Jesus is supreme! That's the argument of Hebrews 1 (and the whole book). He is superior to Old Covenant prophets, to Moses, to the Law of Moses. He is the King, He is the Son, He is God - an astonishing thing to hear from a first century Jewish writer!
The writer gives us a very clear, direct application in 2:1-4: if all this is true, don't drift away. I like the image. Like a boat that is unsecurely tied up, which ever so gently drifts away down river while nobody is paying attention. The owner coming down the river bank to the jetty only to see his boat disappearing downstream.
You can turn away from God by direct, downright apostasy. But its much more common for it to happen by drift. Drift is so imperceptible - and that is its danger. It usually only becomes apparent when it receives public notice, and by that point it is often too late to do anything about it.
Why on Earth would Christians drift from this supreme King Jesus? And how does it happen? The writer gives two reasons:
- not paying attention - just getting distracted
- ignoring this great salvation - distraction leads to other things simply being more important and time-consuming, so that people end up simply editing salvation out of their every day thinking
That is the pattern of drift. What starts off as not paying attention to salvation ends up as ignoring it. The best list of reasons for drift is given by Jesus in Mark 4: Satan stops people hearing God's word, trouble or persecution make Jesus seem less appealing, the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, desires for material possessions all choke off our attention through distraction.
There are terrible sanctions for ignoring the gospel. V2 say that if there were severe penalties from God for despising the Law given through angels, the penalty for despising the great salvation of Jesus will be greater. Here is the shock: the writer isn't talking about really-obvious God-haters, just about people who drift. People who say "I'm not terribly anti-God, I even go to church sometimes, I just don't give him much thought any more." Gordon Fee puts it well: people who detach themselves from public profession [of the gospel] until it ceased to have any influence on their lives.
That makes me think about me - what influence will it have on my life today? Right now. Will I worship Jesus today? Will I speak about him? Will I flee sin? Will I be conscientious in my work life for his honour? Will I love my wife well and honour my marriage because the gospel is active in my life?
And it makes me think of my church - what influence will it have on their lives today? Will it be any? Or will it be minimal?
And it makes me think about my Bible preaching on Sunday - will it actually cause the gospel to influence? That's the purpose of preaching - that people will not ignore, will pay careful attention to the gospel in their lives, and that their lives (and mine) might be gospel lives this week.