C. S. Lewis memorably portrayed the growing Christian’s experience of an ever-enlarging Christ in his Chronicles of Narnia. Lucy, caught up in her spiritual quest, saw the lion Aslan — Christ — shining white and huge in the moonlight. In a burst of emotion Lucy rushed to him, burying her face in the rich silkiness of his mane, whereupon the great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half-sitting and half-lying between his front paws. He bent forward and touched her nose with his tongue. His warm breath was all around her.
She gazed up into the large, wise face.
“Welcome, child,” he said.
“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
Expanding souls encounter an expanding Christ! The book of Hebrews has a double dose of growth-producing power — first, because it presents the greatness of Christ as no other New Testament writing does, and, second, because it repeatedly demands a response from the reader. Seriously considered, Hebrews will make us grow and find a bigger Christ.1
In this text we see God giving the greatest communication of all, the message of His wonderful Son, The Lord Jesus Christ.
Background of the passage
“Hebrews” was the name given to the Jews who lived in Palestine, unlike the majority who had emigrated to other countries. This letter is addressed to the first Christian communities of Palestine, formed by Jews – by race – who had been persecuted and punished and whose possessions had been confiscated, all because they had become followers of Christ. 2
Moreover, the epistle was also written in order to prevent apostasy. Some have interpreted apostasy to mean a number of different things, such as a group of Christians in one sect leaving for another more conservative sect, one in which the author disapproves. Some have seen apostasy as a move from the Christian assembly to pagan ritual. In light of a possibly Jewish-Christian audience, the apostasy in this sense may be in regard to Jewish-Christians leaving the Christian assembly to return to the synagogue. In light of Pauline doctrine, the epistle dissuades non-Jewish Christians from feeling a need to convert to Judaism. Therefore the author writes, “Let us hold fast to our confession” (4:14).
In light of these we can now see that the letter, although it specifically pertains to a Jewish audience who are familiar with the Old Testament, it is also for the entire Church at large as it serves to confirm our faith, the letter shows us that the Jewish religion with its imposing ceremonies, were just the foreshadowing of something greater. The pardon of sin and the spirit of religion – the aspiration of the entire Old Testament – was to be the work of Jesus, the Son of God. There is no other sacrifice but His, which begins on the cross and ends in glory.
On hindsight, we can see the as it was originally written, the letter is addressed to people who are very much like us, for are there not many “Hebrews” in today’s world? The sick who no longer have hope, the persecuted Christians, the people who are deprived of justice in a mediocre society in which we live.
Lastly, it shows how the church in the 1st century responds to the challenges posed to them at the time from both a without and within: and that is they study theology.
Affirmation to the Believer
The Book of Hebrews is a book that is constantly showing us something better. It is a book written to Jewish Christians who were tempted to bail out on Christianity and go back to Judaism. In this book we find lessons that show us that because Jesus Christ is better, there is a better way for us to live now.
You might even be like the Hebrews to whom this letter was written. You may be considering bailing out on your traditional faith and going back to something you once knew, or leaving your traditional faith for something more modern or trendy. You shouldn’t do this, because Christ is better and the true Christian life is better than anything anyone else can offer. The Book of Hebrews shows us this.3
I. We have a better message: Christ and the Old Testament
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways”
… the Epistle opens with the solemn announcement of the superiority of the New Testament Revelation by the Son over Old Testament Revelation by the prophets (Hebrews 1:1-4). 4
The statements on the verse are very doctrinal as it points towards the Doctrine of Revelation which is according to Matthew 11:27, an act of God communicate Himself and His will to humankind. The term “revelation” comes from the Greek word apokalupsis, which means “a disclosure” or “an unveiling.”
Knowing that God sought from the beginning to reveal Himself to us we are now lead to conclude that since the first word of Scripture was written down there has always been a good message. We have a good message because God has spoken!
In a way this is how God revealed Himself:
Long ago (prior to the birth of Christ) God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways (thirty-nine books in the Old Testament; God spoke directly to a man and told him to write, He communicated through a vision, parable, and symbol; it was always God who spoke.)
The Old Testament was written over a period of fifteen hundred years by more than forty writers, each book having its own element of truth. The Old Testament is progressive revelation. 5
As good as the Old Testament is there is a problem. For starters it is an incomplete message, because God had more to say to us. The Old Testament speaks of promises that were yet to be fulfilled.
Children are first taught letters; then they worry about the words and the sentences. God gave His revelation in the same way. His spelling book began with types, ceremonies, and prophecies and progressed to final completion in Christ.6
God spoke in past times to the “fathers”, the Jewish ancestors. Today He has spoken to us through His Son. We now have a completed message with the addition of the New Testament.
We now have the “Good News” of Christ as recorded in the Gospels. We now have the theology of Christ in the Epistles. And we have a description of Christ’s culmination of all things in the future in the Book of Revelation. We now we have a completed Scriptures.
There is the Incarnate, revelation of God in the Church, which gathers around the reality of the Risen Lord, proclaiming God’s salvation in their corporate worship as they celebrate the Communion and corporately re-live and proclaim the bigger story of the entire universe in the proclamation of the Word of God in Scriptures. As Matthew 18:20 God is in the midst of people gathered in His name, Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to forsake our gathering in the name of Christ, because we as Hebrews 12:1 we are part of that great cloud of witnesses that helps one another to persevere in the faith for Christ. Which is the very case and point why Epistles are written to churches because it is Christ’s body which was as 1 Corinthians 11:24 puts it Christ’s body which was broken for you.
II. We have a better Messenger: Christ the Son of God
But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom He made the universe.
God sent a special envoy from Heaven to speak to us. This is Who the New Testament writers speak of. This special envoy is the better messenger that the Old Testament did not have: The Lord Jesus who has done more than any prophet or any other person.
In these last days (days of fulfilled prophecy), He has spoken to us by [His] Son (God is fully expressed in Jesus, Col.1:15), whom He has appointed heir of all things (legal rights in inheritance and authority; see Eph.1:9-10; Phil.2:8-11) and through whom He made the universe (agent of whom all things are created; see John 1:3; Col.1:16-17; Rom. 11:36).
In Hebrews 11:2 we are told that it is by the Lord Jesus that God made the worlds. I owe my existence to the Son of God. Hebrews 11:3 tells us that He is upholding all things by the word of His power. Colossians 1:17 states that He is before all things, and by him all things consist.
You and I can count on order in the natural world around us simply because Lord Jesus holds it together!
The Old Testament was promise; the New Testament is fulfillment. Christ said, “I am not come to destroy [the Law], but to fulfill it.” (Matt. 5:17).
III. Jesus Christ: God Incarnate
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in Heaven.
Creating everything and holding them together are certainly great performances. But there is one more thing that He did that is absolutely amazing. Hebrews 1:3 tells us that He has by Himself purged our sins.
As we go further we are now asked: Who is Jesus Christ?
Mark 1:1, John 1:1-2 says He is the eternal Son of God. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, as John 1:1,14 and Philippians 2:6-7, puts it.
When God chose to save a sinful, rebellious world… When God chose to communicate what He is like… When God chose to show us Himself… He sent His Son!
One of the great prophecies of Christmas is Isaiah 9:6.
In this verse God shows us just how great the person is whom He sent to us. Isaiah 9:6
As the passage puts it:
He is the radiance of His glory (expresses God to us by sending light), the exact expression of His nature, (He is a stamp or seal of God’s image) and He sustains all things by His powerful word (He holds all things together) After making purification for sins (Christ paid the penalty of death for our sins) He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high ( He is the exalted Christ at the right hand of God)
If these are truly our “last days”…with Jesus accomplishing everything our salvation demanded and the impending second coming of Him, what will you do to change or modify your priorities, relationships, and behaviors? If someone says to you, “Jesus is only a prophet”, what would your response be?
1 Stewart, Hal -The Supremacy of Christ Introduced
2 Introduction to the Letter to the Hebrews from the Christian Community Bible