In this first lesson on Hebrews, we see that the first chapter of
Hebrews is unusual when compared to other first century letters. It's
strange because this letter doesn't record the recipient or the sender.
Instead, the author jumps right into book. He has an immediate and pressing goal. He wants his audience, Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, and Jews considering becoming Christians, to understand the supremacy of Christ.
What does it mean to be supreme? Supreme is defined as:
In this first lesson on Hebrews we learn that chapter one lists eight proofs of Christ's supremacy.
1. Jesus is God's Son / Heir (vs 2)
In the ancient world a son or an heir had the same authority and power as his father. The son of a tailor would be a tailor. The son of a king would be a king. So, the Son of God has the authority and power of God.
2. Jesus is the Agent of Creation (vs 2)
In Genesis we have the record of creation. God spoke creation into existence. The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus is the Word of creation. The Creator will always have supreme power over creation.
Radiation is how a source of energy (i.e. light or heat) is spread out to the area around it. Without radiation, we wouldn't feel the heat of a fire or see its light cast. Jesus’ purpose on earth was to glorify God through his salvific sacrifice. In other words, Jesus came to make God’s glory known. See the Gospel of John, Chapter 17.
4. Jesus is the Exact Imprint of God's Nature (vs 3)
Colossians 1:15 tells us that Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. Christ is both truly God and truly man. Though He is visible, and God the Father is invisible, Christ’s will, mind, and desires are perfectly aligned with the Fathers because Jesus shares the same divine nature of the Father.
5. Jesus Upholds the Universe by the Word of His Power (vs 3)
It's Jesus’ supreme power that “supports” or “maintains” the universe.
6. Jesus Made Purification from Sin Possible for All Men (vs 3)
In Mark 2:5, Jesus recognizes the faith of the paralytic and then forgives his sins. The scribes speak the truth when they say that God alone can forgive sin. It's only because of the redemptive act of Jesus Christ on the cross that man can receive forgiveness and be seen as pure in view of God.
7. Jesus is Sitting at the Right Hand of God the Father (vs 2)
In the ancient world sitting at the right hand was the seat of favor. To be at the right hand of a king would mean that you had similar authority. It also gave you the opportunity of intercession. Christ, as our Great High Priest is the perfect intercessor (We will study intercession later in the book of Hebrews).
8. Jesus is Superior to Angels (vss 4-14)
The author of Hebrews is a master of quoting the Old Testament in order to convince his audience of Christ’s supremacy. In the first chapter he quotes:
It's awesome that the Holy Spirit wouldn't only inspire this scripture so that it would be meaningful for its original audience; but also so that it could be used by the author of Hebrews as well. He uses this scripture to compare the limited favor of angels with God’s supreme favor of Jesus.
What's the Author trying to help the first century Jerusalem Jews understand?
These proofs of Jesus’ supremacy are helping them and us studying this first lesson on Hebrews to understand that Jesus is more than a favored prophet or a good teacher.
The author is telling us that Jesus is God!
This is really critical because much of the world will say they like
Jesus, and what He teaches, but they don’t believe He's God.
Have you ever come across someone with this kind of limited, weak view of Jesus? If we're to truly surrender to the supremacy of this incredible Christ, we must strive to understand who He is! Not just the easy parts of who He is; but ALL of who He is.
Many will argue that the Bible doesn’t even say that Christ is God. The Da Vinci Code, even though it is a fictional book, popularized a false and dangerous myth. Many will claim that it wasn’t until the council of Nicaea in 325 AD that they voted to make Jesus God, and until that point He was just a good prophet.
In light of our study of this first lesson on Hebrews chapter 1, this is clearly not true. The book of Hebrews was written before 90 AD, and many scholars believe before 70 AD. This 1st century Christian author is clearly giving to Christ all the supreme authority and power of God.
Quickly look over the list of eight descriptors of Jesus. Is this describing just a man? Just a prophet? Just a good teacher?
Are there examples of Jesus claiming to be God?
Check out these passages and see for yourself.
So how supreme is Jesus? The author of Hebrews will continue to build his case in the next few chapters beyond this first lesson on Hebrews. But he can be no more accurate than to describe Jesus as God, which he has done as we have seen in this first lesson on Hebrews.
Do you recognize the supremacy of Christ? Do you see His divine authority? Is your life changed by His power?
Suppose a person were to show up to a Bible study lesson 30 minutes late. He walks in and apologizes.
“Sorry I’m late,” he huffs, “I stopped to help an old lady cross the street, and just as we stepped off the curb, I got hit by a Mack Truck.”
Everyone looks closely at the man and then start to grumble. “No way,” they mutter.
It makes sense that the people don't believe the man. His clothes aren't dirty. He doesn't have a bump, scratch, or bruise. He looks in no way different than he did last week. How could he have been hit by a Mack Truck and still be alive? Unchanged?
When someone comes face to face with a supreme force they cannot help but to be changed.
When someone comes to know Jesus as their Lord and savior, they will change.
2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that when we are in Christ we become a new creation. We are affected by His supremacy in such a way that the old will “pass away”. There will be evidence that we are different! Do you see this evidence in your life?
If you really believe that Jesus is supreme, are you submitting to His will for your life? Or do you continue to live as you always have done. You will never truly submit your life to Jesus unless you recognize that He's worthy of your submission.
We pray this first lesson on Hebrews is a blessing to you.