1 “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets,
2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.
3 He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” Hebrews 1:1-4
For some reason we as Christians do not spend as much time in the book of Hebrews as we should. Someone, not long ago, reminded me that “it seems too much Old Testament,” for him, and another friend reminded me that it “had an Old Covenant flair to it.” Well, no disrespect to my two friends, but I’m not sure they are reading the same book of Hebrews as I am reading.
Go back and read the four introductory verses of Hebrews again and contemplate what those verses are telling us about Jesus, and I guarantee you won’t think Hebrews is complicated or out of date.
God spoke to our ancestors, Israel, by the prophets. The Old Testament resonates with the echoes of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and a host of other prophets calling the people back to God. Now, however, the author of Hebrews proclaims God speaks to us not through prophets but through His son Jesus. Verse two explains further who the Son is – He is “the heir of all things,” and the creator of the World.
That is quite a resume to present to the church on behalf of Jesus by our writer. Jesus is not just another prophet in a long line of prophets, but is none other that God, the second person of the Godhead, who comes to us in person. Israel was being informed, just as we are; take Jesus seriously because He is the God of creation and the God of our hearts.
Verse three makes it clear that, “He is the reflection of God’s glory,” and “the exact imprint of God’s very being.” Jesus is not a created being like Isaiah or Joel, but instead He is God. If we are going to understand Hebrews we must understand this point. The whole atonement scenario outlined in the book is of no value if Jesus is not God incarnate. He would not be able to die for us and be our substitute if He was simply like us.
No, Jesus did not have a sinful nature and I am not going to spend hours emailing back and forth with a number of you over the issue. Let me just say that if Jesus had a sinful nature like us He could not, and would not, be our savior. One sinner by nature cannot be the substitute for another sinner by nature.
Remember, the New Testament is a reversal of the Old Testament in that the failures of Adam are being repudiated and replaced by the perfect obedience, life, sacrifice, and redemption of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. The New Testament knows nothing of Jesus our example that lives a perfect life as an example to us on how we also can live a perfect life of obedience. Jesus comes to us, instead, as our Lord and Savior—our substitute.
The whole point of the New Testament, and the Old Testament, is that we can’t be perfect, we can’t perfectly overcome our sins and sinful natures. But, by faith in Jesus perfect plan of salvation for us as demonstrated at the cross, we are offered the promise of eternal life. The whole point of the book of Hebrews is that Jesus is our great High Priest interceding on our behalf and what gives Him that right is the sacrifice at Calvary.
Now, before I get another load of emails attacking me on saying that we can’t be perfect, remember, I am not saying we don’t walk the Christian life. I’m simply saying to anyone who is truly honest with themselves you know you do not live perfectly in thought, action, or deed. You know, unless you’re totally delusional, that you sin every day regardless of your best intentions. But the wonder of Scripture is God loves you anyway.
God’s love is not based upon how good you are or how hard you try, but instead is based simply upon His never ending, unconditional love for you. This is what Hebrew’s is about. I’m not making this up, notice the last part of verse three, “When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High.” It is Jesus who makes purification for sins—not me.
Notice what He did after the cross event when He returned to Heaven, “He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on High.” He sat down in the Most Holy Place at the right hand of the Father and He could do that because the sacrifice was accepted on our behalf.
I wish to digress again for just a moment because of something that a number of Christians believe and that is that Jesus could have failed in His mission to save us. These brothers and sisters believe that Jesus somehow could have been overcome with temptation and fallen. They believe that otherwise it would be unfair to expect us to be perfect if He couldn’t have suffered like us and been tempted like us.
Really? God, the creator of the Universe, the sustainer of all things, the exact “reflection of God’s glory,” and “the exact imprint of God’s very being,” as well as being the heir of all glory could have failed? That is a very low view of God. Remember God is all knowing, all-powerful, all wise, and ever present and yet somehow we think a desire to sin could defeat Him! We really think that the God who breathed the world into existence would be tempted by chasing Mary Magdalene down the street? Jesus didn’t come to fail—He came to redeem us.
The idea of Jesus sitting at the right hand of God had significance for the people of the New Testament times, as that was the place of power in court. We still use the phrase, “he’s her right hand man.” When Jesus ascended to Heaven, He in a very real sense carried us to Heaven with Him. His acceptance by the Father is the assurance of our acceptance by the Father.
I need to say one last thing before I close; God the Father is not some cosmic bully sitting up in Heaven waiting to drop the hammer on anyone who makes mistakes or sins. Jesus didn’t die to make the Father love us; He died because the Father loved us already. Jesus is the unifier that brings us together. Later in Hebrews we will read that we can come boldly into the Father’s presence, something that even the priests couldn’t do under the Old Covenant.
I hope and pray that you will have as much fun and comfort from our study of Hebrews as I do studying and reading and writing about it.