Hebrews a letter written by skilled teacher and author who also knew his intended audience well. Used number of techniques to instruct recipients of this letter. Verses 5 thru 14 of first chapter presented in form of an inclusio: v.5 “to which of the angels did He ever say”; v.13 “to which of the angels has He ever said”. Like bookends that mark off start and finish of the argument he made – Jesus is superior to angels, here’s the proof. In between those bookends – a chain quotation of seven proof-texts from Old Testament linked to one another and to his argument.
Second thing must keep in mind: refer often to Paul’s contributions to New Testament as his “letters” – letter to church at… In our minds, letter is something you read, not something you hear. That idea helped out by fact we each have own copy of those letters, can read them silently to ourselves. Is a luxury 1st-century Christians did not have. Most believers in early church had only what they had memorized, what had taken root in their minds thru frequent repetition. Average person relied almost exclusively on verbal communication – passing along of traditions, teaching, information was by speaking and hearing, not so much writing and reading.
Because of oral nature of communication, third thing comes into play: NT writer would frequently quote only a portion of relevant text, not the text in its context. Author of Hebrews quoted 2nd line of Psalm 110; we read first 4 verses as call to worship. Original listeners, when they heard that one line, would have filled in the rest. We do the same: “in the beginning was the word…”; “God so loved the world…”; “if we confess our sin…” Minds automatically complete the statement in its surrounding context.
Why is all that important? If we are to fully grasp what God the Holy Spirit intends to communicate to us from our text this morning, need to look not only at v.13-14 in its context, must consider the source and its larger setting. How would the Jewish audience who heard Hebrews read in 1st century have understood reference to Psalm 110? What does that tell us about Lord Jesus? How does that help make the case that Jesus Is the Best? that he is superior to the angels because he has had a superior victory?
Angels are, among other things, heavenly warriors – host of heaven. Waging warfare all around us in dimension beyond reach of our senses. They are winning! Thank God for that! Angels’ victories are real, but even all put together are insignificant compared to Jesus’ Superior Victory. To see the extent of his victory, must look at Jesus’ enemies and his exaltation – who and what Jesus has conquered on behalf of his people, the state he now enjoys at his Father’s right hand.
A. author’s point / hearers’ take-away
quotation of / allusion to Ps. 110:1 5x in Hebrews – Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2 – especially clear from last one significance it held for author
“looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Jesus had already tied Pharisees in knots over this passage – see Matthew 22:41-46
they believed it spoke of Messiah, Jesus agreed, author of Hebrews based his arguments on belief that Jesus’ exaltation fulfilled it
first audience would have heard second line of psalm quoted, then filled in the context, then factored in what related to Messiah
Jesus is the Messiah, OT says all these things about Messiah, by his resurrection and ascension and enthronement Jesus has fulfilled what David in Psalm 110 prophesied – what does our text in light of OT teaching signify about Messiah’s rule?
conclusion: Jesus not only superior to angels, Messiah’s dominion and rule far above and beyond anything imagined!
Messiah’s enemies more far-reaching than unpopular inbred family of Herod or even Roman Empire, Messiah’s domain more extensive than 15,000 square miles of real estate (1/2 the size of Maine)
clearly, if Messiah was here and now is there, and rest of the Psalm is true, whoa, this is big! he really is superior to the angels, Jesus Is the Best!
B. Jesus’ enemies
commonly think of Satan/sin/death as Jesus’ enemies – is a sense in which they are: Satan’s ultimate goal to dethrone God and sit in his place; sin is rebellion against God; death the enemy of life and its author
but remember this: no one of them, no combination of them and all their allies can score against God – Satan is at mercy of God, must ask permission and operates within boundaries God has set; God cannot be tempted by sin nor influenced in any way by it; the unchangeable eternal author of life is impervious to death
only way they could inflict any harm whatever on Jesus – with his permission…because he condescended to take on flesh
very real sense in which Jesus came to fight our battle against our enemies that in Adam we fought and lost; Jesus came to win it for us, graciously allow his people to participate in the benefits of his victory
we know Jesus won the victory, a victory no one other than God-in-flesh could win – witness of NT is abundantly clear: Jesus’ resurrection and ascension publicly declared and validated his victory
Satan; John 12:31-33; 14:30
Satan and his agents actively opposed God’s plan in Christ from Jesus’ conception on
required angelic messenger to keep Joseph and Mary together (Matt. 1:21-25), to keep Herod from destroying the young child (Matt. 2:13-15); divine warning in a dream to settle in Nazareth (Matt. 2:22-23)
direct assaults: Jesus temptation (Luke 4:1-13), storm on Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35-40), inciting Judas (John 13:27), Garden of Gethsemane (John 14:30) – were real assaults, required angelic help for him to endure (Matt. 4:11; Luke 22:43)
Jesus repeatedly showed his power over Satan’s agents, even unseen ones – how many times he cast out demons
finally began fulfillment of Gen. 3:15, will eventually be completed Rev. 20:10 when cast into lake of fire and brimstone
Jesus did have immediate victory by his atoning death – took away Satan’s power of death Heb. 2:14
“Having tempted humanity to sin, the devil then acts as an accuser (Rev. 12:10), demanding that a just punishment be exacted; and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23; cf. 1 Cor. 15:56). The devil’s power to kill is destroyed only when our sin has been punished—in Christ’s death. Then his accusations have no ground (Col. 2:14, 15).” New Geneva Notes
just as surely as Jesus won at the cross, his full and final victory over Satan is assured – John saw it, wrote it, and we’ve read it!
was born, lived, was tempted, ministered, died, rose again – all without sin! (Heb. 4:15) the one who knew no sin was made sin for us: the sinless one was made a sin-offering for sinners (2 Cor. 5:21)
first Adam given a challenge – live without sin: failed the challenge; last Adam given a challenge – do what first Adam failed to do, not for yourself but for Adam and a bunch of other sinners: met the challenge with success
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
how did he do that? “He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross.” (Col. 2:14)
we know he had victory over sin and consequently Satan because he is now alive: “who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (Rom 4.25)
death 1 Cor 15.1-8, 26;
right along with that last statement: he had victory over death – Acts 2.24 “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.“
physical death, then, for believer is a consequence of sin coming into the world; it is not a punishment for sin
clear testimony of God’s word the Bible: either Jesus had victory over death and was raised on the third day or Bible and faith in God of Bible is worthless
C. Jesus’ exaltation see Acts 2:29-36
Jesus had victory over enemies that no created being could conquer, whether man or angel; and…Jesus’ victory is complete and final
but why do we still see Satan/sin/death as part of our experience if Jesus conquered them? Still one final action – when they will be thrown into their eternal prison, never to escape
as surely as God is who he revealed himself to be in his Word, it’s a done deal even though we haven’t reached point on timeline of human history
God raising Jesus didn’t end on that first Easter morning when he left empty tomb behind – has in view Jesus’ prayer request
John 17:5 “Now, Father, glorify Me in Your presence with that glory I had with You before the world existed.”
not a case of the second person of the Trinity doing a touch-and-go, returning to heaven and taking his human body along for the ride. What is in view here is exaltation of God-Man – including glorification of Jesus’ human nature and body
Lord and Christ = King and Savior
one final point – Peter’s sermon on Pentecost Acts 2:34-36“For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand,Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”‘Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
genuine hope, confidence of eternal life in heaven only possible because of Jesus’ superior victory – you only participate in that victory if Jesus is both Lord and Christ, both your King and your Savior
“remember that at the right hand of God our Lord sits in infinite majesty. Jesus, whom you think little of—Jesus, from whom you turn aside—is today adored of angels, obeyed by seraphs, worshipped by just men made perfect. He is the highest in the highest heavens.” Spurgeon