Hebrews 1:1-4 is one sentence. A lot of clauses, but only one sentence. It perhaps is one of the most well crafted sentences in the history of the world. At least its content is packed with power. In one sentence the author of Hebrews describes Jesus. Let that sink in for a minute. Books have been written to describe men like Theodore Roosevelt or George Washington, and they have not exhausted the information about these men.
Think about describing these men, in any meaningful way, in a sentence. Could you do it? Yet, the Hebrew write provides for us a beautiful outline of Jesus.* So what does he say?
Facts about Jesus
- Heir of all things.
The reference is to Psalm 2:8, where it speaks of receiving “all nations” as an inheritance. The idea is that Jesus would receive from the Father “all nation groups.” However, the quotation is elevated to “all things.” When we speak of Jesus, we are speaking of the one who will inherited everything!
- Made the World
Look around you. Just take a minute and do it. Everything you see was created by Jesus. Such a short-clause, but so power packed. Everything we see was made by Jesus.
- Radiance of God’s Glory and Exact Representation of His Image
Light is often associated with God’s glory. Thus when the Hebrews’ writer wants to connect Jesus with God’s glory, he used the word radiance. The idea is that when we see Jesus we see the glory of God. In fact the writer makes his point even stronger. He states Jesus is the exact representation of God’s image.
In the ancient world coins would have the image of the ruler on them. When you saw the coin you saw the ruler. Jesus is the exact representation. When people see Jesus they see God. Why? Because He is God!
- Sustains All Things
Jesus interaction with the world has not stopped. He made the whole world and now He sustains the whole world. Behind the laws of science that allow our world to function is Jesus. He is not the removed God of the deists, but rather He is involved in the world.
- Made Purification for Our Sins
As Christians we understand that Jesus died for our sins. We speak of Jesus forgiving our sins. We write books concerning Jesus death “for us.” The Hebrews’ writer has a special angle to add to our theology of atonement. Jesus did not merely die to forgive our sins, but His death is able to purify us. Specifically, it can purify our conscience.
Mosaic Sacrifices made one clean and put one back in the right relationship with God, but they were unable to purify the conscience of the offender. The continuos offering of sacrifices put the sinfulness of man at the forefront. In contrast, the “once-for-all” sacrifice of Jesus can purify our conscience completely!
- Seated at the Right Hand
This phrase has to do with Jesus exaltation after His death. After Jesus died and rose from the grave He was exalted to heaven. He know sits at God’s right hand. This seating shows Jesus’ power and close relationship with the Father. In the theology of Hebrews it has to do with Jesus sitting at God’s right hand having finished His sacrificial work, but now still working on our behalf as an intercessor.
Taking this with the clause before, we have Jesus both saving us and then also sustaining us. It is parallel to what Jesus did for the world. Jesus made and now sustained the world.
- He is the Son
The actual phrase is “a name superior to angels.” But we know from the following context that the name is “Son.” Not a son, but the Son. No one else can lay claim to that name, but Jesus is given that name. He is the Son of God.
Why it matters?
First, it should be obvious. The text should create amazing emotion within us as we are reminded how great Jesus is. He is not just another great person or moral teacher. He is the creator, sustainer, inheritor, purifier, intercessor, and God!
Second, look at verse 1. The reason the writer states all of this is because Jesus is the one now speaking to us. When you read the message of the apostles you are hearing Jesus. Are you listening?!
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*Not exhaustive for that would be impossible (John 21:25).