I read this week’s lectionary passages last summer in the Urubamba Valley in my native Peru, and in my native Spanish: “Pero Cristo ya vino, y ahora el es el Sumo sacerdote . . .” At first I resisted the Hebrews passage, as I prefer Jesus’ concrete teachings to more abstract theological concepts. So, while leading a tour group across the Andes, I turned to Mark: “And man must love God with all his heart and with all his mind and with all his strength; and he must love his neighbor as he loves himself.”
The atmosphere is not one of lively and amiable scholarly debate; it is hostile, and the intent is to discredit Jesus. Much is at stake—Jesus’ authority, his role and his identity. Tom Long has called this Jesus’ final exam, because it will be this test that ultimately dooms Jesus in the minds of the scholarly authorities.