CHRIST IS SUPERIOR
The city was Jerusalem. The date was somewhere around 67 A.D. The situation was this: A group of Jewish people had been confronted with the messiahship of Jesus. They had listened to the scriptural claims concerning His person. God, the Holy Spirit, had worked in their hearts. By faith, many had come to Christ. Salvation was theirs.
Then came the problems. A dual-pronged persecution hit these Hebrew Christians. First of all, their own community came down on them. You could say their religious leaders de-synagogued them. They were thrown out of the Temple. Financial, social and even family pressures hit them. They lost their jobs and friends. Their lot in the Jewish community became unbearable. Life became lonely and difficult.
To further complicate matters, Rome, which was in control of the Middle East, also began to persecute believers. All throughout the empire, Christians suffered and even died. So, for a Hebrew Christian in or around Jerusalem, life became almost hopeless. Persecution came from the Jewish community as well as Rome.
In the midst of these very severe problems, the Lord raised up an unnamed writer to meet their needs. Some of the most encouraging and helpful words ever penned to Jewish believers are given in the Book of Hebrews. Four basic areas are dealt with:
- Jesus Christ is a superior person.
- Jesus Christ is a superior priest.
- Jesus Christ offers a superior covenant.
- Jesus Christ offers a superior sacrifice.
To the Hebrew Christians, facing an uncertain future, this penman of sacred writ would lift them to heights heretofore unknown. The doctrinal truths would lead them to practical Christian living in the midst of a deteriorating situation. He would show them that the Messiah they had trusted was superior to everyone and everything. The step of faith they had taken was totally consistent with all the Scriptures taught. Truly, they had the better – no, the only way to God. In spite of their trials, they had an eternal relationship with God.
This article will limit itself to the subject, Jesus Christ is a superior person.
HE IS SUPERIOR TO THE PROPHETS
His Better Position
Our God is a God who reveals Himself to men. He is not one transcendent in the heavens totally aloof to the-needs of mankind. He is not some mysterious unknown. His desire is to communicate Himself and His message to people. Because of sin, man could not reach God on his own. God must reach out to him. To do so, He chose the prophets of old to bring His message to a lost world. These men wrote the living Word of God or the Old Testament (2 Pet. 1:21).
He used many means to communicate His message to and through them. To some He spoke through dreams. To others He spoke through visions. He spoke to many different men at “sundry times.” Though the message came fragmentarily, and to no one prophet was given the entire picture, God gave His complete message to man through their combined writings.
For centuries, God revealed Himself in this manner. But, in the Book of Hebrews, it is clearly pointed out that His total revelation was wrapped up and centered in His Son. All previous revelation pointed to the coming of this One, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He did not come having visions or dreams. He came directly from God, bearing His message to man. He was far superior to any prophet. He was the final and ultimate expression of God.
He is “heir of all things” (v. 2). As God, all belongs to Him. As the rightful Heir of David, the kingdoms of this world are His. As Creator, all things belong to Him.
He is declared to be “the brightness of his [God’s] glory.” Furthermore, He is “the express image of his person.” Paul, in Colossians 1:15, made it very clear that Jesus is the image of God. The Greek word for image is icon or precise, exacting image of God in the flesh.
Furthermore, this ultimate prophet is said to have purged our sins. He not only gave God’s message to man, but He also was a priest. The ministry of a priest involved offering sacrifices. He did not just offer them, but He became the sacrifice Himself. His sacrifice was totally sufficient; it pleased God. It was so efficacious, it need never be repeated again. With that sacrifice completed, He sat down at the right hand of God. This was something no ordinary priest could ever do, for his sacrificial work was never completed. He had to go through the same ritual over and over.
God certainly provided many prophets through the years; but this one, Christ, was far superior to any other. To reject Him and His message would be the epitome of absurdity, based on His better position, His better person and His better sacrifice. No persecution or even death could cause these Hebrew Christians to lose their eternal salvation in Christ.
HE IS SUPERIOR TO THE ANGELS
As the writer continues his argument that Jesus is superior to everything and everyone, he points out that Jesus is far superior to angels. Jewish theology about angels is very interesting. According to the Encyclopedia Judaica, most Jewish writers assume angelic beings to be superior to men but subordinate to God. They hold that angels serve as attendants and convey God’s messages to men, thereby carrying out His will. There are varying degrees, positions and orders among them. The Talmud maintains that some angels are eternal, while some were created only for a day. It holds that they speak Hebrew, fly in the air and that one of their responsibilities is to foretell the future. Some Jewish people have actually worshipped angels.
Angels are very important spirit beings. According to the message of Stephen, just prior to his death, he declared the Law was given by them (Acts 7:53). Paul says the Law was “ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator” (Gal. 3:19). The inspired penman of Hebrews uses that very Old Testament Law to show that the angels are inferior to the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He Has a Better Name
“Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (Heb. 1:4).
The writer quotes two Old Testament passages to prove Christ has a better name. The first is Psalm 2:7, where the Anointed One or Messiah is not called a servant, as angels are, but God calls Him “my Son.” Again, we read, “. . . I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son” (Heb. 1:5). These passages point to a future day when God would dwell in the flesh. Solomon, in all his wisdom, said the same thing. Speaking of God, he declares, “. . . What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?” (Prov. 30:4). Long before His birth, the Scriptures pointed out that God would have a Son.
The angels were merely messengers. Christ, the ultimate and final Messenger, is God’s Son. He certainly has a better name.
He Is God
The writer is building to the climax of his argument. His whole point is that Jesus is really better because He is God. He declares, “. . . let all the angels of God worship Him” (Heb. 1:6). The Scriptures clearly point out that man is never to worship man, only the Lord (Jer. 17:5, 7). The logic is simple. If angels worship Jesus, He must be God.
He continues in verses seven and eight to clearly show His deity. Angels are truly ministering spirits, but God calls His Son “God.” Even the great shepherd-king of Israel, David, declared this. He is clearly promoting a duality of persons in the godhead. This Son, now declared to be God, is anointed by His God “with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (v. 9). He is anointed as Prophet, Priest and King, something never granted to any other person. He is then able to meet every possible need of mankind.
That the Son is God is a tremendous concept from the Jewish Scriptures. He is far greater than any or all of the angels. The Word of God is literally screaming out to the Jewish believers, The Messiah you trusted is very God. You made the right decision when you trusted Him. Man may persecute and even kill you, but you have an eternal relationship to God through His Son.
He Has a Better Eternity
Again the writer of Hebrews quotes from the Psalms to prove his point (Ps. 102:25-27). Christ is again called deity, this time by use of the word “Lord.” He is declared to be the Creator and was there in the beginning to do it. Therefore, He was from eternity past. One of these days the whole creation will be put off or destroyed just like dirty old clothes, but Christ will still be the same. He will continue into the future. What a great Savior and Messiah to trust. He is eternal.
He Has a Better Position
Angels are spirit servants sent forth to minister. That ministry will continue into eternity as far as we know. Jesus Christ for a time took upon Himself the form of a servant. He came and ministered to the needs of people, and then stooped to His ignominious death on the cross. But, after ministering and giving His life, God raised Him and exalted Him to a higher position or destiny. Until He returns to take over the earth, He is seated at the right hand of God in Heaven, just as the psalmist promised nearly three thousand years ago. His present, as well as eternal, position is with God.
HE IS BETTER THAN MOSES
Moses, the lawgiver, is held in highest esteem by nearly all Jews. Rabbinical literature goes to utmost lengths to laud him. He is held to be the greatest of all Jewish leaders. He is considered the master of the prophets. His importance is so great, it takes nearly twenty pages to cover his life in the Encyclopedia Judaica. His name is often given to Jewish scholars as a title of honor.
The reason for this elevation of Moses is quite simple. God’s revelation to all other prophets was by dreams and visions, through the medium of angels, in a trance-like state, and at intervals of varying duration. Moses, by contrast, received his message while fully awake directly from God. Moses Maimonides, one of the most famous Jewish scholars, put it so well when he said, “God has spoken unto him.”
The writer of Hebrews gives a contrast between Moses and Jesus (Heb. 3:1-6). Moses is declared to be faithful to his house. He is given glory as one who was a faithful servant over the people to whom God called him. Truly, he was a great man and worthy of much honor and praise. However, Jesus is said to be “counted worthy of more glory than Moses. . . .” Moses was faithful to his calling, but he was only a servant. Jesus is a Son. A Son has a much higher position and is worthy of far more glory than any servant. Moses was a servant and was faithful over his people. Jesus is a Son over a greater house than Israel.
No prophet has ever been elevated to the position of sonship and become the final word from God. No mere man will ever be heir of all things. None can or could ever be “the express image of his person.” No one, whether prophet, priest or king, could ever purge our sins. Jesus Christ did! He is far above any prophet.
He is also far better and greater than any angel. He has a better name. Angels are required to worship Him, for He is God. He is eternal, with a far better position than any angel. Furthermore, He is far greater than Moses. Moses was great and was very faithful, but he was still a servant. Jesus is God’s Son.
Difficulties had come to the Jewish believers in the first century in and around Jerusalem. They were certainly perplexed. To meet their needs, God raised up a writer with a message just for them. He was crying out to them! Jesus Christ is a far superior person than anyone or anything in the Old Testament. Give heed to that which you have in Christ and go on in Him, despite any and all persecution that may come your way. What they had was far better than all that the Old Testament could ever offer under Judaism. They had Christ.
Finally, this dear writer of Hebrews cries out to anyone who had not believed in Jesus, Trust Him. Don’t neglect His great salvation. Don’t continue in a dead ritual that will only lead to eternal damnation. Put your faith in Jesus Christ, promised so long by the prophets, and who is superior to everyone and everything.