Part 7, returning to Hebrews. Here was my last post on Hebrews.
The recipients of the letter to the Hebrews had a choice to make. Would they be true to the Lord, in spite of the horrific persecution they faced? For them, in that pressing moment, the answer to this question was essential: Who exactly is Jesus Christ? The answer is complicated.
Hebrews 1:1-4 tells us much about God’s Son — his supremacy over creation, heaven, the universe, the angels, and the conquering of sin. Everything about Jesus exudes God’s glory. Therefore, thoughts of Jesus awaken me in the night. His closeness through the presence of his Spirit makes me aware of his unity with God the Father. That knowledge would likewise have given heart to his terrified first-century followers.
1 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 (Hebrews 1:1-4 ESV).
In describing God the Son to those early followers, the Holy Spirit author of Scripture starts here, with what we can see, inviting us to recognize the artistry of what the Son has made. Through the agency and action of the Son, the sovereign God created our natural world. God the Son was the Artist, the Architect, the Engineer, the Biochemist, and the Potter. Most probably, he was on site, walking with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening, and talking with the ones he had created.
All of this was accomplished in complete unity and harmony between Father and Son. “I and the Father are One,” Jesus stated frequently. Long ago, when Jesus walked the earth and still today as he sits at the Father’s right hand, the man the people witnessed, heard, touched, and then killed IS the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his sovereign, holy, and eternal nature, though unique in personality, mission, and role.
In many ways and at many times, even from the beginning, the One who would crush the serpent’s head was foretold, alluded to, mentioned, promised, anticipated, envisioned, and at long last realized in Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, born in Bethlehem, crucified, dead, buried, and now risen. This was his mission.
The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, Jesus told us. The last days began when Jesus ascended into heaven. They extend until Christ returns. In these days, God has spoken to us by his Son, the words have been written down. No new information is needed. We have plenty of rich truth to ruminate on. Now, we merely await his return.
He is the reality Who underlies the essence of everything—the Logos. The Collins Online Dictionary defines Logos simply:
- [sometimes logos]; Greek Philosophy
reason, thought of as constituting the controlling principle of the universe and as being manifested by speech
- Christian Theology
the eternal thought or word of God, made incarnate in Jesus Christ: John 1
All of creation culminates in the Son, and he is the heir of all things. While we await his return, he continually upholds and sustains the entire universe by his power. National Geographic acknowledged this week in an article on earthquakes that our planet is unique in all the universe. Of course it is! This was the place God created in order to enter our reality in human form.
Jesus made salvation accessible to all humankind. His blood is effective to cleanse every single human being who turns to him in repentance and faith. The work of salvation complete, he sat down at the right hand of the Father. From there he advocates for us, pleading our cause as his own, and from this seat he will judge the world.
The deeper we delve into this short passage from Hebrews, the more we recognize that Jesus is above and beyond what we are able to comprehend on this side of heaven. This passage in Colossians fleshes it out.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:15-30 ESV).
The Son is the image (eikon) of the God who is invisible. The Son’s presence among us makes clear that our God longs to be known. Jesus the Son is revelatory of God, again affirmed here as Creator of all things seen and unseen. He is the prototype (prototokos), preeminent over all creation, the arche, the first source or cause of creation.
In short, the Lord Jesus is the ruler over all. Both of these terms, eikon and prototokos, are also used to describe his resurrection. Not only is he first over all creation, but “he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” He is first. He goes before us. We follow in his footsteps, both in life and in resurrection, and also in life everlasting. Thank God for that!
I’m merely skimming here. We can barely conceive of him and his deity.
And, finally, why? Why would God stoop to put on human flesh and come to heal us as we live in this sin-filled earth? Why make peace after we broke the one command and disobeyed, leading to ever-increasing rebellion? Why condescend to live among us, to be one of us, to die for us? Because of love.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (John 3:16-17 ESV).
The rest of that passage from Colossians fleshes this out more:
21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven (Colossians 1:21-23a ESV).
Can we even begin to comprehend a God who, though far above and beyond us, passionately loves us like this? One day we will see him as he is, and when we do, he will transform us.
Until then, like those faithful early Christians, seek his face.
Your face, O Lord, I seek.
Why would God stoop to put on human flesh and come to heal us as we live in this sin-filled earth? Why make peace after we disobeyed, leading to ever-increasing rebellion? Why become one of us and die for us? Because of love. Click To Tweet
Dear readers, after years of work, it’s ready for you to read at last!
I’m absolutely thrilled to launch The Shadows Come this week, November 25, the sequel to No Longer Alone. Both books are available here: http://bit.ly/MelindasBooks! Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to find both Kindle and paperback. Come read these stories made just for you!