Today we find two main thoughts – verses 1-6 and 7-13. In the first part we bring to a crescendo good vs. better. The old temple was good but the new, real one is better. The old priests were good but the new one is better. The old covenant was good but the new one is better. Our writer has meticulously used 7 preceding chapters to encourage us to look back to those really early days and ask ourselves where we stand in our devotion to Jesus…or, said maybe differently: is Jesus as central to our lives as the writer of Hebrews wanted him to be for his readers. Cyndi got me thinking about this in her comment the other day when she challenged herself and me about real following. If Jesus is really better than the temple, the priesthood…everything…how much more is he better than the things which create distractions?
And so we move into the second half of today’s passage. I don’t know about you but I hear our author having what might equate to x-ray vision – being able to “see” or plumb the depths of humanity and put into words that no one is able to meet the terms of the contract so to speak. Every day each one of us is able to look into our own individual mirrors and know at the deepest level that we can’t live up to our end of any covenant that requires obedience to laws or rules. And it is here where our author adapts words of Jeremiah when he writes about the new covenant – one that replaces the old one made with Moses. This new covenant is different…it is an inward reality…you won’t find it written on the books for it is now “written” on the minds and hearts of the people. No one has to think of approaching an unknown God, rather “they will all know me”. These are words of divine kindness and grace…mercy and forgiveness. This is how we know the real meaning of “better”. This is the promise.
Throughout the human race are the realities of sin, guilt, broken promises…but through our author, we know that this is clearly not the last word – we know it as old news, outdated, obsolete. What we do know is “better” – the word our author of Hebrews uses more than in any other book in the New Testament…better…the new covenant in Jesus! Better!!