Hebrews 13:22-23 ESV
Like many of you, I had a gut feeling when I was a teenager which direction I wanted to go in life. In sixth grade I ran for President of my class. That meant we had to give a speech. While most of the candidates were aghast at the thought of standing up front to give a speech, I was excited about it. I loved every minute of it from preparation to presentation.
I did not win the election, but I won a much greater prize.
I fell in love with public speaking.
In seventh grade I was able to take Speech class and it was everything I had hoped it would be. My Speech teacher was a magnificent orator.
As I aged I also dabbled in theater classes and while it was fun it wasn’t as wonderful as Speech Class.
So it’s no surprise that I have a B. A. In Communication in Speech from the University of Missouri, Columbia.
Seminary added another component to public speaking and raised the bar. Speaking wasn’t just standing in front giving a speech. It was about introducing the sacred text in such a way that it comes to life. It was about apologetics…defending the faith and the text.
It included argumentation but also includes doctrine which is belief or a set of beliefs related to God.
The text in Hebrews 13:22 in the Koine Greek begins with the word parakalō which translates to mean exhort. In the English Standard Version the translators used the word “appeal”. In the Greek it begins with “I exhort”.
In that same verse the text in the ESV goes on to say, “with my word of exhortation.”
So, “I exhort” bear with “my exhortation”.
In English exhortation is defined as to strongly encourage or urge.
Hebrews 13:22-23 tells us, “I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. You should know that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon.”
We get a sense that the author is deeply urging and even pleading the reader to hold fast and support the words written to the Jewish Christians who were living in Jerusalem. The Gentiles are mentioned as well.
We have to remember the setting and the backdrop of the readers of the letter to the Hebrews. In the latter part of the first century, life became very difficult for believers…followers of the WAY of Jesus. The Hebrew brothers and sisters who embraced Jesus as the a Son of God had a hard road to travel. Many who gave up Jewish traditions and beliefs in order to follow Jesus could have lost their place in the family. They made great sacrifices when they gave up the faith they were taught by their parents.
In addition to that, the Roman government that approved and even orchestrated the crucifixion of Jesus was becoming less and less tolerant of the people of the Way.
In the book written by sociologist Rodney Stark he writes about how the followers of Jesus distinguished themselves in the first century, he writes, “No other single innovation had so much impact on history.”
At first glance his statement is a simple statement about how Jesus and His followers changed history.
What is revolutionary is that Jesus started with twelve common ordinary men.
Most of them were simple Jewish fishermen. They were not orators. In their culture they were powerless.
For a moment bear with me, allow me to exhort.
I am a fan of the movie series The Chosen. I love it because it enabled me to see the Gospel message in a new light.
The first time I watched the movie I considered the possibility of Peter being a hot-headed fellow who was constantly sticking his foot in his mouth.
I’d always thought of Peter as the disciple God used to build the church.
The Chosen made me consider who Peter WAS and who he BECAME because of Jesus.
He was ordinary.
Jesus made him extraordinary.
Only Jesus made him extraordinary. Peter did not possess the ability to become extraordinary on his own.
So, let’s put that in the light. Who are you? Are you ordinary? Are you flesh and blood?
You’re no different than Peter. You cannot make yourself to be or even to become extraordinary.
Only Jesus can do that.
Only Jesus can make you extraordinary. But there’s a catch. Just like Peter who had to surrender to Jesus and let Jesus take control, you need to let Jesus take control.
You need to surrender to what God has called you to and who God called you to be. You cannot get there on your own. You are not that powerful.
Only Jesus can open the right doors at the right time in the right way.
You need to let go and let God.
Spiritual Practice: Let go.
Let God do the thing you’ve been called to. Let go and let God bring you to completion. Then you will exhort.
In Jesus, Deborah