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Hebrews 1:2-4 - Homiletics

The glory of the God-Man. So soon as the apostle mentions the "Son," there spreads out before his mind a vast expanse of the territory of revelation—the loftiest shining table-land of truth which the Scriptures open to our gaze. Indeed, this sentence supplies a sublime basis for all true Christology. It describes at once the Redeemer's essential glory as the pre-existent One, and his mediatorial glory as the incarnate Messiah.

I. THE GLORY OF CHRIST IN RELATION TO GOD . The clauses which speak of this solemnize us by their mystery, and dazzle us by their splendor.

1. He is the Son of God. ( Hebrews 1:2 ) "Son" is not merely an official title; it designates the natural and eternal relation of the Second Person of the Godhead to the First. Christ is God's "only-begotten Son"—his Son in a sense absolutely unique, as implying sameness of essence with the Father.

2. He is the Manifestation of God. ( Hebrews 1:3 ) "The effulgence of his glory;"— i.e. Christ is an eternal radiation of splendor from the majesty of the absolute Jehovah. He is "Light of [from] light." The rays which stream from the sun reveal the sun itself; so Christ is the ever-visible radiance of the unapproachable Light. We have but to look to him who is "the Word" for a display of the attributes and perfections of Deity.

3. He is the Counterpart of God. ( Hebrews 1:3 ) "The very image of his substance," i.e. the adequate imprint of his substantial essence. The Shechinah in the tabernacle had not the personal form of God; but the Son bears his real and perfect likeness. Christ has upon himself the exact impress of Deity. He is the Father's alter ego—his very image. "In him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." So perfectly does the Son bear the impress of God, that he could say, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father."

II. THE GLORY OF CHRIST IN RELATION TO THE UNIVERSE . What is said on this point proves his Deity, the very same acts and prerogatives being elsewhere ascribed to God.

1. He is its Creator. ( Hebrews 1:2 ) The life of the God-Man did not begin only nineteen centuries ago. He is himself" the Beginning "—the Alpha—the Firstborn before every creature ( Colossians 1:15-18 ). He made the natural universe—every star that adorns the arch of night. He ordained all periods and dispensations ("ages")—all geological formations, all historical eras, all economies of religion.

2. He is its Sustainer. ( Hebrews 1:3 ) It is his fiat that holds the universe together. "In him all things consist." On his fingers hang the suns and systems of immensity. It is the Lord Christ who adjusts and governs all the tremendous forces—physical, intellectual, and spiritual—which operate throughout creation. The pulses of universal life are regulated by the throbbing of his mighty heart. He is the Soul of providence, and the Center of history.

3. He is its Possessor. "Whom he appointed Heir of all things." ( Hebrews 1:2 ) As the Son of God, Christ received this appointment and gift in the past eternity. As the God-Man, his Father has constituted him, by another deed of gift, the mediatorial Monarch of the universe. The keys of death and of Hades hang at his girdle. He is the Lord of angels. He has "authority over all flesh." His own people are his peculiar inheritance—the very jewels of his crown.

III. THE GLORY OF CHRIST IN RELATION TO THE CHURCH . The Lord's mediatorial honors have cast a new luster over even his original renown.

1. He is its Prophet. ( Hebrews 1:2 ) It is as the Teacher of the Church that the writer introduces his name in this magnificent prologue. The eternal "Logos"—the manifestation and counterpart of God—has become "the light of the world." When on earth he taught his followers by personal instruction; and now that he is in heaven, he enlightens the Church by his Word and by the influences of his Spirit.

2. He is its Priest. ( Hebrews 1:3 ) Jesus is more than a teacher, and his gospel is more than simply a philosophy. Mankind, being sinners, have not liberty of access to God; we need some one to approach God on our behalf. We require a priest, and an altar with a sacrifice on it, in order to the "purification of sins." Now, Christ is our Priest. He made "purification" eighteen centuries ago by his life in Palestine and his death on Calvary. He accomplished a work of expiation—an objective atonement. And the efficacy of his sacrifice is chiefly due to the infinite dignity of his person as "the effulgence of God's glory, and the very image of his substance."

3. He is its King. ( Hebrews 1:3 ) This royalty is the reward of his work of "purification." Having made perfect satisfaction for human sin, he ascended on high and sat down upon the throne of sovereign authority. From the right hand of the Father, as the place of supereminent dignity and power, he rules his people by the might of his cross. The "Heir of all things" is fully qualified to be the Head of the Church, and Head over all for the advantage of the Church. The loftiest seraph is immeasurably his inferior. Jesus has been raised as high above Michael and Gabriel as he was eternally above them, and as he therefore inherited a more illustrious name than they ( Hebrews 1:4 ). in conclusion, why does the apostle expatiate thus upon the greatness and glory of the Prophet of the New Testament? Not merely because he delights to do so; but rather, also, to attract our hearts to the love and worship and service of the Lord Jesus, whose creatures we are, and to whom we belong by the purchase of his blessed blood.

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