January 2, 2017

December 25, 2016 - Hebrews 1:1-12

Theme: The Birth Announcement of our Savior
1) A Proud Father Glorifies in His Son’s Birth
2) A Willing Son Glorifies His Father Word

Hebrews 1:1-12 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 5 For to which of the angels did He ever say: "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You "? And again: "I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son "? 6 But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: "Let all the angels of God worship Him." 7 And of the angels He says: "Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire." 8 But to the Son He says: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions." 10 And: "You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. 11 They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; 12 Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed. But You are the same, And Your years will not fail."

Think about the highlights of life that people most often mention. We talked about a big one last weekend with the announcement of an engagement and marriage. Right up there with that is the birth of a child. Usually, peoples’ greatest memories involve one or both of those things. It’s fitting that following the Sunday that we saw the beautiful depiction of the desire that Jesus is for believers, we would see today an amazing description of that Child born on Christmas. This section is no ordinary summary of Jesus, however. It is framed by the Holy Spirit through the words and promises He authored long before Jesus came.

The book of Hebrews was given that name because it was written to Jewish individuals within the NT church. These people were extremely familiar with the Old Testament books and therefore Hebrews contains an astounding amount of quotations from the times of the psalms and prophets. These prophecies act like a fingerprint which can be traced throughout history. The one who matches the promises, is the Chosen One of God. With remarkable accuracy, Jesus Christ fits the fingerprint identity of the Old Testament. As we read the opening of Hebrews, it’s almost as if God the Father is introducing us to His Son. We get an inside look into the identity of the Child born in Bethlehem, just as the shepherds did who first saw the Jesus.

As we might expect with any ordinary birth announcement, the Father displays great pride and glory for His Son. Consider all of the honorable qualities bestowed upon Jesus:
·         Made the worlds (v.2,10)
·         Express image of His power (v.3)
·         Uphold all things by His word (v.3)
·         Purged sins (v.3)
·         Sits at the Father’s right hand (v.3)
·         Begotten in eternity (v.5)
·         Worshipped (v.6)
·         Eternal Throne (v.8) 

The writer calls to mind for the reader why God takes such pride in His Son. The text phrases this as how the Father “appointed Jesus as heir of all things” and later in verse four how Jesus has received this inheritance. Paul wrote in a similar way to the Colossians when he called Jesus “the express image of the invisible God and the firstborn over all creation (Colossians 1:15).” Jesus received these distinguished titles because His Father glorified Him.

When a child is born, one of the proudest moments for father and mother is seeing a child that is theirs. A child that looks like them and will grow up to be like them. Jesus was the greatest example of that when it came to the eternal God. When someone witnessed Jesus they would see the exact representation of God the Father. But, that could only happen if Jesus was born, because we sinful mortals could only gaze upon a Savior who came as one of us.

God’s glory for His Son also comes into play as it pertains to revelation. The writer opens by calling to mind the many ways that God revealed Himself in the past. He doesn’t take the time list them, but for the reader knowledgeable in Biblical record, many examples come to mind.
·         The burning bush
·         The pillar of fire and cloud
·         The ark of the covenant
·         The still, small voice
·         The bronze serpent
·         The direct testimony to the many prophets
·         Manifestations of angelic beings

God revealed His will in many ways, but that all was building up to one point – the birth of Jesus. The text affirms confidently, “God has now spoken to us by His Son.” There is no greater revelation from God than the fact that He sent His Son to earth. We can focus on many different topics and themes in the Scriptures, but nothing is more powerful than the work of that Son. This is why, in all we do, we seek to reveal Jesus to one another and to those outside God’s Church. He is the Father’s greatest witness, not just because of His many powerful attributes, but ultimately because of what He did for the world and its problem with sin.

Part 2

Here we see the other side of this birth announcement. The Father’s Glory for the Son is the Son’s Glory for the Father. There is more to the Christmas story than a distant God’s promises about a coming Savior. It is also about that Savior’s very upholding of His Father’s will; accomplishment and victory in the space of time and history. Without Christ’s willingness to serve and suffer, there would be need occasion to glory about His birth.

Here is where the writer paints a beautiful picture of the relationship between God the Father and Jesus. It can be a difficult relationship to understand because of its complexity but it also shows us the great length to which God would go for our salvation. On the one hand there are phrases which indicate the Father bestowing glory upon Jesus which serves as an indication of the humility which Jesus assumed when coming to earth. But, at the same time, the writer conveys how Jesus earned all the glory which he received. True enough, Jesus was appointed heir by the Father and did receive an inheritance. But, Jesus also has the power to uphold all things by His Word, and He actively purged our sins by His life, death, and resurrection.

You see, Jesus did receive things from the Father, but not without reason. It’s only because Jesus stepped into our place and consciously made the choice, and completed the work on our behalf, that He receives such honor from the Father. Therefore, the writer speaks at length about how these attributes and actions make Jesus better than the angels. We obviously agree. With such a thorough discussion of His deity, Jesus surely far surpasses the angels in power and glory. But, if we don’t pay attention, we might miss the import of the Christmas story at this very point.

The glory that the Father displays for His Son is indeed connected to His Son’s deity, but also to His Son’s humanity. The incarnation, suffering, and humiliation of Jesus are also parts of His nature which make Him far superior to the angels. That’s why Psalm 2 is quoted right away as the first OT reference in our text. "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You ". Those words of King David, spoken by inspiration, pointed to the Son’s mission to become the begotten of the Father; born in the manger and lifted up upon the cross.

In many ways in the times past God spoke to His people, but in these last days He has spoken through His Son. If the Father’s oration of His Son was only about power and authority, it ultimately would not be a picture of Jesus. A tale of that stature would indeed be spoken of one greater than angels, but not one greater than sin, death, and hell. To accomplish victory over Satan, that powerful Savior, the express image of the Father, had to be born in humble conditions. The rudimentary, common, and lowly Christmas story is at the heart of eternal life for all people, because it fills in the ultimate title of Jesus. He’s more than omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. He’s also the Son of Man.

In order to give the greatest glory to His Father and to earn that same approval from the same, Jesus had to do the unexpected. Base power was not enough for our salvation. Instead, what seems to be simpler but what was also impossible for us to do was needed instead. Seeking the interest of others over yourself. Forgiving sins and wrongdoings. Returning kindness for wickedness. Speaking good when revile would make sense. Curbing a lust of the heart instead of easily giving in. Honoring God in heart and action. These are the kinds of things Jesus did, and it wasn’t about supernatural miracles. These things happened in the dirt and filth, the reality of this world. In settings as simple and crude as a smelly stable, course straw, and the Judean countryside; with implements as rough as: nails, a cross, and a crown of thorns.

It is in the birth of Jesus that this eternal, Almighty, and seemingly distant God came down before men and became the God close at heart; the King among His people. God surely went to extreme lengths to get this message to people, from the very inception of sin. But, there is no louder or clearer message than the coming of His own Son. And that is how He speaks to us today. Truly, what honor and glory the Father has for His Son, and what honor and glory the Son has shown His Father.

What does all this mean for you and me? The greatest gift this Christmas is that God allows us to have the very same glory and honor. Not to our credit or because we earned it in any way. But, because Jesus is ours by faith. His glory becomes our glory. His holiness becomes our holiness. His honor to the Father becomes our honor to the Father. His inheritance becomes ours.

1 John 3:1-2 Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

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