“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.” (Hebrews 1:3)
The letter to the Hebrews was likely written between AD 50-68, possibly by Luke taking notes on Paul’s sermons about the superiority of Jesus. The first audience was Jewish Christians somewhere in the eastern Mediterranean, although this letter was bundled with those from various Apostles and shared from church to church. One of the main themes of this letter provides explanations for why Jesus is worth worshipping as God. Before Jesus, temple sacrifices were the main way to show devotion, obedience, and repentance to God; this letter reminds the Hebrews to persist in trusting that Jesus himself atones for them, despite pressure from other Jewish people to continue the prior way of worship.
This letter opens by reminding the audience that before Jesus came, God communicated in parts to their ancestors through His prophets (Ex. 19:17-25, Deut. 13:1, Hos. 12:10, 1 Pt. 1:10-12). But now that Jesus has come, God has communicated himself fully to Jewish people (Mt. 3:16-17, Lk. 4:17-21). Since then, God continues to communicate in many ways with any and everyone through His Son, His Spirit, His holy Scriptures, people in His household, and Nature (1 Cor. 1:9, 1 Jn. 5:20) – but Jesus is the standard by which all other revelation should be evaluated. So what do all of these sources tell us about Jesus? That He is…
- The Son of God: heir and agent; more than a prophet, angel, or ambassador (Ps. 2:7, Jn. 3:35)
- Given ownership of everything by God (Is. 9:6-7, Phil. 2:10)
- Created the universe with God (Ps 104, Jn. 1:3)
- The radiance of God’s glory (Ez. 1:26-28, Mk. 9:2-8, Rev. 4:3-6)
- The expression of God’s essence (Jn. 1:14, Col. 1:15)
- Upholds all that exists by his powerful and authoritative command (Job 38-39, Col. 1.:17)
- Purified our sins by offering up Himself as sacrifice (Is. 53:12, Zech. 3:4, Mt. 20:28, 1 Jn. 4:10)
- Sits at God’s right hand, reigning with authority (Ps. 110:1, Rev. 5:13)
- Much better than angels (Ps. 103:20, Mt. 16:27)
That’s quite the list! These same characteristics of Jesus are also explored in Psalm 2 and Colossians 1:15-23. As we continue to read through this letter to the Hebrews, learn more about how Jesus does deserve to be worshipped as God and what it can look like for us to live that out today.