Parents are probably aware of and maybe even familiar with the plea, “Pay attention!” Children seem to think they already know all the answers (but maybe they just haven’t thought of the questions, yet). Teachers, likewise, may have to deal with inattentive students. I can only imagine preachers today wanting to shout it out to church members who are busy playing electronic games or texting someone on the electronic devices during the worship service.
“Pay attention!” is what the writer to the Hebrews is telling us, too! “Pay attention!”
“We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” (Hebrews 2:1)
So, what have we heard (and learned)?
John 3:16-18 is a great place to begin:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
The writer to the Hebrews said it well: “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?” (Hebrews 2: 2-3a)
The fact of the matter is that we cannot and will never be able to escape what we owe God because of our disobedience in thought, word, and deed. We will never escape that anger. We will never be able to be truly free of the guilt we harbor because of our hatred, selfishness, pride, jealousy, indifference to God and to other people, our wastefulness and greed, and on inborn inclination to evil.
I will always remember what an elderly lady once told me after I had preached on this text. She said that she didn’t need to hear “all that law and gospel stuff” because she knew Jesus was her Savior—so get on with the “good stuff” like the misdeeds of her neighbors. She missed the point of why we need to hear the full Word of God: Law and Gospel. We are and will always continue to struggle with temptations and sin until we reach heaven itself. Her action and attitude came close to “neglect(ing) such a great salvation.”
I keep returning to this statement: “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. (Hebrews 2: 3b-4)
The now barren cross, the empty tomb, the presently empty sky are reminders of what God has done and will do for us sinners. Jesus Christ, God’s Only-begotten Son is our Savior! He gave His life so that we could live forever with Him in heaven. This is the message Jesus shared with Nicodemus in John 3:16–18. This is the point of reference the writer to the Hebrews used in our reading, too!
So we pray: God keep this message of Your forgiveness in and through Jesus always in our hearts and minds! In Jesus’ name. Amen.