The Jesus We Might Be Missing
The book of Hebrews is an odd animal. We often think of it as one of the many letters found near the end of the New Testament, but it reads more like a transcript of a sermon. If indeed it is a sermon, then it’s the Bible’s only complete example of one preached to people who already believe in the resurrected Jesus. It shows what we need to hear on a weekly basis to stay faithful.
Even if Hebrews is a letter, or a letter-sermon hybrid, it’s powerful stuff for struggling believers. The Jewish Christians it’s aimed at had a hard life. They were tempted to give up Jesus and go back to an easier alternative—some flashier or more acceptable life pursuit. The summary message of Hebrews for them, and us, is simple:
Jesus is better.
Dozens of times, Hebrews tells us how Jesus or something he gives is better, greater, or more abundant:
Jesus is better than angels. Imagine the most glorious beings possible, sinless and without faults, constantly worshiping God and serving him with power, perfectly in touch with all that’s beautiful in the universe. What an existence! But Jesus is better yet. Angels are mere servants, but Jesus is the Son of God himself, king over creation and eternally loved. “For God never said to any angel what he said to Jesus: ‘You are my Son. Today I have become your Father’” (Hebrews 1:5).
Jesus is better than Moses. Jesus is better not just for who he is but for his ministry. Moses took charge of God’s people in their finest hour, rescuing them from slavery and teaching them to live by God’s law. But now Jesus is Lord over God’s people forever. He has rescued us from the devil so that we belong to him, able to obey all that he teaches us and to rule with him one day: “For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ” (Hebrews 3:14).
Jesus is a better priest. The great quest of everyone, since the first man and woman were expelled from the garden, is to once again enjoy the beauty of being with God in spite of our defiling sin. Priests of various stripes have tried to make this happen, but only Jesus succeeded. We who belong to him may come to God—without so much as a scolding—because our priest Jesus became a man, tempted like us, who understands. “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16).
Jesus is a better sacrifice. Perhaps most amazing of all, this Jesus—eternal Son, Lord of all, and sinless priest—is also our sacrifice for sin. He willingly died in our place, taking the punishment we deserve. Because he’s perfect, he isn’t merely a sacrifice that reminds us of our sin now and again. Rather, he rids us of guilt forever. “Once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice” (Hebrews 9:26).
Jesus gives better blessings. The result of all this is that we who believe in Jesus receive incomparable gifts—forgiveness, eternal life, the loving discipline of God our Father, and a share in his unshakable Kingdom. Near the end of Hebrews, the author reminds his audience why they’ve already been willing to suffer much as Christians: “You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever” (Hebrews 10:34).
The things that tempt you and me to push Jesus aside may be less harsh than the persecutions the Hebrews faced, but they are every bit as real and dangerous. What do we put before Jesus? Do we prefer comfort? Reputation? Being our own boss? Whatever it is, one of the best things we can do to keep serving Jesus fully is to remind ourselves daily that he is better—better than any other desire that might rule our lives.
How might you develop such a vision for Jesus? You can expose yourself to teaching, preaching, and Christian encouragement that makes much of our Savior. Or you can spend time in the Bible. If you don’t know where else to begin, why not read through Hebrews?
For my part, starting next month I will begin a series of articles on some of the Bible’s less used names for Jesus. I hope that this will help both you and me delight in aspects of him that we might otherwise miss. I can think of no more practical, life-changing topic of study.
Jack Klumpenhower is a writer and children’s ministry worker living in Colorado.