By Tyson Thorne

March 8, 2018

Hebrews 04 Large

There are many ways to communicate. One may whisper a secret, write memoirs, and give lectures but the most formal communication is through an announcement. Whether it is a birth announcement, a wedding announcement, a presidential announcement or any other they all have a sense of formality, elegance and importance. The author of the homily we call Hebrews has an announcement of his own to make. Rather than printing it on parchment or assembling a press conference he chose to write a sermon. His medium might not have been what most would choose, but you cannot accuse him of hiding his intentions.

Beginning in verse one he makes an announcement that most Jews would consider stupendous, an announcement that also happens to be theme of the first two chapters: the superiority of Jesus. He begins proving his point immediately. In the past, he explains, God revealed himself through human messengers — the fathers of their nation, then the prophets. But this source of revelation was fragmented and incomplete. Following the last prophet (Malachi) God revealed himself through his son, the perfect representative of the Father. In the first three verses he establishes that Jesus is superior to the prophets.

Because Jesus is God, sustaining all things by his word, accomplishing the forgiveness of sins, Jesus alone is worthy to sit at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is therefore superior to all the angelic hosts. Should the Israelites need proof of this, the author shows that Jesus is superior from the Old Testament (verses five through 14). This is the central message of the remainder of chapter one, but there is much more theology packed into these 14 verses. Jesus, for instance, is heir to all things. This includes all of heaven, all of earth, and anything else that might exist. We could do an entire series on this alone, but not today. Read through them at your leisure and be inspired by the majesty of our savior.

Chapter two begins with a cryptic warning to pay attention or risk drifting away. The message referred to here is the message angels gave to Moses on Mount Sinai. By following the teachings, Jesus-followers will not fall away as the Israelites did. The context makes clear that this refers to a drifting away from God's word, not losing their salvation. There is a line of thought that is born out of these verses, that Judaism is, in a sense, a falling away of the ancient faith held by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus restored the ancient faith, correcting the course of man's relationship with God.

The rest of chapter two reveals two truths. The first is that Jesus became a little lower than the angels in order to gain greater glory (verses 5-9): "...Now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death…". The second truth is that he became a brother to men in order to become their high priest (verses 10-18): "Therefore he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in things relating to God...". The author takes goes to great lengths to tell us just how much Jesus can identify with humanity. Think that through for a moment, the one through whom all things were created deliberately chose to become not like us, but to become us. Examine the following verses:

  • "…he who makes holy and those being made holy all have the same origin…" verse 11
  • "…Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, he likewise shared in their humanity…" verse 14
  • "…Therefore he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every respect…" verse 17
  • "For since he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted." verse 18

Why go to such lengths? Because the more we understand about our God the more we can connect with him, even as he has made great strides to connect with us. This brings us to a bit of theology called the Hypo-static Union, which states that Jesus is both 100 percent man and 100 percent God simultaneously. There is another reason this is so important, and that is that only in this manner can Jesus become our high priest. Why that is important will be taken up in chapters three and four.

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