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  • Writer's pictureWayne Shelton

The Book of Hebrews - The Power of The Blood


Hebrews 9:15-28


In his commentary on the letter to the Hebrews, Richard Phillips recounts one of the greatest speeches ever given. The speech was delivered by Mark Antony, who was consul of Rome in 44 B.C. The occasion was the funeral of Julius Caesar, who had ruled Rome until his assassination that year (We saw the location of Julius Caesar’s assassination while in Rome). Phillips notes that “The members of the senate who had killed Caesar, led by Marcus Brutus, forbade Antony from stirring up the crowds, but they did permit him to give the traditional funeral eulogy. We do not have the record of Antony’s speech, but we do have William Shakespeare’s immortalization in his play Julius Caesar.” Phillips records portions of Antony’s speech while adding some commentary:


“Antony began: Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.’ But praise Caesar he did. In the speech, Antony dealt with the main accusation against Caesar and the justification for his murder, namely, that he was ambitious and therefore dangerous to the nation. He recounted Caesar’s triumphs for the sake of Rome, his compassion for the poor, and his refusal to accept the kingly crown when it was three times offered to him. ‘Was this ambition?’ he asked. ‘Yet Brutus says he was ambitious; and Brutus is an honorable man.’ At that point the crowd started to go Antony’s way, and the conspirators became increasingly alarmed. Then Antony struck the match that set the people aflame. ‘Here’s a parchment with the seal of Caesar,’ he continued. ‘I found it in his closet; ‘tis his will. If only the people knew what was in the will,’ he said, ‘they would race forward to kiss dead Caesar’s head.’ ‘We’ll hear the will!’ they cried. ‘Read it, Mark Antony.’


     “Under Shakespeare’s masterful hand, Antony gathered the mob around the corpse of Caesar to hear his last will and testament. He descended from the platform to stand in their midst. ‘If you have tears,’ he warned, ‘prepare to shed them now.’ Then pointing out the various wounds upon the body, he recited the names of the conspirators, assigning a wound to each and working the crowd into a fever pitch. Then, only then, Antony opened the will, under Caesar’s seal: ‘To every Roman citizen he gives… seventy-five drachmas…. Moreover, he hath left you all his walks, his private arbors, and new-planted orchards, on this side Tiber; he hath left them you, and to your heirs forever – common pleasures, to walk abroad and recreate yourselves.’ At the news of such a magnificent will and testament, their own inheritance from Caesar, the crowd broke forth in mutiny, putting to flight the senate and its conspirators out of the gates of Rome.” (pp. 309-10)


“Few things stir up gratitude like a generous inheritance,” remarked Phillips. History records that Caesar left each Roman citizen two and a half months of wages, and that used up only one quarter of his total wealth, the rest of which went to his adopted son and heir, Octavius.


Our passage this week records another inheritance, also left for a vast host of beneficiaries. It is both freedom from the condemnation of sin and everlasting life. The one who left this last will and testament is Jesus Christ, God’s own Son and heir, who died so that we might live. Again, Phillips remarks, “Mark Antony pointed out the wounds of Caesar, from which so many gold coins flowed for the people; we may point out the wounds of Christ, by which our eternal souls are redeemed, and through which flowed the blood that washes away our sins.”


Such generous love of Christ our Lord should generate within us great love and wonder and hope. What gratitude should mark our lives for the One who gave his body for us. Come and join us this week as we continue our study in the letter to the Hebrews on ‘The Power of the Blood’ from chapter 9 verses15-28.


This Sunday we will also recognize our high school and college graduates:


· Congrats to our high school graduates: Jonah Byrd, Henley Nicholson, Elliott Powell, J.T. Pritchett, & Sarah Spivey.

· Congrats to our college graduates: Hayden Finney (UAB, December) and Lilly Prince (BSC).

 

In Christ’s Name,


Pastor Wayne

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