Jesus Above All: His Universe

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1-2)

In many cultures, Jesus gets some serious screen time during Christmas and Easter. Much of the world at least acknowledges that those seasons are about him. But if our only understanding of Jesus came from those holidays, we’d be missing a lot, wouldn’t we?

jaa_350In the one season, he’s a baby. In the other, he’s convicted, beaten, killed and resurrected. In neither do we see him – at least in action – as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In other words, we don’t know Jesus at all if we don’t know him as the one who is above all.

We’re going to listen in this week as the writer of Hebrews reminds us again that Jesus is far above everything and everyone. And he always has been. And he always will be. All of life is his story, not just Christmas and Easter.

For starters, today’s passage tells us that Jesus’ name is on everything – twice. First, he is the “heir,” or the one who gets everything in the end. (That includes you and me and everything we can think of.) But he is also the one through whom everything was made in the first place. Turn us over, and you’ll see, “Made through Jesus.”

It literally is his universe.

Think: Could any person or being be more important than the one through whom everything was made and who will inherit everything in the end? Does thinking about Jesus’ power make you feel smaller?

Pray: Praise Jesus as the heir of all things and the one through whom the universe was made.

Do: Read more about Jesus’ above-allness in Colossians 1:15-19.

Jesus Above All: Exactly God

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3)

Jesus is so much more than the baby in the manger and the Lamb suffering on the cross – though we would all be lost if he had not done those things. It’s how he provided “purification for sins” (our only hope of forgiveness and helplessness).

jaa_350Jesus also told his followers, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” He is the face – and the indescribable glow (“radiance”) – of God.

But he’s not merely the poster boy for the Trinity. He is also unfathomably powerful, “sustaining” or “holding together” . . . everything. Without him doing that right now, we would all be lost, scattered molecules in the memory of a cosmic wind.

And he does all of it from his seat right now in heaven, at the right hand of “the Majesty,” perfect in power, full of love, and endless.

Think: Do you tend to think of Jesus more as man or as God? Is it possible to think of him as being fully both of those at the same time? How could you make more room in your mind to picture him as God?

Pray: Praise Jesus for being the radiance of God’s glory, the exact representation of his being, and for sustaining all things by his powerful word.

Do: This verse says Jesus is right now at the right hand of the Father. Ask a few of your Christian friends where they think Jesus is right now.

Jesus Above All: Better Than Angels

“So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.” (Hebrews 1:4)

It is not surprising that some people want to worship angels or see them or touch them. Apparently, angels are magnificent creatures. When they appear to humans in the Bible, they often start by saying, “Don’t be afraid.” Or sometimes, “Don’t worship me.”

jaa_350On the night Jesus was born, the shepherds’ sky-rending experience of the angels must have been far more impressive than the experience of looking at a newborn baby in a barn. And that’s the point of this chapter: Experience is not what matters. The Who is more important than the What in any given moment.

Jesus is the Son of God. That’s why he is superior to the angels. He created them, and he rules over them. They worship and serve him. Basing the value of whom we worship based on the impressiveness of that experience in the now is always a deception.

Paul warns us to beware of angel-worshippers or those who care more about experience than truth: “Do not let anyone who delights in . . . the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions.” (Colossians 2:18)

Think: What’s the danger of caring more about having big experiences in worship than the God you are worshipping?

Pray: Praise Jesus that he far superior to even the angels.

Do: To prepare for the rest of this week’s study, read ahead through the end of Hebrews 1 and make sure to notice verse 14.

Jesus Above All: He’s the Son

“For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father’? Or again, ‘I will be his Father, and he will be my Son’?” (Hebrews 1:5)

Why is Jesus above all, including the angels? The writer of Hebrews continues to spell it out for us this week. Why does it matter? Because understanding what makes Jesus who he is helps us to understand and worship him more fully.

jaa_350Most of us aren’t used to thinking of life and power in terms of royalty. We expect power to be gained through votes or violence. But especially in ancient times, power was understood to come through the bloodline; it was handed down from your parents. If your dad was the king, you had serious power.

Jesus alone is the Son of God, which makes him the King of Kings. Even though angels are fantastic, powerful creatures, they don’t hold the official title – handed down both from God himself and on the human side through King David – of King Forever.

Think: Why does it matter so much that Jesus holds both the position of “Son of God,” as well as having God’s power and glory?

Pray: Praise Jesus that he alone is the Son of God.

Do: If you go to church this week, listen to hear how often Jesus is referred to as the Son of God.

Jesus Above All: Angels Worship Him

“And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.’ In speaking of the angels he says, ‘He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.’ ” (Hebrews 1:6-7)

Angels are awesome beings. In showing us this week all the ways that Jesus is above all, including the angels, the writer is not trying to diminish the angels. He’s showing just how truly great Jesus is. Those awesome angels worship him!

jaa_350Elsewhere in the Bible, Paul describes the moment when God will finally execute his justice and rescue his people: “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7)

Can you imagine that scene? Jesus returning to earth in fire with an army of mighty angelic beings. Nobody will want to be on the wrong side – though many will be. And the angels will obey the commands of Jesus as they accomplish his mission of judgment.

To be on the side of the angels, you must put your faith in Jesus – and nobody else.

Think: If someone asked you how to be sure they were ready for the day described in 2 Thessalonians 1, what would you tell them?

Pray: Priase Jesus that the angels worship him and obey his commands.

Do: Read more about the day Jesus and the angels will arrive in 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12.

Jesus Above All: Because He Loves/Hates

“But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.’ ” (Hebrews 1:8-9)

Who is Jesus? How much do you know about him beyond the stories of his life on earth, beyond the manger and the miracles and the cross and the empty tomb? The writer of Hebrews is helping us to get to know Jesus better as God this week.

jaa_350In this passage he quotes two verses from Psalm 45 to make sure we know they are about Jesus. Did you notice that God calls Jesus “God”? Our God is one God – in three persons.

Here, Jesus, the Son, gets credit for what he loves and what he hates – and that results in joy. What do you love and hate? Do you love when right wins? Do you love when you do right? Do you hate wrong or wicked actions, motivations, choices (including your own)?

The angels are called Jesus’ companions, and Jesus called his followers friends. The friends of Jesus learn to love and hate as he does.

Think: Does it feel wrong to you to think of Jesus as hating things? What are some of the things you hate? Do you hate anything for being “wicked” or against God and what is good?

Pray: Praise Jesus because he has loved righteousness and hated wickedness.

Do: Read the wedding song that these verses quote from in Psalm 45.

Jesus Above All: The Conquering King

“To which of the angels did God ever say, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’? Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:13-14)

Angels serve humans? What a wild idea that those awesome, powerful, fiery creatures of the wind who worship Jesus and obey his commands would be sent to serve the humans who will “inherit salvation.”

jaa_350That tells us something about the purpose of angels, but it also tells us something about Jesus and the humans who are trusting in him for their salvation.

First, we see again – once more – that Jesus is above the angels. He sits in the seat of power and victory at God’s right hand. But what does he do with that commanding position? How does he put his angel army to use?

He sends them to minister to the people he loves, the people he died for – including those being persecuted for their faith in him. He spends his power, in part, to serve his people.

Think: Have you expanded your picture of powerful King Jesus as God this week? Has that changed in any way how you feel about him, how you might choose to worship him?

Pray: Praise Jesus that he sits in the victory seat at the right hand of God.

Do: Today’s passage quotes from Psalm 110. Check it out to see the picture it paints of conquering King Jesus.