Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Devotion: Jesus Is Better (Hebrews 1:1-2)

The letter to the Hebrews has a very memorable introduction. The writer begins the letter in this way: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 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.”

So the writer is making a contrast the past with the present. He says at various times in the past, and in all different kinds of ways, God spoke to his people through the prophets. The first person to be called a prophet in the Bible was actually Abraham. God spoke to Abraham through visions, and even in the form of a physical person in one instance, which is pretty intriguing. Moses was also a prophet. God spoke to Moses through the burning bush, and Moses in turn spoke on behalf of God to the Egyptians and to the Israelites.

Similar things could be said about Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and all of the minor prophets. This was God’s pattern in the Old Testament, to make his will known to his people through the mouths of prophets. And this is what the writer of Hebrews is talking about in verse 1.

But then in verse 2, he makes a very important contrast. He says, “but in these last days, [God] has spoken to us by his Son.” This is being presented to us as something that far surpasses any kind of communication or revelation that God had given in the past. Because the writer is then quick to point out that God’s Son is the “heir of all things,” and it was through him that the world itself was created. As great as the prophets of old were, these are things that simply could never be said about them. God didn’t send us just another prophet; he sent his own Son.

And right here at the beginning of Hebrews, we’re seeing what is arguably the most important theme of the entire book, and it’s the simple truth that Jesus is better. He’s better than the Old Testament prophets. Later on in this same chapter, he’s better than the angels. In chapter 8, his New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant. In chapter 9, his perfect atoning sacrifice is better than all animal sacrifice. Repeatedly throughout Hebrews, the writer is telling us that Jesus is better, and also warning us against putting our hope and our trust in anything else.

Hebrews was originally written to Jewish converts to Christianity. And their big temptation was to go back to the old religious rituals and ceremonies that were so familiar to them in the Old Covenant. That’s why they needed to hear the truth that Jesus is better. But the reality is, you and I need to hear this truth too. Our temptation may take a different form, but we’re all prone to look to other things besides Christ to give us peace or fulfillment or value, whether it be a relationship, or a career, or a social status. So we need to hear the truth that Jesus is better.

More than anything, we need a heart like the apostle Paul displayed, in Philippians chapter 3, where even in light of all of Paul’s achievements, he would still say, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

Sometimes we might be tempted to think that the time period of the Old Testament was when God was really moving. Because obviously, it’s in the Old Testament that we read about spectacular events like the flood, or the parting of the Red Sea, or Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. And if we’re honest we might even admit that sometimes we wish we had lived in those days. But the writer of Hebrews helps us to recognize that, as Christians, we actually live in a greater era of the history of redemption. When we consider the revelation that God has now given his people through the person and work of Jesus, alongside of the outpouring of his Holy Spirit who indwells us as believers, it should actually make us thrilled and thankful to live in this era of redemption.

Because Jesus is better.

No comments: