A Systematic Expository on the book of Hebrews
STUDY 2: THE SEVENFOLD PRESENTATION OF CHRIST’S EXCELLENCIES
Hebrews 1: 2 - 3
In the Old Testament, God revealed Himself to man through the prophets. Yet, even the prophets did not fully understand God’s revelation, “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified before hand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things...” (1 Peter 1: 10-12) In Jesus Christ, God’s revelations are both understood and fulfilled. Jesus Christ is the supreme and the final revelation. God has fully expressed Himself in His Son. The woman at the well told Jesus, “I Know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, HE WILL TELL US ALL THINGS” (John 4: 25). She knew that when the Messiah arrives, He would unfold the full and final revelation of God, as indeed He did. In the first one and a half verses of Hebrews, our first study, the Holy Spirit established the pre- eminence of Jesus Christ over all the Old Testament, over its message, it methods, and its messengers. Christ’s superiority is established. He is greater than the prophets for He is the embodiment of all the truth revealed through them. God has fully expressed Himself in Christ. In the brief but potent section (Hebrews 1: 2, 3) for study today, the Holy Spirit exalts Christ as the full and final expression of God. Here is the sevenfold presentation of the excellencies of Jesus Christ.
CHRIST, THE HEIR OF ALL THINGS
Hebrews 1: 2; Matthew 21: 37, 38; Mark 12: 6, 7; Luke 20: 13, 14; John 3: 35; 13: 3; 16: 15.
Christ, as the Son of God, is the Heir of all things that God possesses. An heir is one who inherits anything from its possessor, usually his father. Jesus as Heir of God, the Father, shows the rank and dignity of Christ as the Son of God. As the Son of God, He is possessor or Lord of all things. “All things that the Father hath are mine” (John 16: 15). All things belong to the Son of God. Who is so rich, then, as Christ? Who is able to endow his friends with enduring and abundant wealth? Everything that exist exists for Jesus Christ. Everything that exists will find its true meaning only when it comes under the full and final control of Jesus Christ. Satan knew this truth when he approached Jesus in the wilderness and tempted Him to take control of the world in the wrong way, by bowing down to Satan. As the temporary usurper of God’s rule over the earth, Satan continually tries every means of preventing the true Heir from receiving His inheritance. Yet Jesus will rule the world. When Christ first came to earth He became poor for our sakes, that we, through His poverty, might be made rich. He had nothing for Himself (Luke 9: 58). But when Christ comes to earth again, He will completely and eternally inherit all things. And, wonder of wonders that we, who have believed in Him are truly saved, are to be “joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8: 17).
CHRIST, THE CREATOR
Hebrews 1: 2; Proverbs 8: 22-26; John 1: 3; 1 Corinthians 8: 6; Ephesians 3: 9; Hebrews 11: 3; 8: 6.
The second excellency of Christ mentioned in Hebrews 1 is His creatorship. Christ is the agent through whom God created the world, that is, the universe. The ability to create belongs to God alone and the fact that Jesus creates indicates that He is God. Consider the vastness of our universe. If you could somehow put 1.2 million earths inside the sun, you would have room left for 4.3 million moons. The sun is 865,000 miles in diameter and is 93 million miles from the earth. Our next nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is 5 times larger than our sun. The moon is 211,463 miles away and you could walk to it in 27 years. A ray of light travels at 186,000 miles per second, so a beam of light would reach the moon in only 11/2 seconds. If we could travel at that speed, it would take 2 minutes, 18 seconds to reach Venus, 41/2 minutes to reach Mercury, 1 hour and 11 seconds to reach Saturn, and so on. To reach Pluto, 2.7 billion miles from earth, would take nearly 4 hours. Having to go that far, we would still be well inside our own solar system. The North star is 400 trillion miles away, but is still nearby in relation even to known space. The star Betelgeuse is 880 quadrillion miles (880 followed by fifteen zeros) from us. It has a diameter of 250 million miles, which is greater than that of the earth’s orbit. Where did it all come from? Who made it? It cannot be an accident. Somebody had to make it, and the Bible tells us that the Maker was Jesus Christ. How great and mighty is our Christ!
CHRIST, THE BRIGHTNESS OF GOD’S GLORY
Hebrews 1: 3; John 1: 14; 2 Corinthians 4: 6; John 8: 12; Acts 9: 3-5; Matthew 17: 2.
Jesus Christ is the manifestation of God, He expresses God to us. The “brightness” means radiance (in Greek, it comes from ‘to send forth light’). The only radiance that reaches us from God is mediated to us from Jesus Christ. Just as the rays of the sun light warm the earth, so Jesus Christ is the glorious light of God shining into the hearts of men. Just as the sun was never without and cannot be separated from its brightness, so God was never without and cannot be separated from the **glory of Christ. Christ is fully and absolutely God, yet He is a distinct Person. We would never be able to see or enjoy God’s light if we did not have Jesus to look at. Without the Son of God, there is only darkness. God sent His light in the Person of Jesus Christ, that man might behold, accept and radiate that light. Jesus Christ is the radiance of God’s glory, and He can transmit that light into your life so that you, in turn, can radiate the glory of God.
CHRIST, THE EXPRESS IMAGE OF GOD
Hebrews 1: 3; 2 Corinthians 4: 4; John 14: 8, 9; Colossians 1: 15, 16.
Jesus Christ is the express image of God, that is, God in substance. Christ is the exact resemblance of God. The resemblance between a stamp and the figure which is impressed is exact; so is the resemblance between Christ and God. He “is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1: 15). When Christ was here on earth, He was the brightness of Divine glory and the express image of His Person. He was the embodied representation of the Deity. He was pure like God. He was benevolent - like God. He healed diseases - like God. He raised the dead - like God. He wielded power which God only can wield. His form was that of man, but the Spirit, that of God. He walked, ate and slept as a man; He taught, spoke and acted like God. He was born as a man - but angels adored Him as God. As a man He ate; yet by a word, He created food for thousands, like God. Like a man He slept on a pillow, while the ship was tossed by the waves; like God He rose and rebuked the winds, and they were still. As a man He sympathised with the bereaved, like God He spoke and the dead came forth to the land of the living. As a man He died on the cross and slept in the cold tomb; like God He rose, and brought life and immortality to light. He lived on earth as a man - He ascended to heaven like God. Christ is the exact resemblance of the essence of God.
CHRIST, THE SUSTAINER OF THE UNIVERSE
Hebrews 1: 3; Psalm 75: 3; Colossians 1: 17
Everything in the universe is sustained right now by Jesus Christ. “Upholding all things by the word of His power”that is, by His powerful word or command. He upholds or sustains all things - rocks, mountains, seas, animals, men, earth the universe, all distant worlds - by the word of His power. Assuredly, He who can hold up this vast universe, so that it does not sink into anarchy, must be God. Can you imagine what would happen if Jesus Christ relinquished His sustaining power over the laws of the universe? We would go out of existence. If He suspended the law of gravity only for a brief moment, we would perish in unimaginable ways. Christ with His pre-eminent power upholds, maintains, sustains all thing. A life, just as a universe, that is not sustained by Christ is chaos.
CHRIST, THE PERFECT SACRIFICE FOR SIN
Hebrews 1: 3; 9: 12-14; John 1: 29; Titus 2: 14.
“...the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1: 7). It was not merely to teach that Christ came; it was to purify the hearts of men, to remove our sins and to put an end to sacrifice by the sacrifice of Himself. Jesus Christ dealt with the sin problem once and for all. It had to be done. We could not communicate with God or enter into fellowship with Him unless sin was dealt with. So Christ went to the cross and bore the penalty of sin for all who would accept His sacrifice, believe in Him, and receive Him. By His sacrifice, sin was purged, wiped out. We have all sinned. Either we pay the penalty for our own sins, which is eternal punishment in hell or we accept Christ’s payment for our sins in sacrificing Himself, for which we receive eternal life. If we turn away from all our sins and believe in Christ as our Saviour, our sins are washed away and we are given grace to live right. Those who die in their sins will suffer forever.
CHRIST, THE EXALTED PRIEST AND KING
Hebrews 1: 3; 8: 1; 10: 12; Romans 8: 34; Colossians 3: 1-4.
The marvellous thing about this last excellency of Christ is that He, the perfect High Priest, “sat down” after “He had by Himself purged our sins”. This is in great contrast to the priestly procedure under the Old Covenant. There were no seats in the Tabernacle or the Temple sanctuaries. The Old Testament priest could not sit because he had to keep on sacrificing day by day. But Jesus offered one sacrifice and said, “It is finished”. He then sat down with the Father. The final sacrifice had been offered. Now Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for those who have believed in Him (Romans 8: 34).
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