Jesus is different from all the messengers of God who came before him. God had spoken through many prophets in many ways before the first century. In Jesus there is something different, because Jesus brought the radiance of God’s glory and essence to earth…
1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
In the past, God spoke to Israel through prophets. This happened many times many ways. We can read about Samuel and Nathan and Micah and Isaiah and all their contemporaries. Even John the Baptist, who was the forerunner to Jesus, was a prophet whom God used to speak to his people, Israel.
In these last days, however, God has spoken to us by his Son. These last days is the first century A.D. This is a letter written perhaps from Rome, by someone senior in the first century church, who is part of the movement of Jesus (giving updates on young Timothy in chapter 13), and who is part of Israel. The writer is a Hebrew, because we see that in verse 2 he (could have been a she) is part of the ‘us’ to whom God speaks. God speaks to us by his Son.
Israel went from receiving God’s word from prophets to receiving God’s word from God’s son, Jesus. Do you believe Jesus speaks the words of God? Sometimes we hear people talk about how they believe in Jesus and believe he is a great teacher, yet they don’t believe he was God or that he was God’s messenger. Perhaps he was a messenger, but not God’s messenger. Just so you know, the Bible disagrees.
Here we see that Jesus was appointed by God as heir of all things (think of the position the firstborn son had in this culture), and was the one through whom God made the universe. Huh? Yes, that’s right, we see here that Jesus is the creator. This teaching is echoed in Colossians 1 where we see that Jesus not only created all things, everything is held together through him (by his powerful word, we see here in vs. 2).
For some, this is new territory, because their view of Jesus is the nice teacher who roamed the countryside teaching of love. Hebrews tells us that Jesus is more than this. He is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being. The writer of Hebrews makes no bones about this from the start of his letter: Jesus is God. The exact representation and the radiance of God’s glory. The original greek word here is the word transliterated as character. This was the tool made to engrave and mould, the impress used to make coins or seals. Jesus is the real deal.
In summary of his sacrificial work, we read that after providing purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God in heaven. That’s where Jesus is as we start the book of Hebrews. Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God.
We will spend the book of Hebrews understanding Jesus – seeing how different and great he is compared to the other, lesser, messengers of God and celestial creatures, compared to the former ways of relating to the Father, and how great in inspiring us to live out the new life which he purchased for us on the cross.
Do you know this Jesus? Do you want to know him more? Tune in as we uncover the truth and mystery of Jesus in this letter to Jewish Christians of the first century…