The purpose of the book of Hebrews is to provide a contrast between the old covenant and the new. Specifically, it shows us how much better everything is under the new covenant of grace. We have a better hope, a better promise, and a better sacrifice. And Christ is the central theme because he was God’s perfect sacrifice, the perfect high priest who has made everything new and better.
Once a month, we come together for the Lord’s Supper. And it’s my intention to explore the book of Hebrews, little by little, whenever we do. I won’t offer an in-depth exposition of the text, but we can at least gain a sense of what Hebrews has to say about our Lord and Savior.
Hebrews 1:1-4 says:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4)
God spoke to his people either directly or through prophets over the course of 4,000 years of human history. The Old Testament Scriptures cover almost 2,000 years of history. He sent prophet after prophet to speak his will. But none of the revelation he provided in those days compares to the revelation that is Jesus Christ.
God himself in the flesh came to this earth. Through Jesus Christ, we have the clearest manifestation of both God’s will and his person. If we want to learn anything about God the Father, we can study the life and character of Christ the Son. He is the heir of all things, meaning, everything is within his sovereign control. According to John in John 1:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3)
This passage goes even further by saying, “He upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb 1:3). If God’s Word, Christ, was ever to cease, if God were to stop speaking, our world and everything in it would also cease.
Perhaps my favorite phrase in this text is the first part of verse 3 where he says, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb 1:3). What does John call Christ? Again, in John 1, he says, “[In Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men” (Jn 1:4). He radiates the glory of God like an incredible light shining through darkness. In fact, John also said, “We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (Jn 1:14).
It was Jesus who made purification for our sins, a subject which the writer of Hebrews will talk about at length.
Today, Jesus sits at the right hand of God. Having accomplished God’s plan for salvation, he has returned to his proper place on the throne. Of course, he deserves the honor. He is God and Lord of the universe. But for a time, he was “made lower than the angels” (Heb 2:9). That’s not to say, however, that he was lower than the angels regarding his honor or authority. He humbly, voluntarily made himself lower, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Php 2:7). But in the end, his name is greater than all the angels.
So even though we look back to his death and crucifixion as we eat this bread and drink this wine, let’s not forget about his victory. He successfully conquered even death. Let’s not forget that Christ reigns supreme.
Preached at Joy Christian Church (Benson, NC) on May 7, 2017, during the Lord’s Supper.