The Supremacy of Christ (Part 4)

Hebrews 1:10-14 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.” 13 And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

INTRODUCTION
One of the most significant periods of preparation/anticipation in my life began when I was fourteen and a half. For reasons I still don’t fully understand, for a full eighteen months I was absolutely obsessed with getting my driver’s license. As I think back, the amount of time, energy, kissing up to my parents, etc. that I spent getting ready to get my license was truly impressive. I looked forward to going to driver’s training. I didn’t mind getting up early on Saturdays for behind-the-wheel sessions. Once I got my permit I was genuinely eager to drive anyone, anywhere, at any time, for any reason. And on my sixteenth birthday I went to the DMV before school in order to get my license at the earliest possible time. I was entirely consumed in thought, word, and deed. Everything in me was fixed on getting my license.

In short, almost everything Advent is meant to be for Christians, getting my driver’s license was for me. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I have prayed more than once over the past several weeks that I would feel now for Christmas what I felt then for driving on my own.

The question in front of me…and all of you…is this: Why would I long for and anticipate and celebrate something like getting my driver’s license (or a vacation or a date with my wife or a sporting event or hiking with my kids or fishing with friends or a new piece of technology or whatever) more than the coming of God? To word it another way, why don’t I delight in the things of God (especially the coming of God) as I know I should? I’m certain there are several reasons for this, but at the heart of all of them is the simple fact that I don’t see Jesus as he truly is. If I did, nothing would come within a million miles of my affection for him.

The conviction behind this sermon series is that Hebrews 1 is filled with clear descriptions of Jesus as he truly is (infinitely superior to all things) and therefore it is also filled with help for you and I to prepare, anticipate, and celebrate Christmas appropriately.

In other words, if Christmas (or any aspect of our faith) are to have their rightful place in our minds and hearts and lives, it will be because we have come to truly know the supremacy of Jesus by considering his revelation in God’s Word; which is exactly what Pastor Mike and I have been trying to help you with throughout Advent.

Specifically, we’ve been looking at several aspects of the supremacy of Jesus as they show up in Hebrews 1. On the first Sunday of Advent we looked at three in 1:1-4 (Jesus as the Word of God, the sin purifier, and superior to angels). We looked at another the following week in 1:5-6 (Jesus as the Son of God). Last week Pastor Mike helped us see from 1:7-9 that Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God. And this morning, the final Sunday of Advent, we’ll consider three more in 1:10-14 (creator and upholder of the world, eternal and unchanging, and seated at the right hand of God).

Again, our aim in stepping away from Hosea and into Hebrews over these past four weeks is to help all of us see Jesus as he truly is in order that we’d rejoice in the highest this Christmas. Let’s pray that it would be so.

CREATOR AND UPHOLDER OF THE WORLD
I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll mention it one more time here—the author of Hebrews’ point in writing his letter was to describe and praise the supremacy of Jesus for his readers as a means of helping them persevere through significant trials. This is a powerful argument and sufficient help for following Jesus in spite of whatever challenges it may pose.

Remaining faithful to Jesus when your friends tease you for your faith in Jesus can be a real challenge, until you realize that Jesus is infinitely greater.

Considering it all joy when your job is harder on account of your faith in Jesus can be a real challenge, until you realize that Jesus is infinitely greater.

Loving Jesus more than stuff can be a real challenge, until you realize that Jesus is infinitely greater.

Being kind to those who mean you harm can be a real challenge, until you realize that Jesus is infinitely greater.

Fighting sin can be a real challenge, until you truly realize that Jesus is infinitely greater.

Taking every thought captive can be a real challenge, until you realize that Jesus is infinitely greater.

Living as God’s word calls you to live can be a real challenge, until you realize that Jesus is infinitely greater.

And celebrating Christmas for all that it is with your heart and the world pulling so powerfully in other directions can be a real challenge, until you realize that Jesus is infinitely greater.

Grace, the key to all of this is that Jesus is in fact infinitely greater. That’s not just some tag line or false marketing or spiritual fairytale; it’s objective, factual, eternal truth. And so we must ask, if we are to find the help we need, how is Jesus infinitely greater; or in what specific ways is Jesus infinitely greater?

Again, we’ve seen several answers to this question over the past few weeks. The next real, specific aspect of the supremacy of Christ offered by the author of Hebrews is that Jesus is the means by which the heavens and earth were created and are sustained.

Creator
Look with me again at v.10.

Hebrews 1:10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands…

That verse is an expansion of what the author wrote in v.2.

Hebrews 1:2 in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son… through whom … he created the world.

Hebrews 1:10 is also almost an exact quote of Psalm 102, and it is in perfect harmony with the rest of the NT.

John 1:3 All things were made through [Jesus], and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John 1:10 [Jesus] was in the world, and the world was made through him…

Colossians 1:16 For by [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things were created through him and for him.

This is an absolutely amazing aspect of Creation. The first lines of the bible tell us that God created the heavens and the earth by the word of his power. John and Hebrews tell us that Jesus is the very Word of God; the means by (through) which God created all that was made!

Hebrews tells us that all the heavenly hosts were not sufficient for this. The Son of God alone was sufficient. It can be a challenge to properly follow and celebrate Jesus in this life, but as we increasingly come to know the supremacy of Jesus the challenge will lessen and sufficient, sovereign grace will abound.

Upholder
But that’s not all. Jesus is not merely the creator of the world; he is also its upholder. Embedded—built into—Hebrews 1:10-12 is a fact that 1:3 makes explicit: Jesus’ supremacy is such that from the beginning of Creation he has upheld Creation.

Hebrews 1:3 …[Jesus] upholds the universe by the word of his power.

Once again, this is not an idea unique to Hebrews.

Colossians 1:17 …in [Jesus] all things hold together.

1 Corinthians 8:6 [There is] one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

To uphold something means to bear it, carry it, support it, maintain it, sustain it. It means providing that which is necessary for a thing to remain. To uphold something, anything, for any period of time in that sense is quite a task.

Do you remember the story of Moses, the Israelites, and their battle with the Amalekites (Exodus 17)? From the beginning of the conflict Moses somehow knew that if he were to hold up the staff God had given him the Israelites would prevail in battle, but if he were to lower it they would fall. In other words, Moses knew that God had given him to uphold the Israelite army and that he was to do so by holding up his staff.

As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for Moses to get tired. For that reason Aaron and Hur eventually put a stone under Moses for him to sit on. And when his arms got tired Aaron and Hur each held one arm up. In this way the Moses upheld the Israelites to victory. To uphold the army (and let’s not miss that this was a supernaturally empowered upholding) for even a few hours took more than Moses had in himself.

Try to remember something you’ve upheld…even for a few minutes? If you’ve ever lifted weights, or overseen a meeting, or tried to maintain order among children, then you know that it takes great effort to uphold something.

With that in mind, imagine again the amazing reality declared in Hebrews 1:3. Jesus not only holds a particular thing up for a particular amount of time…He “upholds the [entire] universe by the word of his power [perpetually]”! As you try to wrap your mind around the unimaginable glory of this…

Consider, for example, what instant destruction would happen if the earth’s rotation slowed down just a little. The sun has a surface temperature of 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit. If it were any closer to us we would burn up; if it were any farther away we would freeze. Our globe is tilted on an exact angle of 23 degrees, providing us with four seasons. If it were not so tilted, vapors from the oceans would move north and south and develop into monstrous continents of ice. If the moon did not retain its exact distance from the earth the ocean tides would inundate the land completely, twice a day. After the first flooding, of course, the others would not matter as far as we would be concerned. If the ocean floors were merely a few feet deeper than they are, the carbon dioxide and oxygen balance of the earth’s atmosphere would be completely upset, and no animal or plant life could exist. If the atmosphere did not remain at its present density, but thinned out even a little, many of the meteors which now harmlessly burn up when they hit the atmosphere would constantly bombard us… (TMNTC, Hebrews, 17),

And that, of course, is just a tiny sample of the upholding that Jesus continually does “by the word of his power.”

Again, the total number of angels in heaven could not do this for one second, and yet Jesus has done it perfectly and unrelentingly from the beginning and will continue to do it until the end. It can be a challenge to properly follow and celebrate Jesus in this life, but as we increasingly come to know the supremacy of Jesus the challenge will lessen and sufficient, sovereign grace will abound.

As you find yourself wishing that you or your spouse or kids or friends were different (more tolerable) this Christmas, find peace in the knowledge that Jesus is their creator (and he doesn’t make mistakes). As you find yourself overwhelmed in your attempt to keep your head above water and manage all that’s coming at you this season, find comfort in the knowledge that Jesus (not you) is the true sustainer. The supremacy of Christ is not a concept to merely marvel at, it is the reality in which we must find peace and comfort and help.

ETERNAL AND UNCHANGING
But that’s not all either. Jesus is supreme not only as the creator and upholder of the universe, but also as eternal and unchanging in his nature.

Eternal
We see the eternality of Jesus in 1:11-12 (which again is almost an exact quote of Psalm 102).

Hebrews 1:11-12 … [creation] will perish, but you remain… 12 … and your years will have no end.”

While Jesus’ human nature had a beginning, his divine nature (along with the Father and Spirit) is everlasting. The Son of God has no beginning and no end. Stand in awe of this, Grace. Christ is supreme even over life and time. Try as we might, we simply cannot comprehend eternality; and yet Jesus is eternal!

Unchanging
But that’s not all. Not only is Jesus eternal, he is also eternally unchanging.

Hebrews 1:11-12 … [the things of creation] will all wear out like a garment, 12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same…”

We find something very similar (and even a bit more clear) in chapter 13.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

But wait, the bible says that “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). On earth he certainly grew older and stronger and wiser. Those things sound like change. What does it mean, then, that Jesus is “the same yesterday and today and forever”?

In short, this means that Jesus’ essential nature never changes. He is eternally and unchangingly perfect in every way. He does not swing back and forth between good and bad, just and unjust, faithful and unfaithful, loving and unloving, etc. He is always and unwaveringly good, just, faithful, loving, and every other aspect of his essential nature. And that is what makes his eternality and unchangingness really, really good news. Anything that is eternal and unchanging is certainly impressive. But it is the fact that he is eternally and unchangingly perfect in every way that fuels our obedience and worship and celebration.

In our passage for this morning we find that all creation, including angels, were made, will wear out, will be rolled up, will change, and will eventually perish. But we also find that Jesus is superior to all creation in that he is eternal, will never wear out or be rolled up, he will never change, and he will never perish. He is supreme! It can be a challenge to properly follow and celebrate Jesus in this life, but as we increasingly come to know the supremacy of Jesus the challenge will lessen and sufficient, sovereign grace will abound.

Again, then, as you are tempted to give up or give in to temptation, find strength in the knowledge that you are loved and united with one who has no beginning and no end. And as you are tempted toward the things of this world, find greater satisfaction in the one who has remained unchangingly perfect in every way forever!

SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD
But that’s not all either. There’s one more aspect of the supremacy of Christ that Hebrews 1 holds up for us to marvel at. Jesus is the creator and upholder of the universe, eternal and unchanging, and he is, right now, seated at the right hand of God.

Look at 11:13.

Hebrews 1:13-14 And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”?

Again, this is an expansion of 1:3.

Hebrews 1:3 When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…

And it is also another OT quote. This time from Psalm 110.

This Psalm was frequently quoted by the NT authors in reference to Jesus—especially Paul. Indeed, Jesus himself claimed this more than once, including in Mark 14 while being interrogated by the high priest just prior to his crucifixion.

Mark 14:61-62 the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

The phrase “seated at the right hand” of God has lost much of its oomph for you and I. We just don’t think in those terms. In biblical times, however, it signified at least two remarkable things. First, the fact that Jesus was seated at God’s right hand meant that his work was done! In 1:3 he is seated after having made purification for sins. In the OT it was the priests who had to offer sacrifices; and they had to do so over and over and over. For that reason, because their work was never done, there was no seat for them in the temple. They never sat down. But Jesus is supreme in that he is seated at God’s right hand, having done once for all what countless priests couldn’t accomplish with countless sacrifices over centuries. Awesome!

The second remarkable act of significance is in the fact that he is seated at God’s right hand. This was a position of exclusive honor. It marked entirely unique privilege, equality, and victory. James’ and John’s mother pleaded with Jesus to allow her sons to sit at his right hand in heaven.

Matthew 20:20-21 …the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.”

In other words the claim that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God is the claim that Jesus holds the highest place of honor and glory in the kingdom of God—that he is equal with God. There is no one and nothing higher than Jesus. He holds a position of supremacy shared by no galaxy or animal or person or angel. He alone has been invited and is worthy and is present at the right hand of the Majesty on high, at the right hand of Power!

CONCLUSION
If Jesus were anything less or anything other, trials and challenges and persecutions and sickness might derail us. If Jesus were anything less or anything other, the allure of the world might rightly entice us. But Jesus is not anything less or anything other. He, and he alone, is the Word of God, the sin purifier, and superior to angels. He, and he alone, is the Son of God. He, and he alone, is the radiance of the glory of God. And he, and he alone, is the creator and upholder of the world, eternal and unchanging, and seated at the right hand of God.

And therefore, he, and he alone, is worthy of all our worship, the rightful requirer of all our obedience, and more than sufficient to fuel all our celebration for all eternity.

As you know, Christmas is just two days away. Our time of preparation is about to give way to celebration. And yet, none of us have appreciated or celebrated Jesus’ coming as we ought—indeed, none of us have done anything as we ought—and that’s why Jesus came. Christmas isn’t primarily a time of family and nostalgia and holiday spirit. Christmas is primarily a time of acknowledgment of the sinfulness and spiritual death of mankind, and the love and grace of God who sent his Son to overcome sin and death.

One day we will see Jesus face to face, as he truly is, with all the blinding and distorting effects of sin fully and finally done away with. And then we will celebrate in a truly appropriate way. In the mean time, we live by faith in the bible’s descriptions of Jesus even as we fight for our minds and hearts to catch up. It has been our prayer that this series in Hebrews would have aided you in your fight and provided God’s fuel for your celebrations. I wish you all a merry Christmas in the knowledge that it is only possible that you’d have one because of the coming and supremacy of the Christ of Christmas.