August 20, 2023 | Jess Rainer
Passage: Hebrews 1:1-4
Opening Illustration: One of kids was saddened by my childhood. Now before you get too alarmed, I had a blessed childhood. I had very little to complain about. But what I didn’t have growing up was home cooking. I explained to one my kids about how one of my favorite meals was hotdogs cut in and put in mac and cheese. Rachel told me she didn’t even know you can buy pre-made frozen pancakes until she met me. This child looked at me with tears beginning to form in their eyes and said: “Dad, I feel bad for you. But you have mom’s cooking now and it’s so much better.” I agreed, but I still like hotdogs and mac and cheese. That phrase, “It’s so much better” is powerful. When we say that phrase in life, we are telling other people we have found something that has changed the way we think, the way we act, and the way we relate to the world around us.
Today, we are embarking on a journey through the book of Hebrews that is screaming for you to take hold of a foundational truth for your lives. And that truth is this: Jesus is better. Take hold of Jesus and don’t let go because He’s better than anything else in this life. The new Sermon Series: Hebrews: The Complete Work of Christ. Going through this book as a church has been tossed around for awhile. And I’ve always felt like, as a church, this book didn’t line up with the seasons we have faced. Well, the book came up again recently in an elder meeting. I told the elder team that we only had 15 weeks left before we started our Christmas series and it wasn’t enough time to finish the book. Then one elder (Derek) said, “Well, just pick it up back up at the beginning of next year.” After 26 weeks, if you are exhausted from this book, you can blame Derek. Having that objection out of the way, we are about to embark on quite the journey. As I started studying this week, I kept reading things like: “This is one of the most difficult books in the NT” - “This isn’t a book that churches study often” - “Hebrews is not a light appetizer; it’s a porterhouse steak. It’s heavy, meaty stuff.” - “It’s the riddle of the NT”. Again, blame Derek…I also read: “It’s rich. It’s wonderful.” - “It’s a book that clearly, grandly, and magnificently proclaims the wonders of Jesus.” And because of that, you can thank Derek. Let’s begin today with just the first four verses of Hebrews. With just a few words, we see that Jesus is better. Read Hebrews 1:1-4. Pray.
I want us to read us these first two verses of Hebrews and then take a massive step back from these verses. These two verses were written with an assumption that the audience knew a lot about the Old Testament. In all reality, the entire book is written with an assumed knowledge of the Old Testament. The author, is unknown, but we can deduce the audience of this book were Hellenistic Jews. Jews in the Greek culture. We’ll talk more about the author and the audience as we go, but since there is an assumed knowledge of the Old Testament, we will take steps back from Hebrews and go into the Old Testament often. In these first two verses, the author leads us to see God’s big plan. Here’s where we start: Jesus is better than your future plans.
1) Jesus is better than your future plans. (vs. 1-2) Look at these first two verses: 1Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. In these two verses, the author is actually showing how God has mapped out the entire course of humanity. I told you Hebrews is going to be some meat for us to chew on! Verse one starts by saying “Long ago”. This is drawing us back to creation. God spoke all of creation into existence. God created the universe through His Son, which we see in verse 2. John 1 should immediately come to mind: 1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. Jesus is the agent of creation. And Jesus’ saving work begins with creation.
Verse one continues by saying God spoke through the prophets. Why is that? If you remember, God was walking with Adam and Eve in the garden but sin messed that all up. Sin entered the world and marred the relationship between God and man. But God didn’t want that to be the end of the story. God created a plan to redeem His relationship with humanity. So, God used prophets in the Old Testament to communicate with His people. God made some awesome promises to His people – like sending His Son into humanity to save humanity. And that’s what verse two is about. Throughout all of the Old Testament, God’s people were waiting on Jesus to show up. And we know that Jesus’ birth, life, and death that happened about 2000 years ago was Jesus bringing about the redemption of God’s people. That’s what verse 2 is about. The “final days” are the days since Jesus died on the cross and rose again. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, Jesus is going to inherit all of creation. Everything God created and did was for Jesus.
I want you to take a step and look a look at the entire course of humanity. God created the universe through Jesus for Jesus. That’s Colossians 1:16. Because of what Jesus did, Jesus has an inheritance coming that is unimaginable. And here’s where it gets so cool: For those who are united with Christ, we get to participate in that inheritance with Jesus. We see that in Ephesians 1. What if Jeff Bezos called you up and said, “Hey, I randomly picked your name out of all the people in the world and I want to put you in my will. You will inherit my wealth. In fact, I’m going to start sharing some of it with you right now with 50 million dollars.” What would you do? You’d throw all of your future plans out of the window. You would start telling the world just how amazing Bezos is. What Jesus is offering to us is far greater than all of the world’s riches put together! Live your life in the reality of the coming inheritance of Jesus. Whatever future plans you are making that don’t include Jesus, let me remind you of something: Jesus is better. Whatever plans you are making for yourself, let me remind you of something: Jesus is better. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. – Ephesians 1:11. God’s better plan will work out for your life. We’re just getting started! This keeps getting better. Here’s what we see next: Jesus is better than anything you’ve seen.
2) Jesus is better than anything you’ve ever seen. (vs. 3a) Illustration: I read this week about a subatomic particular that was discovered in 2012. What caught my attention is that it was nicknamed “The God particle”. The actual name of the particle is called The Higgs Boson. Scientists have been trying to “find” this particle since 1964. In 2012, scientists found a way to take protons and ram them together at almost the speed of light. When the protons collide, they create this explosion of subatomic particles. From what I’ve read, one of those particles is significant because it’s the particle that gives mass to everything. Without this particle, it’s thought that nothing would exist as we know it. In the last 10 years, scientists have continued to study this particle. It appears the more they study the particle, the less they understand about it. I read an article that said this: Physicists have spotted the Higgs boson performing a new trick, but one that brings us no closer to understanding the workings of fundamental particles. The Higgs boson, discovered at the CERN particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, in 2012, is the particle that gives all other fundamental particles mass, according to the standard model of particle physics. However, despite the work of thousands of researchers around the world, nobody has been able to figure out exactly how it does that or why some particles are more massive than others. These scientists see the unseen. They marvel at the intricacies of our universe. Yet, it’s still not enough. I hope and pray these scientists come to the understanding that we already have. That there is a God who is holding all things together. Whether you are looking at the largest mountains in the world or using science to see the subatomic particles, Jesus is better than anything you’ve ever seen.
The author of Hebrews, in just a few words, tells us how Jesus shows us God’s glory. Look at the first part of verse3: 3a The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. God’s glory is something that we will be in complete awe of when we get to heaven. This glory that we will one day behold has radiated through Jesus. The sun is a great example. The light and heat from the sun all just radiating what is really going on inside that ball of mass. Quote: “Just as the radiance of the sun reaches this earth, so in Christ the glorious light of God shines into the hearts of men and women.” – F. F. Bruce. Not only does Jesus radiates God’s glory, Jesus also does what? Look at what we read next: 3a The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. Jesus not only shows us the glory of God, but Jesus also shows the very nature of God. God isn’t hiding who He is. You don’t have to wonder what God will be like because God shows to reveal who He is in and through Jesus. There’s no mystery man behind the curtain. I like how the ESV translation puts it: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…” Do you all remember Silly Putty? You can stretch it, snap it, roll it in a ball and bounce it. You could also do one more thing with it: make copies of the newspaper with it (and then make funny faces). You could make an imprint of something in the newspaper. What this verse says is that Jesus is the exact imprint of who God is. And there is no distortion.
Can we marvel at this for a little bit?
- That Jesus has revealed God’s glory and God’s nature.
- We don’t have to wonder what God is like.
- That God choose to reveal Himself to us through Jesus.
- God didn’t have to do that!
- On our own power, we had zero ability to seek God out.
- There wasn’t some shack on a mountain that we can climb to get to know God.
- The only way for God to be known was for God to reveal Himself.
- Quote: “Unless God renews our understanding, we cannot think our way to God. You cannot find an intellectual road to God. The only way that God may be known is for Him to place Himself in the realm of our perception and to renew our ability to think.” – Alistair Begg.
- As much as these scientists continue to break apart atoms and particles, they will never find God’s glory and nature
- Will they find things that point back to God?
- Absolutely. Because God created those things.
- But they will never find God Himself.
- Because God didn’t choose to reveal Himself that way.
- God choose to reveal Himself through Jesus.
- Will they find things that point back to God?
- On our own power, we had zero ability to seek God out.
- God didn’t have to do that!
Jesus is better. Do you believe that? He’s better than your future plans. He’s better than anything you’ve seen. And here’s the final way Jesus is better: Jesus is better than any promise you’ve been given.
3) Jesus is better than any promise you’ve been given. (vs. 3b-4) What did Jesus say He would do when He walked this earth? Look at what Jesus said in John 6: 35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. 37 However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. 38 For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. 39 And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. 40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.” Jesus said He came to do the Father’s will. And that will was to bring about the salvation for humanity. Jesus promised to give eternal life to those who believe in Him. Jesus did what He said He would do. And that’s exactly what verse 3 says: 3b When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. It’s a factual statement. Jesus said He would bring about the redemption of mankind and He did. Jesus is the only one who can take you into the very presence of God.
On top of that, where is Jesus now and what is He still going to do? Look at the last part of verse 3: 3b When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. Jesus, right now, is sitting in heaven, ruling and mediating on our behalf. Jesus has the final word. Jesus has the final word on death, sin, and eternal life. It’s a done deal. Illustration: Having the final word in an argument. It’s starts with full sentences. Then it moves to phrases. And then it moves to just words. Finally, you just try to make the last sound. If that’s not enough, you’ll just say some words to yourself even though the other person can’t hear you. With Jesus, it’s His word – His final word – every time. What earthly promise are you clinging to that you need to let go and start clinging to a heavenly promise? What promise are you waiting on someone to fulfill that Jesus is saying, “I have the fulfillment you are looking for.” Jesus is the best promise you can ever take hold of. He’s ruling right now. His promises are still real and true. His promise to return will come true. Jesus is better. And the angels know it too! 4 This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names. Jesus is better!
Rachel offers me a peach for the first time. It took a little convincing, but I tried it. And it was good. It’s not my job to convince, but I want to hold out to you something that I know is better. Just in these first few verses, we see that Jesus is better. He's the son of God. He's the revelation of God. He's the fulfillment of God's revelation in the Old Testament. He's the heir of all things. He's the agent of creation. He's the radiance of God's glory. He's the expression of God's nature. He's the preserver of all creation. He’s the purifier of God's people. He's the mediator for God's people. Jesus is better than anything this world offers.
Take hold of what’s better! GOSPEL PRESENTATION. Let’s be a people that knows Jesus is better. Let’s be a people that lives like Jesus is better. Let’s pray.
Transition to Lord’s Supper
 CCEC, Mohler, pg. 12
Sin causes us to experience shame, rejection, and pain. This series highlights the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ in the Book of Hebrews—offering hope to all of those struggling with self-doubt and seclusion. By exploring the passages that connect Jesus' ministry to the fulfillment of the Law, this guide will help you not only better understand the Old Testament, but also how Jesus completes the story of God’s redemption. This is a great series to remind others of God’s love for them, as well as the sacrifice He made to bring them back to God.