A Retake On Hebrews 3:1 (Transfiguration)
Hebrews 3:1 "Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession ... "
The preacher here addresses the baptized gathered for eucharistic worship. (That is the definition of the church.) They are "holy brothers." But this is not simply a religious or collegial address, but a recognition of who the baptized are in Christ. We are made holy / hagioi, made like God, by holy baptism; and we are brothers / adelphoi by virtue of eating the same meal at the Father’s table. This is why it is such a horrible fate to forfeit one’s place at the family table by unrepentant sin; or by losing one’s appetite for the Pearls of God.
The heavenly calling here spoken of is the call to the altar by way of the font. The privilege and grace bestowed upon us in that we are permitted to be here, on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus.
And what of the admonition to “consider Jesus"?
“Consider” or even “carefully consider” is not the right translation of “katanoeo”. Rather it is to recognize!
To recognize Jesus here among us, as the Emmaus disciples did who “recognized him in the breaking of the bread.” (Luke 24)
“Katanoeo” is to identify Jesus in, with and under the Bread and Wine; even as we lead the church to do when we elevate the host and cup.
Katanoeo / “consider” is to see, with the eyes of faith. To see what is inside the cloud. To see Jesus here among us as we “re-enact” the Transfiguration event by this Holy Communion each week. It is to share in his glory, to be taken into the divine cloud with Moses, Elijah, Peter, James and John and all the saints of the ages. It is to hear the voice of God coronating Jesus as HIS apostle, and OUR High Priest.
Jesus was “apostled” / sent by God to bring atonement to his sinful and rebellious children. He [Jesus] is the anointed Savior, there is no other. Hear him when he says: the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt. 20:28) He won redemption for us on the cross: behold! God’s Lamb! who takes away the sin of the world. Who cleanses us, his church, and renders her spotless and without blemish; free of every stain of the sin that so easily besets us. “You are clean by the Word I have spoken to you,” says Jesus.
Moreover he is our High Priest. We should be clear on this fact. That the Jesus we worship here is not the historical Jesus of the past, but the heavenly High Priest who sits at the right hand of the Father, the one who will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. The Lord who intercedes for us constantly before the throne of the Father: as we read in Hebrews 7:25 that "Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us." And in Romans 8:34 that "Christ Jesus our Lord intercedes for us at the Right Hand of God."
That exalted Jesus! is the one whom Christians worship, and wish to make known to the world; a mission we are performing at this very time.
And what is mean by the High Priest of our confession?
St. Paul could just as well have said: the High Priest of our liturgy. That is Jesus, who is the subject and object of Christian liturgy, and in fact our very own “liturgist” in whom, and through whom, we give ourselves altogether over to our God. Our rebellion is over. Like the demoniac in Mark 5 we are now clothed and in our right minds, at peace at long last sitting before the altar of the Most High.
Yes, liturgy! Worship. But the two are not in competition. Because confession is not simply the verbal acclamation of a series of doctrinal propositions. But confession is worship, is liturgy, and liturgy and worship are confession.
To pray: Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy is to confess as much as it is to pray. To pray the Lord's Prayer is much to confess as it is to pray. There is no distinction between prayer and confession, they are one and the same.
v. 6 " But Christ was faithful as a Son over his house; whose house we are if we hold fast to our confidence, and the hope of which we boast.”
The “confidence” and “hope of which we boast” is the Eucharist. Holy Communion. Jesus truly present among his church in his glorified flesh. The Body and Blood of Christ we take into ourselves, and by which we become partakers of the Transfiguration event each Sunday. By which we enter into his glory, here in time, and there in eternity.