Note: I am indebted to the work, Hebrews: A Call to Commitment by William L. Lane (Regent College Publishing, 2004). His brief commentary on Hebrews has deeply shaped my understanding of the text. All that follows in my own teaching of the sermon to the Hebrews is but a footnote to his work.
When we go through times of suffering, struggle and strife some questions tend to pop into our minds. The first is, “Where is God?” The second is, “Will he do anything?” I think there is a third and it is one that we don’t like to admit, “Is following God worth it?”
As I open my Bible to the Sermon to the Hebrews it doesn’t take long to understand that we are not alone in these questions.
Yes, I called Hebrews a sermon. It is structured like a sermon from beginning to end. It doesn’t have a greeting or a real letter ending, but a benediction. This “letter” is crafted to be a sermon. Perhaps one of the earliest Christian sermons that we have. Secondly, I think it was most likely written to Roman Jewish Christians who were on the verge of a time of persecution. The tone of the sermon seems to be a reminder of who they are as Christians and that Jesus is worthy to hold on to. These early Christians could have gone back to the Synagogue and avoided the persecution. But, the preacher wants them to hold on because Jesus is worth it. (See Lane’s text for the argument.)
The preacher begins by declaring that God has spoken. The Creator God is not a God who is silent. He is one who steps into time and history and speaks. He has done so through prophets but has ultimately no spoken through his Son. This Son is remarkable (vv 2-3):
- Heir of all things
- Through whom all the worlds were created
- Reflection of God’s glory
- Imprint of God’s being
- Sustains all things
- Made purification for sin
- Sits at the right hand of God
This Son, he is something else. Have you ever even thought about the reality that it was God the Son who did the actual creating? God the Father spoke and the God the Son did. Along with that reality that it is God the Son who is sustaining everything. This whole creation is being held together by the Son. We don’t have to worry about the creation falling apart because God the Son is at work. Not only this, but he has made purification for sins and is seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high (God).
I think it’s safe to say that God the Son is unique in every way and he “moved into the neighborhood” in the person of Jesus.
Jesus is the unique Son of God.
Do you want to know what God looks like? Look at Jesus.
Do you want to know what God says? Look at Jesus.
Do you want to know what God might do in a particular situation? Look at Jesus.
Jesus is the exact representation of God. He is the embodiment of God.
When we are walking through an uncertain world we can rest in the knowledge of who Jesus is. When everything else seems to be falling apart we can come back to this one truth: Jesus is God. Too often we think of Jesus in our image. Because of this, it often feels like he is less than trustworthy or that he will in some way fail us. The fact of the matter is that he is God’s image. When we can wrap our minds around that reality then in the midst of the uncertain world and the suffering, struggle, and strife we will inevitable face we can hold on because Jesus is worthy.
Some questions to ponder and discuss:
- Why do you think it is important to remember that it was by Jesus the God spoke?
- How does your impression or understanding of Jesus change as you think about him being the creator?
- Check out John 1, how does it inform your understanding of Hebrews 1:1-4?
- What do you learn about God with the understanding that Jesus is the reflection of his glory and exact imprint of his very being?
- How do you feel knowing that Jesus has made purification for sin?
- What are the reasons you find Jesus worthy of your trust?