Questions Before the Sermon
How has God spoken to you in the past? (Give a specific example.)
Does God still speak today? If so, how?
Who do you think wrote this book? What do you think is the purpose of the book?
Pray that our faith would grow by this study through the book of Hebrews.
Who Is Jesus?
Hebrews1:1-4 Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir over all things and made the universe through Him. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. So He became higher than the angels, just as the name He inherited is superior to theirs.
We are going to spend much of 2014 looking at one book of the Bible, the book of Hebrews. This book is so important! In fact it may be one of the most important passages in the Bible to help us understand what the New Testament says and what the Old Testament says. I don’t think I could make it any more clear then the great preacher Chuck Swindoll did when he made this comment about the book of Hebrews. Chuck Swindoll said, “Among one of the largest and most significant books of the New Testament, Hebrews remains one of the least known. Like no other letter it reaches more often and more deeply into the Old Testament. There are 29 direct quotes from the Old Testament and 50 other clear allusions that point back to the Old Testament.” Swindoll says, “It’s rich in its history. Its colorful and eloquent in style.” Then he says, “Hebrews is none the less a difficult letter to grasp. Those who understand its message have a fairly good grasp of the Old Testament.”
The reason we are going to spend so much time in the book of Hebrews is because I don’t think I could adequately preach to you the whole counsel of God unless we understand both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The bridge that connects the dots is the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews is a tough book to read. It’s got difficult theology. Even the way the book is written is challenging. But it’s worth the effort! The book of Hebrews basically answers one question for everybody. Who is Jesus? We are going to try to answer the question today is who is Jesus and is Jesus really God.
Jesus is the Final Word Of God
Here’s the first thing I want you to see from this first verse and a half, that Jesus is the final word of God. Notice that the Word is capitalized. Because when the New Testament refers to the Word of God, when it is specifically referring to Jesus it is referring to God’s final Word that has been answered through Jesus Christ.
Hebrews was written thousands of years ago and we believe that is the inspired, perfect Word of God. Hundreds and hundreds of years later to help us to better identify specific passages, we added chapters to the books of the Bible. Then hundreds of years after that, we added verse numbers to the books of the Bible; so that we could find a specific reference to a specific book in the Bible. Those chapter and verse references are not inspired. They are not perfect but the book of Hebrews is. The reason I warn you about that is because we will cut verses in half and we will cut chapters in half throughout the book of Hebrews because they’re not always broken in the right places in my opinion.
Hebrews 1:1-2b “Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.”
Does anything appear missing to you? In almost all of the letters we have in the New Testament the very first thing that you read is who wrote the letter and who the letter was written to. Clearly, Hebrews is a letter written to a specific audience but we never find out who wrote this letter. In fact, this is probably one of the most unanswered questions in all of the New Testament.
Who wrote the book of Hebrews? The truth is we really don’t know. There are some people who say perhaps Paul wrote it. Others believe that maybe Peter had something to do with writing this letter. There are some who suggest Barnabas, one of those men who travelled with Paul, was the man who wrote this letter. There are even credible Bible scholars who say this may be the only letter in the New Testament written by a woman, Priscilla. But I tend to agree with the great church father Origen who made the statement, “There is no way that we can know who wrote the book of Hebrews.”
Here’s what we do know. Hebrews was a sermon. It was a sermon preached to the Jews. Whether they were Jews who were recent converts to Christianity or whether it was somebody preaching to the Jews to try to convince them that Jesus is the Son of God. There is no question that this book that you are reading is a sermon that was transcribed by somebody. I tend to believe that Paul preached this sermon to a Jewish audience and perhaps it was Luke or one of Paul’s other disciples who translated this for us. If you read carefully the first few verses sound a lot like Colossians Chapter One and chances are who ever was preaching this sermon was using Colossians Chapter One as his sermon text.
Hebrews Answers the Question
Here’s what the book of Hebrews is answering. Is Jesus God? Is Jesus worthy of our worship? Is Jesus the sinless Son of God? And you can’t miss it from this sermon preached to the Jews, Jesus is greater than anything else the Jews had ever experienced. When you’ve heard from Jesus, you’ve heard from the final Word of God.
The author reminds the Jew’s that they believe in a God who is real and involved in human history. They believe in a God who speaks to them. The Jews would have all admitted in the Old Testament, yes of course God spoke to people. He spoke through the prophets. He spoke through the priests. He spoke in dreams. And, He often had those words written down for us to carry on.
Hebrews says God speaks in a different way now. Now that we are in the church age we are looking back at the New Testament and the book of Hebrews says God has spoken one final time and He’s spoken through His Son Jesus. Now there is no reason to look anywhere else. There is no other information you and I need other than to understand who Jesus is and what Jesus did. Jesus is God’s last word. He is the last thing that any of us need to hear. He is God’s final answer to the question. When you know Jesus, you know who God is. And, you know exactly what God’s character and nature is.
We live in the last days. The days when God came forth in the form of a man. In the form of the Messiah. In the form of His Son, Jesus. Now to hear from Jesus is to hear God’s final answer. So church, here’s really what I want you to hear from me today. Jesus is enough. When you have Jesus, you have enough. When you have Jesus what else could possibly satisfy you.
Ricky Smith sent me a video a couple of weeks ago. I was so amazed by it. It’s a video of a football team who’s playing in the Super Bowl. I was blown away by it and I want you to see that Jesus is enough. This is a video of an interview that Pastor Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington conducted. He was interviewing a few key players and one of the coaches from the Seattle Seahawks.
I want you to think about this for just a second. A coach and a player in the NFL preparing to go to the Super Bowl are saying if they were to win the Super Bowl and win the Championship and didn’t have Jesus it would be empty. And they are absolutely right!
Jesus is the Reason
The reason why we are going to go on mission to Columbus, GA and to serve our city is because we believe that if you have everything and don’t have Jesus it’s empty. We believe that the woman who is praying tonight, “God just let my husband love me the way that I want him to love me. To treat me the way that he should be treating me. If I had that I would be satisfied deep down in my soul.” We believe that if that woman achieves that and doesn’t have Jesus something is missing.
We believe that the guy who says, “If my boss would just recognize how hard I’m working, he’d give me that big promotion or that big pay raise that I’ve been looking for. If I had that I would be satisfied deep down in my soul.” We believe that if that guy who achieves that and doesn’t have Jesus is empty.
We believe that Jesus is God’s final Word and that the people in our city are desperate, chasing after everything on the planet except for Jesus. Even if they were to attain it, if they didn’t have Jesus it would leave them wanting more. So I want to challenge you to be involved in our city and in our state because Jesus is God’s final Word.
Jesus Shines Forth the Worship of God
Jesus also shines forth the worship of God. God wants us to worship Jesus.
Hebrews 1:2b-3a “God has appointed Him heir over all things and made the universe through Him. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word.”
The word “heir” means that Jesus owns it all. He receives ownership of everything you and I see around us. The heir displays the dignity of God but He also displays the dominion of God. He controls and He owns everything. The reason why Jesus owns it, according to Hebrews, is because He made it. The Scriptures tell us that when God was creating the heavens and the earth Jesus was right there with Him. Jesus had as much to do with creating everything you and I see around us as God did. Because He made it and because He owns it, Jesus calls the shots you don’t. Jesus calls the shots I don’t. You see the truth is ladies you can bake a cake but you need ingredients to create that cake from. Guys you can build a car but you need parts to build that car from. No one can create something out of nothing. That’s an act of God. Hebrews is telling us Jesus was there creating something out of nothing when He created the heavens and the earth. He’s the heir of everything that He’s created. He owns it all and He gets to call the shots.
Then Hebrews makes this fascinating statement. The author says Jesus is the exact representation of God. He’s not a replica God. He’s not like God. He’s not similar to God. Hebrews is saying Jesus is God in His character and His nature. When you see Jesus, you see God. When the United States of America sends an ambassador overseas, we expect that ambassador to act on behalf of the President and the people of the United States. We don’t expect the ambassador to be the President of the United States because that ambassador has their own unique personality and their own unique character. The only way to have someone act exactly like the President of the United States overseas would be to send the President of the United States. Which is exactly what God did when He sent His Son Jesus.
We are talking about the Trinity. There is a God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit who are all one and are all equal. It’s difficult for our little minds here on Earth to understand it but one day when we see Him in heaven we’ll understand it completely. When it comes to salvation to understand the Trinity you need to understand that God the Father purposed in His mind to purchase us back from our sins. That God the Son purchased us. He was the one who did the work to buy us back from our sins. God the Holy Spirit preserves us today as a holy people so that we would one day be worthy to stand in His presence forever.
So when you woke up this morning, how did you know that the sun was shining? How did you know that the sun was out? Did you have to go outside and actually look up in the sky and stare at the sun? No, in fact it’s damaging for you to do that. You know that the sun is shining because everything looks different around you. When Jesus is at work in your life, when you worship Jesus, when He shines forth the light of the glory of God, everything looks different around you. You don’t need to see that the sun is in the sky when you have the SON everything looks different. It’s all more vivid. It’s all clearer. He sustains everything that is going on in your life. That means if you’re dealing with struggles right now, the Son is at work in your life. If you know Jesus personally and you’re going through health problems right now, you’ve got the one that made the universe who’s holding you in the palm of His hand. If you’re going through financial problems right now, you’ve got the one with all power and all the resources in the world who’s sustaining you in the palm of his hand. If it’s a family crisis, if it’s a business crisis, whatever it is, you’ve got all power and all authority available to you through the one who sustains you and holds you in the palm of his hand.
Jesus is the Finished Work of God
Jesus is the final Word of God. Jesus shines forth the worship of God. Lastly, I want you to see that Jesus is the finished work of God. It is finished! It is done! It has been paid in full! This is the statement that Jesus made when He was hanging on the cross. That is one of the last statements out of his mouth before He gave up His Spirit and breathed His last breath. It is finished! I want you to see Jesus is the finished work of God.
Hebrews 1:3b-4 After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. So He became higher than the angels, just as the name He inherited is superior to theirs.
Jesus completely solved the greatest problem that human history would ever know. He solved the sin problem. He completely and totally solved it once and for all by His death on the cross.
So, if someone were to ask you who is Jesus, I hope you have a very clear a very definitive answer to that question. If they were to ask you where is Jesus right now, Hebrews makes it perfectly clear He’s in heaven. If they were to ask you the question, what is He doing in heaven? He sat down in the seat of honor, in the seat of power, and in the seat of praise. Revelation tells us that He is enjoying the praise of all of God’s created order for all of eternity. That the elders and the angels and all of the living creatures fall down at the knees of Jesus and they worship Him in the presence of God the Father. That’s what Jesus is doing right now. He’s in the seat of honor, He’s in the seat of power, He’s in the seat of authority, because His mission is completed and was finished once and for all on the cross.
In the Old Testament the priests never sat down while they were on duty. In fact, if you were to read about the building of the tabernacle or about the building of the temple there is no seat. The furniture for a priest to sit down on was never created in the tabernacle because the priest’s job was never finished. Their job was to continually offer atonement for the sins of Israel. So when the preacher from the book of Hebrews says to the Jews that Jesus has finished it once and for all and He sits down in the seat of authority the Jews recognized immediately that the mission was over. It’s been completed. Since the priests in their day never sat down, their mission was never over with.
Then Hebrews makes it crystal clear Jesus is greater than. Greater than what? Greater than whatever it is that you can imagine. He’s greater than the angels. He’s greater than the prophets. He’s greater than the priests. He’s greater than Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is in a category all by Himself according to Scripture. Jesus is God. The message that the writer of Hebrews is trying to convince us of today, like he tried to convince the Jews 2,000 years ago, is that Jesus is not just the Son of God but Jesus is God the Son. By worshiping Him you are worshiping the exact character and the exact nature of God.
Let’s review what we’ve learned in these four verses from the book of Hebrews. Jesus is the prophet through whom God has spoken. He’s the creator of the universe. He’s the heir of all things. He is the exact representation of God’s being. He’s the sustainer of all things. He’s the priest that provides satisfaction for our sins once and for all. He’s the king who sits down in the place of honor in heaven. He outranks the angels. In God’s great chain of command, no one is above Jesus. By worshiping Jesus you are honoring God.
My first assignment as a chaplain was to Fort Bragg, NC. Fort Bragg is a massive military base. When I was stationed there as a chaplain there were more than 90 chaplains assigned to the base. Within the first few months of getting there I was asked to do a corporate prayer for a large gathering of officers. I didn’t think anything about it. I just offered a simple blessing for the food and for the event that was about to happen. Then I ended my prayer in Jesus’ name. I knew exactly what the Army said about that and had no reservation doing it.
The next morning I got a phone call from one of the chaplains who was a Jewish rabbi on Fort Bragg. He wasn’t there at that event but a general officer who was also a Jew was. The general officer was upset at my prayer. So the Jewish rabbi called me to his office and he started to explain to me how I had done wrong by ending my prayer in Jesus’ name. He outranked me in time and rank. I sat there and politely listened to him. He made it crystal clear that he was directing me to never again to end a prayer in Jesus’ name.
He said, “Why don’t you just use the word God? God doesn’t offend anybody in the room but when you say Jesus it is offensive.”
I sat there politely as long as I could but then it started to get me angry. I said back to him, “No man on the planet will tell me how I can pray. If this costs me my military career I will gladly end it over this issue.”
He started to raise his voice. I started to raise my voice. We were shouting and yelling at each other.
I yelled, “You won’t tell me how to pray!” He ordered me, “You will just pray to God and not in Jesus’ name!”
Finally I said, “No one will tell me how I can worship my God!”
It caused this guy to take a step back. He said, “What did you just say?”
I said, “No man on the planet, not even the President of the United States, will tell me how I can worship my God.”
He replied, “Are you telling me that you believe that Jesus is God?”
I answered, “Yes, that’s what I’ve been trying to say all along.”
He said, “No one has ever told me that they believe Jesus is God. I’ve heard people tell me that they believe Jesus is the Son of God. But no one has ever said to me that they believe Jesus is God.”
Immediately my heart started to hurt because this man had been in the Army for many years, around more than 90 chaplains at Fort Bragg alone. Not one of them had ever looked him in the eyes and said that Jesus is God.
He said, “If you really, really believe that Jesus is God I can’t in good conscience ask you to stop praying in Jesus’ name. I would just ask that you stop praying in public then if that is really what you believe.”
I told him, “I appreciate what you are trying to say but you don’t have the authority to make that decision my commander does. He decides when I pray and when I don’t. Jesus is God. When I pray I pray to God by his first name. His name is Jesus.“
That man was eventually assigned to Fort Benning at the same time I was. To this day he and I have a great relationship with one another because I was the first person in his life to look him in the eyes, a Jewish rabbi, and tell him Jesus is my God. When I worship God, I worship Jesus. When I pray to Him, I pray using his first name.
The reason why the book of Hebrews was written was tell us today that Jesus is God. He answers all of the questions in life. He has all of the power of God the Father. He sustains you during the difficulties of life. Is He the center of your universe or are you chasing after something else that in the end will totally let you down?
My challenge for you today is if you’ve never surrendered your life to Jesus Christ that today you would settle this issue once and for all. My challenge to the Christians here is that when you walk out of this church and you would be able to stand before your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers and your fellow students with a rock solid belief that Jesus is your God and that by worshiping Jesus you are bringing honor to God the Father.
Is Jesus really God?
I. Jesus is the final Word of God. V. 1-2a
Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. 2 In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.
II. Jesus shines forth the worship of God. V. 2b-3a
God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word.
III. Jesus is the finished work of God. V. 3b-4
After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. 4 So He became higher in rank than the angels, just as the name He inherited is superior to theirs.
Questions After the Sermon
Is Jesus really God?
Where is Jesus now? What is he doing?
Describe how you have placed something else in your life in place of Jesus and how it failed to satisfy you. How did you learn to put Jesus back in first place in this situation?
God was working in the Old Testament times to bring people back to him through the prophets and priests. God was working during the New Testament times to bring people to him through Jesus. Is God still working today? If so, how?
Pray for each other, that Jesus would be real in our city through his church.