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Hebrews 1:1-4 – NT

01.11.2011

Acts 3:22-26

Wait, didn’t we just read this?  Indeed, Peter is preaching here at the Temple, citing the passage of Deut that we read yesterday.  In so doing, he’s making clear the implied connection between the promised Prophet and Jesus, warning the Jews that to reject Christ is to disconnect oneself from the Mosaic heritage and the Covenant.

Peter expands on this idea to highlight that not only the promise of a Prophet, but the intervening prophets, all point to Jesus.  He’s again hammering the idea that Jesus was expected; He is the One they’d been waiting for. 

Emphasizing the individual responsibility of these Jews to submit to Jesus, Peter highlights that the Jews are God’s chosen people not because they are without sin and therefore without need for redemption, but insofar as they served as a vessel to bring His revelation and, ultimately, His incarnation to all mankind.

‘This is it,’ Peter is saying.  ‘The entire history of our people and our culture culminate in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Don’t miss out and waste your share of that lineage.’

I see two takeaways from this passage:

1) This is a clear example of scripture interpreting scripture.  Theologians and Bible scholars often stress the need for context, allowing one part of the story to clarify the meaning of another part.  For example, taken out of context, the Deut passage would seem to be fulfilled in Samuel, the next prophet in Israel’s history.  But Peter (and Luke, in the retelling) indicates that this is incorrect, or at least incomplete. 

The only issue arises in situations like the one in Genesis I linked to on Friday, where the Covenant of Love blog notes that Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, referred to God as one of a host of Mesopotamian household gods.  Even granting the inerrancy of scripture, how are we to know which speakers in the narrative are speaking God’s inerrant truth and which are misstating or misunderstanding? 

2) From the time of Jesus’ conversation with the men on the road to Emmaus, the early church (and much of the New Testament) hits the note of Old Testament fulfillment early and often.  Abraham was about Jesus.  Moses was about Jesus.  Esther was about Jesus.  David was about Jesus.  Isaiah was about Jesus.  I wonder if, setting aside the accuracy of these claims, they ever started to wear on first century audiences the way trite talking points and political cliches do now:  ‘You know, crosses don’t kill people.  People kill people.’

It’s interesting to consider, but I’d imagine not.  The ubiquity of these cliches in our culture are a result of the media and communications technology that saturates our lives.  Online, in daily newspapers, in weekly magazines, on TV, on the radio, arguments get hammered into our brains over and over and over until they lose all meaning and become substanceless symbols for, ‘My side is right.’ 

Other than perhaps the Pharisees, if some of them attended multiple sermons by the apostles, the average first century Jew would not have encountered these arguments.  They may have heard buzz about this Jesus guy that was killed, and maybe about the claims of His resurrection,  but they certainly would not have become jaded to the message that He was the promised Messiah, the subject of all holy scripture.

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