Christ is Superior to the Prophets Part 2 – Hebrews 1:2b-3
Pastor Mark Hardy November 30, 2014
Henry G. Bosch, the founder of Our Daily Bread and one of its first writers, penned these words: Socrates taught for 40 years, Plato for 50, Aristotle for 40, and Jesus for only 3. Yet the influence of Christ’s 3-year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who were among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity. Jesus painted no pictures; yet, some of the finest paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci received their inspiration from Him.
Jesus wrote no poetry; but Dante, Milton, and scores of the world’s greatest poets were inspired by Him. Jesus composed no music; still Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, and Mendelssohn reached their highest perfection of melody in the hymns, symphonies, and oratories they composed in His praise. Every sphere of human greatness has been enriched by this humble Carpenter of Nazareth.” Over the last 2000 years the question has been repeated asked, “Who was this uneducated Carpenter that has had a greater effect on the world than all of the rulers, kings, emperors, conquerors, generals, admirals, scholars, scientists and philosophers who have ever lived put together?” Some say He was merely a man but a good teacher or a prophet. Some say He was a religious fanatic and a political revolutionary. While others say He was nothing but a liar, a lunatic and a criminal.
However, in the opening three verses of the Epistle to the Hebrews, which is a kind of summary of the superiority of Jesus Christ that is maintained throughout the entire letter, we see a beautiful picture of who He really was and is as the God-Man, 100% God and 100% man. In stark contrast to the Old Testament prophets, great as they were, God has now spoken to us in His Son, who is the full and final revelation of God. This morning we are going to see what He was like. Turn in your Bible to Hebrews 1.
In Hebrews 1:2b-3 we see a series of seven truths about the Son of God that not only bring out His greatness, but also show why He is the climax of God’s revelation and is superior to everyone and everything.
The first truth about the Son is that He is:
I. The Messianic Inheritor
A. Look at v. 2: in these last days [God] has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, (Stop there)
1. Since sons are naturally heirs, the text naturally flows from sonship to heirship. The title “heir of all things” is one of dignity and shows that Jesus Christ has the supreme place in the universe.
2. Here the author echo’s messianic Psalm 2 and is referring to the Lord’s “Anointed” (v. 2) and “Son” (v. 7). Speaking of the Messiah in v. 8 the Father says to the Son, “Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession.”
3. As the only Son of God, Jesus is the heir of all that God possesses. Although He has not yet fully entered into the possession of His inheritance, His messianic office is fully assured.
4. In Colossians 1:16 Paul not only explains that “by Him” and “through Him” all things were created,” but also all thing has been created “for Him.” And in Romans 11:36 he states that “…from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.”
5. In other words, everything that exists exists for Jesus Christ. What truth better proves His equality with God?
6. As the Creator, He is heir to the earth, the entire universe and the new creation to come; and as the Redeemer, His personal inheritance is His redeemed people (Eph. 1:18).
7. And as His people, we enjoy the privileges of being the sons and heirs of God only because we are “in Christ” by faith. For Romans 8:17 says that we too are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”
8. Since Christ alone is “heir of all things,” and we are “in Him,” we too are heirs of all. When we one day enter into His eternal kingdom we will jointly possess all that He possesses.
9. The second truth about the Son is that He is:
II. The Almighty Creator
A. Look again at v. 2: through whom also He made the world.
1. Having introduced the Son’s superiority as “heir of all things,” the author’s thought naturally moves to Christ’s supremacy as the Creator of everything. Here we see that the pre-existent Son of God was the agent through whom God created the world.
2. The term “world” here refers to time, space, energy, and matter—the entire universe and everything that makes it function. John 1:3 declares, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”
3. Whether it is the farthest reaches of deep space or the smallest microscopic particle, everything that exists was created by Him and through Him. Again Colossians 1:16 states, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.
4. Therefore, to speak of Jesus Christ as the Almighty Creator describes a function of Deity that no human prophet has the ability to perform. He is God in human flesh!
5. The third truth about the Son is that He is:
III. The Divine Radiator
A. Look at v. 3: And He is the radiance of His (i.e. the Father’s) glory… (Stop there)
1. The word “radiance” occurs only here in the New Testament and means ‘to send forth light.” And the “glory” of God is the full manifestation of His attributes.
2. Here we see that the shining forth of the Shekinah glory of God radiated from Jesus Christ. The same Shekinah glory that dwelt in the Tabernacle and the Temple (Ex. 40:34-38; 1 Kgs. 8:10), which signified the very presence of God in the midst of His people.
3. Since Jesus is God, He radiated His own essential glory, but it was also the Father’s. As the divine Radiator, Christ shone forth to the world the very essence and character of God.
4. Christ is to the Father what the rays of the sun are to the sun. Just as it is impossible to separate the rays from the sun, so it is also impossible to separate Christ’s glory from the glory of the Father.
5. This is what John proclaimed in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (Verse 14) “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
6. And Jesus’ essential glory was clearly displayed on the Mount of Transfiguration when according to Matthew 17:2-5 “…and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them (i.e. Peter, James and John), talking with Him (i.e. Jesus). Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.”
7. God makes it very clear that His Son, Jesus Christ, is far superior to even two of the greatest prophets. He alone is the One to listen to because He is the God-Man.
8. The fourth truth about the Son is that He is:
IV. The Perfect Representor
A. Look again at v. 3: and the exact representation of His (i.e. the Father’s) nature, (Stop there)
1. The one Greek word translated “exact representation” also occurs only here in the New Testament. The term was used for a mark stamped on a thing or the image on a die or a seal that was impressed on a coin.
2. Here we see that Jesus is the perfect imprint or representor of the nature and essence of God. He not only manifested the Father’s character, but also was and is one substance with Him.
3. This is why Jesus could say to Philip in John 14:9, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’”
4. Paul said about Christ in Colossians 1:15, “He is the image of the invisible God.” The word “image” here means a precise copy, an exact reproduction.
5. Jesus is fully God and when we see Him we see what the Father is like—how He thinks, how He acts, how He talks, and how He relates. And yet, Jesus is also a distinct Person.
6. This is what John meant when he said in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God…” All of this is bound up in with the mystery of the Trinity.
7. Bottom line, God has said everything He has to say and given His full and final revelation in His Son, Jesus Christ; He has no P.S. This is because Colossians 2:9 says, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.”
8. The fifth truth about the Son is that He is:
V. The Powerful Carrier
A. Verse 3 goes on to say: and upholds all things by the word of His power.
1. Jesus Christ not only created all things and will someday inherit all things, but He also “upholds all things” in the meantime. The idea expressed in the word “upholds” is dynamic, not static.
2. Jesus is not like Atlas who is pictured as supporting the dead weight of the world on his shoulders. The word “upholds” is more than just sustaining or maintaining the universe, it also includes movement and refers to carrying all things forward on their appointed course toward the fulfillment of God’s plan.
3. And since the term is in the present tense, it indicates continuous action. In other words, “all things”—the totality of the entire universe would come unglued and go nowhere if it were not for the continuous upholding and supervision of Jesus Christ.
4. This is clearly stated in Colossians 1:17, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”
5. Imagine what would happen if for a brief moment Jesus relinquished His active power over the laws of the universe? For example, if he suspended the law of gravity we would all be hurled off into space and perish.
6. What if He slowed down the rotation of the earth or allowed the earth to get closer or farther away from the sun? We all would either burn up or freeze to death.
7. And what if He let the moon not retain its exact distance from the earth? This would cause the ocean tides to flood the land twice daily and drown everyone.
B. The Son of God upholds all things! But notice how He does this— “…by the word of His power.”
1. The term “word” here refers to His spoken word. This word, which is an expression of His will, is powerful and always brings about its intended purpose.
2. It is by the power of His spoken word that Jesus Christ not only created the universe (Gen. 1; Heb. 11:3), but He also sustains, maintains and carries it forward toward the consummation of His sovereign purpose. Only God can do that!
3. The sixth truth about the Son is that He is:
VI. The Priestly Purifier
A. Look again at v. 3: When He had made purification of sins, (Stop there)
1. This is the most brief but comprehensive statement in all of Scripture of Christ’s atoning work on the cross at His first coming. Although the Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), it goes on to say that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
2. As the incarnate God in human flesh, Jesus came to die as our substitute on the cross. He took upon Himself the holy wrath of God against sin that we deserved and paid in full the penalty for our sins.
3. Titus 2:14 says that Jesus Christ “…gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”
4. The word “purification” refers to the removal of sin by Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice of Himself at Calvary. The aorist tense of the word “purification” designates this as a definite act performed once for all time; and the middle voice of the term indicates that the Son made purification for sins in Himself as the sacrifice.
5. Hebrews 9:22 tells us, “…and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” And 1 John 1:7 states, “…the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
6. Therefore, by the one act of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross the defilement of sins was removed forever. Now although the word “priest” is not used here, this strongly implies that God’s Son is a Priest, which will be explained in detail in chapters 7-10.
7. Jesus is both the Sacrifice and the Priest. He alone has dealt with man’s sin problem once for all time, for those who have received Him as their personal Savior and Lord by faith.
8. The seventh truth about the Son is that He is:
VII. The Exalted Ruler
A. Look at the end of v. 3: When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
1. The marvelous thing about this statement is that Jesus, the perfect High Priest, “sat down.” This is in stark contrast to the Old Testament Levitical priests who had to constantly offer sacrifices for themselves and for the people.
2. No Old Testament priest could ever sit down while performing his duties because his task was never finally accomplished. This is why there were no seats in the Tabernacle or the Temple.
3. Even once a year when the high priest entered the Holy of Holies to bear the sacrificial blood before the mercy seat he had bells sewn on the borders of his garment, so that people could hear him moving inside and know that he had not been struck dead.
4. However, Jesus’ one sacrifice was totally different! It was once for all time and then He sat down. The fact that He “sat down” after making “purification of sins” indicates that His atoning work on the cross was complete (Heb. 7:27; 9:12-14, 26).
5. This is why He cried out in John 19:30, “It is finished.”
6. And notice that the place where Christ sat down was at the “right hand of the Majesty on high.” The phrase “Majesty on high” is a reference to God Himself in all His awesome greatness.
B. Now the fact that Jesus sat down at His Father’s right hand signifies at least six things:
1. First, it was Christ’s exaltation to the place of highest honor. In Philippians 2:9-11 we read, “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
2. Second, it was Christ’s exaltation to the position of supreme authority. After His resurrection and ascension, Jesus sat down on the throne of God as the exalted Ruler (8:1; 10:12:12:2).
3. This depicts a victorious Savior who is actively ruling over history as the sovereign Lord until all of His enemies have been subdued.
4. Psalm 110:1 says: The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
5. In 1 Corinthians 15:25 we read, “For He must reign until he has put all His enemies under His feet.”
6. We are told in 1 Peter 3:22, “Who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.”
7. And one day after taking back the earth that is rightfully His as the King of kings and Lord of lords, Revelation 11:15 states, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”
8. Third, it is also the position of Christ’s subordination to the Father. We read in 1 Corinthians 15:27-28: For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.”
9. Fourth, it was a posture of rest. The atoning work of Christ has been completed. Hebrews 10:11-12 states, “Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD.”
10. Fifth, it is the place from which Jesus now intercedes for all of us who belong to Him. We are told in Romans 8:34, “Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”
11. And Hebrews 7:25 says that “…He always lives to make intercession for (us).”
12. Sixth, it is the place from which Jesus, as our Great High Priest, continually dispensing mercy, grace, and help to us in time of need. For Hebrews 4:14-16 says, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
C. What a beautiful picture of Jesus Christ! In these seven truths about the Son of God we see that He is far more than a mere man.
1. Jesus Christ is the God-Man, who is the Messianic Inheritor, Almighty Creator, Divine Radiator, Perfect Representor, Powerful Carrier, Priestly Purifier, and Exalted Ruler.
2. In these three opening verses of Hebrews we have seen the threefold character of the Son’s messianic office set before us:
• He is a Prophet through whom God has spoken His full and final word to us.
• He is a Priest who has accomplished the perfect work of purification for our sins and is now interceding on our behalf.
• He is a King who sits enthroned at the right hand of the Majesty on high controlling and sustaining everything He has created.
3. Jesus Christ is truly superior to the prophets. He is supreme over everyone and everything, because He alone is God Himself in human flesh.
4. No wonder the apostle Paul said to the Corinthian church regarding his preaching in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”
In closing, let me ask you this morning: Is Jesus Christ supreme in your life today? Or have you put someone or something before Him? If He isn’t, then when you encounter various trials (Jam. 1:2) you will not be able to stand against them and grow through them.
Leonardo da Vinci was a wonderful painter, and one of his masterpieces was The Last Supper, which has been called the most perfect composition in the history of painting in all ages. It was painted on a convent wall, and the artist put all his talent into it. Even the cup the Lord used he painted as a perfect and ornate golden vessel richly set with jewels. When he completed the picture he admitted a few of his friends to see it.
“What a wonderful cup!” they exclaimed, “How it sparkles! Such a cup was never painted before.” Immediately Leonardo splashed some dark colored paint over the glittering chalice and made it look like an ordinary cheap vessel. He made it clear to them that the glory of Christ, and not the beauty of the cup, must be the central object of his great work. He wanted everyone to know that in all things Jesus Christ must be pre-eminent.
May this be true in our lives as well! For only then will we not shrink back and turn away from Him when trials come.
All things find their purpose and meaning only as they relate to Him.