The Rev. Paul J Cain
Hebrews 2:1-13 (14-18)
Proper  B, Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, 04 October 2009
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
We forget. Plain and simple, we just forget. Those who suffer severe pain often forget how bad it was…until the next time. We forget how bad it is to see your favorite time lose…until the next time. We forget how awful we feel when we’re guilty of sin…until the next time. We forget how embarrassed we were when we forgot to do that project at work or school or home…until the next time. We even forget God’s Word, both His Law and His Promises…until the next.
Welcome to…the next time. God’s Word is here today to remind you about all that you have forgotten, especially with regard to faith, life, and salvation.
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
That is quite a verse, isn’t it? Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
If we forget, if we don’t pay attention, if we take God’s Word for granted, we could drift away. Heaven forbid!
For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
God wanted His people to remember. The Lord declared it. His apostles shared it verbally and wrote it down. God gave gifts of the Holy Spirit as He willed. Once again, miracles accompanied the proclamation of salvation. Even when Jesus preached, He did no miracles apart from people having faith in Him!
Those of us who make use of technology love it…except when it breaks down. Computers can forget, too. Hardware and software can help you lose information. There are few things more frustrating in this modern high tech life. The Lord wanted to make sure that you got His message. He didn’t put it on CD for you. He didn’t email it. He trusted it to the flesh-and-bone messengers of the Word, His Written Word, and His Holy Spirit. He considers human beings the pinnacle of His creation, subjecting the word to the care and stewardship of mankind.
Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
Who is this son of man? You know. You haven’t forgotten that much!
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
Mankind was given to be fruitful and multiply for the purpose of subduing the earth, ruling over all of creation as servant-stewards of all that God had made. Sin spoiled the world that God had created and originally declared “good.” The Lord promised One who would have His heel struck by Satan himself, even as this One would crush the head of that ancient serpent. Jesus was crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. Jesus. Everything in heaven and earth has been subjected to Him. God gave Him all authority in heaven and on earth that disciples would be made by baptism and by being taught God’s Word.
On this day when we thank God for Christian women and the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, it is important to note that God’s Word was originally recorded and taught in a context that did not value women. In some cultures, they were seen as property. In most, they themselves were not allowed to own property. The New Testament elevates women as valuable, intelligent human beings. In Christ there is no male or female. We all are one when it comes to salvation.
At the same time, men and women are physically different. We have different brain and body chemistry. Strength and emotions vary between the two genders. And God has denied some roles in this life to men. Other vocations, like that of pastor, are denied to women. All submit to Christ, especially men. Women are taught by the Lord to yield, to submit to fathers and husbands as the Church submits to Christ.
Yet, when it comes to salvation, both male and female have sin and need Jesus. Paul even calls all Christians, women and men, the Bride of Christ. It is not uncommon for New Testament writers like Paul and the author of Hebrews to include women in the title of “son.” Sons inherit the kingdom. Sons of God are brought to glory!
For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.”
You are all sons of God in Christ Jesus. He has called us brothers. He has gathered us together as His congregation. He sanctifies you, making you Holy in and through the Holy Spirit. We put our trust in Him. We sing His praises. And we stand together as the children of God.
We may forget, but God never does. He always remembers His promises to you and eagerly desires for you to seek Him in His Word, and in His Gifts, delivered for your forgiveness in a place and time like this.
(We welcome our youth confirmands to the Lord’s Table for the first time today. They remembered their memory work. They did their homework. They have confessed faith in Christ, and will again confirm with their own lips the faith confessed for them at their baptism into Christ. They are the offspring of Abraham with us, sharing in Christ’s Body and Blood for their forgiveness.)
Jesus will never forget what He did for you. He was true God and true man for a purpose. Listen to an extension of our sermon text, also from Hebrews 2: Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Jesus had to be like you, his brothers, in every respect? Why? To serve you before God as your great High Priest. He is a unique High Priest in that He is not only the one doing the sacrificing to atone for sin, He is also the sacrifice offered to the Lord on the altar of the cross. He died, not to help angels, but to help you by destroying “the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” You are freed from slavery to sin, to death, and to the devil.
The devil wants you to forget about sin. He wants you to forget about God. He wants you to forget about Church. God’s Word is here today to remind you about all that you have forgotten, especially with regard to faith, life, and salvation. And the writer to the Hebrews says, “Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” Remain in Christ’s Word and you will Never Forget. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.