Jesus Deserves Your Attention

Steve Viars January 17, 2009 Hebrews 2:1-18

 

- this morning I’d like to begin by asking you a question…How dangerous is it to not pay attention?...can that ever result in serious consequences?…

 – this is what’s left of a semi after the tractor and trailer left the roadway, jack knifed, and hit a rock embankment next to a railroad track…

- the cause of such a terrible accident? --- anybody want to guess?...the driver was reaching for his cell phone…

- incidentally, he walked away from the accident – but I hope that was a really important call, because the next one he would have had to make was to his boss, the man who owned the truck and was responsible for the cargo…[maybe he could have used his all important cell phone to take a picture to send to his boss…]

- or this one by a man named Dan…here’s his story -- I was driving in the far left lane of a 4 lane highway when I noticed a young lady in a small Toyota weaving in and out of traffic trying to get ahead of everyone…She suddenly moved over into my lane. I tried to get out of her way but there was no shoulder on the left side only a cement barrier, and I hit my horn but she just kept coming anyways...It turns out that she was talking on her cell phone and was late for work, which is why she never heard my horn. She hit the right front of my car causing me to completely lose control and my car suddenly veered to the right across all four lanes of traffic before it slammed almost head on into a cement jersey barrier…I was wearing my seatbelt and my airbags deployed.  My car was totaled and I was left with a serious back injury. The police and EMT's who transported me to the hospital said I was lucky to be alive.

- perhaps the lesson is, when you’re supposed to be paying attention to driving, it’s really dangerous, not just for yourself but for others when you’re not…

- one that stood out to me the most was this one…from a young woman named Laura… My ex boyfriend and I were driving to his friends house.  He was text messaging on his cell phone and was not paying attention to the road.  He ran into stopped traffic going 65-75 miles per hour!  He caused a four-car chain reaction.  I do not remember anything.  I was knocked out.  Luckily, I had my seatbelt on.  There was no airbag.  I spent four days in the hospital.  I had a broken sternum, a broken jaw, a bruised pancreas, a ruptured spleen, torn ligaments in my ankle, stitches on the inside of my mouth and lip, and a many bumps and bruises.  I also spent 4 months lying in bed after the accident doing next to nothing.  Now you can see why he is my ex-boyfriend.

- now, to be honest, I left out some of the stories because the outcomes were even more tragic…but the point is obvious – not paying attention can result in terrible consequences, not just for yourself, but for the people God has placed around you.

- it’s incredible how easy it is for people like you and me to be distracted…

- now here’s the question I’d like to ask you next…how well are you doing…at paying attention…to Jesus Christ?...

- and have you thought about the consequences, both for you and others, of being distracted?...

- with that in mind, please open your Bible to Hebrews chapter 2…page 170 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- we’re just beginning a 12 week verse by verse study of this book entitled Hope in Our Sufficient Savior

- this is part of our annual theme this of Finding Hope

- and we wanted to start in this book because the overall theme is that Jesus Christ is superior to anyone or anything…

- He is worthy of your allegiance, He’s worthy of your trust…

- He is a reliable source of joy…source of direction….source of Hope…

- now, we saw last week that this book was written by an unidentified author to a group of Jewish persons living between 65-70 AD…

- and the group was comprised of three different kinds of persons…

1. Some had genuinely trusted Christ has Savior and Lord but were not facing pressure from their relatives and persecution from their culture and they’re starting to look back at the temple and think about what they’d left behind to follow Christ…

2. Others had a level of intellectual belief in Jesus – they had accepted the facts as being historically accurate, but they had never crossed the line of accepting the gift of salvation available in Christ for themselves…

3. Then there were those who had rejected the entire message – but they were still hanging around the group because of ethnic ties or economic interests…but they were in a very precarious position to be sure…

- that’s important because we will undoubtedly have men and women here today who fall into one of those three categories…and what this book is emphasizing is extremely relevant and extremely practical…

- now you may have thought about these categories this week and wondered – what was their difficulty?...what was hindering them from fully embracing the gospel of Jesus Christ and then joyfully growing into fuller allegiance and greater service?...

- we’re already getting a flavor of that and we’ll get more today as we study…

- but here are some of ideas that were troubling them…

1. How could Jesus be superior if He was lower than the angels?...He was obviously operating on earth, they were operating in the heavens…why should they be worshipping Jesus instead of worshipping angels?...it seemed like they were the more likely/logical objects of worship…

2. How come Jesus became a man?...

- If He was really the Messiah…what was the point of Him taking on flesh?...

- why such a demeaning position…and doesn’t that decrease the likelihood that He could be their Savior?...

3. What about the fact that He died?...

- if they knew any one fact about Jesus of Nazareth, it was that He was that He was crucified on a cross, like a common criminal in abject humiliation and suffering…

- I don’t know that we can understand in our culture how significant a stumbling block that would have been to the men and women in that day…

- and I realize that you might have all sorts of similar questions, whether you’ve just started coming to church or have been coming for 50 years…

- and one of the lessons from this book is – questions are good…

- God is not offended by people, and certainly not threatened by people who are having trouble putting the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together…

- but at some point – the answers deserve a response…that’s why we’re going to see in chapter 2, the clear and compelling theme – Jesus Deserves Your Attention…let’s begin reading at Hebrews 2:1 (read 2:1-18) – (point out that vv 6-8 is speaking about man)

- we’re talking this morning about how Jesus deserves your attention – let’s spend the rest of our time together looking for 3 reasons you should listen carefully to the message of Christ.

I. Because He Can Help You Escape the Penalty – vv. 1-4.

- what we’re reading in verses 1-4 is the first of six warning passages in the book of Hebrews…

- this is why it is so easy to think about applications of the material to the way we are living today because the writer made it clear how he was hoping these truths would affect his original readers…

- this wasn’t just esoteric knowledge delivered by an unconcerned messenger…

- this man was a biblical shepherd…he was conveying truth to men and women but then he was urging them to make a specific and definite decision as a result of what they’d heard…

A. Notice the passionate invitation – v. 1.

- you see both halves in the way the verse breaks down…

1. Exhortation – here’s what you should do.

- v. 1 - Pay much closer attention to what we have heard.

2. Warning – here’s what happens if you don’t.

- v. 1 – so that we do not drift away from it.

- both of those words were used in nautical settings

- pay attention – prosecho – “to moor a ship, to tie it up”

- drift -- pararheo – “to drift past the harbor.”

- and the meaning would have been very obvious to them…we have to listen up...we have to moor our minds to the truth of the Word of God…Jesus Christ deserves our attention…

- and if we don’t…we risk the possibility of drifting right on by the harbor…

- now, think about how verse 2 fits into that…here’s the point and then we’ll break it down…

B. Even the Old Testament deserved a hearing – v. 2

- now you might wonder, what was this “word spoken through angels”?...

1. The identity of the “word spoken through angels.”

- the answer is – that’s the OT…specifically the law given to Mount Sinai and by extension all that God revealed in the OT through the prophets about the Messiah…

- there are many verses in the Bible that talk about this…

- perhaps the clearest ones for sake of time occurred at the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7…one of the reasons the record of that event is so important is that God uses this deacon to give an excellent summary of the OT before he is put to death…

- Acts 7:38 - This is the one [speaking of Moses]who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us.

- Acts 7:53 - you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.

- the point is – angels were involved somehow in the giving of the OT law…

- now, please don’t get sidetracked by that….the point he makes is, even that…

2. It was unalterable.

- the people who had received the law had better have listened, because there wasn’t wiggling out of what the law of God said, and what it demanded…it was unalterable…

3. Not paying attention resulted in penalties that were just.

- and everyone who was listening in that particular audience would have been nodding their heads…

- that’s for sure…when God’s law said, for example --- thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife…there were serious consequences for disobeying that command…and it had to do with a whole bunch of stones…

- failing to listen to God’s law in that economy was nothing short of deadly…because God valued holiness and the accomplishment of His plan that much…

- now, if you say, well I sure am glad we’re not living under the OT law any more…that would be exactly the wrong conclusion the writer is wanting us to draw…the point is…

C. Your access to the gospel raises the bar of responsibility – vv. 3-4.

1. The message of Christ offers “so great a salvation”

- we’ll see as we get further into this book…if you compare the “terms” under the old covenant (the Mosaic law and the attending sacrificial system) compared to the new covenant and the finished work of Christ…what is available to you and me is a much sweeter deal…

- and if people under the old covenant received just penalties if they failed to pay attention to God and His Word, where do you think that leaves people like you and me who had access to a much better, and a much more complete revelation of the plan and character of God?...in Christ, you have access to a great salvation…that’s why the rest of this section tries to explain that…

2.  Jesus Himself explained the message.

- v. 3 – it was at first spoken through the Lord

- one of the reasons Jesus came to the earth Himself was to deliver the message firsthand…

- what to the Jews was a stumbling block was truly an incredible gracious act on the part of our God…

- to be sure there’s no confusion, I’ll send my Son…(does a parable from the NT come to mind when I say that…surely they’ll respect my son…)

3. It was confirmed by eyewitnesses.

- v. 3 – it was confirmed to us by those who heard.

- the point is – if we don’t listen up, we are in deep trouble…because we had access to eyewitness accounts and that renders us absolutely without excuse…

- and the same is true for us today – God has miraculously preserved His Word so we would be able to read exactly what those who lived at the time said and did…

- God is not asking to believe in unconfirmed myths…there are historical facts that deserve a hearing…we would be fools not to pay closer attention…

4. It was attended by signs and wonders – v. 4

- God gave us an incredible number of reasons to want to listen to what He was saying…now, what’s…

D. The point?

- that’s depends, just like it did for the original hearers, on the nature of your spiritual condition this morning…

1. For those who have truly trusted Christ, rejoice in the escape.

- if you know Christ as Savior and Lord, at some point in your life you came to understand the point of the end of verse 2…

- that every transgression and every disobedience will receive a just penalty…

- Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death…

- and the more you understood the holiness of God, and the sinfulness of man…you concluded that there was no way you could possibly earn your salvation by your own works…

- and then you heard about the only way of escape…and you trusted what Christ did on the cross as your only hope…you paid attention to the gospel as it is explained in God’s Word, and you moored your ship tightly to the cross of Christ and the empty tomb and you still consider yourself fortunate to have escaped…

2. For those who have not yet believed, don’t drift by the harbor.

- no one wakes up in a given morning and says – I think I’d like to go to hell today…

- I think I want to reject God today…

- see, I even have it here on my to-do list…

- that’s not the way it generally occurs…it happens by “drifting by the harbor…”

- just like those people in the illustrations we mentioned at the beginning…

- do you think they woke up and said…I’m going to get in a car wreck today --- cmon, let’s go hurt somebody…

- no, they weren’t paying attention…

- and if you are here this morning and you’ve never trusted Christ as savior and Lord, the message could not be clearer…what are you listening to?...what is distracting you?...what is taking your attention off making the most important decision there is to make, while you have the opportunity to make it?...

- well, I need to get my degree first…you’re talking on your cell phone…

- well, I’m pretty busy at work…you’re talking on your cell phone..

- I’ve got a lot of hobbies…I’m working three jobs…blah, blah, blah…

- in a culture where there’s a Bible in every motel room and a steeple on every corner, there will no excuse for drifting by the harbor…wise is the person who listens up while they have the opportunity to do so…

 

- now, here’s a very important question, that very well could lead to a very important point of application…

3. Why “we?”

- did you notice that throughout these first 4 verses?...

- clearly he is addressing those who have chosen not to believe---that will change later in the passage…but these verses are warning those who haven’t been listening up to the gospel --- but why would the writer include himself in that category?...was he saying that he hadn’t believed either?...

- no, he’s doing the same thing as Jesus did…he’s identifying himself with them…there’s a big difference between “you”…and “we…”

- it’s an ethnic identification…not a spiritual one…

- like saying…”my fellow Americans…”

- another way to phrase that is – he’s disagreeing with Cain…do you remember Cain’s famous question when God asked him about the whereabouts of his brother?...Am I my brother’s keeper?...

- and the answer to that question is – “yes”…we do have a responsibility for the spiritual health of those the Lord has placed around us…

 

- and that’s why – if we’re listening up – instead of being distracted by all sorts of things even as believers in Christ…we are going to do everything in our power not to allow the people around us to drift past the harbor…

- we’re not going to neglect so great a salvation, not just for ourselves, but for those the Lord has placed around us…

- the way young people in the youth group at Grace and the kids at CBS relentlessly pursued you…they didn’t want you to drift by the harbor – I am forever indebted to a group of teenagers who were listening up when I was talking on my cell phone…]

- what about family members who don’t know the Lord – it’s true that they can be some of the hardest people to talk to about Christ – but you wouldn’t let your own mom drift by the harbor, would you…

- people who have friends that they see all the time who have never once heard you talk about Christ – what kind of friend is that…you know the car wreck is coming and you wouldn’t love them enough to tell them to get off the phone…you need to moor your ship a whole lot closer to the Word of God and let it get your attention about the things that really matter…this writer thinks that Jesus deserves our attention, and the question before the house this am is, do you agree with that assessment, and is there clear evidence in your life that you are listening up?...

II. Because He Can Help You Fulfill the Purpose – vv. 5-9.

- verses 5-9 are stretching for sure…

- but once you read them carefully and see that he’s talking about human beings, then it all falls into place…

- now, let’s hit a few questions you may have had as we were reading…

- why did the writer begin his quote of the OT in verse 6 by saying – “but one has testified somewhere”…that’s a pretty cavalier way of speaking about the Scripture…

- did he know where the verse he was quoting was found?...

- no, he quoted it perfectly from the version he was using…

- he just didn’t want to draw attention the human writer of that particular passage any more than he wanted to draw attention to himself which is why no one knows who wrote the book of Hebrews…

- doesn’t the term “son of man” in verse 6 refer to Christ?...

- often the term “son of man” refers to Jesus but not always – for example, God often called the prophet Ezekiel “son of man”…

- this whole section is referring back to the Creation mandate in Genesis 1…where God put Adam and Eve in the Garden and He told them to exercise dominion over the plants and the animals and the earth and themselves…the principle is…

A. Man was created to glorify God by ruling the world.

- that meant that our lives were to be filled with order, and beauty, and direction…we were to be dominion havers…

- who submitted ourselves to God’s Word and glorified Him in our relationships, and our work, and our obedience…

- and we could avoid the terror of death by joyfully obeying our God…

- that is why it was such an insidious thing when Satan entered the picture and began trying to undermine God’s Word, and appealing to man’s pride…

- “has God really said”…”you won’t surely die…”

- and remember – Adam and Eve were to be dominion havers – they should have exercised dominion over their lusts, and dominion over their pride, and dominion over this temptation…

- they should have recited the powerful Word of God and thereby exercised dominion over the devil…and he would have fled, and God would have been glorified…

- but they didn’t listen up…they didn’t moor their mental boat to the dock of God’s sufficient Word…and they failed to fulfill the purpose for which they were made…

- that is why it’s so tragic today when men and women have lives that have anything but order, and direction, and answers, and hope…

- instead of subduing the creation…they have been subdued by it…

- people are addicted to pornography on their computers and it makes them so crazy they can hardly fulfill their responsibilities in daily living – why, because they’ve been subdued by their own lusts…

- men and women will wake up this morning hung over, after saying all sorts of words they now wish they could take back, and having done all sorts of deeds that they now regret…why?...because they didn’t subdue the fermented juice of a grape or some other plant…

-  people have financial lives that are completely out of control…[cf. the guy from Indiana who appears to have attempted to fake his own plane crash…]

- now, please note carefully the little phrase in verse 5 – “the world to come…”

B. In “the world to come” that will be man’s position.

- do you like Jeremy Camps song, “there will be a day”?...

- one of the reasons people like you and me can have hope is that in Christ, the day will come where we will fulfill the purpose for which we were created…

- when we will rule and reign with our King, the Lord Jesus Christ…

C. In this age, you can begin to accept that position now.

- the church fits into this in that we have the possibility of being transformed into the kind of people who can begin to live in a way that was consistent with our design…

- because of what Christ has done, it is possible to begin exercising dominion over ourselves and our world in a way that brings glory to God.

- Colossians 1:13 - He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

- 1 Thessalonians 2:12 - we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

- this is another great reason to listen up…this is another way to not neglect so great a salvation…

- and although I believe those words in verse 4 were primarily addressed to those who had not yet believed, the principle applies to people like you and me as well…

- Philippians 2:12-13 - Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

- part of working out your own salvation is learning what God’s purpose is for you on this earth and then joyfully doing it…

- you might say – but this “paying attention to Christ” is hard…

- that’s where these last verses fit into the discussion…

III. Because He Stands Ready to Come to Your Aide – vv. 10-18.

- these verses are just dripping with truth…

A. His suffering, from a human perspective, completed His ability to be your high priest.

- Jesus Christ is the author of your salvation…and He suffered first so that He could bring you to glory…

B. He is not ashamed to call us brethren.

- that is exactly what the end of verse 11 says…

- apply to those who have really messed up…

C. He can even release us from the fear of death.

- Hebrews 2:15 - and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
- someone who can do that is worth paying attention to…

- Did you see how all of this ends?...read v. 16

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video