Hebrews 1:1-4 – Jesus is better than angels, the original!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 10, 2012 AM
We live in a day and age whereby everyone is inaccurately taught that they are both unique and special. And while this may true as far as our individuality is concerned, sadly, many of us find out that we are simply not as exceptional as we were led to believe! In fact, most of us are average. This concept of giving honor to anyone for anything has resulted in the tearing down of those who truly deserve recognition for their achievements. Public education often teaches to the lowest common denominator. This has crossed over to the theological realm as well. Spiritual self-help books glut the bookshelves of Christian bookstores and churches focus on spiritual pabulum.
The author of Hebrews does not skimp on theological content. These first four verses are packed full of spiritual depth. In the original Greek it is one sentence and not five or the four as used in the NIV or other translations. Like priceless gems hidden just under the surface, Hebrews contains wonderful theological treasure for those willing to dig a little deeper. Because of what the writer tells us we know that Jesus is better than angels, and his theology in his introduction sets up the entire sermon of Hebrews for us. Let’s dig deeper and discover just what gems these verses contain for us this morning…
Writing used to be an art form. Not the LOL of today’s text messaging. It was an art form not only in how you drew the letters on the page but what you wrote on the page as well. Writing contained style, grace, and beauty. Some have called these first four verses “the most perfect Greek sentence in the New Testament.” They say this not only because of the Greek used but the style and words used as well. They are majestic, poetic, and carry with them the impact of who Jesus is. We discover that…
I. Jesus is better than angels because of what God shared with others about him! (Vv.1-2)
1. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10 NIV)
1) “In the past” the author notes that “God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways.” God spoke to us through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and as one writes, “He even spoke through Balaam’s donkey!” That was the past but this is now, this is today, this is when we live, so how has God spoken now? The writer goes on to say, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son!” The message of God is relevant because it is fresh and it is active and living. The Apostle John would testify, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 NIV) This is the logos, the “Word” that God spoke to us! These are the “last days” because everything after the ascension of Jesus back into heaven is the last days before he returns again. We are now living in the last days before the return of Jesus. And it is through Jesus that God has spoken his truth, the good news, to us! Interestingly, the author makes a startling statement that it is through Jesus that God “made the universe” and it is Jesus who was “appointed heir of all things”! Jesus not only made everything, he inherits it because of who he is! God reminds us of this fact when he relates to the “conspiring nations” that all his Son has to do is, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.” (Psalms 2:8 NIV) Again, this language in Hebrews is also strikingly similar to what John wrote about concerning Jesus, namely that “He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:2-3 NIV) Peter would write, “He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” (1 Peter 1:20 NIV) And Paul would wonder, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6 NIV) It is not just through the fiery speeches of dusty crusty old time prophets with long beards, itchy woolen robes, and poor teeth that God has spoken to us, he has given us his spoken Word in human form through Jesus himself! “Thus saith the Lord” has now become flesh and dwelt among us! Jesus is better than angels because of what God shared with others about him!
EXAMPLE: There exists an inherent danger when theology is dumbed-down to the lowest common denominator. We begin to think of Jesus in the basest terms. We begin to bring Jesus down to our level instead of seeing him as he actually is: the creator and inheritor of all things! When we bring Jesus down to our level we begin to make him into our image, we begin to give him our characteristics of immorality, unbridled emotionalism, and dishonesty. We allow the world to see him as just another good man, who while teaching a lot of good things, probably did not do what the Scriptures say he did. The writer of Hebrews will have none of this heresy and intellectual laziness. The world today needs to hear the Word of God as he actually is. Jesus is better than angels because of what God shared with others about him, what do you share with others about Jesus?
I was surprised to learn that most college textbooks, newspapers, and sermons today are written using the intellectual understanding of a seventh grader and not surprisingly, most TV shows are written on a seventh grade language level! Why is that? Is it because we as a society do not rationally challenge ourselves or is it because we have become academically lazy? We discover that…
II. Jesus is better than angels because of who he actually is! (Vv. 3-4)
1. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:5 NIV)
1) The writer of Hebrews makes it clear that Jesus, “the Son”, is more than just an offspring or image of God. Jesus “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being!” Jesus is not a reflection of God, not another god, a man becoming a god, nor simply another celestial being; Jesus is the “resplendent out-beaming of the essential glory of God!” (Clarke) He is the radiance of God’s glory! Jesus’ inherent and exhibited splendor is the same splendor! Jesus is God! How do we know this to be true? Because Jesus is “the exact representation of” God’s “being” of his existence! When we see Jesus, we see God! Jesus would declare, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30 NIV) The prophet Micah related, “He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.” (Micah 5:4 NIV) In fact, Hebrews tells us that Jesus upholds, maintains, nourishes, and sustains “all things by his powerful word”! God’s Word is Jesus and this word keeps everything there is going! Wow! Paul would say that this “power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (Ephesians 1:19-21 NIV) Hebrews says, “After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” Dear child of God, Jesus not only created all things, he saves all of creation as well! He has the majesty and the power to do it! Jesus would say, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” (John 10:18 NIV) And, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28 NIV) Paul rejoiced that “creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God” because of Jesus! (Romans 8:21) Hebrews magnificently teaches us that Jesus is better than angels because of who he actually is!
EXAMPLE: It is hard to describe something to someone who has never seen or experienced what you have seen and experienced. Do not believe me, try it! Now add to the mix the spiritual component of God becoming human, living among us, and then dying for our sins, returning to heaven and ruling in all power and authority! Have you ever watched the old Disney cartoon, “The Sword in the Stone”? It is a takeoff of the tale of King Arthur. Merlin turns a ragtag boy into several different animals so he can experience for himself what they experience in a hope that it will teach him about seeing life through another’s perspective. It is another take of the old “walk-a-mile in my shoes” adage. For those who think that God could never relate to their life’s trials and tribulations, God provided himself in Jesus to experience just that. You see, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NIV) “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NIV) Jesus is better than angels because of who he actually is!
Jesus is better than angels because of what God shared with others about him and Jesus is better than angles because of who he actually is!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 25 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.