When No Sacrifice is Left

Hebrews 10

September 28, 2022

Chapter 10 contains one of the five major warning passages in Hebrews, which makes up the second half of the chapter. It is this section that we will focus on as it functions in a very unique way in this context.

Leading up to verse 26 where the warning begins, the author has now fully explained the perfect sacrifice and the forgiveness that is now possible which was not available under the old covenant. And so, as the author concludes, “where there is forgiveness of these sins, another sacrificial offering for sin is no longer required” (v. 18). This is valid so long as certain conditions are met as the author will go on to describe.

The warning passage begins: “For if we deliberately continue sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire that is about to consume the adversaries” (vv. 26-27).

For those who choose to continue willfully committing sin after coming to know the truth about Christ’s sacrifice, it says “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” What does it mean that there is “no longer” a sacrifice for sins? The author has just gone to great lengths to show the perfect sacrifice of Christ, and such an offering as Christ’s is the only one that is able to “perfect forever those who are sanctified” (v. 14).

If Christ’s sacrifice is the only sacrifice that is sufficient to take away sins forever, and since the author made it clear that the old covenant sacrifices could never “take away sins” (v. 11), then if a person disregards the cleansing and sanctification that is brought about through Christ by willfully continuing to sin, then they have no other recourse to fall back on for forgiveness. Christ’s sacrifice is the only offering that can remove the defilement of sin. Therefore, repudiating Christ and disregarding the knowledge of the truth leaves a person with nowhere else to turn. And that is why the author says that such a person only has to look forward to a “terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire.”

It is God’s will that we turn away from sin and embrace Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf so that we may be forgiven and cleansed from sin and have “our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience” (v. 22). The means by which we can have this purification in our hearts and minds has already been provided by God through Christ.

And this is why the author warns the reader that they must not fall away and turn aside from the knowledge of the sacrifice of Christ. At the end of the chapter, in one of the final exhortations, the author asserts, “So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised” (vv. 35-36).

In Christ, there is forgiveness from sin now and forevermore. But outside of Christ, we have no hope and no provision for sin. If we will endure in the faith, holding onto the perfect sacrifice of Christ, then we will have done the will of God and will receive the reward of what he promised—everlasting life.

-Jerry Wierwille

Questions

What 4 things are we told to do in Hebrews 10:22-25 (“Let us…” -in NIV – do what 4 things?). Which of these 4 do you think you do most regularly already (though, still with some room for improvement)? Which one would you like to concentrate on doing better this month? How?

Who has spurred you on to love and good deeds? How did they do it?

Who has been an encouragement to you? How did they do it?

Why is Jesus Better?

Hebrews 9

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Previously, in chapter 8, the author disclosed that Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry and is the mediator of a better covenant that is enacted on better promises (8:6). While the author has simply made this assertion, it now remains for him to explicate how Jesus’s ministry is “superior.” And it is in chapter 9 that the author takes up this very task.

In the 1st part of the chapter, the author recounts the old covenant ministry under the Mosaic Law. There was a tabernacle and sacred items and a place where atonement was made by priests. Yet, it says that “this is a symbol for the present time…until the time of restoration” (vv. 9-10).

All the institutions of the old covenant were limited because they “cannot perfect the worshiper’s conscience” (v. 9). They mandated various sacrifices and rituals which by their nature were unable to bring the worshiper the true cleansing that was the intended goal of atonement and salvation.

But, in verse 11, the author now turns to present the superior ministry of the Messiah in the new covenant. Throughout the rest of the chapter, the author goes into great detail about how Jesus as our high priest in the new covenant has accomplished everything that the former covenant and regulations could never achieve. Everything from the cleansing of the tabernacle to the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrifice was done by Jesus, not in the earthly tabernacle, which was a copy of the heavenly reality, but in the heavenly tabernacle by offering himself as the “better sacrifice.”

Jesus’ sacrifice was “better” in at least two regards. First, the author says that Jesus did not offer a sacrifice many times as the high priest in the former covenant had to because he entered the tabernacle every year. Jesus entered the sanctuary in the presence of God only once. Second, Jesus did not offer the “blood of another” by bringing an animal sacrifice like the high priest of the previous covenant but rather offered his own blood as the sacrifice for sin.

As verses 13-14 say, “For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow, sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?” What the author is comparing is that if under the old covenant the animal sacrifice was sufficient to sanctify the worshiper for the purification of the flesh, then the blood of Jesus must be able to do more than that.

And this is exactly his point: Jesus’s sacrifice is able to do what the old covenant sacrifices never could, and that is to cleanse our conscience from “dead works,” which are the sinful deeds that lead to death and require forgiveness and healing. The old covenant had no power to cleanse the worshiper’s heart from their sinful deeds.

But praise be to God that through Jesus and his sacrifice our minds and hearts can be washed clean of our sin and that we may with a pure conscience “serve the living God.”

-Jerry Wierwille

Application Questions

  1. Compare the conscience of a sinner under the old covenant to your conscience under the blood of Jesus. What makes the difference?
  2. How will you use your pure conscience to serve the living God today?

The Best Covenant

Hebrews 8

Monday, September 26, 2022

In verse 6 of Hebrews chapter 8, it states that Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry and therefore is the mediator of a “better covenant” with “better promises.” What then follows in verses 8-12 is the longest consecutive Old Testament quotation in the New Testament. The quotation comes from a section in chapter 31 from the Prophet Jeremiah.

Now, when the author of Hebrews says that Jesus is the mediator of a “better covenant,” it doesn’t mean that the covenant is just a little bit better. It is indeed better, but how much better? Is there a way that we could quantify the degree of “betterness” that characterizes the new covenant? I don’t think so.

The new covenant is greater and better than the old covenant to such a degree that a comparison is nearly impossible. Perhaps we might say that the distance between the two covenants is like the difference between the height of the earth’s atmosphere and then the height of the universe. As glorious as the old covenant was, it was still imperfect. But, the new covenant brings the perfection that the old covenant pointed toward and prefigured in a typological way.

And with Jesus mediating a new covenant, this indicates that the old covenant is obsolete and no longer needed since the new covenant has totally eclipsed its purpose and function. Everything that the old covenant stood for and provided—the ways that it conveyed God’s law to his people, revealed the knowledge of him, and made provision for atonement for sin—has been fulfilled and superseded in the new covenant by Christ himself.

The new covenant promises which surpass anything that the old covenant offered was prophesied by Jeremiah when he wrote, “I will put my laws into their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And each person will not teach his fellow citizen, and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, and the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their wrongdoing, and I will never again remember their sins.”

Therefore, it might help to think about the new covenant as being the “best covenant” because there will not be another covenant. There will be no “new covenant 2.0” or the “new revised covenant.” Nothing that can improve the new covenant any further. God’s law is in the hearts and minds of his people, he instructs them in his ways, all God’s people know him, and he has forgiven their sin completely, never to remember it.

The light of the new covenant is so far greater than the light of the old covenant that the old covenant simply pales in comparison. The well-known colloquial idiom, “It doesn’t even hold a candle to it” seems apt to apply here where if we imagine the new covenant having the glory and radiance of the sun, then what source of light can compete with it. The old covenant is like the moon, when reflecting the sun, the moon provides just enough light to walk around at night and see most objects near you. But it is still dark, and the potential to stumble or trip is very real. However, the light of the new covenant is like noon day where everything is illumined, and we now walk with full vision of what is before us.

The new covenant is better in every way, and we are able to receive and experience all of these better promises it has to offer. Let us count ourselves blessed to have a Savior who mediates this superior covenant that we can enjoy.

-Jerry Wierwille

Application Questions

  1. What are the differences between the old covenant and the new? (You can find several differences in this chapter alone, but
  2. Why do you think the all-knowing God didn’t just start out with the best/new covenant?

A Better Hope

Hebrews 7

Sunday, September 25, 2022.

We can’t jump right into chapter 7 without revisiting the last few verses in 6.  In the end of the previous chapter we are discussing Jesus being regarded as a high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.  (Gesundheit!)

The beginning of chapter 7 explains who Melchizedek was for the readers and, in a way, giving Jesus some street cred.  The author clearly wants to stress the place of power and importance this King was in (vs. 4) and why it was important that Jesus came from his order.  Verse 15 and 16 explain a little more on why Jesus was to come from his order- it’s because his ancestry doesn’t exactly lead to priesthood!  Coming from a carpenter and a seemingly average woman isn’t a common start for someone so deserving of our praise and worship.  I think the author here was trying to give Jesus some more credibility for the Hebrews he was writing to.

Verse 18 and 19 has some of my favorite language in it!  “The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.”  Why do we need Jesus?  Because the old law was weak, useless, and made nothing perfect!  Couldn’t be more clear than that.  With our new hope (Jesus), we are able to draw near to God and have a close personal relationship with Him.  Before Jesus, the law required sacrifice and prevented people from having that personal relationship with God that we all know and love.  After Jesus, or rather after Jesus’ death and resurrection and ascension, we are saved completely and always have a connection to God through Jesus’ intercession (vs. 25).  How amazing is that?

In the last few verses of chapter 7 the author again is explaining how lucky we are to have Jesus and why we should come to him!  He is not only perfect and blameless, but he also sacrificed himself once for the forgiveness of all sins (vs. 26-27).  Past, present, and future.  He took care of them all!  As someone who has grown up in the church it’s easy for me to unconsciously be aware of this fact.  I know Jesus died for all of my sins.  Big and little, from when I was born to where I am now, and where I’ll be tomorrow.  But I’m guilty of forgetting, or at least not recognizing how important that is for my life.  If I try and place myself in the shoes of the people who were reading this letter for the first time in that setting, how overwhelmed with grace and love would I be?  I no longer have to sacrifice by the old law, because there is a new oath that has been appointed by a forever-perfect Savior.  Can you imagine the relief, love, and astonishment you might have as someone hearing that for the first time?  Why is it different for us today, simply because we already know?

Today and throughout this week I encourage you to pause and consciously reflect on the gift of Jesus Christ.  Recognize his sacrifice and thank him for the relationship he allows us to have with our Heavenly Father!

-Sarah (Blanchard) Johnson

(originally posted for SeekGrowLove on February 11, 2018)

Application Questions

  1. What does it mean to you to have Jesus acting as high priest, not from the line of Levi but from the order of Melchizedek?
  2. Is Jesus the only way to draw near to God? Why?
  3. What are some things “we” in general hope for? How does Jesus offer a better hope? Who do you know who needs to know about this better hope?

Imitate Those Who Inherit the Promises

Hebrews 6

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Do you have any Christians that you look up to? Lately I’ve been learning about a pastor named Tim Keller who has really inspired me. Much of his teaching is sound, and he is a great preacher. He is also incredibly successful at bringing Jesus to new people. He has grown his church in New York City (a rather hostile environment for Christianity) and has helped plant over 700 new churches in 75 cities all over the world through a church planting organization that he founded called Redeemer City to City. This to me is exactly what Jesus wants to see his church doing. When he said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” he meant it, and this is what it can look like.

If you tried to take Tim Keller, or your local church’s pastor, and teach him about how to baptize, repent or pray for people, you would look silly. These guys have been around the block a time or two and they shouldn’t be relearning these basics of the faith. I think that is what is being said in Hebrews 6. It’s just inappropriate to take the first step of the faith and then keep taking it repeatedly, walking in a circle. Jesus has a mission, and once you have come to believe in him, your next steps should always be towards the fulfillment of that mission. That isn’t to say that these topics shouldn’t be taught, but rather they should be taught as a foundation for a new Christian and other beliefs should be built on top of them. However, strong condemnation is given to those who witness the works of the Holy Spirit and yet fall away from the faith. It says it is impossible to restore again to repentance. It also says that if land bears thorns and thistles then it is worthless and will be burned. Beware of people like this, who have seen the power of God and yet never take the next step, never bear fruit and don’t help further the mission of Christ.

Instead, be an imitator of those who inherit the promises through faith and patience. Imitate people like Jesus, who taught, healed and loved. Imitate people like those Christians whom you look up to. Imitate people who never cease spreading the gospel. These people have seen the promises of God and make every effort to give back to the one who loved them first. God has been making promises to mankind for a long, long time, and his promises are true. We see the promise that he made to Abraham to multiply him, and we see the fulfillment too, albeit long after Abraham may have thought it possible. That’s where patience comes into play. God’s timeline isn’t your timeline, but his promises are true just the same. Continue to imitate Christ in all things, since he is our forerunner, the one who goes out before us. Learn his ways and walk in them. He, after having suffered, entered into the Holy of Holies, the place where God resides, and there he prepares a place for us, too.

-Nathaniel Johnson

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Who has been a great role model for you in displaying faith and patience while waiting for what God has promised?
  2. What can you do today, and this week, to practice showing “diligence to the very end” (vs 11).

Understanding the High Priest

Hebrews 5

Friday, September 23, 2022

The Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament was responsible for bridging the gap between God and man. Their job was to make sacrifices for the people to turn away God’s wrath. People are by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). Every person sins against God and is therefore guilty and worthy of his wrath, and therefore, death (Romans 3:23, 6:23). In order to turn away God’s wrath, blood must be spilled, since blood is what is owed. By sacrificing an animal to God, that debt is paid, and our just punishment is delayed. The priest’s role in this is as mediator. Normal people don’t need to (and in fact aren’t allowed to) offer their own sacrifices. The priests do it on their behalf. The priest takes your offering and presents it to God. For this to work, priests need to be blameless in their own right and that is why they also offer sacrifices for themselves. The most important sacrifice of the year is on the day of atonement when the high priest goes into the Holy of Holies, the location of God’s mercy seat. On this day they offer a sacrifice for all people and bring it directly to God’s feet by sprinkling the blood on the mercy seat. Only the high priest is authorized to enter this area. All others would surely die.

If Jesus is our High Priest, then he is the one who can approach God on our behalf. He is the one who can turn away God’s wrath. He is the one who has our interests at heart, having been tempted the same as us. However, Jesus is different from the priests who came before. He is not of the old order or Levitical priests; he is a priest of the order of Melchizedek. Jesus isn’t selected for his priestly service because of his heritage, but instead because of his obedience (Hebrews 5:8). He is a High Priest who we can trust, because we know that he was truly obedient to God and was without sin. He himself said that God would send legions of angels on his behalf (Matthew 26:53). If God will do that for his Son, then we can truly believe it when Jesus said, “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14).

What is it that you are hungering for? Do you long for a faith as strong as the apostles? Do you want to do the works that the disciples did in the book of Acts so that God can be glorified and more can be saved (Acts 3:6, 5:15, 6:8, 8:7, 9:34, 9:40, 14:3, 19:11-12)? Pray daily. Ask and you will receive (Matthew 7:7). You have a High Priest who understands you. You have a High Priest who can ask the Father, and the Father will listen.

-Nathaniel Johnson

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Pretend you are God writing a job description for a mediator between God and man. What qualifications does the role require? Any benefits to the job?
  2. Can God mediate for himself?
  3. What makes Jesus the perfect mediator?
  4. How have you personally benefited from Jesus in his role as mediator and high priest? What coming benefits are you looking forward to?

Enter His Rest

Hebrews 4

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Rest is such a basic need of every living thing. When it comes to people, we need to rest and sleep every day. If we neglect sleep for more than a handful of days, we will die the same as if we are starving or dehydrated. In the animal world, horses are used for their speed and stamina for racing these days and in the past they were used for travel. Despite their endurance, it is possible to run them so hard that they will die. Horses need rest the same as a human does. No living thing can survive without proper rest. So when you hear that God swore in his wrath that some will not enter into his rest, you should be very scared. This consequence is equivalent to a death sentence.

When God created the world, he labored over his work for six days straight and finally rested once his work was finished (Genesis 2:2,3). I think of how satisfying it is to have a good night’s sleep after completing a very hard workout at the gym the day before. The effect of experiencing rest after hard work is like a glass of water on a hot summer day. The converse is also true, if I spend all day laying on the couch and don’t get any work done, I feel terrible. Being that I’m not Jewish, I don’t have a good frame of reference for what the Sabbath is like, but it makes a lot of sense in concept to me. Working non-stop just isn’t healthy, but neither is resting without working. God’s rest is the right kind, the kind that is satisfying and comes after hard work. So the Sabbath was supposed to be God’s way of telling his people to work hard, but not too hard. Everything after that was just legalistic nonsense. We see this in Jesus’ teaching about the Sabbath. The rest of the Sabbath is supposed to be for the benefit of mankind, not for its detriment. It’s in this context that Jesus claims to be Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27, 28).

Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, promises to give rest to all who come to him (Matthew 11:28). I believe that the rest that Jesus promises is like the rest in Hebrews 4, but it is different, a precursor to the ultimate rest that we will enter into in God’s presence. The rest that Jesus talks about is the rest that you can have in your soul today. Jesus is our high priest, the one who speaks on our behalf to the God most high. Jesus lived on earth and experienced the weariness that comes from hard work. He knows all of the struggles and burdens that we carry and he wants us to enter into God’s rest. Here in Hebrews we have so many promises that we should take heart. “We who have believed are entering that rest” (Hebrews 4:3). In our belief, we have a piece of that rest for today, and the totality of that rest tomorrow.

-Nathaniel Johnson

Questions for Reflection

  1. How is your work-rest balance? Do you more often have too much rest, or too much work?
  2. What do you think is the best thing about God’s rest available now? Do you feel like you are receiving it?
  3. Reading through the chapter, what are some reasons given for not receiving God’s rest?

Today, If You Hear His Voice

Hebrews 3

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Having read the first two chapters of Hebrews, we have seen the author building up this case for belief and hope in Jesus as the Son of God. Now in chapter 3, the author is trying to bring us back to an example that the readers would have been familiar with to help us understand the necessity of our faith. He calls back to Moses, the prophet who first heard the name of YHWH, delivered the Hebrews from enslavement in Israel and performed many signs and wonders in the midst of the Jews (Exodus 14:31). This Moses that the Hebrews are so familiar with, who brought the law that they hold in such reverence, was faithful in God’s house. However, his faithfulness was to testify of the Prophet to come (Deuteronomy 18:18, 19), namely Jesus.

By conjuring up this image of the Old Testament prophet, Moses, we are reminded of the rebellion of the Hebrew people after they were delivered from Egypt. In only a matter of years, the people hardened their hearts and they were filled with unbelief even though they had seen the signs of God in their own lifetimes. Can you imagine witnessing the parting of the Red Sea, the pillar of Cloud and Fire or the radiant face of Moses and yet still turn your back on the God who freed you from slavery? It doesn’t make sense to me at all. For some reason, the peoples’ hearts were hardened so that they couldn’t believe in God, even though they heard the voice of God.

Now this story isn’t just an example from the past, it is a story that represented the people to which this book is written. Many Jews believed that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah, but others refused to believe. Their hearts were hardened even though they saw all the signs and healings that Jesus performed. It is their unbelief that is their downfall.

I want to apply this story to today as well, while it is still called “today.” If I hear God’s voice, what will I do? Will I believe or will I harden my heart? I believe there are signs and works being performed today through the power of the Holy Spirit as it was promised by Jesus (John 14:12). If you don’t believe that there are still signs being performed to this day, ask a believer in your congregation if they have ever witnessed or performed a work through the Holy Spirit. More have than I think we realize.

The other part of hearing God’s voice today, is that the author of this book is re-presenting the words of God, the words of the Holy Spirit, words spoken Prophetically through David. This is the voice of God that you hear today. Encourage each other every day as long as it is called “today” (Hebrews 3:13). This should be your main takeaway from this passage. If you want to ensure that no one is hardened by the deceitfulness of sin so that they will enter into God’s rest (Hebrews 3:18), then tell someone the word of God today, while it is still called “today.” Speak the word of God in power, for there is certainly power in the word of God. We are given a message of hope that we can boast in (Hebrews 3:6). Pick up your phone and text a brother or sister in Christ and remind them of this hope. Get up and visit your brother and sister to tell them of this hope. If you believe in this hope, then let the whole world know and be a partner of Christ in his work of proclaiming the Kingdom of God (Hebrews 3:14).

-Nathaniel Johnson

APPLICATION QUESTIONS

  1. Who can I tell today about the hope that is found in Jesus?
  2. How often do I think about the hope that is found in Jesus?
  3. Ask a Christian, have you ever seen a sign or a work of the Holy Spirit?

A Reason to Believe and a Reason to Hope

Hebrews 2

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

I love this chapter in Hebrews! It outlines the very reason that I am a Christian, the reason that I believe in Jesus and follow his teachings. It says in verse 2, that the Lord first declared himself. When Jesus was on earth, he taught in the synagogues and proclaimed to be the Messiah spoken of in the prophecies of Isaiah. He proclaimed himself to be the Son of Man spoken of in the prophecies of Ezekiel. We know that he did because we have the firsthand, eyewitness accounts in the first four books of the New Testament. Here again, the author of Hebrews is adding his account (Hebrews 2:4). More importantly than all of this, God adds his own testimony by performing signs and wonders through the apostles, and even among disciples of Jesus today. It’s for this reason that I believe.

Remember yesterday’s passage that proclaimed the great glory and exaltation of the Son of God. The author tells us to pay attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. Keep that picture that he painted in your mind. The greatness of God himself has been given to Jesus. You have heard what has been said of Jesus from your friends, your pastor, from the gospels and from the Holy Spirit. Hold on to these things; cling to the faith.

In the next section, the author draws our attention to another psalm like in the first chapter, but this time, he uses it to speak of all mankind more broadly, not just the man, Jesus. God is so much higher than we are. We can’t even wrap our minds around what it means to be Spirit and dwell in heaven. And yet, God cares for us mere mortals. We are lower than angels in that the angels are in the presence of God, but it says that all things have been subjected under man’s feet. It’s clear that this isn’t talking about the current state of the world. There are countless things that aren’t subject to man’s authority: disease, death, hunger, poverty and all kinds of injustices. This is just what the author says in Hebrews 2:8. But we do see Jesus. And just like we read yesterday, everything was given to Jesus. He is the heir of all things and is made higher than all the angels. While Jesus was here, he appeared lower than angels, a man mocked and rejected, but now he is exalted with a crown of glory.

Though Jesus was the first to be glorified, he was the pioneer of salvation, he is not alone since salvation is available for all who believe in his name and we all can become sons of God, brothers and sisters of Christ (Hebrews 2:10-13).

This final section of the chapter is poetic and beautiful, but its real beauty comes through the deep truth and hope that it can bring to our lives. Jesus, though he was perfect and blameless, was put to death. In doing so, he destroyed death itself and freed all of us from the slavery of the fear of death. When you believe in Jesus, you are made free because you don’t need to fear death because there is life for all who are sons of God. We saw it first in Jesus. We saw him raised from the dead and ascend into heaven. This is the fate that awaits us as well. We can relate to Jesus in every way even though he is so highly exalted. He suffered temptation, suffering and death, just as we all will, but we have a hope for life that is to come, a hope that is true, because it was attested to us by God, through his son.

-Nathaniel Johnson

Questions for Reflection

  1. What is the meaning of verse 1? What do they need to pay more careful attention to? Why? Is it still true today? Is it still true for you?
  2. How would you explain Hebrews 2 to someone who has never heard of Jesus before?

The Glory of the Son

Hebrews 1

Monday, September 19, 2022

In this letter to the Hebrews, we see the Son glorified above all else and I just want to bask in his glory as I read these words. It says that Jesus is the heir of all things. It sounds impressive to be heir of all things but the glory that Jesus has in that title isn’t his own, it is that of his Father. To be heir means to be a person who inherits. That means that God chose Jesus, his Son, as his heir to inherit all things. Only God has that power and he chose to bestow it upon Jesus.


It also says that God created the world through Jesus. This sounds like 1 Corinthians 8:6 where it says all things are from the Father and all things are through the Son. This, again, is such an honor that has been given to the Son to be used in this way where all of creation can only see God through Jesus. The relationship between Jesus and God is so much more than I can even fathom or explain. That the Father loves his Son so much to give him all these gifts, and give us gifts through him.

The Son is the radiance of the glory of God. What a beautiful image! If God is the sun, then Jesus is the light that we see on earth. You can’t look at the sun, but you can see the light everywhere during the daytime. In the NRSV translation of this verse, it says that Jesus is the reflection. If God is the sun, then Jesus is the moon, reflecting the light of God even at night when we can’t see the sun.

Jesus is the exact imprint of God’s nature. This makes me think of those concrete handprints that kids make when they’re little. That piece of concrete is nothing but an imprint, and yet it looks exactly like the hand that formed it. Jesus is the imprint of God’s nature, we can see God exactly through him.

Jesus upholds the universe by the word of his power. To think that the man who was mocked, beaten and given a criminals death would be given this power. In Genesis, we see God creating the universe with nothing but a word. In the gospels, we see Jesus performing signs and miracles with nothing but a word. He commands a lame man to get up and walk, and the man gets up and walks. Jesus is truly the heir of all things, he inherited even the power of God’s word.

The Son is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high. There can be no position more glorious than this (besides the position of the One to whom Jesus is sitting to the right of). Even the angels who dwell in heaven don’t have this honor. Truly Jesus is much superior to the angels. The name that Jesus inherited is more excellent than theirs. In Revelation 19:12, we see an epic image of Jesus arriving with a host of angel armies wearing a cloak dipped in blood. It says that he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself. And his name is called the Word of God. This is what Jesus is called in John 1, the Word of God. Jesus has been given this name and the power and the majesty and the glory. Stand in awe of the Son of God.

Verses 5-14 go on to use the scriptures of old (see Hebrews 1:1) to show how much greater the Son is than the Angels. It says that Jesus is the only Begotten Son of God (John 3:16) and that God is his Father. Even the angels bow down in worship to this Jesus while they are merely messengers, like winds and fire. It says that Jesus is anointed, chosen by God and given a kingdom and throne that will last forever. It even uses passages that we would attribute to the Father to describe the Son. We know that the Father founded the earth and the heavens are the work of his hands, but the Son has come to inherit these things as well. Jesus remains even as the earth wears out like clothing and his years will never end.

Reading these verses makes me feel that the glory of Jesus is so much more than I can fathom. I believe it all and yet I still struggle to follow him with all of my heart. I can only imagine that though my head knows these things to be true, my heart doesn’t fully believe it. Do you believe it? Do you act as if you believe it? I pray to God that you and I will have our hearts changed so that we truly believe the incredible words written here and that we are moved to action, to fulfill Jesus’ commands to go into the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

-Nathaniel Johnson

Application Questions

  1. Which image or description of Jesus do you find most powerful or most helpful in attempting to understand the high place God holds for Jesus?
  2. What might receiving this letter (the book of Hebrews) have meant to the original audience – Jews/Hebrews who had become Christians?
  3. If you were to write a letter to Jesus, how would you address him? Are there any questions you would ask him? How would you revere him?
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