The letter to the Hebrews begins by reminding the readers that they live within the most significant moment of human history. The God who revealed himself through his messengers of old has now revealed himself in the person of his Son. The divine Son transcends all other divine messengers, for he reigns over all things, having created all things. He is the effulgence of God's glory, the image of his substance, upholding all things through his powerful word. His right to reign at the right hand of our Majestic God is evidenced in his purification of the people of God, and that reign exalts him above all other divine messengers.
v1-2a. Our God is a communicating God; he is a God who speaks. Throughout the history of the people of Israel God has communicated with his people through human messengers, people like Moses and the prophets. Now, at the end of the age, God the Father has spoken through his Son and given to us a complete and final revelation of his intentions for the human race.
v2b-3. Our author now lists the amazing personal qualities of the Son of God, reminding us of his superiority over all other messengers and mediators between God and mankind. i] Jesus is the heir of all things, that is, he inherits all the blessings promised to Israel by the prophets of old, blessings which are ours when we put our trust in him. ii] He is the creative power of God, the preexistent one through whom the whole universe was created. iii] He is the visible and comprehensible manifestation of the divine, the reflection of God's glory and the image of God's person. If we want to know what God is like all we have to do is look at Jesus. iv] He sustains the universe, providentially maintaining the cosmos through his word of power. v] He rules all things in time and space, all powers and authorities are under his royal authority, and this rightly so, for he gave his life for the purification of broken humanity.
v4. So, the Son is indeed God the Father's superior messenger and mediator, as the divine acclimation "my son" confirms. The angels who functioned as mediators of the divine message were indeed important, as were the patriarchs and prophets of old, but none compare with Jesus the Son of God.
The significance of Christ's birth in Bethlehem is easily dismissed, or at least overlooked. In that birth is encapsulated God's final and complete self-revelation to humanity. Christ is God with us: heard, seen and touched.
I'm pushing past 70 years of age and over those years I have watched my wonderful country Australia move from a can do country to a can't do one. This is not an Australian phenomenon, but is something cursing the Western World. Nanny Government is the order of the day, even to some degree in that bastion of personal freedom, the United States of America. I constantly wonder why it is that we want our political masters to wipe our nose for us. Is it fear, do we crave security? We seem intent on having our Government to do more for us, which of course means we have to pay more and have less left to care for ourselves.
I wonder if the problem lies with our loss of objective truth. The Western world is increasingly moving away from the notion of an objective truth that finds its source in the mind of God. We are driven hither and thither by the speculative musings of social commentators empowered by the fad, or fear, of the day. In the end, the politically correct truths of our age, like beauty, are in the eye of the beholder.
Yet, despite our loss of confidence in objective truth, truth has not ceased to be. Commentators may muse, Governments may legislate, but there is one who has come into our world who stands above the musings of humanity, who transcends all truth, the one who is the emperor of our universe. He is the effulgence of divine glory, the image of divine substance, the creator and sustainer of the universe. And rightly so, for in his coming to be with us, and in his dying and rising, he washed us clean, making us worthy of his new creation.
So yes, there is truth, a truth that sets us free, and this from a communicating God who in and through the babe of Bethlehem broke into our dark and dying world.
1. Identify the different ways God's has communicated his mind to us.
2. List the personal attributes ascribed to Jesus in this passage. Discuss how each attribute intersects with your personal life.