By Mark Scott
Dennis Kinlaw wrote a book entitled Let’s Start with Jesus. It’s a book on our triune God. Instead of starting with the Father or the Spirit (mentioned chronologically first in the Bible—Genesis 1:1, 2), Kinlaw suggests that the best way to understand the Trinity is to actually start with Jesus. Then we will understand our triune God, who is one in essence but three in function, and we will see that our triune God exists in a community of total love.
The Shepherd Church in Porter Ranch, California, hung a huge banner in the front of their worship center for a season that read, “It’s All About Jesus.” It created great focus for the church. The writer of Hebrews would have liked that banner. Last month’s lessons emphasized the sovereignty of God. This month’s lessons emphasize the sovereignty of Jesus. But what is it that makes Jesus sovereign? The writer of Hebrews gives us two answers to that question in our text.
Jesus Is the Best Message
The final exam in my freshman English Grammar class in college was to line diagram Hebrews 1:1-4 from the American Standard Version. We were given three hours. Lines went everywhere, but the idea was quite simple—and profound. The subject was “God”; the predicate was “hath spoken.” And indeed he has.
The writer of Hebrews reminded these Jewish believers of their rich heritage in the Word. God gave his people his message through prophets and prophetesses. A quick perusal through the Old Testament would display the kaleidoscope of ways that God communicated with his people—visions, dreams, object lessons, etc. He did not do this every day, yet it happened at many times.
But there came a special time and way that God gave his message to his people and the world. It was through Jesus. This happened in these last days (a phrase that covers from the time of Jesus’ death to the present moment). The writer of Hebrews gives us eight ways in which Jesus is the best message from God. All eight ways underline Jesus’ sovereignty.
1—Jesus has been appointed (put or placed) heir of all things. Whoever has it all must be sovereign. 2—Jesus is cocreator. Other texts emphasize such (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). 3—Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory. God’s glory was his shining brilliance and his weighty presence. 4—Jesus is the exact representation of his being. We get our English word character from this word representation. 5—Jesus sustains all things. Literally, this means he “bears them up.” 6—Jesus provided purification, which means he cleansed us through what he did on the cross. 7—He sat down. This means his redemptive work was done. 8—He became . . . superior to the angels. The writer goes on to tell us more of what that means in the verses that follow. This prologue of Hebrews is full of Jesus. He is the best message and surpasses all other messages from God.
Jesus Is the Best Messenger
Not only is Jesus the best message from God—he is also the best messenger that God could send. It would seem that some people were caught up in the worship of angels (see also Colossians 2:18). This must have been an important part of their temptation to slip backward since it is mentioned first in the epistle. Angels do occupy an important place in Heaven and in communicating the message of Heaven to people on earth. Hebrews 1:14 refers to angels as ministering spirits sent to those who will inherit salvation. (This can be seen in Acts 8–10.)
Hebrews is the book about better things. Jesus is better than angels, Moses, the law, the priesthood, and the covenant. Angels, at best, are only messengers of Jesus, but Jesus is the best messenger. To underline this point the author clustered several Old Testament passages from the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings (poetry/wisdom books) to emphasize Jesus’ sovereignty over even the angels.
The author quoted Psalm 2:7. Then he drew upon 2 Samuel 7:14. From there he alluded to Deuteronomy 32:43. Finally he quoted Psalms 104:4 and 45:6, 7. Some of these are direct quotations, some use the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and some are mere allusions to make his point. But the point is that Jesus is not just a messenger of God like an angel. He is the messenger of God, whom angels worship.
Dr. Mark Scott teaches Preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri.
Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.
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