The Fifth in a Series of Sermons on the Epistle to the Hebrews
In the first two chapters of this epistle, the author of Hebrews has built a very impressive case for the superiority of Jesus Christ to all things. Jesus, who is the radiance of the glory of God, is the creator of all things. Yet the same Jesus who is God’s eternal son, now shares our flesh and blood by virtue of his incarnation. After dying for our sins and being raised from the dead, Jesus has been given the highest possible honor–he alone sits at God’s right hand. In the opening chapters of this epistle, the author has demonstrated that Jesus is superior to angels as well as Israel’s priesthood. As we now move into Hebrews 3, the author begins to make his case that Jesus Christ is superior to Moses, and more importantly, is the mediator of a far better covenant (the New Covenant) than that covenant God made with Israel at Mount Sinai.
Writing to an unknown church in an unknown city, the unknown author of this epistle is addressing the difficult situation facing the congregation to which he is writing. Many in this church were Hellenistic Jews (Greek in culture, but Hebrew in theology) who had recently become Christians. In the face of opposition from their Jewish friends and family, and even perhaps from governing authorities, many in this church had given up on their faith in Jesus Christ and returned to Judaism. The epistle to the Hebrews is the author’s very pointed warning to those remaining in the church who were considering doing the same thing. He addresses head-on the gravity of the sin of apostasy, and will continue to do so throughout this letter.
But the author does more than just warn his readers or make threats to them. In this letter he makes a very powerful case from the pages of the LXX (which Greek-speaking Jews regarded as authoritative), that even in their own Scriptures (the Old Testament) it is clear that Jesus is that one who created the angels, and that one whom the angels worship and serve. The author not only warns those reading or hearing this not to neglect such a great salvation and to be careful not to “drift away” from Jesus Christ and the gospel, but he also gives them a reason continue in the Christian faith when he describes how Jesus Christ is God’s perfect priest who offers a perfect sacrifice for sin. This perfect priest has suffered just as we suffer, and Jesus Christ has been tempted in all things, just as we have been tempted. Therefore Jesus is not only superior to angels, and to the priests of Israel, Jesus is a faithful and merciful high priest who now sits at God’s right hand.
As we move into chapter 3 of Hebrews, we find the author doing two things. First, he continues to argue for the superiority of Jesus Christ to Moses (in verses 1-6), before he begins an extended discussion (which runs all the way though chapter 10, verse 18) for the superiority of Jesus (and the New Covenant) to that covenant which God made with Israel at Mount Sinai.
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