Knowing what we do about the context of Hebrews (i.e., that it’s written to Jewish Christians who are under pressure from family, friends, and enemies to go back to simply being Jewish), imagine the following conversation in the marketplace between a Jewish Christian (Jonathan) and his non-Christian brother (Micah) in light of what we hear in Hebrews.
Micah: “Shalom, Jonathan. How are you? I hear you are still meeting with that group of people who are following . . . what’s his name? I can’t remember.”
Jonathan: “Shalom, Micah. I’m fine, thank-you, and you know his name is Jesus of Nazareth. And yes, I am meeting with his followers. On the Lord’s day we had a letter read to us that talked about how while Joshua led us to the promised land of Canaan, Jesus leads us to the promised heavenly land (4:1ff, 11:8ff). It was very inspiring.”
Micah: “Better than our Joshua! I’m surprised you dare to speak like this in the marketplace. Our mother, whose heart you are breaking by your rebellious ways, said you always were the dreamer! And by the way, how does this Jesus of Nazareth lead anyone these days? He was crucified by the Romans—oh that’s right, I forgot, he was ‘resurrected.’ Was he at your little meeting?”
Jonathan: “He was very much with us just as He always is—but you have to have faith to understand that. The letter also reminded us how Jesus is worthy of great honor—more so than Moses” (3:3).
Micah: “Better than Moses! Better than Joshua! This kind of foolishness is why some have left your group (10:25). We are living here in this land because of Joshua. We are governed by the laws that Moses brought. That’s true greatness. What can you can say about your carpenter from Galilee that rivals that kind of power and authority?”
Jonathan: “How about the universe was made through Jesus and he sustains everything by the power of his word” (1:2-3).
Micah: “What did you just say?”
Jonathan: The letter . . . it spoke of how God made the universe through Jesus and how he holds everything together by his powerful word.”
Micah: “For once, even I am at a loss for words . . . that’s such an outrageous claim. I’ve got to go. I’m late for work.”
It is an outrageous claim (as are the other claims about Jesus in the letter). How dare us to read them casually and not allow them to rock our world as they did for the people who first read this letter.