Jesus – a Superior Name

Hebrews 1:3-5

Touched By An Angel, Highway to Heaven; The Preacher’s Wife, It’s a Wonderful Life; paintings, figurines, 100K+ books on amazon including by well-known Christians – people have fascination with angels that crosses religious and social lines. Nearly 300 references to angels in Bible, more than half in the NT. Often little resemblance between popular images and ideas of angels and what Scripture tells us.

Angels certainly special beings. They have privilege of being in God’s immediate presence: figures of angels (cherubim) that adorned mercy seat in holy of holies. Seraphim above throne of God seen by Isaiah. Countless numbers of angels surround God’s throne in heaven in John’s vision. Angels have special advantage not available to human beings in present state. Would be easy to reach wrong conclusions about angels because of the apparent favor they receive from God.

In fact, Jewish people of Jesus’ day did just that. Jewish writings from period between Malachi and Matthew contain much about angels. Seems Jewish tradition assigned roles and responsibilities to angels that Bible did not: serving as priests in heavenly temple; revealing truth from God to mankind; carrying communication from people to heaven, then passing up through ranks to God. In other words, carrying out duties the Bible assigns to persons of the Trinity – Son and Spirit. Wrong ideas, not so much about angels as about Lord Jesus, needed correcting.

Two aspects of Jesus’ existence and being are presented throughout Hebrews: the eternal Word (John 1:1), the Word made flesh (John 1:14). In other places, writer’s focus is more on what Jesus has achieved. Here, emphasis is on who he is – the dignity and superiority Jesus has because he is the Son, the one who as a name above any other name whether of angel or man.

A. eternal Son (3a)

first verse of text speaks of the Word who “In the beginning…, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. …All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:1-3

the radiance of God’s glory and exact imprint of his nature, the representation of his essence – the one who is at the same time God and distinct from God

has the attributes and characteristics of God including eternality – this one through whom God has spoken is also God

the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God – is right to think of each person as God, God in full, lacking nothing necessary to deity

the Father is not the Son…or the Spirit; the Son is not the Father or the Spirit; the Spirit is not the Father or the Son – each is distinct from the other yet one God

the Son did not become God’s son when he was begotten in the womb of a virgin – the Son, the Word, took on flesh, “the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7)

yet before creation he had the brightness of God’s glory at the side of the Father (John 17:5); prayed that the incarnate Son would be glorified with the same glory the eternal Son always had

everything that made the eternal Son God was present in the babe in the manger – Son gave up nothing of his divine essence to become the God-Man

humbled himself, cloaked his deity with humanity, and continued “upholding [sustaining] the universe by the word of his power” – had the Son ceased to do that, we wouldn’t be here

God did not become a Father when his Son was begotten – remember Jesus’ prayer: “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”

also our text: it was the Son, through whom God spoke and made the universe – that Father-Son relationship not new to God 2000 years ago

God is by nature eternally relational – Father didn’t begin loving the Son at his baptism, love and fellowship among persons of Trinity are eternal

love of Father for Son was revealed during Jesus’ earthly ministry, yet it was eternal love of Father for Son and Son’s many brethren that sent Son to earth

the beloved Son has enjoyed place of privilege and honor and dignity at his Father’s side eternally

no created being whether earthly or heavenly can rightly lay claim to a position or honor even close to that

angels around throne are there to give praise and worship, Son is there on throne to receive praise and worship – more on that next week, d.v.

B. incarnate Son (5a)

beginning with v.5, author uses series of 7 quotations from OT to substantiate declaration (v.4) that Jesus is the Best, superior to the angels

angels may be called sons of God, they are his creation after all; no one of them is given diginity of name Son like Jesus

Father not shy about telling Jesus’ contemporaries what he thought about Jesus, what kind of relationship they had

Matt. 3:17 (baptism) “a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matt. 17:5 (transfiguration) “a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

but there’s a complication – how are we supposed to relate to Jesus? looks and sounds like us, mostly, but he’s God?

how is it possible for a man to have “become so much better than the angels”, to have “a more excellent name than they”?

=> read Psalm 2:6-8

this Son is one who has been enthroned: “set My King On My holy hill”; acknowledged: “You are My Son”; rewarded: “Ask of Me, and I will give You”

his reward: all those he purchased with his blood

In Christ, fallen humanity is raised to its proper dignity. Was God who came to earth, was God-Man who returned to heaven.

the God-Man took his human nature and body to heaven, has restored the dignity lost in first Adam and way more, surpassing even the angels

Paul makes that plain: 1 Cor. 6:2-3Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?”

once again, Jesus shown as prophet, priest, king: one through whom God spoke paid the ransom for his people and now rules from his throne

C. everlasting King (5b)

“God becoming the Son’s father, then, refers to God’s open expression of their relationship upon Christ’s enthronement—an interpretation that fits the OT context well.” Beale

and…is an everlasting kingdom => see 2 Samuel 7:14-16Isa. 9:6-7

your kingdom shall be established forever”; “your throne shall be established forever” – yes, promise made to David about Solomon, but not only about him

carried further by Isaiah and others: “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end”

kingly rule began when Jesus was raised from depth of humiliation, death, to position of honor at his Father’s right hand

Paul, synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, Acts 13:33 “this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.'”

under inspiration of Holy Spirit, connection made between Jesus’ resurrection/ascension and quotation from Psalms

no angel has ever been granted the dignity of authority – they serve the one sitting on the throne, and one who tried to usurp his place will suffer eternal torment

God will not share his glory with another (Isa. 42:8) nor will he share his authority with anyone; remember Jesus’ words: “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18)

the Son is the one who receives what the Father has promised, the incarnate Son

if the one in view here is the Son of God, the Lord Jesus resurrected and ascended, who is our representative, our mediator

through faith in the Lord Jesus – not an angel, not the Virgin Mary, not Moses or one of the saints – through faith in Christ, blessings promised to him are ours

Jesus is the heir, the one who inherits the reward, the fulfillment of all God’s promises – we share in his inheritance

“Following the Civil War, a dejected confederate soldier was sitting outside the grounds of the White House. A young boy approached him and inquired why he was so sad. The solider related how he had repeatedly tried to see President Lincoln to tell him why he was unjustly deprived of certain lands in the South following the war. On each occasion as he attempted to enter the White House, the guards crossed their bayoneted guns in front of the door and turned him away. The boy motioned to the old soldier to follow him. When they approached the entrance, the guards came to attention, stepped back and opened the door for the boy. He proceeded to the library where the President was resting and introduced the soldier to his father. The boy was Tad Lincoln. The soldier had gained an audience with the President through the President’s son.” Donald Grey Barnhouse

Is One who has a Superior Name, a name above every name, that name is Jesus – God’s Son; King of kings and Lord of lords. Is in his name and his alone that we have access to very presence of God, access to every other blessing promised by God to his children. His Father said “listen to him” and so we should. And we should also love him since he loved us first.

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