Jesus had twelve Disciples to manage. That means everyday he had twelve personalities to deal with, twelve opinions to listen to, twelve sets of emotional baggage to unpack, and twelve different backgrounds to understand. Jesus and his Disciples were not working remotely. This was not a Monday through Friday, nine to five gig. They were together all the time, and as our Gospel lesson today shows us, they did not always get along.
One might think that having the Son of God as the leader of the Disciples would prevent any conflict from arising. The Gospels show us that this is simply not the case. Despite witnessing Jesus’s miracles firsthand and having front row seats to his preaching, the Disciples still occasionally argued like children fighting over who gets to sit in the front seat of the car.
The drama of our Gospel lesson this morning centered on the Disciples James and John Zebedee. James and John were biological brothers. They were fishermen by trade who famously walked away from their job in the middle of a workday when they first called by Jesus.
The Twenty-First Sunday after Pentecost
Isaiah 53: 4-12
Psalm 91: 9-16
Hebrews 5: 1-10
If I were a betting man, and that’s a pretty big if, my hunch is that if I took a poll this morning asking people what their favourite bit of scripture was, not many of you would point to something out of the Letter to the Hebrews. My hunch is that Hebrews is not, for the most part, many people’s “go to” bit of scripture. We’re more likely to appeal to something from the Gospels, or maybe one of the psalms, perhaps a bit of Isaiah or Paul when asked to name our favourite piece of scripture. The Letter to the Hebrews, probably wouldn’t make it into the top ten list of favourite passages of scripture. But that is not to say that Hebrews isn’t full of really fabulous or important stuff. Indeed The Letter to the Hebrews is an important text because, among other things, it develops for us a theology of Christ as High Priest and it is in the middle of that argument that we land today.
Throughout The Letter to the Hebrews, the author (and I keep saying “the author” because scholars are uncertain by whom, when or where this Letter was written), the author develops a distinct and elevated Christology. As Son of God, the author claims that Jesus is superior to other beings, including angels; that Jesus is superior to other Biblical heroes, like Moses and Abraham; that Christ is superior to institutions, like the Levitical priesthood. In each case: angels, heroes or priesthood, they either worship, point to or are fulfilled by Jesus, the great High Priest.