The Incomparable Christ Hebrews 1:1-4
Part Four Jan. 4, 2015
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Church
“After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” Why is Christ’s purification for our sins so incomparable? Three reasons:
I. The One who made this purification is supreme.
Look at the first five things that are said of Jesus Christ in Hebrews 1:2-3:
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
Now, contrast all those glorious statements with this last word of supremacy: that this all-powerful Son of God willingly became the scapegoat for the sinful creatures He created. This One who upholds all things in His hands took on the fragility of our flesh, and died in our place! Think about that: the Almighty Lord Jesus who can simply “let go” and we would all disintegrate and cease to exist….this same Omnipotent Son of God left the glory of heaven, took on the form of a servant, and became obedient to death, even death on a cross, to purify us from our sins (Phil. 2:5-11)! “Amazing love, how can it be, that Thou my God shouldst die for me”!
God did not send a really saintly high priest to make purification for our sins.
God did not send a Do It Yourself Kit so we could make purification for our sins.
No. Instead, God sent His Son, through whom He created the universe and holds all things together, to make purification for our sins. The One who made this purification is supreme!
And though the cross was a stumbling block to Jews, the writer of Hebrews does not apologize for this truth. Instead, he shows it to be one of the excellent glories of Christ that sets Him off as unrivaled and incomparable! When you combine this aspect of Christ’s incomparable worth with the ones that have already been mentioned, you can see how exalted and worthy Jesus Christ truly is. For we not only need Christ to create us and to preserve our bodies and our very existence, but we also need Him to make purification and forgiveness for our sins!
The word of His power preserves us, and the work of his purification saves us. So Christ is doubly worthy of our dependence and trust, of our love and worship. The One who made this purification is supreme!
II. The Way He made this purification was unparalleled.
Why unparalleled? What made it matchless and unique? At least two reasons:
A. Christ made purification by becoming polluted in our place.
The word purification means to cleanse from the stain of defilement or guilt, and we all know how deep the stain of shame and sin are embedded in our hearts. We feel we will never get clean; we feel we will never be worthy, because the pollution of our souls is so foul, so wretched, and so deep. We feel that we have a big “Scarlet Letter” written on us.
But how does Jesus deal with our pollution, our stain? Amazingly, the Creator and the Sustainer became the Sin-bearer. It is staggering to think that the sovereign Lord would stoop to become our sacrificial Lamb. “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all,” as Isaac Watts’ hymn says.
Or as Paul writes in 2 Cor. 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Here’s something else to ponder about the way in which He provided this purification: In order to create the universe, Christ only had to speak, right? In order to uphold and guide the universe, the Son of God only has to utter a word, correct? But, in order to purify us from our sin, He had to become a man; He had to suffer shame and pain; He had to die on the cross; He had to bear the weight of your sins and my sins. It could not be done at a distance; it could not be done by an edict; it had to be done in person. And it cost Him everything to purify us from our sins. Indeed, the way He made this purification was unparalleled. Does that move you?
B. Christ made purification through a once-for-all-time sacrifice.
In the Old Testament sacrificial system, the priest had to offer sacrifices for sin repeatedly, on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis. He was never finished slaughtering animals and offering them on the altar, and the people never had a sense of finality about the forgiveness of their sins.
As a one who grew up in the Catholic Church, I would confess my sins to the priest every month, knowing that next month I would need to come back for more forgiveness. And you would go to hell if you died with unconfessed mortal sin on your soul. As an altar boy for six years, I helped the priests celebrate the daily “Sacrifice of the mass,” in which Christ was supposedly re-sacrificed at each mass. The cycle never ended; there was no ending point or finality, and therefore no assurance of your sins being forgiven.
And all Muslims and Hindus know that their ceremonial washings and ritual sacrifices must be repeated each year, as well as every time they pray, because there is no end point, no finish line, when it comes to the forgiveness of sins and the purification of your body and soul.
In light of every other sacrificial system and in light of every other means of purification, how amazing it is that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins provided for our purification and forgiveness forever! It never had to be repeated again! This is unparalleled! Christ’s purification for our pollution was so effective, so powerful, so deep, that he only had to provide it once; once for all time. It was a non-repeatable event with everlasting effects.
It was a once for all time atoning sacrifice. Praise God that Christ does not have to be re-sacrificed daily at the mass. His redemptive work needs no supplementary action like washing in the Ganges River or doing penance, etc. “It is finished!”
And because it is finished, Jesus could sit down at the God the Father’s right hand. The Jewish high priest had to stand, because his task was never finished. But Jesus sat down, because His work was done, forever. Praise God that the way Christ made our purification for sin, for our pollution, was unparalleled! Have you fully accepted this glorious truth? Are you resting in what Christ has done for you?
III. The Aim of this purification is Wonderful (in 3 ways: For Christ, His followers and for all.)
A. The Aim of this purification is Wonderful for Jesus Christ
Because Christ was obedient to the Father’s will, God the Father exalted His Son above all things, all His enemies, all people, all kings, and all names.
To be sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high signifies the place of highest honor. There is no higher designation possible! Indeed, this enthronement of Christ is an honor and a tribute to the work and completeness of the once for all purification that He provided with his own body. (This is one reason why the Ascension of Christ – Lk. 24 and Acts 1 – is important.)
To be sitting down in this place of preeminence and honor is a declaration of how perfect Christ’s work of purification was regarded by the Father. We get a glimpse of that in Rev. 5:13-14: “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.” Let us bow down and worship Him accordingly!
B. The Aim of this purification is Wonderful for the followers of Christ
Obviously it is wonderful for us because we are forgiven and made clean. But there’s something else that is wonderful here.
First, through His purification, we are made to be His own holy people:
Titus 2:13-14 “…our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Jesus purifies us that we might become His special people.
Second, through His purification, we have fellowship with Him and we are sanctified:
1 John 1:5-7, 9 “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin….9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Jesus purifies us that we might have fellowship and intimacy with Him.
Therefore, let us live accordingly to our purified natures!
C. The Aim of this purification is Wonderful for all people, all over the globe.
Purification is a powerful imagery, both for those who are focused on outward, ritualistic cleansing, as well as for those who are concerned about an inner catharsis of emotions. I would submit to you that every kind of struggler and every kind of sinner can find cleansing and relief in the purification that Jesus Christ has provided.
Now, have any of your friends ever say to you, “Hey, I could use some purification for my sins?” probably not. Purification is a word we generally only use when we are talking about drinking clean water or breathing fresh air.
But the idea of purification meant a lot to the Jewish-background believers who this was written to. They were well acquainted with all sorts of purification rites, usually involving washing the body with water. So it made sense to talk about purification from sins as a way of expressing the idea of your sins being forgiven by Christ.
Therefore the idea of purification from sins might be a helpful way to talk to some people today about what Christ has done on the cross. It would make sense to religious Jews who still practice certain purification rituals, to Hindus who wash in the river for purification, and even to Muslims, who ceremonially wash their hands and feet before prayers.
A point of contact might be “I see that you are concerned about outward purity. That’s commendable. Did you know that Jesus Christ provided a purification that is one and done?”
But what about the majority of secular people who feel no need for such purification? Well, what’s interesting is that the Greek word for purification here is “Katharsis,” or cleansing. Now that’s a concept that many can relate to; not just a physical, bodily catharsis, but the greater need for an inner cleansing. People all around us go to movies, read novels, run triathalons, and more in order to find some catharsis for their souls.
But guess what? But such catharsis ultimately fails for two reasons: It doesn’t go deep enough; and it doesn’t last long enough. Only the catharsis that Jesus Christ provides can deal with the deepest hurts of our hearts and with the deepest stains of our sins, and only it can last forever.
And so a point of contact with such people might be talking about how you have found a deep and lasting catharsis for your soul in Jesus Christ, and then explain why this is so.
The One who made this purification is supreme!
The Way He made this purification was unparalleled!
The Aim of the purification that Christ provided is wonderful!
Let us come to Him in faith…now, as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper.