WHO IS JESUS?

HEBREWS 1:1-4

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Who is Jesus? This question is incredibly controversial and intensely personal. If you could only use one chapter to describe Jesus, I think Hebrews 1 would be a great place to turn. 

The book of Hebrews was written to Christians who were wandering away from Christ. In order to draw them back to the Lord, Hebrews was delivered to display the greatness of Christ. The ascription of this greatness began in Hebrews 1 as Jesus’ nature was described. 

God’s Son (1:2)

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

            Jesus is the Son of God. This description does not mean that Jesus had a mother and was born in a creaturely way. Instead, when Jesus is described as the Son of God, we are being taught that the Son proceeds from the Father and is of the same essence of the Father. This concept of Sonship is also expressed in John 1 when Jesus was described as the Word. The Word proceeds from and is the full revelation of God’s nature. 

            As the Son, Jesus has been “appointed heir of all things” (1:2). As God, all things are from, through, and to him. Romans 11:36 says, “for from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” These words, “from..through…and for” were characteristic descriptions (from middle plationism) to describe God as the Creator and Sustainer of everything. All creation is for God—the Father, Son, and Spirit. Jesus was “appointed heir of all things” because he was the Creator of all things. It was through him that God made the universe (Heb 1:2). 

God’s Image (1:3a)

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word

The Sonship of Christ is again at the forefront of who Jesus is. The preacher wanted to begin his sermon of Hebrews stressing that the Son is of the same essence as the Father. That Jesus was of the same nature as the Father was demonstrated by the way Jesus was described as “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature.” We should consider these metaphors carefully. 

Radiance has to do with the light that shines from a light. As the ancients described Jesus as “light of light,” Scripture described him as the radiance of God’s glory. “patristic consensus favours the interpretation that Christ is the effulgence of the divine doxa, as sunshine is of the sun or light of light.”[1] In other words, the Son proceeds from the Father and is distinct from him, but the Son is also fully whatever the Father is. 

Then the preacher described Jesus as “the exact expression of his nature.” This is a more concrete way of saying the same thing that “radiance of his glory” meant. The Greek text says, “χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως.” The first word is in Greek and in English is “character.” Which we should understand as “an exact representation.” The term was used to describe how the press which would make identical coins or a trademark. The Son, then, is exactly what the Father is. He is, of the same nature—homoousios. He is not of a different nature—homoiousios. Jesus is true God. 

The true deity of Christ was proven again in the reality that it is Christ who created and sustains all things. Hebrews 1:3 says that he “sustains all things through his word.” Both the creation and sustaining—providential care—of the universe are divine activities. No mere human can do either of those things. Jesus, on the other hand, created and sustains all things because he is true God. 

Man’s Salvation (1:3b-4)

After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs

            The Son of God came to the world by the addition of a true human nature to his person. The human nature was essential to his mission so that he could live perfectly by the Law, die as the perfect sacrifice, and be raised to justify those who he would perfect. The divine nature could not do those things, but the human nature could suffer and die. This enabled the Son to offer a divine sacrifice since the human nature was assumed to the divine nature in the one person. 

            Hebrews 1:3 teaches that as Christ died, he “made purification for sins.” This purification “καθαρισμὸν” refers to a ritual cleansing. This is how sinners are made pure. Their sin is removed by the holiness of Christ. Their sins are hidden by the blood of Christ. Their sinful record is replaced by the righteousness of Christ. The sinner is purified in every way. 

            Having made purification for sins, Christ now reigns with the Father as the Prophet, Priest, and King. In this sacred position, Christ continues to serve as the Mediator between God and man. Sanctification, then, even in the work of Christ should be seen as perfected at Jesus’ death and continued in Heaven as he intercedes for his people. Christians are saved and are being saved because of Christ’s intercession on earth and in Heaven. 

            Finally, the preacher spoke of the exalted human nature which Christ assumed. The Holy Spirit said, “So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs” (Heb 1:4). The divine nature of Christ was always superior to the angelic nature. The human nature was exalted. This exaltation was shown by the excellent name—the name Son which then formed the basis of the rest of the argument in Hebrews 1. The Son of God became the Son of Man. He is the Son! Therefore he should be worshiped and trusted. 

Who is Jesus? To You?

            Ultimately, you will have to answer the question of Jesus in your own life. He is and always will be the Son of God. He is the Son of Man. He is the only Savior. Who is he to you?


[1] Gerhard Kittel, “Αὐγάζω, Ἀπαύγασμα,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 508.

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