If Jesus Upholds All Things, Why Is He The One We Neglect for Other Stuff?

In the previous two verses, we saw that Christ’s word is entirely sufficient for all of life and ministry. Christ’s word is the final word, which is entirely sufficient to accomplish both the salvation and sanctification of God’s people. Yet, in every generation, we get addicted to so much less. We invest in school, athletics, music, leisure, games, and entertainment. The one thing that we neglect is the one thing that we need above all else. In fact, it is the most necessary thing for our lives- that is the correct teaching and right application of Christ’s word. Yes, more important, even, than school or work or any other activity.

After stating the importance of God’s word, the author(s) of this sermon to the Hebrews describes Jesus Christ’s place in creation according to what was revealed in the Old Testament. Compared to all of the other things we fill our lives with, what place does Jesus actually have?

Hebrews 1:3-14

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.

For to which of the angels did He ever say, “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You”?

And again, “I will be a Father to Him And He shall be a Son to Me”?

  And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.”

And of the angels He says, “Who makes His angels winds, And His ministers a flame of fire.”

But of the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness above Your companions.”

And, “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Your hands; They will perish, but You remain; And they all will become old like a garment, And like a mantle You will roll them up; Like a garment they will also be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.”

  But to which of the angels has He ever said, “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies A footstool for Your feet”?

  Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?


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Jesus’ position (v. 3-4)

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature,

After explaining that all of Scripture is breathed by Jesus Christ and the importance of this word, the author(s) describe Jesus, saying that Jesus is the radiance of the Father’s glory and the exact representation of the Father’s nature.

What does it mean that Jesus is the radiance of the Father’s glory? When we consider the radiance of the sun, we realize that we do not see the sun, itself. This is true of anything that we perceive with our eyes. We cannot see physical things of themselves. We perceive light, which bounces off and through objects. So, I do not see a table, itself, but the reflection of that table. The same is true of God the Father. He is invisible. He is spirit. He cannot be perceived by our eyes. God’s nature is unsearchable to an even greater degree. Not only can we not see Him, but Scripture tells us that we are in the dark (Job 37:19), that God performs unsearchable things without number (Job 9:10), that God’s greatness is unsearchable (145:3), that God’s understanding is unsearchable (Isaiah 40:28), and that God’s judgments and ways are unsearchable (Romans 11:33). The Father is wholly above us and we cannot even perceive Him, let alone seek Him out or find Him.

The author(s) describes Jesus as the radiance of the Father, meaning Jesus is the one we can see. If we have seen Jesus, we have seen the Father. The only way for us to perceive anything about the Father, know anything about the Father, or understand anything about the Father is in Christ. Those who do not look to Christ are unable to perceive God at all. This may be why there are so many religions in the world and so many people who make the claim that there is no God. Without the word of Christ and without Christ Himself, we are wholly unable to perceive God. We are left to guess and to worship what can be perceived.

What does it mean that Jesus is identified as the exact representation of the Father’s nature? The author(s) don’t identify Jesus as some holy person who has become like God. Jesus is identified as the Father’s exact representation. Whereas people were created in God’s image, Jesus is the exact representation. He is the full and complete revelation of the Father within the Father’s creation. 

…and upholds all things by the word of His power.

The author(s) identify Christ as the one through whom the Father’s words are spoken. All things are upheld by the power of Christ’s word because Christ is the full and complete revelation of God within God’s creation. This fact highlights, again, the important of Christ’s word above all and the importance of our coming together to sit under the teaching of His word. This also means that our status, successes, positions, and anything else we might gain or be is upheld by the word of God’s power, that is Christ.

It is not our level of education, our prominence as athletes, our knowledge of culture, or any of our activities or investments that uphold our lives. It is only the word of His power. The very thing that upholds all things is the very thing we neglect in our effort to uphold our very lives.

 When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.

When Jesus made purification for sins, He assumed His rightful throne within Creation. The truth of the Gospel is that we are insufficient to merit salvation. We are not the radiance of the Father’s glory. Whereas He is righteous we are not. Because we are unrighteous, we sinned under the Father’s Law. Jesus, being the full and complete revelation of God, is the only righteous one. He made purification for the sins of His people. This is who God is. As we discovered last week, the prophets, priests, and kings are all fulfilled in Christ. These positions were prepared for Christ in His creation. That is what the whole Old Testament was about. Now it is Christ alone who fills these positions.



The testimony of the Father (v. 4-14)

After identifying Jesus as one with God and God, the author(s) quotes what God has claimed throughout His Scriptures in order to show that his claims are simply a teaching of what God, Himself, has spoken throughout His word. The preacher wants to prove from Scripture that Jesus is truly the one with this authority, this word of power, and the full and complete revelation of the Father. I will include the Old Testament references and contextual information in parentheses.

For to which of the angels did He ever say, “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You” (Psalm 2:7, a coronation and a messianic psalm)?

And again, “I will be a Father to Him And He shall be a Son to Me” (2 Samuel 7:14, the promise to Davids descendants, the kings culminating in Jesus Christ)?

 And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” (Psalm 97:7, referring to the angels, or gods, worship of the Most High God).

And of the angels He says, “Who makes His angels winds, And His ministers a flame of fire.” (Psalm 104:4, in reference to God’s providence in creation and care).

But of the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness above Your companions.” (Psalm 45:6-7, in reference to God choosing and anointing Himself as king within His own creation).

And, “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Your hands; They will perish, but You remain; And they all will become old like a garment, And like a mantle You will roll them up; Like a garment they will also be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.” (Psalm 102:25-27, in reference to God who has appeared in His glory).

 But to which of the angels has He ever said, “Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies A footstool for Your feet” (Psalm 110:1, in reference to God’s dominion as He serves as His own perpetual priest)?

 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?

Jesus is greater than the spiritual angels. Jesus is the one who made purification for sins. The spiritual angels are servants who are sent out to serve for the sake of those who will inherit salvation, those on whose behalf Christ has made purification for sins. Christ alone is not only the eternal prophet but also the eternal priest. His word is what we need. His intercession is what we need. Just as nothing other than Christ’s word can reveal anything about the Father, nothing apart from Christ’s atoning sacrifice can purify us. This is why we cannot rightly listen to later day prophets or pray to angels or “saints.” This is what we mean when we profess Christ alone.

Jesus Christ is the only one who has been exalted according to the foreordination of the Father. If Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature and the radiance of God’s glory, why would God need to reveal any new prophetic information after Christ has been seen and can be known personally? It is Christ sho upholds all things by the word of His power, not by the words of people. He has made purification for sin. He took His rightful place of authority. His words are the ones that are authoritative.

In fact, Jesus has become better than all other messengers or angels. His name is more excellent. We do not choose a church based on who the preacher or pastor is or on who else attends. There is a more excellent name- Jesus Christ. If Christ’s words are not being taught, then a church is not a true church.

God’s word through the Old Testament, especially the Psalms as we see in this passage, spoke to the exaltation of Christ Alone. Christ is Lord. The messenger or angel is a ministering spirit sent out to render service in Christ Alone for the sake of those who will inherit salvation. This is why we speak and teach Christ’s words alone, as do the heavenly angels. If anyone, even an angel from heaven, teaches a different Gospel, we reject it because it is not what has been handed to us by Christ Jesus, our Lord (Galatians 1:8).



Questions:

  1. What place does Jesus have in your life whether you recognize it or not?
  2. Do you live and participate in the things that you participate in as if Christ is preeminent, or do lesser things take priority?
  3. Knowing that it is Christ who upholds all things by the power of His word, does it make sense to trust in our own education, athletic ability, or achievements to get us where we want to be? Is our investment in our relationship with Christ the most important thing? Do our lives reflect that?
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