Sunday, March 24, 2013

What Can Man Do to Me?

Isenheim Altarpiece by Mathias Grünewald
Throughout the book of Hebrews, we are urged to look “unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross” (Heb 12:2). Jesus is the ultimate example of faithful obedience, and we are called to follow him through suffering to glory. We must “go forth to him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb. 13:12-13).

As we enter the holy week, consider Hebrews 13:5-6:
For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."  So we may boldly say: "the LORD is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?"
Though it is not immediately evident, these verses constitute another profound call to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. After the last supper, Mark 14:26 records, “When they had sung a hymn, they went out.” This is a reference to the Hallel Psalms (114-118) which were always sung at the end of the Passover meal.

The words quoted by the author of Hebrews are taken from Psalm 118:6. 

In the past, Psalm 118:6 has seemed to me a rather shallow assurance. Man can, in fact, do quite a lot of damage, and the help that God provides does not include any guarantee of physical safety. But of course Jesus knew this. He knew that he would "suffer many things" at the hands of men (Mark 8:31). And yet, as he prepared to step out into unknown agony and certain death, these words were on his lips: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

Jesus perceived a reality which was so high above our present experience that all of the temporal pain in this life is but nothing in comparison. This is the glorious reality into which he is leading us. Let us follow in faith.   

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