1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
This week we begin our new series “The Promise: A Study in the Book of Hebrews.” I’m really looking forward to this. I have long loved this great book. It’s difficult, rich, somewhat mysterious, and almost always encouraging. As I introduced last weekend, this is not going to be some measly academic exercise. We are going to be changed as the people of God as a result of being in this book for as long as God would have us.
One of the overarching themes in the Bible that I’m discovering / re-discovering more and more is that every radical call to obedience that God issues His people is preceded by a much greater revelation / articulation of Himself. We see this in every genre of Scripture (the Law and Moses, the Prophets, Poetry, Narrative, Apocalyptic…). God first reveals / reminds His people of His greatness and then summons them to radical obedience. But it does provoke a practical question: Just how radical is obedience if we really grasped the first message of His greatness?
For instance, Luke 9. There we have a series of the “hard calls” of Christ for those who would follow Him: Take up your cross… Let the dead bury the dead… Don’t say goodbye. That chapter appears really choppy, but consider what precedes these more radical calls to follow Christ.
18 Now it happened that as he was praying alone, the disciples were with him. And he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 19 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” – Luke 9:18-20
“The Christ of God!” Jesus is the ONE! He is God in the Flesh! The one that the Scriptures have spoken of over and over again! Jesus goes on to tell of His eventual death, without saying how that death would occur (via a cross). Next, He calls them to “take up his cross” and follow. We know that the disciples didn’t understand the full weight of what was being said, but they understood crucifixion. There was no way around the fact that Jesus was demanding whole life, leading to death, kind of commitment — and not a pleasant death at that.
Then we have the Transfiguration in vv.28-36, which Peter recollects in his letter (2 Peter 1:16-21). Another miracle and another foretelling of His death, and then… the disciples argue over who will be the greatest!? What? Seriously? He just was revealed as the Messiah and confirmed in an incredible Transfigured moment and they are concerned over their position? Are we really that different? We have the revealed Scriptures and the assurances of Jesus being the Christ of God. We bear witness to His resurrection and somehow, somehow we are more concerned about how Jesus can help us parent better, make better financial decisions, get a godly girlfriend, on and on. Are these the concerns of those who are taking up their cross, having no place to lay their head?
What if we just followed Jesus?
Would we really believe Matthew 6 and not concern ourselves with provision?
Wouldn’t we know that in following Christ that we could trust that He would provide a godly, cross-bearing spouse?
Every time we turn around in the Scriptures we see a grand picture of who God is. Subsequently, He calls His children to follow. This is why we must revel in the core doctrines and beauty of the text like Hebrews 1:1-4. Is there much “take home” application in that text? Well, only as far as you see that in light of the text that your “home” is not yours and the very ground it was built on was created by Jesus and held together by Jesus, and apart from His sustaining work it would shake to the ground in a pile of dust. Now, that begins to put some things in perspective right? You could find hope, encouragement, relief in THAT Jesus.
I hope we’ll see through this series that the Supremacy of Christ is the message that precedes our calling to follow, and that’s because we actually are following this Supreme Christ so that He is exalted and God glorified! He’s not merely alongside, or some sideline cheerleader. He is the glorious King of Universe that will be praised, and those who are truly His, though stumbling, sinning, and even being depressed, will press on because there is a greater glory in Christ than pleasure to be found in this world.