“Hold on to Jesus.” Ever heard that said before? Ever given that counsel before? “Hang in their man, keep holding on to Jesus!” I think I’ve offered up such advice on more than one occasion.
But something I read in Hebrews 2 this morning, followed by a bit of digging into the original language, makes me wonder if — though holding on to Jesus might be good counsel — telling others that Jesus is holding on to them might be better counsel.
For surely it is not angels that [Jesus] helps, but He helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore He had to be made like His brothers in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because He Himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.
(Hebrews 2:16-18 ESV)
God’s Son, the appointed Heir of all things, the One through whom all things were created, the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of God’s being, the One who upholds the universe by His power (1:1-3), partook of flesh and blood (2:14), identifying Himself as part of the family of man, experiencing suffering as we experience suffering, in order to become a merciful and faithful high priest, to not only rescue us from death but also to help us through life.
That’s a mouthful. That’s a brainful. Pause, and noodle on it just a bit, and it becomes a heartful. For it is jaw-dropping wonderful. Amen?
In the midst of it all, I ended up chewing on the word help as it ignited my taste buds (as in “taste and see that the Lord is good” – Ps. 34:8).
Help in verse 18 has, in the original, the idea we’d expect it would. To relieve, to rescue, to support, to bring aid. Jesus is able to help. Not only able, but ready and willing. That’s why we encourage others to hold on to Jesus.
But the word translated “help” in verse 16 is a different word. The literal translation is “lay hold of” as in, “He takes hold of the offspring of Abraham.” He seizes them in order to rescue them from peril. So, beyond holding on to Jesus, might we not also encourage one another with the reminder that He’s holding on to us? I’m thinkin’ . . .
In my mind, it shifts seeing Jesus as some passive aid-giver waiting in the wings until we ask for His help to One who is actively engaged, proactively taking hold of us even as He lives in us and through us. That He is ever moving towards us to bring aid, even before we realize we need to be moving towards Him in search of assistance. Advocating for us even before we’re aware we need to cry out for ourselves. Not surprised or disappointed when again our weak flesh compromises our willing spirit, but anticipating it, having experienced it “yet without sin” (4:15), and compassionately, willingly, actively taking hold of us through His all-powerful, ever-present, never-changing, unfailing Spirit.
It’s not angels He lays hold of, but it’s us — Spirit-born children of Abraham by faith and for faith.
Hold on to Jesus? For sure! But know, weary saint, He holds on to you.
O, what a Savior!
All by grace. All for His glory.