Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Glory of Christ

As I have started preaching through the book of Hebrews two things about Jesus Christ have caught my attention this week in chapter one.  The first one is in vs. 9, "You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness."  I am not sure there is another verse that captures the essence of godliness and righteousness like this one.  God's purpose in redeeming us is not to make us perfect in the sense of having no sin or even to merely forgive us our sins; something more is needed.

Adam was created upright; he had no sin in him but clearly the Lord had more in mind.  He wanted Adam to love him totally and hate everything that God hated.  In Adam this would be worked out not just in good deeds but in a perfect love for God that led to him fully obey.  Of course, Jesus the God Man was the only one who could do this in an acceptable way and it is this "active" righteousness that is imputed to us.  This is a righteousness that goes way beyond just obeying some set of laws.  What honors the Lord is when such deeds are done with a heart of love towards God.  So Jesus didn't just go around and keep law or do good deeds but he loved serving the Father in this way with all his heart.  He didn't obey because he had to he did so because he loved to serve the Father.

And this is a good lesson for those who desire to be conformed to his image and to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.  Holiness is not just our ability to obey the Lord, it is to do so because we wouldn't have it any other way; it is from the heart and only this pleases the Lord.  Vs. 9 is telling us that there was a substitute that actually lived in the way God intended humans to live and it is that righteousness that we need along with the cancelling of the debt of sin held against us.

The second thing I thought was wonderful to see in this chapter is one of the primary things this opening chapter wants us to see; Christ is not only better than the angels but more than just a man as well.  There are allusions to this in this chapter instead of outright statements since the author is primarily comparing him to the angels, not to man.  One such allusion is in vs. 13,  "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"?  Actually you have to go back to Ps. 110:1 to see this since he only quotes part of the verse.  David is prophesying that Yahweh said to his Lord to sit on his right hand....  Jesus picks up on this in Matt. 22.  The Pharisees had been trying to catch him is some error in order to discredit him and it hadn't been going too well for them.

All of the sudden Jesus decides to ask them a question.  It was "whose Son was the Messiah supposed to be?" and they rightly answered David.  Then Jesus gives them a riddle of sorts.  If the Messiah is a descendant of David what did he mean when he called him his Lord in Ps. 110?  The teaching we must take away from that is obvious.  The Messiah is going to be a man born from David's line but he clearly has to be more than just a man.

Now the verse that even more plainly teaches this that I came across this week is Rev. 22:16,  "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star."  Do you see it?  Jesus claims to be both the root and the descendant of David.  The root precedes the plant and the fruit.  He is the One who gave life to David as his creator and obviously he existed before David, yet he descended from David as well.  How can it be more clear?

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