Commentary by Walter Albritton
God Proclaims the Absolute Superiority of His Son, the Christ
Hebrews 1:1 – 2:4
Key Verse: The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. – Hebrews 1:3
Some years ago I heard the popular Baptist preacher Peter Lord insist that churches must make “the main thing the main thing.” His point was that Jesus is “the main thing” and therefore should be the central focus of ministry and preaching. The sad truth is that Jesus does not have first place in many of our lives, and in many of our churches.
Nothing is more important than to lift up Jesus so that people may understand his absolute superiority as the Son of God. The Christ alone is worthy of our love and our worship because he personally reflects and represents God himself. God has fully revealed himself in the Son, or as Jesus himself said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
This is a
helpful priority for Sunday School teachers as well as preachers and key church
leaders. All the scriptures point to Jesus, so we must teach them with
that overarching goal – to make Christ known. When we are teaching Psalm 23,
for example, we can enlarge our focus simply by adding the word, “Jesus.” The
result is, “The Lord Jesus is my
shepherd, I shall not want….” Jesus himself said, “I am the good shepherd; I
know my sheep and my sheep know me…” (John 10:14). The wise teacher will then
not merely teach about the characteristics of a shepherd in
The writer of the Book of Hebrews hammers home the superiority of Jesus. In the beginning, God spoke. Over the centuries God spoke many times, as he did through the prophets. God is not remote and indifferent. His love prompted him to come and make himself known. He did that supremely when he sent his Son to be born in the world as a baby. In the coming of Jesus, God spoke again, decisively. Not only did God speak, he made it clear that he expected people to listen, and to heed the Word he proclaimed in Jesus. Remember God’s words in the transfiguration experience: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him”! (Matthew 17:5).
What, according to the writer of Hebrews, did God say about Jesus? He is “heir of all things,” for he shared in the creation of all things. Everything then belongs to Jesus. This is consistent with the teaching of both John and Paul that all things were created by Christ, and for him. All things are held together, or “sustained,” by the “powerful word” of Christ. Christ, then, is the “glue” that hold us, and all things, together. Without him, we are constantly coming apart at the seams. Without Christ, we fail in all our efforts to “get it together,” or make all the pieces of our lives fit.
Christ radiates or reflects the glory of God because he is “the exact representation” of God. He took care of our sins by taking them to the cross, or as Paul says, we have “redemption through his blood” (Colossians ). When Christ’s work was finished, he returned to heaven, where he was granted the place of highest honor by being seated at the “right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” This position gives Christ superiority over the angels for his name is “more excellent” than their names. Though angels are important messengers of God, they serve God by worshipping Jesus. His Name is “above,” or greater than, all other names.
Key to understanding this lesson is the verse Hebrews 2:1 – “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” The early Christians, recent converts from Judaism, were at risk for “slipping away” from the faith. No doubt they had become busy with other concerns, their own mundane affairs. They had not renounced the faith but were slowly drifting away as the fire of their faith dimmed. The writer of Hebrews warns them of the grave danger of ignoring this “great salvation.”
Our own generation faces this same danger. We can become so busy with endless activities, work, and recreation that we slowly drift away from loving Christ and putting him first in our lives. Many “good” things can keep us from keeping “the main thing the main thing.” We can use so much energy helping our children become “All Stars” in sports that there is no energy left to help them learn and embrace basic biblical values. Neglect, more than evil deeds, often can rob us of our love of Jesus and prevent us from teaching our children the value of regular worship and Bible study.
Perhaps today is a good time to remember what God said, when he spoke, and to pay more careful attention to doing what pleases him. Wise parents may need to get off the merry-go-round, gather the children for prayer, and resolve to put Christ first in their family again. To do otherwise may be to neglect the “main thing” until it is too late.
On a more positive note, while life remains we can choose to listen to God, give Jesus his rightful place of honor in our family circle, and make new priorities out of gratitude for the great salvation God has offered us in his Son, Jesus Christ. Then the main thing will again be the main thing in our lives! + + + + (Contact Walter at firstname.lastname@example.org)