Christ in Hebrews

Hebrews and the General Epistles represent the epistles that fall outside the explicitly Pauline corpus, though Hebrews has often been ascribed to Paul, and not without some good reason. However, these epistles celebrate the doctrine of Christ as gloriously as those letters written by Paul, and round out of discussion of Christ in the NT.
I. The doctrine of the supremacy of Christ over all things is the glorious theme of the epistle to the Hebrews. It is announced in the opening verses (Hebrews 1:1-3), where the author lays down the gauntlet: God has finally spoken by his Son, whose person and work is most exalted, not only in creation, but especially in redemption, where we chiefly see Him as priest, now seated on the right hand of God. The supremacy of Christ functions much like a snowcapped mountain peak. No matter what verse of Hebrews you read, whenever you look up – there is this awe-inspiring sight of Christ’s supremacy.
II. Yet, the doctrine of Christ’s supremacy is more than an imposing vista that takes one’s breath away. Through exposition and application, the snowcap feeds countless rivers, waterfalls, and streams that each conduct the glory of Christ to the faith and life of the church. For this reason, the theme of this epistle is more properly: The Supremacy of Christ Expounded and Applied. It operates as follows: in exposition, doctrine is released from the watershed of truth; in application this same truth travels the rivers and streams, whereby it reaches the remote stretches of land. This whole process lends to the epistle to the Hebrews a great force that ought to model for us how preaching should apply the supremacy of Christ to all the church in all of life.
III. The supremacy of Christ over angels is the first stop on the tour of the apostle’s argument. Psalms 2 and 110 prove beyond a shadow of a doubt Christ’s supremacy. There Christ is addressed directly and eminently as Son and Lord by the LORD, thereby showing his superiority over even angels, who are sent to minister, but never told to sit. Applicatorily, then, greater attendance to the gospel of Christ is warranted, and greater punishment is to be anticipated if we neglect this great salvation.
IV. Next, the apostle argues the supremacy of Christ over the angels in the incarnation sense that He lowered Himself to take our nature, not that of angels, and then was exalted, so as to have all angels under His feet. Though we don’t see everything under His feet, our faith looks to Him, in whom we have the guarantee that the work of the devil has been broken. Christ’s supremacy isn’t just over Adam, but also Moses and Joshua. Though Moses was faithful as a servant in the house, Christ as a Son over the house. Though Joshua brought them into rest, Christ has ceased from His works, and we are called to labor to enter into that rest.
V. Applicatorily, the author uses the superiority of Christ over Adam and Moses to call for closer attachment to Him than ever before (3:6). As glorious as the doctrine of Christ’s supremacy is, so devastating is the neglect or diminishment of it. Here the apostle shows how the doctrine of the supremacy of Christ’s person requires a singular allegiance to the person of Christ. If he were only one of many, no singular devotion could be required. Now that His person is manifest as the singularly unrivalled or unequaled One our devotion of Him should know no competition.
VI. Christ’s supremacy as priest is in focus next, for though there are similarities between Christ’s priesthood and that of Aaron’s, he is not a priest by a law of dynastic tribalism, but by the word of the divine oath, for which Melchisedek is the great type. Christ’s highpriestly work is far more excellent than any earthly work, for its scope is heavenly, better, and more excellent. It requires a new covenant, as Jeremiah prophesied, rendering the previously operating covenant (or economy of the covenant) as defunct, and this one final (9:24-10:18): “Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (9:26) … and … “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat own on the right hand of God from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (10:12-14).
VII. In this light, then our attachment to Christ should be an enduring attachment. If Christ is the supreme Mediator, it is impossible that we should be devoted unto him only for a limited amount of time. We are called to “hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (3:14). If Christ were only one among many, we should alternate our devotion half –way or at some later time; now that is wholly unreasonable. Through his application, the apostle seeks to woo the whole person to the whole Christ, who reigns supreme. Since there can be nothing lacking in the Christ – what is lacking must be ascribed to the Christian, which he must find ever and anew in Christ.
VIII. James and Jude, half-brothers of Christ, may not seem to have much concerning Christ. James seems rather to be focused on practical issues, such as enduring trials, discerning true faith, and resisting worldliness, and Jude on resisting apostasy. However, both treat Christ as the Lord of glory, deserving to be served. The title “Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory,” (2:1) spreads it glow through every verse of James. Along with James 5:7-11, which speaks of Christ’s glorious return from heaven to execute judgment, we see how James’ design is to encourage the twelve tribes to live in the light of the sovereign and glorious Messiah, who raised up the sick and whose name draws forth trust from those living through the trying times. These trials sift the professors into the two groups: those who have real religion, having been begotten by the word, and those who simply appear religious. Jude not only refers to the Lordship of Christ as something that will devour all apostates (14-15), but also as something that will serve to keep all those who own Christ’s lordship (21), and focus on His mercy (v. 22).
IX. Peter brings into greater view the sufferings and glory of Christ (I Peter 1:11). The last days have arrived because of how Christ, the Bishop and Overseer of our souls have come, having suffered as the Lamb (1 Pet 2:24) of God, dying for the unrighteous (1 Pet. 3:18), and by whose stripes we are healed. His resurrection is as important as his death, proving Himself the precious cornerstone of His church and people (1 Pet. 2:7). Salvation involves knowing and loving him (2 Pet. 1:2-3, 8). His voice is worth hearing, as Peter, an eyewitness of His majesty can attest (2 Pet. 1:16-17). Through Him, and His precious promises, believers have received all things necessary for life and godliness, so much so that they may partake of the divine nature (2 Pet 1:3-4), meaning that united to Christ, both divine and human, they belong to Him who will forever be God, not losing any of that nature nor the redemption that He has obtained as the God-man.
X. In summary, then, the general epistles fill out Paul’s picture of the glory of Jesus Christ. Hebrews shows it in relationship to the Old Testament, James, Jude, and Peter in relationship to the forces at work refining and purging the church. Each of them along with Hebrews stress the glory of Christ. Though they had known Christ while on earth, their burden was to set forth His glory so as to urge the Christians on, while warn against falling back and falling away.