SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
June 1, 2008
The Glory, Power, and Authority of God’s Son Jesus Christ
Key Verse: He [Christ] is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. – Hebrews 1:3
In seminary I gained a profound appreciation for the Book of Psalms. Old Testament Professor Boone Bowen began every class session by quoting the entire 8th Psalm. Even now I can hear him speaking with great feeling,
“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens….”
The Psalms were awesome to the learned professor. His influence caused them to become awesome to me as well. More than any other person, Professor Bowen showed me the majesty and glory of the Psalms.
The writer of Hebrews exerts a similar influence upon me. The writer is in awe of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. For him Jesus Christ is the most magnificent person in the history of the world. There is no one like him. And the more I read this letter, the more I see and feel the true magnificence of Jesus, the Son of God. The writer reduces to ashes any doubts about the true identity of Jesus Christ. He shows me the majesty and glory of Jesus.
The NIV has been my translation of choice for many years. However, I am disappointed in the NIV rendering in verse two of chapter one: “…he has spoken to us by a Son. . . .” No, Jesus was not “a Son;” he was the one, true Son of God. The use of “a” minimizes the glory and power of Jesus. Other translations, such as the New Living Translation, use the word “His” rather than “a” or “the.” The use of “His Son” and “the Son” in the NLT serve to elevate the identity and authority of Jesus:
Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe.
My friend Thomas Samford, a distinguished attorney and in his last years a brilliant teacher of the Holy Scriptures, spoke of Jesus Christ with reverence and awe as “the Christ.” The Son of God for Thomas was never “my buddy Jesus;” he was always “the Christ”! When Thomas spoke of his Lord as “the Christ,” his students sometimes felt like taking off their shoes. They knew they were standing on holy ground in the presence of a brother who knew and loved the Son of God with all his heart.
Perhaps Thomas has simply embraced the attitude of the writer of Hebrews. Clearly to do so is to embrace Jesus as the unique Son of God, the promised Messiah, the eternal Christ, whose glory, power, and authority surpass that of any other person who ever lived. The writer honors the prophets and the angels but Jesus is superior to them all and only Jesus “radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God” (NLT).
Across the ages bewildered people have asked why the invisible God does not reveal himself. The answer, of course, is that he has – in Jesus Christ His Son. By choosing to be born a baby, in the flesh, God made himself known. We need no longer wonder what God is like; he is like Jesus His Son. His Name is Immanuel for he is God with us! When, as John says, “the Word was made flesh,” God became real. He was no longer “an oblong blur” but a person who was willing to suffer and die on the cross for our sins.
To summarize, the writer of Hebrews passionately describes the majesty of the Christ with these affirmations:
1. Like a mirror Jesus the Son reflects God’s glory.
2. God created everything through His Son in the beginning.
3. God has given everything to His Son as an inheritance.
4. Jesus is the perfect imprint of God’s character.
5. Jesus sustains and holds together all things by the power of his word.
6. Jesus has made possible the forgiveness of our sins and our deliverance from guilt.
7. His Name is above all other names and he is superior to angels.
8. Jesus the Son has authority over all things.
9. His glory and power are worthy of our highest praise.
Eugene Peterson, in The Message, offers this powerful translation of the opening lines of Hebrews chapter one:
Going through a long line of prophets, God has been addressing our ancestors in different ways for centuries. Recently he spoke to us directly through his Son. By his Son, God created the world in the beginning, and it will all belong to the Son at the end. This Son perfectly mirrors God, and is stamped with God's nature. He holds everything together by what he says—powerful words!
Shall we not bow down and worship the Christ! Shall we not tell others of his majesty and glory! Can we keep silent about the One who means everything to us in this world and the next? I think not!
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