1:1-2:9 - From the heights of heaven and the depths of suffering, ‘God... has spoken to us by His Son’ (1:1-2). Jesus Christ is God’s ‘Word’ to us. He is ‘the Word’ who came from heaven: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’. He is ‘the Word’ who came to earth: ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...’ (John 1:1-14). In heaven, He is worshipped by angels: ‘Let all God’s angels worship Him’ (1:6). On earth, ‘He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone’ (2:9). We see the greatness of Christ in both His heavenly glory and His saving grace. None can compare with Him. He is our Lord. He is our Saviour. We consider all that He has done for us - ‘the nail marks in His hands...’ - and we worship Him - ‘my Lord and my God’ (John 20:19-20,24-28).
2:10-3:19 - God invites each of us to receive a great blessing - the blessing of being His ‘children’ (2:13). We become God’s children through faith in Christ: ‘To all who received Him, who believed in His Name, He gave power to become children of God’ (John 1:12). What will you do with God’s great invitation, His invitation of love? Will you receive Christ and become a child of God? Will you miss out on the blessing ‘because of unbelief’ (19)? God is waiting for your answer - ‘Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’ (3:7,15). Throughout life, we must guard against ‘an evil, unbelieving heart, leading us to fall away from the living God’. ‘Every day’, we must take care that we do not become ‘hardened by the deceitfulness of sin’ (3:12-13). As God’s children, let’s grow in Christ (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18).
4:1-5:10 - ‘Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’. These words from 3:7,15, are repeated here in 4:7. Make sure that you don’t miss the point! These are words that we need to keep on hearing - again and again. None of us ever reaches a stage where we no longer need to hear and heed God’s words of warning. Reading God’s Word can be a very uncomfortable experience: ‘God’s Word is living and active... God’s Word judges a person’s thoughts and intentions. No creature can hide from God. Everything is uncovered and exposed for Him to see. We must answer to Him’ (4:12-13). This may not be the kind of thing we like to hear. It’s what we need to hear. We will only pray for ‘mercy’ and ‘grace’ when we see how sinful we really are. Then - and only then - will we come to Christ for ‘eternal salvation’ (4:15-16; 5:9).
5:11-6:20 - ‘Let us... go on to maturity’ (6:1). There can be no question of ‘continuing in sin’ - ‘God forbid! How can we who died to sin still live in it?’ (Romans 6:1-2). We are to become ‘mature people, whose minds are trained by practice to know the difference between good and evil’ (5:14). We are to move on to ‘the better things that belong to salvation’ (9). It cannot be taken for granted that every believer will ‘go on to maturity’. Some start so well and then they lose their way somewhere along the line. We should read the words of 6:4-8 as a warning. We can so easily become ‘sluggish’ (6:12). When this wrong attitude sets in, things go from bad to worse. Do you want to become ‘worthless and near to being cursed’ (8)? Take care. Pray for ‘earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope until the end’ (6:11).
7:1-28 - ‘See how great He is!’ (4). These words refer to Melchizedek (1-3; Genesis 14:18-20). Melchizedek has ‘neither beginning of days nor end of life’. He ‘continues a priest for ever’. He ‘resembles the Son of God’. He is ‘like the Son of God’ (3). Let your thoughts move from Melchizedek to the Lord Jesus Christ - ‘See how great He is’! Jesus Christ is ‘the Beginning and the End’ (Revelation 21:6; 22:13). ‘Jesus lives for ever’ and ‘has a permanent priesthood’ (24). He is our great Saviour: ‘He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him’ (25). We look beyond Melchizedek. We look to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. We look to Him and we say, ‘There’s no greater Name than Jesus, Name of Him who came to save us’ (Mission Praise, 684). Let Jesus be your great Saviour. Come to Him and receive His great salvation.
8:1-9:14 - God gave His promise - ‘I will make a new covenant’ (8:8-12; Jeremiah 31:31-34). God has fulfilled His promise. There is now a ‘new covenant in Jesus’ blood’ (Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25). The old covenant cannot even begin to compare with the new covenant. It is only a ‘shadow’. The new covenant is the real thing. It is ‘much more excellent’. It is ‘a better covenant’ (8:5-6). The old covenant is ‘outdated’ (8:13). It’s seen its day. Now, it’s past its ‘sell by date’! We look at the old covenant and we say, ‘There must be more than this’. There is more - ‘much more’. Through ‘the blood of Christ’, ‘our hearts and lives’ have been ‘cleansed’. Now, we can begin ‘to serve the living God’ (9:14). ‘What a wonderful redemption!’ - ‘eternal redemption’ (Mission Praise, 765; 9:12)!
9:15-10:18 - We look back to what Christ has done for us. We look forward to what He will do for us. Looking back and looking forward: These are both found in 9:28 - ‘Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him’. We remember our Saviour. We remember what He has done for us: ‘the Son of God loved us and gave Himself for us’ (Galatians 2:20). We eat bread and drink wine, giving thanks that our Saviour went to the Cross for us - His body broken for us and His blood shed for us. We are not only looking back. We are also looking forward: ‘As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes’ (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Remember - and pray, ‘Come, Lord Jesus!’ (Revelation 22:20).
10:19-11:16 - Are you ‘looking for a better country - a heavenly one’ (16)? ‘God has put eternity into man’s mind’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11). In every human heart, there’s ‘a God-shaped blank’. Jesus came to give us ‘life’ - ‘abundant life’, ‘eternal life’ (John 10:10; 17:3; 1 John 5:11). Without Jesus, our lives are empty. The ‘longing for a better country’ can only be satisfied by Him. He is God’s ‘foretaste of glory divine’ (Mission Praise, 59). Jesus stands at the door of every human heart. He knocks. He waits for our answer. He says, ‘Look, I’m standing at the door and knocking. If anyone listens to My voice and opens the door, I’ll come in...’ (Revelation 3:20). Don’t ‘shrink back’ (39). Invite Him into your heart now.
11:17-12:2 - We read about many people who trusted the Lord. Their faith was real. It changed their lives. As you read of so many people who lived ‘by faith’, let God’s Word challenge you. Bring your own weak faith to Him and ask Him to give you a stronger faith: ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ (Mark 9:24). We learn from so many different people. We read about their faith. We are inspired by their faith. We do not, however, make too much of them. We must always be ‘looking to Jesus’ (2). We must learn the lesson of the transfiguration. We look at Moses. We look at Elijah. We learn from them. There comes a point where they - together with all God’s faithful people - must step aside, leaving us to look up and see ‘Jesus only’ (Mark 9:2-8).
12:3-29 - We are to seek ‘the holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (14). This is not the ‘holiness’ of the Pharisee: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men...’ (Luke 18:11-12). It is the holiness that grows in the hearts and lives of those who have received ‘the grace of God’, those who have prayed, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner’ (15; Luke 18:13). We do not earn ‘the grace of God’ as a reward for our ‘holiness’. Salvation is ‘not our doing, it is the gift of God - not because of works, so that no one can boast’. There is a call to holiness. We are saved ‘for good works’. Before we think about holiness, we must get first things first: ‘By grace you have been saved through faith... for good works’ (Ephesians 2:8-10). We must answer the call to salvation before we can answer the call to holiness.
13:1-25 - ‘Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers’ (1). If the love of Christ is to flow freely among us, there can be no place for ‘us and them’ thinking - ‘He’s not one of us. They’re not our kind of people. They’re strangers - they don’t belong here’. This kind of attitude is a contradiction of the love of Christ. We must remember: ‘Strangers are only friends we’ve never met’. We sing, ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus’ (Mission Praise, 746). Do we show His friendship to strangers? We must never underestimate the importance of a ‘friendly welcome’ (11:31). If there is no ‘friendly welcome’, word will soon get around - ‘They’re not very friendly’! This is not just a matter of saying the ‘right words’. It’s about being the right kind of people - people who care enough to be friendly!