Everything about your life and mine depends on the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Our very existence, and the quality of it both now and forever, cannot be defined apart from Him. He is our only access to the heavenly Father who reveals His own nature and will in His Son as our Lord and Savior.
The letter to the Hebrews begins by emphasizing this reality. Before he makes the argument that Christ and the New Covenant of grace are superior to everything pertaining to the Old Covenant of law, the writer establishes that the Son is the Father’s greatest revelation to us (Heb. 1:1-3).
We have already considered in part one of this study that Jesus completes the Scripture (vv. 1-2a). That is, while God progressively revealed Himself and His will in the Old Testament, He has completed that revelation in His Son. Speaking through the prophets, God established His law and promised a Savior.
But the law and the promise were not fulfilled until Jesus Christ came into the world and accomplished God’s redemptive purpose. What is that purpose? It is to justify sinners by grace through faith in Jesus, who both kept God’s law perfectly and suffered for our sins as a sinless sacrifice. So God has spoken to us in these last days through the Person and work of Christ. God’s Son is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and the promise of the New Covenant.
Hebrews 1:1-3 not only speaks of the progressive revelation of God, which culminates in Jesus Christ as the completion of Scripture, but it further identifies Him as the completion of the creation and redemption.
God’s Greatest Revelation – Part II
Jesus Completes Creation (v. 2b-3b)
By completing the creation we mean that God has revealed His Son as Lord of the creation. He who created all things has come into the world in Christ to redeem a remnant of humanity and also the universe that is cursed because of mankind’s sin. And He will sustain His creation until that purpose is complete.
This is made clear by five distinguishing statements:
1) God’s Son has been “appointed heir of all things.” This means that all of creation in the spiritual and physical realms ultimately falls under Christ’s authority (cf. 1 Cor. 15:24-28; Col. 1:16). However, it specifically refers to His lordship over this fallen universe, which God intends to redeem along with the saints (Rom. 8:19-23). This is by God’s sovereign decree (Ps. 2; Dan. 7:13-14), as confirmed by the word, “appointed” (i.e. “ordained” or “established”).
2) It is through Christ that God has “made the worlds.” This has specific reference to His role in creating the physical universe, including the earth, but it is not a reference to the planet on which we live. Rather, the word, “worlds,” can be translated as “ages.” It can refer to periods of time, but the context here seems imply every “aspect” of the physical creation. In other words, Christ created time, space, matter, and energy — everything that defines the existence of the universe.
The Son of God has been God the Son for all eternity, and before He came to earth as Jesus the Christ, He was present and active in the creation of the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1). John the apostle affirmed this when he identified Jesus as the eternal Word of God (Jn. 1:1-2). He further declared: “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (v. 3).
3) Jesus is “the brightness of [God’s] glory.” This “brightness” (i.e. radiance) refers to Jesus as the manifestation of God, and it literally means “to shine forth.” Sinners cannot see the true essence of God in His spiritual glory (Ex. 33:20), but Jesus is the expression of God sent forth to us. Otherwise, we could not know our Creator. A light source, such as the sun, manifests itself by the light it produces. Christ is the light of God — His incarnate radiance. He is distinct from the Father and the Holy Spirit but of the same Divine essence, nature, and being veiled in His humanity (cf. Matt. 17:2).
Our Lord said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12; cf. 9:5). The apostle John also wrote that, in Christ “was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn. 1:4-5). Christ is God’s expression of Himself to give the light of truth to our sin-darkened hearts so that we might be reconciled to Him. Paul said it this way: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6; cf. v. 4). That passage teaches us that Christ is the fulfillment of the symbolism set forth in the creation of physical light.
4) The Son of God is also “the express image of His person.” This corresponds with the previous point. The word, “image,” is the source of our English word, “icon.” In other words, Jesus is a replica of God’s person, but it is more than that. The term, “express image,” was used in Greek culture to describe the imprint made by a stamp on a wax seal. So the Lord is the precise, perfect “imprint” of God’s nature on the human race — not a marred impression of His likeness as all the rest of Adam’s descendants. The very essence of sin is to fall short of God’s righteous standard and no longer express His holy image (Rom. 3:23). However, God sent His Son to express it without flaw. As Paul writes in Colossians 2:9: “…in [Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”
5) Finally, we read that, in His Son, God is “upholding all things by the word of His power.” Christ, who was active in creating all things by His command, is also active in sustaining all things by that same authoritative word. The idea expressed in this statement conveys a continual action. Jesus Christ keeps the sin-tainted creation, which is in the process of decay, from falling into complete chaos and oblivion.
Without Christ’s constant work of “upholding all things” all things would cease to exist! The slightest variation of the natural laws our Lord has put in place by His command would mean the end of the universe as we know it. Its destruction is inevitable after all things are made subject to Christ (2 Peter 3:8-13), but until then, He maintains it to accomplish God’s redemptive purpose (cf. Rom. 11:36).
Jesus Completes Redemption(v. 3c)
As God’s greatest revelation, Jesus Christ not only completes Scripture and creation, but He completes redemption. The Divine purpose from eternity past has been to deal with sin and its consequences for the glory of the Trinity — to reconcile fallen human beings to their God that they may know and glorify Him. That is exactly what Jesus did when He came into the world, and that is a major theme of this letter.
We are told that He alone has accomplished this task of reconciliation. Our Lord “by Himself purged our sins” (cf. Titus 2:14). That is, He made us holy in God’s eyes. How? He did this when He bore our sin on the cross. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21).
God looked at our sin when He saw Christ on the cross, and He poured out His wrath on His own Son instead of on us for all eternity in Hell. The death required for violating God’s law was satisfied (1 Pet. 3:18). Now God looks at the Christian and sees us, not as sinners, but as saints — justified (declared no longer guilty) by the blood of Christ (Rom. 3:24-26). The phrase “by Himself” does not appear in some older manuscripts, but it is nonetheless clearly implied. Jesus, and only Jesus, accomplished the redemption of sinners!
Christ made the one and only effective sacrifice that God would accept, which all the Old Testament sacrifices merely anticipated. And once He purged our sins, He “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” In other words, His work as High Priest was done because He offered Himself completely as the true sacrifice for sin.
The “right hand” is the position of honor and authority. God is the supreme Authority — the “Majesty on high.” For Jesus to be seated at the Father’s right hand represents His exaltation as King of kings and Lord of lords in relation to all of God’s creation. There all authority in heaven and on earth has been granted to Him, and there He intercedes for His saints (cf. v. 13; Matt. 28:18; Rom. 8:34; 1 Pet. 3:22, etc.). So much more could be said about the redemption He has accomplished, and this letter will certainly elaborate on that.
As an author might write a sequel to his original novel and bring closure to the story, Jesus has come to complete God’s story as Prophet (Scripture), Priest (redemption), and King (creation). The first volume (the Old Testament) left the readers with anticipation, but the story is finished in Christ. As the brilliant, express image of God, we discover Him as Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, and Heir to God’s kingdom. Everything finds its meaning and purpose in God’s Son.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace by the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:15-20).
This is Jesus Christ — God’s greatest revelation to us. Is your hope and trust in Him?
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