I’m excited this weekend to be starting a new series called Greater Than, looking at the New Testament book of Hebrews – a letter written by an unknown author to Jewish believers in the first century. I love Hebrews because it is a book of logic as the author lays out an airtight argument for the supremacy of the person and work of Jesus Christ. From beginning to end, a logical case is made to illustrate that Jesus is greater, and because he is greater, we can trust Him. The purpose of this series will be for us to walk through the same argument that the author makes in his letter so that we might see the supremacy of Jesus Christ in our lives today and how this understanding leads us to a greater assurance of our salvation through faith and confidence as we approach God the Father.
The author begins his letter in chapter 1, verse 1, by stating, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things and through whom also he made the universe.” As you read through the Old Testament in your Bible, you will notice that God would reveal Himself in various ways at different times. Sometimes he spoke from a cloud on a mountain, like at Mt. Sinai. Sometimes he spoke through his prophets or in visions and dreams. He even spoke through a donkey once. But today, He has chosen to reveal Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ, “who became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs” (Hebrews 1:4).
The author of Hebrews begins his case by making a statement that may seem odd to us because it seems so obvious. He essentially says, “Jesus is greater than angels.” Duh, right? Maybe not so to a first century, Jewish reader. Writings from the approximately 400-year period between the Old Testament and New Testament suggest that during that time, angels had taken an elevated place among followers of God. Many Jews looked at angels as those who would come as the army of God to rescue the nation. A lot of false information about angels had become common knowledge. Because of this elevated status and misinformation, the author felt the need to correct and refocus his readers into a proper understanding of who angels were and their purpose as servants of God. This isn’t so farfetched when we consider that, even today, there is a lot of misunderstanding about what/who angels are and their purpose.
If not angels, we sometimes elevate other things, even good and spiritual things, above Jesus and need to bring these things back into proper perspective. The world tells us that our lives should have a spiritual component to them, but leaves us to decide what that spiritual component should be. Yoga, quiet meditation, reading self-help books, tapping into your inner self, worshiping nature. We sometimes even elevate God-things above Jesus – punching your attendance card at church, worshiping your spouse or children, building houses for the poor, giving a portion of your income to charities. All of these things – the church, our spouses and children, service, and giving – are important. But if we neglect the worship of Jesus for the worship of these things, then we’ve completely missed the point. In fact, I would be so bold as to say that any spirituality apart from Jesus Christ is dead and worthless.
And this is the point that the author is trying to make. Jesus is greater than angels, and the other idols we try to place above Him, because He has been given a name that is superior – the Son of God. To be declared the Son of God and to take His place at the right hand of the throne of God is to say that Jesus has become Ruler, King, of everything. God has only ever made this statement about Jesus, not about the other things that we try to worship. In fact, Angels worship Jesus, just as every other created thing was meant for the purpose of worshiping of the One True King. Philippians 2:10-11 tells us that one day, at Jesus’ return, every knee in heaven (angels), on earth (humans), and under the earth (demons) will bow at His feet. Therefore, angels were created to serve, but Jesus is the King to be worshiped.
So, what does all this mean for us today? Why does it matter that Jesus is greater than angels? The author states it in Hebrews 2:1-3:
We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.
In the Old Testament, and at the beginning of the New, God sent his angels, as his created servants, to speak to people on earth. In some situations, angels were sent to declare judgment on entire nations for disobeying God. No matter the context, what they said would happen. So, if Jesus is greater than angels, then His message must be greater than their message. How much more should we listen to the one who says, “Whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.” Or, “I am the way,
the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father except through me.” Or, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”
Jesus, greater than angels, greater than all our idols, has told us the way of salvation. He’s told us that the only way to be saved is through Him. If He has said this, then we know it’s true. Our responsibility is to respond by trusting Him.
I hope you will join us this weekend. Saturday at 5:30 PM and Sunday at 10:30 AM.