“Pay Attention!” These are the words that stop us in our tracks — children, athletes, students and employees alike heed these infamous words.
In the letter to the Hebrews, the author calls the recipients to “pay much closer attention to what [they had] heard” because they were in great danger of drifting from the truth (Hebrews 2:1). The author goes on to say that if “such a great salvation” was neglected, a “just retribution” was the inevitable result (Hebrews 2:2).
What were these original hearers in danger of neglecting and how should we heed these words as we prepare for Easter this year?
They were in danger of neglecting the benefits of salvation. Adoption, justification, redemption, reconciliation, freedom, forgiveness, fellowship, union, inheritance and many more are benefits that Jesus gives to all who trust Him. To neglect these benefits is not only a devaluing of the gifts, but of the Gift Giver as well. One of the church’s tasks is to frequently help one another remember the great benefits of salvation by remembering the Benefactor.
They were in danger of neglecting the responsibilities of salvation. It would seem foolish to hire a new employee, enlist them in a full benefits package — pay, insurance and vacation days — only to have the new employee never do the work they were hired to do. The book of Hebrews, and the entire Scripture for that matter, consistently shows how God acts on behalf of a people and then sets them apart. Salvation was always meant to bless all people. To neglect the responsibilities that come with salvation is, in essence, to say, “Give me Your benefits, God, but I reject Your will.”
They were in danger of neglecting the supremacy of Jesus in salvation. The entire letter to the Hebrews is a plea for them to see that Jesus is greater than angels, Moses, death, the Levitical priesthood, the Old Covenant, heroes of the faith, Mount Sinai and anything else they would be tempted to turn to. Look at how all of the themes of the Old Testament Scriptures flow to and then through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
More than anything else this Easter, commit to what the author of Hebrews tells us to do. “[Look] to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus held the benefits and responsibilities of communion with the Father in perfect tension. The author says that in doing so, we’ll see the One, “who, for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is [now] seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Did you catch that? What are the benefits? A joyful crown. What are the responsibilities? A shameful cross. His perfection is what is offered to us as a gift. When we receive His life, He, through His Spirit, will transform us to live more like Him. The benefits empower the responsibility.
This Easter, let’s help one another to pay attention to the good news of the gospel. When we internalize both the benefits and responsibilities of the gospel, our joy naturally leads to gospel conversations in everyday life.
Jesus has accomplished a great salvation and He is worth the responsibility that comes with it. In the scope of eternity, the benefits far exceed any cost to us. Look to Jesus until you are stunned by His greatness over anything else. Then enter into each day bearing the responsibility that comes with the benefits He has secured for all who trust Him. For “…how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3).
EDITOR’S NOTE: Josh Reed is the senior consultant for Adult Evangelism and Discipleship team. For more information on Gospel Conversations training, go to ncbaptist.org/event-gospel-conversations-training/.