’ message of salvation. I don’t want to be in the business of condemnation, but Jesus was clear that – in addition to being the Truth – He is the only way to God the Father (John 14:6-7).
In addition, Jesus’ message has been confirmed in many ways. The author of Hebrews (along with others) received the testimony of those who heard what Jesus said. God also validated Jesus’ message with demonstrations of His power, both during Jesus’ time on this earth as a man, and since then. Note that the validation of Jesus’ message wasn’t limited to the miracles that He performed, and the signs that God did to verify Jesus’ authority (i.e., during Jesus’ ministry). In addition, God continued to work (and, I believe, continues to work) in the church, to further testify to the accuracy of Jesus’ message, even though His message is now shared by His followers, rather than by Himself in an earthly body.
So, let’s take some inventory of our priorities this week. Are we most focused on Jesus – who is Truth, Creator, Sustainer, Savior, Heir, Ruler, Superior, and God? Or, are we letting other things get in the way of that?
From Sunday School lesson prepared for September 5, 2021
- The Lookout, September 5, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Hebrews, by Jim Girdwood and Peter Verkruyse. College Press Publishing Company, © 1997.