The Incomparable Christ Hebrews 1:1-4
Part Three Dec. 28, 2014
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen BFC
Here’s a few conversation starters you might try at the next social gathering you’re at: “What do you think of Jesus Christ?” “How important is Jesus Christ to you?” “How would you compare Christ to any other person?” The answers to those questions will reveal the most important things about a person, for Jesus Christ is incomparable, and without Him, we are lost, dead, and without meaning or even existence.
Let’s take a big picture look at the main truths in this mini-series of sermons on Hebrews 1:1-4:
Come with me “above the clouds” and behold all that Jesus Christ is and has done:
Jesus Christ is Incomparable as God’s Revelation of All That He Is
Jesus Christ is Incomparable as God’s Heir of All Things, and God’s Agent of All Creation.
Jesus Christ is Incomparable as the Radiance of the Father’s Glory
Jesus Christ is Incomparable as the Exact Representation of the Father’s Nature.
Jesus Christ is Incomparable as the Upholder of All Things, by the Word of His Power
Jesus Christ is Incomparable as the Ultimate Sacrifice for Sin (the One who made purification for our sins and sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high)
Today we’ll look at two of these truths about Jesus’s supremacy:
1. Jesus Christ is Incomparable as the Exact Representation of the Father’s Nature.
Exact Representation: In the Greek, this is the word charakter was used of an engraver who minted coins, or of an engraving tool, a stamp, a branding iron, a mark engraved. Later it came to mean the impression itself, usually engraved, or stamped on in the form of a character, a letter, a mark or a sign. This impression or mark with its particular features was considered to be the exact representation of the object whose image it bore.
Think of the impression made by a kings’ signet ring in hot wax, which leaves a distinct impression on that wax, so that all who see it will say “That’s the king’s signet ring.” What they mean is that the mark is identical with his ring, although they are two separate entities.
The author of Hebrews is saying that all that the Divine essence is, Jesus is the perfect expression of that essence. He is therefore affirming the deity of Jesus Christ and at the same time alluding to the plurality of the Godhead. Jesus is distinct from God the Father, and yet identical with Him. Charakter conveys the idea of exact correspondence, as when Jesus said that
Taking the message from Christmas Eve and combining it with this first point, we can see that the radiance of His glory speaks of Jesus’ oneness or identity with God the Father, whereas the exact representation of His nature speaks of Jesus’ distinctness, and thus of the plurality of the Godhead. The Son of God is a distinct Person from the Father and yet One with Him in the Godhead. He is His equal, as being the perfect representation of His essence.
Therefore, if you want to see God, you must look at Jesus! You cannot see God’s nature in Mary or Muhammad or in yourself or in the stars. Only Jesus is the exact image/ imprint of God.
Two implications of this truth: One is that all we need to know about God is already revealed in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Look no further. Two, this plurality in the Godhead allows for the concept of atonement, because only One who is sinless as God and yet distinct from God could atone for sin.
2. Jesus Christ is Incomparable as the Upholder of All Things, by the Word of His Power “Sustaining all things by his powerful word.”
This refers to Christ’s sustaining providence and His governance of all things. It has the sense of an active, purposeful control. The text indicates that Jesus is continually upholding all things in the universe by His word of power, which means that if He ceased from doing this, the universe would disintegrate! Paul states the same truth when he says, “in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17).
The word “sustain” or “uphold” indicates that Christ is carrying the universe along, bearing it toward its final consummation. The picture is that of continuous, active and dynamic involvement by the Creator with His creation, not a passive and static (deistic) involvement. The Lord Jesus holds all things together and in their proper relationship to each other by His own power. The oceans are held in their beds. The rivers run down into the sea. The heavenly bodies are held in their orbits.
Therefore, a deistic view of the universe dishonors Jesus Christ. An evolutionary view of the universe dishonors Jesus Christ. And a self-centered view of the universe dishonors Jesus Christ.
Think of how in the gospel accounts, when Jesus spoke, the wind and the waves obeyed him! The demons fled; and the dead came to life, when He but spoke a word! By the word of His power, he turned water into the best wine; He multiplied a boy’s lunch into a banquet for thousands; He gave sight to the blind and He cured the lepers! All by the word of His power.
Scripture shows that there is not a single atom in the universe that acts apart from Christ’s providential governance. Every raindrop, snowflake, gust of wind, and lightning bolt obey Christ’s command. He directs everything from the roll of the dice (Prov. 16:33) to the rise and fall of nations (Job 12:23). He determines in advance the number of days that each of us will live (Ps. 139:16). Our text says that Jesus exercises this immense power simply by speaking, or as Calvin says, “with a nod.” This means that there is no such thing as random chance or luck. We are totally dependent on Christ. There is no “independent living” and no “self-sufficiency.”
Let’s apply this to the weather, which everyone talks about, but no one can do anything about.
Christ is the one who commands the weather. He speaks, and all nature obeys His voice. He controls the temperature, the wind, the rain, hail, snow and lightning!
Job 37:10-13 “The breath of God produces ice, and the broad waters become frozen. He loads the clouds with moisture (A good sized cumulus cloud weighs about 1 million pounds!); he scatters his lightning through them (each day there are over 8 million lightning strikes around the world). At his direction they swirl around over the face of the whole earth to do whatever he commands them. He brings the clouds to punish men, or to water his earth and show his love.”
Likewise in Ps. 147:15-20 we read: “He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow. He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws. Praise the LORD.”
The Modern Self-Sufficient Worldview treats material existence and human existence as the foundational reality in the universe. What we can see and touch and smell is real, and is the measure of what else is real. But the author of Hebrews, along with all these other writers of Scripture, tell us that the foundational reality in the universe is not us or material things that you can see and touch; the foundational reality in the universe is Christ and his Word. What we think is so real is, in fact, very fragile and on the brink of extinction. It hangs by a slender thread. One word from Christ and it goes out of existence—or one word unspoken by Christ and we go out of existence.
René Descartes tried to build a system of certainty based on his famous saying: “I think, therefore I am.” But that’s far too shallow. The writer to the Hebrews wants us to say, not, “I think, therefore I am,” but rather, “Christ is, therefore I am.” Because if Christ were not upholding my mind and my heart and my lungs, I would cease to be. My being is witness to the Word of Christ upholding me. And failing to acknowledge this is what defines fallen human beings.
The challenge before us this morning is tremendous: will we just sing along with the modern song of human self-sufficiency? Or will we listen to the Word of God and learn that Christ upholds all things by the word of his power?
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5-6) Why? Because He upholds all things by the Word of His power.
Worship Him today for Who He is, God Himself, and for the profound truth that the Word of His power preserves and assures our very existence.
Bow down before Him! Sing of His Divine power! Surrender to Him, and tell others of this incomparable Christ!