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Hebrews 4:12-16

My father’s razor blades were double edged and we boys were warned against their sharpness. To prolong the blades’ lives the top of his razor was marked with an arrow so that each cutting edge could be used in sequence, the second only being used when the first had become too blunt for his beard. These were allegedly the sharpest things in the house, more so even than the ancient bone handled carving knife which was also hedged about with warnings. God’s word is sharper than these: it will divide soul from spirit and will judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

With a family of four boys such a razor would have been most useful. It was ever impossible to get to the bottom of any mischief committed or damage done. “Who did this?” “it wasn’t me it was him!” “No it wasn’t it was Christopher!” “What lies it was Trevor.” and so on to my increasing exasperation and annoyance. the more serious the misdemeanour the more fruitless the search for a culprit would be.

But God knows, all are naked and laid bare; God knows all our true intentions even those that we strenuously try to hide from ourselves - he knows them and this thought is rather frightening.

last week I was given some books from a theological collection and among them was this little red volume of short essays by Dorothy Sayers. in the first essay she makes the very point that Paul made in our extract from his letter to the Hebrews. She says

“Jesus was God. Now this is not a pious commonplace. For what it means is this: that for whatever reason God chose to make man as he is - limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death - he had the honesty and courage to take His own medicine. he has kept his own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself. he has himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family l,ife and the cramping restrictions of hard work, lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat and despair and death. he was born in poverty and died in disgrace and he thought it well worthwhile.”

Or in Paul’s words:

“We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who is in every respect has been tested as we are yet without sin.”

Jesus knows the feelings, tendencies and ills we have because of the incarnation, because he came to earth and lived among us. From the start we have prayed that God will be merciful (thinking especially of the Psalms) but now we have a reason to hope and believe that this will be so. Because Jesus was born, lived and died as we do, we can be BOLD and hold fast to our confession. “For the Lord our God is full of compassion and mercy, as a father is tender towards his children so is the Lord tender to those that fear him.”


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