“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Heb 1:1-3)
Jesus Is Greater Than Prophets
In the first paragraph of Hebrews chapter 1, the author compares Jesus with the prophets in the Old Testament.
Hebrews 1:1-2 says,
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” (Heb 1:1-2)
Prophets served very important roles in the Old Testament. There were three types of leaders in Israel—kings, priests, and prophets.
Their roles were different and all of them were important but prophets were more respected than priests and kings because they were God’s servants whom God himself chose and called to give His messages to people. Most prophets had to endure suffering and persecution because of the message they were called to proclaim.
Prophets were an essential group of people in the history of Israel. So, when Jesus performed miracles, people thought that he was one of the prophets. It might have been the best way they could think of to describe Him.
But, in this passage, the author is saying that even though those prophets played very important roles in the history of Israel by delivering God’s message and allowing His people to know His will, Jesus is far superior to and more perfect than all the prophets and their messages because God not only revealed but fulfilled His plan through Jesus.
To prove this, the author reminds the readers of 6 truths about Jesus.
1) Jesus Is the Son of God
First, the author clearly reveals the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. When Jewish Christians’ faith was being tested, they were tempted to think of Jesus as just one of the great human leaders or teachers.
That’s how the world sees Jesus. Most people don’t deny the fact that there was a person named Jesus in Israel 2,000 years ago. Even other religions don’t deny it. Muslims also respect Jesus, not as the Son of God, but as a prophet. The world sees Jesus as a great man, but not as God.
Therefore, to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God and not as a mere human being is essential in Christianity. So, the subject of Jesus being the Son of God repeatedly appears in Hebrews. The reason Jesus is superior to all the great prophets and figures in the Old Testament lies in the profession that Jesus is the Son of God.
Our salvation is inextricably linked with the fact that Jesus is God’s son. To profess that Jesus is the Son of God is to acknowledge that true salvation can be only found in His name. So, falling away from Jesus would have an unfortunate and irrevocable result on our salvation.
2-3) Jesus is the Heir of All Things. Through Jesus the Universe Was Created.
The second and third truths related to Jesus are about His role in creation in the beginning and His reign on the last day. Verse 2 says that God made the universe through Jesus and that God appointed Jesus as the heir of all things.
“…His Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” (Heb 1:2)
After introducing Jesus as the Son of God, the author reminds the readers of Jesus’ role in creation. Even though we can’t find the name, Jesus, in Genesis 1, in which the creation story is written, we know that God created the world with His word and the word was Jesus.
John chapter 1 clearly reveals this truth.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:1, 3, 14)
So, Jesus is not only the Son of God, but also the Creator of the universe. All things were created through Jesus. But they became corrupt because of our sins. Yet, they experienced recovery and reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ’s redemption. As Col 1:19-20 says,
“God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Col 1:20)
Therefore, since Jesus laid down everything, even His life for the salvation of the world, He is worthy of becoming the heir of all things. And, when Jesus comes back, He will return as the ruler of the universe and as the King of kings.
So, the second thing the author of Hebrews pointed out in regard to Jesus’ ministry was that all things were made by Him, reconciled with God through Him, and will be inherited by Him.
As Paul professed,
“From him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Rm 11:36)
What’s remarkable is that we will also become heirs with Jesus as children of God. As Paul said,
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Rm 8:17)
So, by reminding his readers of this truth, the author urged them to endure their suffering by fixing their eyes on Jesus who would inherit all things and looking forward to the day they would also inherit all things as co-heirs with Him.
4) Jesus Is the Representation of God’s being
The fourth truth about Jesus is that “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Heb 1:3)
To the Israelites, the glory of God is the appearance of God’s majestic presence. When God gave the ten commandments to the Israelites on Mount Sinai, the Bible says, “The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai… To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain.” (Ex 24:17).
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, the Bible says that “His face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.” (Ex 34:30)
When the Israelites saw Moses, they were afraid to come near him because his face was radiant, so he covered his face with a veil. The radiance of Moses’ face wasn’t from Moses. It was just a reflection of God’s glorious light.
So, the declaration, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory” is remarkable. Jesus doesn’t reflect God’s glory, for He himself shows the glory of God.
Not only that, the author proclaims, “The Son is… the exact representation of his being” (Heb 1:3).
It means that we can see God through Jesus because God’s character is exactly reproduced in Him. In fact, the word used to mean ‘exact representation’ in this case is the Greek word character, the origin of the English word, character.
In ancient times, an engraver carved a royal portrait of an emperor on a stamp made of hard metal. Then, the engraver used the stamp to make coins that gave the exact impression of what was on the stamp.
The word ‘character’ was widely used to mean just that. The word referred to the accurate impression on the coin.
This is what the author is saying about Jesus. Jesus is the ‘character’ of God. The exact imprint of the father’s very nature and glory was reproduced in the Son. So, when we look at Jesus, it’s like looking at God Himself.
As John said,
“No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (Jn 1:18)
Jesus also said,
“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (Jn 14:9)
So, for us to see God, we must look at Jesus. In fact, it’s impossible to have a relationship with the Father without His Son. We can’t truly believe in God without Jesus. That’s what the author tried to convey to those who were tempted to revert to Judaism and betray Jesus.
Today, we talked about four of the truths about Jesus that the author of Hebrews explained. Jesus is superior to all the prophets in the Old Testament and His message is more perfect than all their prophecies because Jesus is the Son of God through whom all things were created and reconciled with God.
Jesus is the heir God appointed through whom we also become heirs. Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of God’s being.
Moses only reflected a part of God’s glory, and the prophet Ezekiel described God’s glory, but Jesus Himself was the glory of God. The prophet Isaiah explained God’s holy, righteous and just characteristics, but in Jesus, those characteristics were reproduced. The prophet Jeremiah described God’s amazing power, but Jesus showed that power in His ministry.
Jesus, His message, and His ministry were truly superior to the most distinguished prophets. So, by describing who Jesus really is, the author turned his readers’ eyes from persecution and Judaism to Jesus and urged them to hold on to their faith in Him.
The truths we discussed about Jesus are also very important to us. When our faith is shaken and we’re tempted to give up our faith in Jesus, we should go back to Him. We should think deeply about who Jesus really is and recover our faith.
There are many things in the world that try to turn our eyes from Jesus. Even though there’s not as much direct persecution, I feel like it’s becoming harder to keep our faith in Jesus and fix our eyes on Him.
So, the author of Hebrews challenges us to throw off everything that hinders us and fix our eyes on Jesus. We should be reminded of the fact that Jesus is the Son of God who is superior to all things, including the things we seek in the world and all our worries about the future. The more we’re exposed to the truths of Jesus, the stronger and more unshakable faith we will have in Him.