The Superiority of the Son
This week, Radiant Church’s Lead Pastor Keith Welton kicked off a new series on the Book of Hebrews with a sermon entitled, “The Superiority of the Son.” Below, you can listen to his sermon, watch our whole service, and use the outline for a reference.
Missed last week’s sermon from Pastor Welton, entitled “Spiritual Renewal”? You can listen to it and watch the whole service here.
We are beginning a new series on the Book of Hebrews. I am excited about this and pray that this series will shape our church in very decisive ways. The Bible is composed of various books written in various times and places, and yet they all come together to tell one unified message of salvation, but each book has its own unique contribution.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. 5 For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”? Or again, “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”? 6 And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” 7 Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” 8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” 10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.” 13 And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
Big Idea: The son (and his work) is greater than any other person, prophet, angel, and so he should be heeded as such.
The first thing to see in this is that God speaks. There are echoes of Genesis 1 where God acts through speech. So now redemptive history is summed up with God speaking in various ways at various times. At creation God acted out of his own love and goodness to create the world. So too when the world rejected him he continued to speak and act to redeem. His speaking is a reminder that he wants and desires to show his goodness and to have a relationship with his people. Speaking is the primary communication for creating a relationship. And though he has spoken at various times and various ways, he has preserved all of this in his written word so that all may have knowledge of what he has said.
Now let’s talk about what is not said in this first chapter. Most of the NT books contain an audience that is being addressed and also identifies a writer. In Hebrews, there is no address, not to a specific church, or to a particular city, to the Ephesians, Corinthians. no address. It is gathered from the content of the letter that the audience was a people who knew a lot about Judaism (Hebrews) and who had converted to Christianity, but they have also faced persecution, disappointment, and set-backs and are now going back to Judaism, drifting from their faith. They are not anchored. They are not stable. They are not mature. They are weak.
Not unlike many today. They’re drifting. It’s not an outright abandoning of their faith, but a drifting, a settling, a giving to distraction, a questioning if Jesus or the church is worth listening to.
How would you start off talking to a friend who has drifted? Someone who is not pursuing like they should be. Maybe you’d say, “Get it together. Stop doing your own thing.”
There is a time and place for that. But Hebrews begins in an unexpected way.
This book was probably written about 70 AD or just prior to that, roughly 40 years after Jesus was crucified and resurrected. And still the people who walked with Jesus, who professed to have seen him die and also resurrected and ascend into heaven are claiming he is still alive. Astounding! This book affirms what Jesus said about himself.
So this book is intended to stir people to follow and rest in Jesus. I want to look at a couple ways that is done. The first step is to see who it says Jesus is.
Who Jesus Is
Liar, lunatic, or Lord?
Who is Jesus Christ? Many people today have no idea. They didn’t grow up going to Sunday school. They have not read the Bible to hear what he did.
Also remember that at times even Jesus’ own followers didn’t fully understand who he was. He asked them one time, “Who do people say that I am?”
And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:14)
Peter said Jesus was the Christ. He is right. But this passage concisely takes us deeper. It elaborates more on who Jesus is, what he has done.
Look at Hebrews 1:
It refers to him here as the son, the son of God, and as the son of God he has a unique and supreme place in all creation.
It also takes us back to creation. He made the universe. Also he created the world (Heb 1:2 ESV). The word for “world” in the original language literally means “The times. The ages. Eternity.” Ages and all that belongs to them. Everything you see, even time!
“because by Him everything was created, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him.”(Colossians 1:16)
**The radiance of the glory of God. Radiance is outshining, effulgence. He is not just a reflection. The moon reflects the sun’s light. The moon is not the sun’s light. Jesus is the manifestation of God presence. The glory of God is in Jesus. Moses reflected the glory of the Lord. Jesus is the glory of the Lord.
**Exact representation (xaraktnr, character) of his being. That means a mark engraved or impressed, the impress or stamp on coins and seals, set a stamp of good repute upon them, originally meaning engraver or engraving tool; metaph. the mark impressed (as it were) on a person or thing, a distinctive mark, characteristic, character
Character is the impression of the quality of another on your life. Your character is only as good as the person you are looking to be like. The problem is it’s so hard to find a person worthy to emulate. If you know Jesus you know the perfect person to emulate. You have a person worthy of emulation.
It is not the person but an exact representation. A king would have his exact image on the seal of an official letter, perhaps his image would be marked on the wax seal. The character of his face. The exactness of it. It represents him but is not him.
But in that analogy the image is the same but the king is a person (that is one type or thing) the other is the stamp which is of a different type/thing. In this verse we see he is the exact representation of his hypostasis. As the objective aspect and underlying reality behind anything, with the specific meaning derived from the context; (1) as an undertaking plan, project ; (2) as God’s substantial nature real being, essence; (3) as the objective reality that gives a firm guarantee and basis for confidence or assurance substance, ground of hope, foundation.
The Son is not the Father, but they are of the same substance, being, essence. Jesus is fully God. My son is the same being as me. Jesus is not just like the father’s essence, he is the same essence.
-Sustains all things by his word. Give the command. I say jump and you say how high. All things are sustained by his word. If he does not say so it will not last. Carrying all things by his word. Your heart is beating now because he said so.
-Made purification for sins. This is the great need of humanity. How can your sin be taken away? How can your shame and inadequacies be taken care of? How can you be washed clean and made pure? Many live without hope of that. Many seek to find it at the bottom of a bottle or another purchase. Many long to hear someone tell them it is ok and not their fault. Jesus says, “I know it all, and you can experience forgiveness.” This is his chief work because once it is done. Who can atone for sins? It must be someone who has no sin. It must be someone who can relate to the father. It must be a priest who knows the priestly system.
-Sat down at the right hand of God. After a hard eternity of work, and creating and ruling the world, where is the place for him to sit? It is at the right hand of God. He sat down at the right hand of God. Imagine if I were to go up and sit at the right hand of the president. Now I may think things are going to get a lot better if that were to happen. But the reality is that they would not allow me to even enter the room. It is designated for someone else.
Heaven and earth will pass away but you will remain.
Will roll up the heavens like a garment.
~Now let me give an interlude. These are big statements. Anyone can make big statements. I like to talk a lot before I play sports. It may seem audacious to speak of someone like this.
Remember: Jesus is the one who called grown men, “come follow me” and they got up and left their jobs, careers, homes, and followed him.
-He is the one who espoused the greatest moral teaching ever like the golden rule “do to others as you would have them do to you” and “why do you take out the speck in the eye of your brother and do not see the plank in your own?”
-He is the one who knew people’s thoughts.
-He healed people no one else could.
-He prophesied his own death on a cross and also said he would rise again after three days.
-He is the one whom all his followers would give their lives testifying that he is not just a great man, but that he is the Savior of the world.
-He is the one that kings wanted to hear speak.
-He is in the line of king David, for him it was promised a savior, a king, a ruler would come from that dynasty.
-He is the one that even pagan literature speaks of. First Century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus writes this, “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and many of Greek origin. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”
-He is the most influential man in the world. Of such significance that much of the world recognized his seismic coming to the point that his birth is the dividing point of history, as everything before his coming and everything after his coming.
–In all the world’s major religions, only Buddha and Jesus so impressed their contemporaries that they were not just asked “who are you?” but “what are you?” Yet, Buddha’s and Jesus’ answer to this question could not have been more different. Buddha denied that he was divine, but Jesus repeatedly and continually claimed to be the God and Creator of the universe. (C.S.Lewis) (Keller and Bisgrove).
The Son is Superior
There is a powerful point to what is being said here. “In the past God spoke to us through the prophets. In the last days he has spoken to us by his son.” There is an argument going from the lesser to the greater.
Prophets were heard because they were those who had been with God. They had a word from God. They were listened to because God chose to communicate to others through them. They were servants chosen for a role. But who would know the Father better than a son? Who would be more acquainted with his plan and ways?
Greater to lesser. Finality.
“Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. 2 In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son,“
Jesus told a parable of an owner of a vineyard renting out the vineyard to tenants. The tenants were wicked and did not do as they were supposed to. The owner sent some servants to talk to the tenants and they treated them poorly. So next the owner sends other servants. The same thing happens. So then he decides to send his son thinking, “They will respect my son.” The son can speak for the father. The son knows the father’s business.
He told this to show the heightening actions of God to send his son into the world. Prophets were used in great ways by God, but now someone greater than all those have come. He is the one we should listen to.
He is superior to angels, as he is name is
“So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.” (Heb 1:4 NIV)
Kreitwn. (1) of persons superior, better, higher in rank (HE 1.4); substantivally more important person (HE 7.7); (2) of what is more advantageous, better, more useful (1C 7.9);
He is better than anything else. You don’t need another prophet. You don’t need to consult an angel. That angel could not tell you anything that the son has not said. The Son is over all things. You don’t need to consult your horoscope, your medium. In him you have everything you need for life and godliness. God’s revelation reaches a climax in his son. There is nothing else that needs to be said or done. We don’t need new, we simply need to understand what he has spoken and accomplished for us.
Something you will see frequently in Hebrews is quotes from the Old Testament. This group of Hebrews had an appreciation for the Scriptures. They believed it to be God’s word. The apologetic being used here is saying, “Let me show you how the Old Testament points to Jesus.”
Meet people where they are. Jesus is great enough to be seen from any starting point. In the book of Acts, Paul encountered pagans and he said, “Fine, let’s take your latest work, the latest song on the pop charts and using that as a starting point I will show you your world view has holes in it, and only a Jesus-centered worldview will make sense of life.”
Angels are God’s servants. They are meant to accomplish a purpose. They are winds, fiery flames, sent with a purpose. That’s awesome.
“but about the Son: Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the scepter of Your kingdom is a scepter of justice.” v. 8
The author is showing these people from the Old Testament Scriptures that Jesus is who he says he is. That is the one who should be listened to. This is like a father of a company who has been grooming his son to take his place. He has others that are accomplishing work for him, and their work is good and appropriate. But they are not the heir of the business. The son comes and takes his place as the president or CEO.
The son is superior to those other workers and in the same way Jesus is superior to angels and prophets and everyone else. He is better than. He is superior to.
Listen to the Son
We ought to pay attention to him. We ought to seek out what he says. We ought to pay attention to his word. We ought to be quick to submit ourlives to him. Do we live like his word is most important?
All of us face the temptation to tame Jesus, to construct a Jesus of our own making, one that makes no claims upon us—in short, a Jesus completely unlike the Jesus we find in the historical accounts in the Gospels.
Why are you being taken captive by lesser things? Why are you not believing his words?
**His superiority of person, character, being and work, means a superiority of revelation and authority.**
Why are you looking to other things? God has spoken. You don’t need the horoscope. You don’t need to consult mediums. You don’t need to worry about what others have said, like Muhammed or Buddha.
Look to Warren Buffet for advice, Lebron’s worldview, P!nk, the poets of today. They are nothing and will soon be forgotten. These are the words that will matter for eternity.
Our culture scoffs at the Christian faith, but there is this massive figure in the world named Jesus who you have to figure out what to do with. He is not easily dismissed, and don’t let the culture make you think you should push him aside.
This is the one controle history and the world. You can rest in him. He calls you to trust in him. He promises to change your life.
How do you remove the air from a beaker? You can try to vacuum it out. The beaker has a constant void. You suck air out and it is immediately filled with more air. We are like that. We want to change but we have a constant void in our life. The best way to get their air out of the beaker is to fill it with water. It is meant to hold something. Created for that purpose. Put something else into it.
You fill it with water. There is no vacuum. You replace things. Drug addicts become workout fanatics. They simply look to something else to find their identity.
We have to replace our worldly idols with Christ.