9/22/2011

Jesus' Resume (Heb 1:1-3)

Heb1

Karl Barth (Swiss Reformed theologian, 1886-1968) was asked if God had revealed himself in many religions besides Christianity. His answer: "No. God has not revealed himself in any religion, including Christianity. He has spoken in his Son, Jesus Christ." The beginning of Hebrews tells us Jesus' short resume.

Hebrews is about persevering in the faith (Heb 13:22). It was written to (Jewish) Christians (in Rome) who were struggling in the faith (Heb 10:38-39). It was for drift prevention--for they were tempted to wonder away. Since Rome detested all things Christian, they endured suffering, ridicule, imprisonment, the confiscation of their possessions, and, under Nero, the possibility of being fed to the lions in the Coliseum (Heb 2:14-18). Should they give up being Christians? To the author of Hebrews, rather than forsake Jesus, they should be willing to surrender everything to have him. Why? It is because of who Jesus is. He is:

  1. Creator
  2. Sustainer
  3. Heir
  4. Son
  5. Priest
  1. Jesus is the Creator God. "...he made the universe" (Heb 1:2). Since Jesus is the creator, he existed from eternity (John 1:1-3). See Col 1:16, 1 Cor 8:6.
  2. Jesus sustains "all things by his powerful word" (Heb 1:3). See Col 1:17. If God did not continue to sustain the world each and every moment, the world would lapse into non-existence. God executes his providential purpose simply: by the sheer power of his word. Without stress, burden, sleepless nights, 2nd guessing, ulcers, effort whatsoever.
  3. Jesus is heir "of all things" (Heb 1:2). Sons inherit everything. Everything that has ever been created has been created for the Son of God (Ps 2:8). Nothing will escape his heirship--not 1 rebellious angel, not 1 rebellious human, not 1 rebellious atom. But as God's adopted sons through Jesus, we too are heirs (Rom 8:14-17; Gal 4:6,7; Heb 1:14). Jesus is the cosmic Lord.
  4. Jesus is the Son. "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being" (Heb 1:3). The glory of deity is not so much to be explained as it is to be adored. This visible glory was seen by Moses in the burning bush (Exo 3:1-6); it appeared at the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai; it came upon the Tabernacle in the wilderness, and later in the temple in Jerusalem. But its primary location was a place within the temple called "the Holy of Holies." It contained the ark of the covenant. On top of the ark rested the mercy seat. On both sides was positioned mighty cherubim--angels uniquely associated with the very presence of God. Above the mercy seat, between the cherubim was the visible manifestation of the glory of God. It was the most holy place on this planet. Because of idolatry God's glory abandoned the temple. But God came as the incarnate Son, revealing his glory (John 1:14), and became the temple (John 2:19,21), the dwelling of God with humanity. The glory has returned and its locus is in Jesus Christ: he "is the radiance of God's glory."
  5. Jesus is the Priest. Jesus is the priestly king; he "provided purification for sins" (Heb 1:3). Sin does many devastating things to us. Among the most graphic is that sin defiles us. It stains us. In the holy and pure eyes of God (Hab 1:13), sin makes us filthier than a soiled menstrual cloth (Isa 64:6). We need purification. How? In Leviticus, dirty people are made clean by means of priests offering sacrifices. One day a year, the high priest enters the Holy of Holies and sprinkles blood on the mercy seat. But the priests' work never ended. Regarding the furniture in the temple (Exo 25,37; 1 Kings 7:15-50), there is no provision of a place to sit. No chair. No bench. No stool. Why? Because the priests' work of making purification was never done. This foreshadows the coming of the Son, who said with his sacrifice on the cross, "It is finished" (John 19:30). Then Jesus "sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven" (Heb 1:3). For the first time in the entire history of redemption, a priest sat down, because finally purification had been achieved (Tit 2:14; Rev 1:5).
References: "The Greatness of God's Ultimate Word" by Arturo G. Azurdia III, a sermon in Heralds of the King, 2009, 203-219.
"Jesus, the Great Revelation of God" (Heb 1:1-3), Ligon Duncan.

From a previous post on Heb 1:1-4 (Jesus, God's Final Word) Jesus is:

  1. The Creator. "He created the world." (John 1:3, 10; Col 1:16)
  2. The Heir. "(God) appointed the heir of all things." As God's adopted sons through Jesus, we too are heirs (Rom 8:14-17; Gal 4:6,7; Heb 1:14).
  3. The Glory of God. "He is the radiance of the glory of God." (2 Cor 4:4-6)
  4. Upholder. "He upholds the universe by the word of his power." (cf. Col 1:17)
  5. Mediator. "(He provided) purification of sins." (Tit 2:14; Rev 1:5)
  6. Inheritor of an exalted/excellent/superior name. "The name he has inherited is more excellent."

  1. How did God speak to us in the past (Heb 1:1)? In these last days (Heb 1:2)?
  2. What does Jesus' resume mean when the author describes him as (Heb 1:2-4):
    1. Son (John 1:18, 10:36)
    2. Heir (Rom 8:14-17; Gal 4:6-7; Heb 1:14)
    3. Creator (John 1:1-3,10; Col 1:16; 1 Cor 8:6)
    4. God's glory, the radiance of (John 1:14, 2:19,21)
    5. God's being, the exact representation of (John 14:7,9)
    6. Sustainer (Col 1:17)
    7. Providing purification for sins (Tit 2:14; Rev 1:5)
  3. What does sin do to us (Eph 2:1-3)? How does God see sin (Hab 1:13)? Why do priests in the temple not sit down (Ex 25,37; 1 Kings 7:15-50). Why did Jesus sit down (Heb 1:3; John 19:30)?

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