John Piper says…
“We are all starved for the glory of God, not self. No one goes to the Grand Canyon to increase self-esteem. Why do we go? Because there is greater healing for the soul in beholding splendor than there is in beholding self. Indeed, what could be more ludicrous in a vast and glorious universe like this than a human being, on the speck called earth, standing in front of a mirror trying to find significance in his own self-image? It is a great sadness that this is the gospel of the modern world. The Christian Gospel is about “the glory of Christ,” not about me. And when it is—in some measure—about me, it is not about my being made much of by God, but about God mercifully enabling me to enjoy making much of Him forever.”
Meditating on the glory of Jesus Christ is not easy, but it is worth the effort. But the Puritan John Owen said…
“The person who never meditates with delight on the glory of Christ in the Scriptures now will not have any real desire to see that glory in heaven. What sort of faith and love do people have who find time to think about many other things but make no time for meditating on this glorious subject?”
There are definitely positive benefits to meditating on the glory of Jesus Christ. Owen goes on to say…
“By beholding the glory of Christ by faith we shall find rest to our souls. Our minds are apt to be filled with troubles, fears, cares, dangers, distresses, ungoverned passion and lusts. By these our thoughts are filled with chaos, darkness and confusion. But where the soul is fixed on the glory of Christ then the mind finds rest and peace for “to be spiritually minded is peace” (Rom. 8:6).”
Michael Reeves, in his book Rejoicing in Christ says this:
“If the Father can be infinitely and eternally satisfied in him [the Son], then he must be overwhelmingly all-sufficient for us, In every situation, for eternity.”
And John Newton, who wrote the song Amazing Grace, reminds us that “Discovering the amazingness of grace requires that we focus on the amazingness of Christ.”
When Charles Spurgeon opened this text to his congregation on the Lord’s Day evening of May 21, 1882, he gloriously announced, “I have nothing to do to-night but to preach Jesus Christ” (C. H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit , vol. 45 (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim, 1977), p. 385). He was merely following the apostolic pattern.
Luke tells us that the very first Christians “kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42 NASB). When Philip went down to Samaria, he “proclaimed to them the Christ ” (Acts 8:5). And when he climbed into the Ethiopian’s chariot “he preached Jesus to him” (Acts 8:35 NASB).
Immediately after Paul was converted, “he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues” (Acts 9:20 NASB). Regarding his preaching, Paul told the Corinthian church that he had resolved to know nothing “except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
In Colossians 1:28, Paul identifies his priority:
28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
The best thing any of us can do is to preach Jesus, whether to win someone to Christ or to build them up in the faith.
Well, this is what the author of Hebrews helps us do in our passage today. He writes…
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 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. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
The Father’s favorite subject is His Son. The Spirit promises to exalt Jesus Christ. So we can almost feel the pleasure of the Father and the Spirit in this exalted description of Jesus Christ.
The grand theme of these verses is the supremacy of Christ as God’s final word.
First of all, the background for these exalted statements about Jesus Christ is the fact that angels were very highly regarded in the Jewish religion, primarily because they believed that thousands of angels assisted in the giving of the Mosaic law at Mount Sinai (cf. Deut. 33:2; Psalm 68:17; Acts 7:53 and Galatians 3:19).
For example, Stephen mentions, in his speech in Acts 7…
you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it. (Acts 7:53)
Thus, angels were very important in the Jewish religious traditions. So the writer of Hebrews had to deal with this and he did this in this section (Hebrews 1:2b-2:18), first by affirming the superiority of Jesus Christ by description and through Old Testament quotations in (Hebrews 1:2b-14), then by exhortation in Hebrews 2:1-4 and finally by explanation in Hebrews 2:5-18. He shows how Jesus Christ, through possessing a human body, is still superior to these exalted angelic spirits.
The author of Hebrews has already introduced the Son as the final, fullest revelation from God. He fully explains who God is and perfectly communicates God’s nature to us. Now the writer of Hebrews gives us a beautiful, majestic description of who Jesus is, who “his Son” is, in seven statements.
If you want a simple way of understanding this passage, jut think of Christ as (1) the inheritor, (2) the creator, (3) the sustainer, (4) the radiator, (5) the representor, (6), the purifier, and (7) the ruler.
Why these seven descriptions, when it would be impossible to define Christ Jesus with a hundred descriptions? Because seven is the number of completion and fulfillment.
In the movie Prince Caspian, based on C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, Lucy finds herself again in the presence of Aslan and she throws her face into his mane with a big hug. Then he rolls over, placing his huge paws around her. The sweetness of his breath flows around her.
“Aslan,” said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
“That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
You see, a measure of our spiritual growth is when Jesus becomes bigger and more important in our eyes.
No matter what troubles and trials this congregation was going through, what they needed most was not “six steps to victory,” but solid teaching about Jesus Christ. That is what we need as well.
So what does the author of Hebrews tell us about Jesus?
First of all, he has been “appointed heir of all things.” It is natural for the writer to first emphasize that Christ the Son is Inheritor because sons are naturally heirs.
He is the Son of the most high King. As such, he has come into his inheritance. It is the greatest inheritance in all the world, in all of history, for He is the “heir of all things.”
God appointed Christ heir of all things. Appointing reflects assignment to a position. Although Jesus has always been the heir of God, his appointment came through His death and resurrection.
In Psalm 2, an enthronement Psalm for the coming Messiah, we find God sitting in heaven, laughing at the defiance of the nations. They have never been a match for Him! In that context, he declares…
6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7 I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.
(We know that this verse is in mind because Psalm 2:7 is quoted as referring to Christ in verse 5 of our text.)
Although the nations, indeed all creation, is in rebellion against Christ, God has ordained that through Christ’s faithful obedience and through His death and resurrection, these enemies will ultimately be subdued and all creation will bow down and acknowledge that Jesus is Lord.
Hebrews 10:12–13 says this:
Having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, [Christ] sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until his enemies be made a footstool for his feet.
So Jesus is specifically, in Psalm 2, the heir of all the nations. But that will be expanded in chapter 2, verses 5-9, where his inheritance includes the universe and the world to come. There “everything” will be subject to Him.
This will be gloriously fulfilled near the end of the tribulation period when Jesus returns and defeats the armies of the Antichrist. This is expressed in Handel’s Messiah as he repeats the words of Revelation 11:15…
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”
Admittedly, when Jesus was on earth during His incarnation he had nothing, no place to lay his head. No property, no money. He was even buried in a borrowed grave.
Yet, one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord (Phil. 2:10).
Philip Edgecumbe Hughes says…
“Christ is the heir of all things precisely because God has only one Son and one Heir. Christians, it is true, are also called sons and heirs of God, but they are so not in their own right but solely by virtue of their incorporation into the only-begotten Son with whom alone God is well pleased (Mt. 3:17; 17:5; Rom. 8:14-17; Gal. 4:4-7; 1 Pet. 1:3f). In short, apart from Christ there is no sonship and heirship. Those therefore who desire to enjoy the privileges of the sons and heirs of God can do so only as by faith they are found in Christ” (A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, p. 39).
When Christ came the first time he came in poverty, to make us rich (2 Cor. 8:9), but when He returns a second time, it will be to take authority and receive His full inheritance, which he will share with us—because we have become “fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16-17) through faith.
Because Christ and Christ alone is heir to all things, and we live in him, we are heirs of all. “All things are yours,” says Paul, “whether . . . the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:21–23).
A. W. Pink points out that Jesus is not here called “Lord of all things,” but heir. We can never be “joint-lords,” but grace has made us “joint-heirs.” Because of this the Redeemer said to the Father, “the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them” (Jn 17:22).
The word “heir” suggests two things: dignity and dominion, with the additional implication of legal title thereto. The title “Heir” here denotes Christ’s proprietorship. He is the Possessor and Disposer of all things. (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews, 31). He is the proper heir of God.
“Heir of all things,” then, is a title of dignity and shows that Christ has the supreme place in all the mighty universe. His exaltation to the highest place in heaven after his work on earth was done did not mark some new dignity but his reentry to his rightful place (cf. Phil 2:6-11). (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, 13)
In our author’s thought, this royal inheritance of Christ has only been inaugurated but will be consummated at the end of the age (1:13; 2:8-9). Thus this initial proposition both affirms the present and anticipates the future rule of Christ. (George H. Guthrie, The NIV Application Commentary: Hebrews, 47)
Second, Jesus was the instrumental agent of creation—“through whom he [God] created the world.” Literally, He created the “ages” (aion). He created both space and time, implying that He existed before either.
“Thus the writer of Hebrews, in a single term (aionas), unites the idea of the world existing in space with the idea of the world moving through time—no mean accomplishment” (Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom, p. 32).
Bishop Westcott defines aionas here as “The sum of the ‘periods of time’ including all that is manifested in and through them . . . an order which exists through time developed in successive stages” (The Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1967), p. 8).
Christ created not only the physical earth, but also time, space, energy, and every variety of matter. He effortlessly created the entire universe and finished it as something good. For that reason, the creation, which was marred by humanity’s sin, longs to be restored to what it was originally (Romans 8:22)—and one day Christ will create a new and perfect heaven and earth.
The immense scope of Christ’s inheritance comes from his dual functions as Creator and Redeemer.
Paul makes dramatic reference to this in Colossians 1:16b: “all things were created . . . for him.” Or as some have even more graphically translated it: “All things were created . . . toward him.”
Everything in the universe has its purpose and destiny in the heir, Jesus Christ. Romans 11:36 has the same idea as it tells us that everything in the work of creation is to him—“to him are all things.”
He has also earned a vast inheritance by means of redeeming mankind to Himself through the atoning work of reconciliation on the cross.
Paul prayed that the church would have its eyes opened to “the riches of his [that is, Christ’s] glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18).
Just imagine the creative power of Jesus Christ. As we look out at this vast universe, or considered the cosmic constants that must be tuned precisely to the 100th or 1,000th degree for life to even exist on this planet, or the profundity of data within the human DNA and the amazing ways that our bodies work, we should stand in awe at the One who made it all, with just a word.
For example, “Scientists have identified 109 characteristics of our galaxy and solar system that require exquisite fine-turning for life’s existence and sustenance,” explains astrophysicist Hugh Ross, “and that’s to say nothing, yet, about the possibility of organic matter arising from inorganic” (interview, “Scientists Are Getting Warmer,” New Man, September/October 1999, p. 34).
A British mathematician at Oxford University, Roger Penrose, has calculated that the precision seen in the created universe is 1010(to the 128th power).28. I cannot fathom how high that number is, but it must be “out of this world”!
Early Jewish Christians interpreted the role of Wisdom in Proverbs 8:22-31 as referring to the creative work of Jesus. I love the way verses 30 and 31 express this creative cooperation between the Father and Son…
30 then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, 31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were all involved in creating this universe, both the visible and the invisible, and they delighted in it, pronouncing it “very good.” But the emphasis here is on the creative power of the Son.