BOOK OF HEBREWS: HEBREWS 1:1-14
THREE REASONS WHY JESUS IS WORTHY OF MY WORSHIP
This morning marks the beginning of our look at the book of Hebrews. The book of Hebrews is an absolutely amazing book, and it is one of my most-favorite books in the entire Bible. I wish I could tell you who wrote this great book; but unfortunately, no one knows for sure. Many throughout the centuries have assumed that it was the Apostle Paul, but for whatever reason, the author left the book anonymous.
The intended audience of the book was a group of Jews that had accepted Christ as their Savior. Even though Christianity developed out of Judaism, the radical transformation from accepting Jesus as the Messiah left many of these new Christians with some very strange ideas about who Jesus was. And while some of their ideas were crazy, I can imagine that it would have been very difficult for them to understand exactly who Jesus was. I mean, they knew that the Messiah was going to be born in Bethlehem, and they knew that He was going to do lots of miracles, but they didn’t realize that God Himself was coming down to save them! From a very young age, there was one central doctrine that was hammered into every young Jew’s mind. And no doubt, if you asked a Jew today, they would say the same thing was their central belief. And that is taken from Deuteronomy chapter six, verse four, which says, “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one.”
So a Jew that became a Christian would sometimes get very confused about who Jesus was. The normal Christian would say, “Jesus is God in the flesh.” And a Jewish believer might say, “Well, not exactly. I mean, Jesus is great, and He is even the Messiah, but the Bible clearly says that God is one, not two or three.” This is the kind of belief that the writer of Hebrews is addressing in Hebrews chapter one. Since the Jewish believers couldn’t figure out who Jesus was, some of them had come to the conclusion that Jesus was an angel, and the writer of Hebrews has some very definitive words for them in chapter one. So if you are not there already, I invite you to turn in your Bibles to Hebrews chapter one, and we’ll be reading all fourteen verses.
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, and hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said He at any time, ‘Thou art My Son, today have I begotten Thee?’ And again, ‘I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son?’ And again, when He bringeth in the first begotten into the world, He saith, ‘And let all the angels of God worship Him.’ And of the angels He saith, ‘Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.’ But unto the Son He saith, ‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the specter of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.’ And, ‘Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail.’ But to which of the angels said He at any time, ‘Sit on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool?’ Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”
Let’s pray before we dive into God’s word.
The title of this morning’s sermon is “Three Reasons Why Jesus is Worthy of My Worship.” As always, I encourage you to take notes from sermons, not because I say things in a way that will blow your mind, but because you just might learn something from the word of God that you did not know before. Let’s begin by looking at the first reason this chapter gives us.
Reason #1: Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s revelation
Verse one is a verse that many of you are very familiar with, I’m sure. Look again at what verse one says. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.” The writer of Hebrews jumps right into his argument for Christ in this verse. The writer says that God has spoken to mankind through a variety of means throughout history through a variety of people known as prophets. This one little verse sets us apart from the majority of liberal Christians. There are many so-called “Christians” out there who would say that God is out there, but we really can’t know anything about God because He does not speak to us. This verse says otherwise. This verse says that our God is a God who has spoken to His servants. But you know, our God did not have to speak to us. God would have been just as much God if He had kept to Himself up in Heaven and never said a word to His creation. He could have created us and just watched us go like we were some sort of movie. But instead, God spoke. He spoke through Adam and Eve when He told them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He spoke when He told Noah to build an ark so that he and his family could be saved from the impending flood. He spoke when He told Abraham to get up out of his country and go settle in a new land. He spoke when He told Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. And no doubt when the writer of Hebrews told these Jewish believers that God had spoken in many ways, they would have thought, “Amen!” They knew all of these stories like the backs of their hands. Many of them would have had entire books of the Old Testament memorized.
But look what the writer of Hebrews says in verse two. “And hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds.” In these last days He has spoken to us by His Son. The author reminds the Jews that just as God spoke through many people, He has spoken through Jesus Christ. But then He goes on further to say that Jesus is the heir of all things; and in fact, He was the One through Whom God created the world. So I think we can say with very little doubt that Jesus is not only a revelation from God the Father, but that He is the revelation from God the Father.
God has spoken to mankind in many, many ways; but all of these ways pale in comparison to how Jesus carried God’s message to humanity. Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God. And that raises the question, “What is God’s message through Jesus Christ?” If you know John 3:16 by heart, why don’t you say it aloud with me. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” Amen! There are so many people out there who would say that God is like a clock maker who creates a clock, winds it up, and then simply watches it without doing anything else. But to that we would say, “No way, Joses!” God has spoken His grace through Jesus Christ!
So as we think this morning about the attributes of Christ that make Him worthy of our worship, we can praise Him because He is the One that brought God’s message of love and mercy to us. But He was not only some message bearer, He was the message itself. He did not merely come down and talk about how much God loved the world. No, He told how God loved the world, and then showed us God’s love by dying for our sins. Jesus Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s revelation to us. Let’s move on to reason number two.
Reason #2: Jesus is the fingerprint of God
This reason is seen clearly in verse three of this chapter. Look again at what this verse tells us. “Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Wow! They need to make this verse into a song or something. This verse tells us five powerful things about Christ, all of which give us more reasons to worship Him. The first thing this verse tells us is that Jesus is the brightness of God’s glory. What does that mean? Well, it basically means that Jesus has all of the glory of God dwelling within Him. In the Old Testament, God would sometimes come down into the tabernacle or into the temple, and it was said that the Shekinah glory of God had rested on the place. This would often be associated with a thick cloud that would rest there. It is as if the very essence of God was there in their midst. Guess what. The Bible says that is what it was like when Jesus came to earth! The very Shekinah glory of God came down and lived among us!
The second phrase in this amazing verse says “and the express image of His person.” Very often people would tell me growing up that I looked just like my dad. They would even laugh because they would see him and me up in the choir singing, and it would seem as if we would move our mouths the same way, or cross our arms at the same time. While I do not specifically remember someone saying this, someone could have accurately said that I was the spitting image of my dad. But, if my dad and I were to go to a scientist and tell the scientist that we were exactly alike, the scientist would probably bust out in laughter! He would say, you guys are clearly related, but you have hundreds of little differences!
But church, that is not what we have here in verse three of this chapter. The Bible says that Jesus is the exact image of God. Every last little detail of the character of Jesus Christ would scream God. In fact, reason number two is that Jesus is the fingerprint of God, and we see that right here. No doubt this phrase would have made some of the original readers of this book quite uncomfortable, but it is very, very true.
But this verse goes on to say that Jesus upholds everything by the word of His power. All of creation is held together by His power. I am a firm believer in gravity. I have tested the theory many, many times, and every time the result is the same. I fall back to earth. And while I know that there is a scientific reason for why everything happens in nature the way it does, we have to acknowledge as Christians that Jesus is the Reason behind the reasons. Jesus is the Author of gravity. Jesus not only started the world spinning, but He also causes it to continue spinning.
But then this verse says that the very fingerprint of God, the very One whose voice keeps the world in motion, came down and purged our sins. I hope you guys don’t get tired of hearing me say stuff like this week after week, but I am entirely in awe that our Savior would come down to earth and save the people that He created. He warned us not to eat the fruit, but we did it anyways. And it would have been entirely within His right to sit back and watch us suffer the consequences of our sin. But instead, He came down and purged our sins.
Finally, look how this verse concludes. Jesus returned to the right hand of the Father, where He is currently waiting for His triumphal return to earth. So this morning we are exploring why it is that Jesus is worthy of our worship, and this one verse has given us five reasons! Jesus contains the very glory of God, Jesus is the very fingerprint of God, Jesus is the power behind all of the laws of nature, Jesus is the One who came and saved us from our sins, and Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father, awaiting the day when He will come and claim His kingdom. Let’s look at the writer’s third argument now.
Reason #3: Jesus is superior to the angels
Now, I know for many of you, this point may seem very anti-climactic. I mean, we just saw how Jesus is the very fingerprint of God the Father, and now I’m telling you that Jesus is better than angels. If someone knocked on your door, and said, “Would you mind if I took a little bit of your time to explain to you how the Bible says that Jesus is better than angels?” You would probably say, “Uh, I know that already, thanks anyways.” I mean, we’re talking about basic knowledge here, aren’t we? And yet, if you notice, our first two points made up the first three verses, and now the author spends eleven verses talking about how Jesus is superior to angels! But remember, this was a common misconception in the early church, especially among the Jewish believers. The Jewish believers were looking for some way to talk good about Christ, without saying that He is God in the flesh. So they decided that they could liken Jesus to one of the angels of God. So while it may seem like a no-brainer to us, to the Hebrew people, this was a very hot topic.
While we are not going to examine each piece of this argument (because I think you guys are already convinced that Jesus is better than angels) I do want to look specifically at verse four. Verse four reads, “Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” Now, this verse obviously says that Jesus is currently better than the angels, but is anyone willing to speak up and say how this verse could be confusing? That’s right, this verse could be misunderstood to say that now Jesus is better than the angels, but He hasn’t always been! In other words, Jesus earned His spot of superiority, but it wasn’t always His! This is exactly the kind of misrepresentation that the Jehovah’s Witnesses talk about. They say that Jesus is actually Michael the Archangel, simply called by a different name in the New Testament. They believe that Jesus is an angel that died for our sins, and God rewarded Him by making Him His Son. They might talk about how much they like Jesus, but when the day is over, they say that Jesus is just an angel. Hmm… Are they understanding this verse correctly? No, of course not! So what does this verse mean? Well, this verse means that Jesus did not receive the praise and glory for being the Son of God until He came down to earth and died for our sins. The verse says that Jesus obtained a more excellent name. How did He obtain a more excellent name? In the Old Testament, did the people understand that there were three persons in one Godhead? It sure doesn’t seem so. So essentially, Jesus has always been God the Son, but He was never honored as such, because He had not yet made Himself known publicly. Yes, Jesus was responsible for creating the world. Yes, Jesus was extremely active in human history in the Old Testament. But this verse makes the point that Jesus was not worshipped for His role, because people did not understand His role. But all of that changed with the cross of Calvary, when Jesus Christ bridged the divide between God and man, and forever obtained a name that would be worshipped, a name which is so much higher than that of even Michael the Archangel.
The chapter goes on from there to make several reasoned arguments as to why Jesus is better than angels. The writer uses several verses from the Psalms to show the great difference between Jesus and the angels. The writer describes angels as being mighty servants of God, and then he describes Jesus as being the God who sits on the throne. He gives a very special place to angels, saying that they are ministering spirits to serve Christians, but the author says that Jesus was in charge of establishing the earth. As you can see, these are huge differences. I hope that I am not neglecting my duty when I am not explaining each of these verses to you. Hopefully you will take the verses that I am not explaining, and go home and study them for yourselves. Read this entire chapter again, and then look up the verses that it says it is quoting. If you do not own a Bible that has footnotes that tell what Old Testament verses the writer is quoting from, you would probably do well to pick one up. It is amazing how much footnotes can help us understand God’s holy word. So I’m going to make that an official challenge for you to do sometime this week, and I’ll ask next week if anyone remembered to do it. Study this chapter, and write down the differences between Jesus and angels.
But now, let’s try to bring this forward a couple thousand years to the year 2011. Did anyone come to church this morning thinking that Jesus was just an angel? No, me either. So why is this important to us? In fact, I imagine that most of you have a very healthy doctrine on the identity of Christ. I imagine that the solid majority of you clearly understand that Jesus is God in the flesh, and that He is a part of the Trinity. In fact, I imagine that many of you already knew that the entire universe was created through Christ. So why preach a sermon on a topic you already knew? Well, what we have to realize is that while we may not have the exact same problems as the people in Bible times; very often, we have serious problems of our own. No one in here struggles with the sin of thinking that Jesus is of the same caliber of an angel, but maybe some of you struggle with remembering that Jesus is more important than the all-mighty television. Maybe you are not tempted to think that Jesus is actually Michael the Archangel, but maybe you are tempted to neglect reading your Bible so that you can hit that snooze button one more time. Some of these Jews had some serious problems giving Jesus the correct place in their lives. But you know what? Sometimes, I do too. I have never once thought that Jesus was just an angel, but sometimes I do not treat Him like the God of the universe.
The big fact that I want you to take from reason number three is that Jesus is not only superior to angels. He’s superior to everything! I am ashamed to admit that there have been times in my life in which I have treated Jesus much worse than an angel. I have treated Him like He wasn’t even here! So the Hebrew church had a problem with understanding who Christ was; and sometimes, we have a problem honoring Christ for who He is. But guess what, both problems have the same solution! As a church, we must put Jesus Christ in His proper place. He must not be Someone that we occasionally mention in a song. He must not be Someone that we tag on His name at the end of a prayer. Jesus Christ must be ingrained in everything we do here at First Free Will Baptist Church.
And as the pianist and song leader come forward…
This passage shows us that Jesus is the absolute fulfillment of all of God’s revelation. This passage shows us that Jesus is very God of very God, and this passage shows us that Jesus is not only superior to angels, but He is superior to everything else that competes for our time and attention. The question is whether this church will worship Him for who He truly is, or whether we will relegate Him to a few minor positions in our life. My prayer for myself, and for each one of you is that Jesus Christ will not merely be a piece of furniture in your heart, but that He will be the focus of every word you speak, every step you take, and every thought you think.
But you know, if you are here this morning and you have never made the commitment to follow Jesus Christ, then you simply cannot really know what I am talking about. You cannot understand what it means to worship Christ, because you are living in rebellion against Him. The Bible plainly says that every human being has sinned against God, and the price of your sin is eternal separation from God in hell. But just as I mentioned earlier, Jesus Christ, who is God in the flesh, came down to earth and paid your price for you. You deserved death, but He took death for you. You deserved separation from God, but He bridged the gap between God and man, and the Bible says that any man, woman, or child that will place their faith in Jesus Christ will be saved from their sins. In a minute, we are going to open the altars, but please do not think that there is something magical about these altars. The altars are one great place to publicly place your faith in Christ; but the truth is, you can choose to follow Jesus wherever you are. But please, please, please, do not wait too long. Does it sometimes hurt changing your lifestyle to one that honors Christ? Yes, sometimes it does. But the pain of change pales in comparison to the sheer joy of knowing Jesus Christ.
So if you are here this morning, and you would like to publicly follow Christ; or if you are here, and you would like to publicly dedicate yourself to making Christ first place in your heart, the altars are open.
But before we open the altars, let’s pray.
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